What Does a Good CMO Look Like?
Over the past decade, I have hired directly or with clients over 50+ marketers.
That's got to be over 250+ interviews.
It works out to spending around 87,600 hours working with marketers.
But that's how long it took me to learn what makes a good CMO:
Insight #1: They talk a lot about alignment with sales.
A lot of marketers talk about MarTech, channels, campaigns and attribution.
But I see the most successful CMOs (and marketing leaders) talk deeply about "alignment with sales."
They are curious about the GTM relationship.
Insight #2: You can feel their passion for building something great.
For B2B SaaS to build scale, it needs short-term results and long-term leverage.
The best brains think in parallel.
• How to improve sales through marketing interventions?
• What's your "brand building" process?
• How do you bring the CEO on the journey with you?
Insight #3: They understand the difference between strategy and tactics.
One of the fundamental flaws is a focus on the wrong lens.
Here's the difference:
Most bad B2B CMOs focus on...
• CRM or MarTech
• Attribution tech
• Project management
• Performance Marketing
• Email Marketing
But here's what good B2B CMOs focus on...
• Human psychology
• Category positioning
• Pricing context
• Marketing that drives valuation
• Marketing that drives revenue
Strategy > tactics.
Insight #4: They are compelling communicators.
One thing CMOs need to be good at is communicating.
It means managing the CEO relationship effectively.
It means managing comms to investors and boards effectively.
It is being able to get people bought into your plan.
It's presenting effective updates to the board (that isn't just a pipeline chart). They will learn how to understand what people want to hear from marketing.
Insight #5: They bring great people with them.
When a credible new CMO joins, they'll bring existing people.
This is a good sign.
If they don't within 90 days, assume they were not the best leader.
The most outstanding marketing leaders have incredible teams.
Insight #6: They are great at managing complex GTM motions.
One of the hardest things with marketing is the complexity.
The best CMOs do a great job of building the architectures of machines with their team.
Breaking it down into goals, strategies, milestones and outputs.
Then having simple roadmaps for others in the business to understand.
They'll be clear on what "exactly" the plan is.
Insight #7: They are resilient.
There's a phrase.
When everything is going well, the CRO gets praise.
When everything goes wrong, it's the CMO's fault.
Excellent CMOs deal with that dichotomy.
So look for some longevity or journey with a business.
That's my view.