Sell Marketing to CEO

Her key objectives were:


  • Generating demand at the top of the funnel & acquiring new customers
  • Justifying her marketing spend and showing an ROI on her initiatives
  • Gaining sustainable credibility with executive team and sales


Interestingly, she indicated that her #1 obstacle was getting CEO buy-in.  C-Suite Marketing Ignorance was her biggest impediment to success.  He just didn’t get what she did and therefore didn’t really value it.  And if the CEO wasn’t onboard, she was dead in the water.  I assured her she wasn’t alone and that many marketing leaders shared her plight: 22 Clues Your CEO Has No Idea What You Do


As the conversation progressed, I suggested she engage her CEO like she would a buyer persona.  If she wanted to effectively market & sell to her CEO, she needed to treat him like a buyer.



The first step in building a persona is Buyer Research.  This research provides insight into the CEO’s goals, focus and initiatives.   It also reveals their attitudes and prejudices. Last year, The Fournier Marketing Group interviewed more than (600) F1000, F500 and SMB CEOs. Their research found that 80% of CEOs admit they don’t really trust Marketing’s work.  Ouch!


So what’s the solution?  How do you overcome this bias?  Answer: Learn their Language.  Marketers must start speaking the P&L language of their CEOs and stakeholders.  They need to focus on measureable metrics that tie directly to the bottom line.  They must track the effectiveness of all their initiatives to prove they generate revenue.  If not, they will continue to lack credibility in the eyes of their CEOs. Marketing will continue to be seen more as a cost center than an asset.


The Metric that Matters Most

At the end of the day, the metric that matters most is revenue attributable to marketing spend. There are tons of metrics marketing leaders track.  Most are important, some not so much.  Yet the only one your CEO cares about is marketing leads that generate new revenue.


Tracking new business generated from marketing leads presupposes several things:


  1. Demand Generation Strategy that fills the top of the funnel.  These Marketing Captured Leads should meet the firmographic and psychographic profile of your ideal customer. World class marketers know where their customers go for information.  They target these channels with their demand gen efforts. They also track the investment and leads sourced from each channel.
  2. Lead Management Process that nurtures a captured lead until it’s sales-ready.  The best marketers understand that most inquiries aren’t ready to buy.  A Sirius Decisions study found that half of all buyers take 18-24 months to finalize a purchasing decision.  Marketing must therefore nurture leads, qualify them and then pass to sales.  Effective lead management requires a defined process, nurture-content and people/technology to execute.


Call to Action: Having a hard time proving marketing’s value to the CEO?  If so, focus on what matter most to him/her: Hitting the Number.  You need to tie all your efforts back to their impact on revenue creation.  Marketing efforts that produce leads that generate revenue is The Metric.  Do you track this? If not, you better start or you’ll never gain credibility.


Gain the upper hand with your CEO by leveraging the CEO Buyer Persona.