How to Successfully Onboard Your New Chief Marketing Officer 


Not so fast.  In our experience, a custom onboarding program for your CMO is critical.  The right program can position the CMO to succeed and accelerate their positive contribution to the organization.


Accelerate your new CMOs success with a comprehensive onboarding plan.

So how can HR design a plan to onboard a senior executive? What are the components of an onboarding program for a Chief Marketing Officer? 


In this post we’ll examine how HR can add value to the onboarding process of senior leaders. Although different than the staff onboarding, the CMO needs onboarding with an executive perspective.


Download and keep this handy:

We’ve prepared an easy to use CMO Onboarding Guide for you.  Use the guide to proactively plan your CMO’s onboarding program.  The rest of this post will walk you through the areas outlined in the guide.  Download the CMO Onboarding Guide here.


Elements of Executive Onboarding:

Senior leadership will benefit from a three-part approach to onboarding at a new organization: functional relationships, customer onboarding and experiential onboarding. 


  1. Functional Relationships OnboardingThis rigorous program will help the senior executive get up to speed on their functional areas. The program will also include the groups supported by Marketing:
    a. Provide in-depth knowledge of each department. What does each department provide, why are they providing the service, who are the players


    b. How is Marketing currently relating to each department? Who owns the processes? What are the deliverables?


    c. Who are the players on each functional team, and who is their marketing peer? Provide a process and expectation of peer-to-peer discussions. Assess marketing’s value as well as services received.


  2. Customer Onboarding – This phase includes meetings with customers, prospects and vendor agencies. It’s important to get the state of the market from customers and prospects before meeting with vendors that are intent on selling services. The CMO needs to understand the market and the organization’s place in it before considering additional spend.


  3. Experiential Component – This phase of onboarding has the new executive immersed in the field. Many executives want to hunker down internally and “pull in their horns.” It’s important to do exactly the opposite. It’s more important to go out into the field and spend time with clients. Executives are then forced to hear the sometimes brutal truth. And they’ll also hear about the value the organization brings to the customer.


HR Leads With the Process:

The process for hiring a senior-level executive often falls outside of the standard practice. Even the compensation package is touched by more hands than staff compensation. 


It’s important for consistency that HR takes the logistical lead in onboarding the CMO. HR can add value with the following:


  • Creates the executive onboarding program. The HR lead has the best overall knowledge of the organization. Understanding the responsibilities down to the task, HR knows who the new CMO needs to talk to and why.


  • Ensures the learning management system is available and operational. Providing logins and passwords, determining specific modules and establishing timeframes is best done by HR.


  • Schedules meeting time with all the internal key players. The HR lead provides background and scope for discussion of key priorities.


  • Works with the sales staff to set up field visits. The CMO needs to meet with clients and key prospects. Following an assessment of the organization’s overall status, the CMO may meet with vendors and key consultants. 


  • Ensures that the process and priority of onboarding the new executive gets the attention required. In a hectic organization, meeting with the “new guy” is not at the top of to-do lists. The HR lead makes sure that everyone understands the importance of helping the CMO get up-to-speed quickly. 


  • Alleviates some of the organizational logistics and cultural questions. A new executive needs a single point of contact for questions and background information. The HR lead can be the go-to for providing the info or directing to an expert.


 C-Levels Need Onboarding Suited to Their Responsibilities:

It’s clear that traditional onboarding is not what a senior executive requires. But they do need a distinct plan to address their specific knowledge requirements. 


An HR lead, with an overall grasp of the organization’s moving parts, can provide that plan.


Mike Drapeau

Makes data and analysis come alive so clients can understand the “what” and “why” and design solutions that fit the environment.
Learn more about Mike Drapeau >

Once the leader of SBI Delivery, Mike is now head of the firm’s internal talent development, so he has had the fortune to help some amazing sales and marketing leaders. He starts by earning their trust. Much of this comes from his deep base of experience. With more than 25 years in sales, sales management, pre-sales and sales operations, he’s never met a challenge he didn’t like. And with backgrounds in sales leadership, marketing, and sales operations, he shuns the idea of being a desk jockey and relishes the idea of living in the field.


Mike maintains, develops, and leverages SBI’s library of emerging best practices for sales and marketing, which leads to evidence-based solutions, custom-fit to each client. Maniacally focused on execution, Mike does not believe in giving clients fancy deliverables with no operational details. He knows that field adoption is key. After all, if behavior doesn’t change, the lift doesn’t come. Likewise, if those closest to the field adopt the solution, the client wins.

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