Is_Your_CMO_-The_Real_Deal--_Heres_How_to_Find_OutIs your current or prospective CMO truly an “A-Player”?


You and your fellow board members aren’t certain. But you know you need a serious person in the role.


You wonder, Can this individual deliver on our company’s marketing spend? Elevate our brand? Increase our bottom line?


Don’t be fooled by swagger and insider talk. Put your CMO or CMO candidate to the test. Find out what he or she is really made of.


How? By following our proven CMO talent assessment process. We’ll outline it for you here.


The CMO Hiring Process: Demanding and Definitive  

For such a crucial hire, a traditional interview won’t do. We recommend you follow each of these steps without compromise:


Define the Position.

Build an A-Player scorecard detailing the CMO’s mission, role, accountabilities, and required competencies.


Source Your Candidates.

Find people who match your criteria. That means knowing where to look.


Vet Them Thoroughly.

The best-in-class CMO interview process should incorporate the following:


  • Interviews by at least three people. You need a variety of perspectives to get a rounded view. Interviewers should look for competencies identified in your scorecard.


  • A job trial or simulation. Present a scenario—something your company currently struggles with. Give candidates 3-5 days to prepare a 45-minute presentation. Make them explain how they’d tackle the problem. Assess their competency, market knowledge, and strategic (versus tactical) capabilities.


  • Reference interviews. An A-Player’s former bosses should be happy to speak on his or her behalf. Invite three of them to discuss how your candidate performed on the job (30 minutes each). Use your A-Player scorecard. Have each interviewee rate the candidate’s competencies on a scale from 1-5. Compare those scores with your own interviewers’ ratings.



How to Evaluate Your Existing CMO

Perhaps the board is facing one of these scenarios instead:


  • Your existing CMO just isn’t delivering.


  • Sales and marketing are getting too big for one person. You’ve decided to split the role into two.


  • You’ve just inherited a CMO. You’re not sure this individual is truly up to the job.



Whatever the reason, it’s time to assess your current talent.


Follow these steps to eliminate all doubt:


Conduct an extended interview.

Allow approximately three hours. Ask the same competency questions you would a CMO candidate. Judge the answers based on your A-Player scorecard (see “Define the Position” above).


Ask to see the CMO’s marketing strategy.

The CMO should have an operating plan that describes how marketing contributes to revenue. Make him or her explain, in detail, how marketing enables sales to make the number. What metrics (behavioral, leading, lagging) does the CMO present to the CEO?


Delve into the details.

Ask the CMO about the five essential elements of his or her marketing strategy.


  • How is it aligned with our product strategy?


  • How is it aligned with our corporate strategy?


  • How is it aligned with buyer needs? (Who are our customers? How is marketing meeting them where they are?)


  • Is the strategy different than our competitors’?


  • Is the strategy in document form—something you can pass across the desk?



The End Result: A World-Class CMO Who’s Ready to Deliver

If you follow our no-fail method for assessing CMO talent, you’ll identify your A-Player. Here are the characteristics that will separate him or her from the rest:


  • Strategic (rather than tactical) thinking.


  • Evolutionary mindset; always on the bleeding edge.


  • Solid judgment.


  • Data-driven decision making.


  • Results orientation.


  • Proficiency in social and mobile apps.


  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.


  • Ability to acquire and keep good talent.


  • Competitive intensity (i.e., willingness to work in the trenches and go the extra mile).



Master B2B Sales and Marketing. Be the envy of your industry. Be sure to listen to the SBI Podcast. You’ll hear all the latest on B2B sales and marketing best practices. We’ll help you stay a step ahead.


Matt Sharrers

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by embracing emerging best practices to grow revenue faster than the industry and competitors. 

Matt Sharrers is the CEO of SBI, a management consulting firm specialized in sales and marketing that is dedicated to helping you Make Your Number. Forbes recognizes SBI as one of The Best Management Consulting Firms in 2017.


Over the course of nearly a decade at SBI, Matt Sharrers was an instrumental early partner guiding SBI as the Senior Partner. Matt’s functional responsibilities included acting as the head of sales where he led SBI’s double-digit revenue growth, and was responsible for the hiring function to build SBI’s team of revenue generation experts.


Prior to joining SBI in 2009, Matt spent eleven years leading sales and marketing teams as a Vice President of Sales. Matt has “lived in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. CEOs and Private equity investors turn to Matt’s team at SBI when they need to unlock trapped growth inside of their companies.



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