As informed buyers rewrite the rules of customer engagement, forward-looking CEOs have adjusted their revenue growth strategy—and along with it, the “A-Player” profile for their marketing leader.

Making your number takes equal parts talent and the performance conditions into which you place that talent. Since the average tenure of a marketing leader has been steadily declining, most CEOs are not getting that hire right. The result is decreased revenue growth and wasted shareholder value. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


It’s time for a fresh approach. Marketing has experienced a sea change in the last three years, and informed buyers are now the norm. Companies continue to increase marketing spend as a percentage of revenue, and we saw the highest percentage to date in 2016. These developments call for a rewrite of your revenue growth strategy. That also means a new “A-Player” profile for the marketing leader’s role. 


In particular, the marketing leader’s profile must be in lockstep with corporate, product, and sales strategies. It’s imperative to develop new competencies for this role and evaluate candidates on that basis during the hiring process. Remember, you get what you attract. If you fall back on old job descriptions and profiles, you’ll end up with an outdated marketing leader. 


Needs Assessment 


Following are key questions to guide development of the “A-Player” profile for your new marketing leader: 


  • Does your marketing leader’s career stage match the life cycle stage of your industry, company, and products or services? 


  • Could revenue growth accelerate if you made more investments in marketing leadership? 


  • Where will your growth come from—market share gain, market expansion, or new market exposure? Is your marketing leader experienced in this type of market? 


  • How does your marketing talent compare with your competition, industry standards, and best-in- class across industries?  


  • Does the forecasted tenure of the marketing leader match the time horizon of your corporate strategy? 


  • Do the marketing leader’s interests complement the interests of the CEO, board, and shareholders? 


  • Does the marketing leader’s profile reflect the profiles of buyers inside your target accounts? 


  • What does the marketing leader need to be best-in-class and thrive in your industry? 


  • What evaluation criteria do you use when selecting the marketing leader? How will you evaluate your current marketing leader? 


Important caveat: Your new marketing leader will be successful only if your hiring process reflects your corporate strategy. That is the next step. 


Best-in-Class Hiring Process 


Begin by establishing a defined and documented series of interviews and interactions with the marketing leader candidate. A best-in-class hiring process includes screening, work history, and competency interviews together with a job trial interaction. 


Screening Interview 


The first step is to conduct a screening interview. Its primary purpose is making the decision whether to invest time and money in moving the candidate on to the work history interview. 


Work History Interview 


Next comes the work history interview. This is where you dive into the marketing leader’s background to see if he or she is a fit for your new revenue growth strategy. Questions in this interview are similar to the ones you asked yourself when building the profile. For example: 


  • Does the candidate have the necessary background and experience to ace your go-to-market strategy? 


  • Do the candidate’s experience and interests line up with the interests of the CEO, board, and shareholders? 


  • Is this a best-in-class candidate who will thrive in your industry? 


  • Does your candidate’s career stage match the life cycle stage of your industry, company, and products or services? 


Answers to these questions will ensure time is well spent moving the candidate on to the competency interview. 


Competency Interview 


The competency interview is the third step in a best-in-class hiring process. Many people confuse this with the work history interview. Don’t make that mistake. The focus of this interview is to test the candidate’s proficiency level in each required competency. (See the sidebar example, “Marketing ROI.”) 


Answers to questions during the competency interview will help determine whether you have a marketing leader candidate who fits your profile. 


Job Trial Interaction 


Finally, we recommend a job trial interaction that tests the candidate’s ability to actually perform the job. See the sidebar, “Marketing Campaign Strategy,” for a shortened example that one client used successfully. Of course, you would have to tailor this exercise to your company and revenue growth strategy. 


Review this article, 2 Tips to Avoid Hiring a Disaster Chief Marketing Officer to access an example job trial and competency interview scenario question.

Focus on Revenue Growth 


By establishing the right marketing leader profile, tied to your revenue growth strategy, you’ll attract qualified candidates. Following the best-in-class hiring process mapped out in this article will help you land a great hire, in alignment with corporate, product, and sales strategies. It’s the best way to ensure your new marketing leader will contribute to revenue and ultimately help you make the number. 


Would you like help aligning strategies and attracting qualified candidates? For your next executive offsite, bring your team to come see us in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio increases the probability of making your number because the sessions are built on the proven strength and stability of SBI, the industry leader in B2B sales and marketing.


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