The marketing operations team has the important responsibility of executing the CMO’s strategy. They are embedded in the quarterly business review process and the sales operations process. They develop the reporting and systems infrastructure that guide:


  • Marketing automation
  • Data vendor management, including account segmentation and analysis
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Win/loss analysis
  • The development of marketing segments and buyer personas


Having a director over this team helps ensure friction-free exchange between marketing and sales.


The Challenges and the Benefits

So why do some companies hesitate to hire a director over marketing operations? There are a few causes.


First, the role of Director of Marketing Operations is a new one. Many companies don’t understand the benefits.


Second, this discipline isn’t bred in the traditional marketing operations career path.


Third and finally, this is a high-end skill set. The salary requirements feel out-of-reach for many marketing operations organizations.


The benefits outweigh the challenges, though. A director will help create a more effective marketing operations team.


The Director of Marketing Operations can drive the team to become proactive instead of reactive. They can then better predict what’s happening in the marketplace. This leads to campaign planning that is better tied to demand generation.


A strong director can also build a much closer relationship between marketing and sales. This often leads to a better analysis of marketing ROI.


Traits of an Effective Director of Marketing Operations

There are some important things to consider when hiring a Director of Marketing Operations. Look for someone who:


  • Has worked in marketing operations enough to understand the situation from the ground level
  • Has had exposure to the marketing function
  • Has strong analytical skills, understands metrics and the management of big data
  • Has a systems background (marketing automation, clickstream management software, data vendor management)
  • Shows strategic sensibility; understands the necessity of feeding information to the VP of Marketing
  • Puts collaboration at the top of the priority list
  • Is an effective communicator, and able to tie together creative marketing with linear analytics
  • Is a lifelong learner and takes responsibility for their career development


The Challenges to Hiring

Hiring for the Director of Marketing Operations role is no easy feat. The pool is small and the swimmers are few.


Because this is a relatively new role, the career development path is still hazy. There are only few good career development programs in this space, unlike sales operations. SBI is a good place to start if you want to train someone into this role.


There is a lot of skepticism among executives about the value of marketing numbers. This creates another challenge to hiring a Director of Marketing Operations. It can be tough to get approval when the team’s value is questioned.


Paradoxically, a director can actually help build more credibility for the marketing operations team. The credibility gap lessens when a director is in place to ensure data integrity.


First, to overcome these challenges, a CMO must get this position budgeted. Once the budget is in place, create space for them with a charter. SBI can help with that, too. For the charter, determine:


  • Who the director is going to work with
  • The cadence of information exchange
  • Plans for encouraging the right behaviors to maximize this person’s success
  • Expectations and deliverables


Make sure the charter also requires that the director create their own development path.


The Pre-Interview Checklist

A CMO should create the following documents before beginning the interview process:


  • Role description, including major areas of the position as well as the desired background
  • Role scorecard, including accountabilities, competencies and measures of performance
  • A short charter that can grow with the role
  • List of metrics that covers the key marketing functions; these metrics would be what you would report against in a QBR


Our Marketing Operations Evaluation Checklist is a helpful tool for CMOs. It will help you better understand the functions your director will be responsible for.


Want to stay in-the-know about what other sales and marketing leaders are doing? Subscribe to the quarterly SBI Magazine and get insider details right in your mailbox.


Mike Drapeau

Makes data and analysis come alive so clients can understand the “what” and “why” and design solutions that fit the environment.

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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