December 21, 2023

The B2B Customer-Obsessed Growth Engine

Being customer obsessed has always sounded like a good idea. And here’s a stat that should catch your (and your C-Suite’s) attention: “Customer obsessed companies have 10% higher performance numbers in revenue, growth and profits, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. That’s 3x the rate of companies that are not customer obsessed.”

In this episode, Forrester’s Lori Wizdo shares how CMOs can take the reins and help their companies develop customer obsessed growth engines. Tune in to learn why you need one, how to pilot one, and how to flip the script from “data-driven” to “insight-driven” strategy. You won’t want to miss it!

What You’ll Learn 

  • Why customer-obsession is good for business 
  • How marketers can rethink the buyer’s journey 
  • How to pilot a customer-obsessed growth engine  

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 376 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [3:20] Meet Lori Wizdo: VP Principal Analyst, Forrester
  • [3:52] Quantifying customer obsession
  • [6:48] Customer obsession = acquisition?
  • [10:22] The 3 pillars of customer obsession
  • [11:55] Rethinking the buyer journey (example included)
  • [16:41] Big change? How to accelerate acceptance
  • [22:03] The next dimension of alignment
  • [25:11] Who drives alignment?
  • [29:48] Remove friction with Tech
  • [35:00] Piloting your customer-obsessed growth engine
  • [37:23] Flip the script: “Data-driven” to “insight-driven”
  • [44:42] Dos and Don’ts for customer obsession

Highlighted Quotes  

“Companies that are customer obsessed have 10% higher performance numbers in revenue, growth and profits, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. That’s 3x the rate of companies that are not customer obsessed.”

“Stop thinking about data-driven, and start thinking about insight-driven, because not all insights come from data.” 

“Value is not inherent in a product. It is inherent in the customer’s ability to achieve a business outcome.”

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Lori Wizdo


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. And if this is your first time listening then welcome. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness. And that has a logo featuring penguins. Wait, what? Yeah, well, a group of these curious, adaptable and problem-solving birds is called the Huddle. And the B2B marketers and CMO Huddles are all that and more, huddling together to heat up the coldest job in the C suite. And now that CMO Huddles has three membership tiers, we’re ready to inspire B2B Greatness at all levels. To learn more, check out Now before we get to the episode, here’s a shout out to the professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them over a year ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at and tell her Drew sent you. Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. Alrighty folks, you’re about to listen to a Bonus Huddle, a specially curated Huddle that we run once a month with experts sharing their insights into the topics that are most important to our CMO community. We call them Huddlers. At this particular Huddle, our expert Lori Wizdo, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester joined us to discuss Forrester’s B2B Customer Obsessed Growth Engine. Let’s get to it.

Hey, it’s Drew Neisser. And we’ve got an amazing Bonus Huddle here for an elite group of Huddlers as we talk with Lori Wizdo of Forrester. Being customer-obsessed has always sounded like a good idea but it takes an economic slowdown to make it an obsession of the C suite. Suddenly, with new customers harder to find and even harder to convert all eyes, and that’s sales, marketing, everybody, are turning to the current customers as really the only available growth engine. And while this isn’t a problem marketers can resolve on their own, there’s a major leadership opportunity for CMOs to grab the reins and help their companies develop customer-obsessed growth engines. To help us understand exactly how to do this we are joined as I mentioned at the top by Lori Wizdo, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester. Lori has been with Forrester for 12 years, and prior to that had an extensive career in marketing primarily for tech companies. So hello Lori, welcome. How are you this fine day?

Lori: I am well, Drew, and I am delighted to be joining the Huddle today.

Drew: That’s awesome. And where are you? Most importantly,

Lori: I’m in Philadelphia. Alright, well, just down the highway.

Drew: Alright. So let’s set the stage here. I mentioned the top customer obsession, it sounds like a nice idea. But have you all quantified the value? Can you share the big-picture data from your research?

Lori: Yes, Forrester has been conducting customer obsession research for I think this is our fourth survey on the customer obsession characteristics. And now this is a little bit hard to explain but basically, companies that are customer-obsessed have 10% higher performance numbers in revenue, in growth, in profits, customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction plus three times the rate of companies that are not customer-obsessed. So it’s three times four, the rate of exceptional performance which we define is 10% or better.

Drew: So just to be clear, companies that meet these criteria of being customer-obsessed are three times more successful than non-customer-obsessed.

Lori: That’s well summed.

Drew: And that’s defined in terms of their growth is at least 10% or more in revenue, profits and customer retention, all three

Lori: And employee experience.

Drew: Oh, so all four. Woah, alright. So 3x is huge. And that has to make stakeholders happy. And it makes you wonder why more companies aren’t customer-obsessed. So does your research identify what percentage of companies actually meet that criteria?

Lori: Yeah, we do. And the bar is high for customer obsession, and the number of the percentage reaches low. So the number of customer-obsessed companies is 7%. Now that is up from 4%, like four years ago. So we’re moving in the right direction. Now, I should also say that there are, you don’t go from not customer-obsessed to customer-obsessed, there’s customer naive is the first one. Customer-aware, customer-centric and customer-obsessed. So the majority, the vast majority of the clients are in the customer concerned. That is the customer focus that is right before obsessed.

Drew: So, there are a lot of people on the cusp here about to make it into customer-obsessed, but still 7% feels like a shockingly low number. And I don’t quite get it. Why do you think that number is so low? Well, maybe I should ask it differently. Since you mentioned there are a lot of people in the customer concerned is that 20%? Is there another massive number of group that’s about to meet your criteria?

Lori: It’s about 50. But there hasn’t been like I said, over the last like four years, there’s only been 3% that moved from that category into truly customer obsessed.

Drew: So let’s just talk about why is it so important that companies take better care of customers right now,

Lori: I want to clarify one thing, that customer obsession, the way we define it is not necessarily just about focusing on the customer base, it is a strategy for acquiring new customers as well. And elements of it actually extend to a strategy for making sure your partners and your value ecosystem are happy and focus obsessing on those as well. But I think you are right in saying that it gains more salience with the organization, the enterprise, when the competition for new revenue gets so tight.

Drew: I’m excited to think about this more broader than simply keeping customers and upselling and cross-selling. But I want to make sure before we leave that and sort of break down this notion of customer obsession, how does being customer obsessed in terms of your definition of that end up helping with acquisition?

Lori: First of all, there’s a huge part of it is focusing on value. And if the more we really focus on the way the customer perceives value, the more likely we are to win in that competition for new revenue from new customers. But the other aspect of being customer-obsessed it’s important is thinking about customer experience at all stages of the customer lifecycle. And so if we are thinking about the customer experience, and delivering value at every stage of the customer lifecycle, we’re going to differentiate ourselves in the early stages of the customer’s buying cycle. If we’re making it easier for them to understand what it is the problem they’re trying to explore. If we’re making it easier for them to research, the problem they’re trying to find solutions for and research, if we’re making it easier to compare options. These are all things other ways we’re adding value, and talk about, you know, kind of bars being not met. One of the numbers that stunned me when I was doing research for the customer-obsessed growth engine is that 83% of the customers who bought who actually completed the deal, said they were dissatisfied with something about the vendor from whom they bought. That was the winning vendor and 83% were not happy with something about the vendor, something about the experience, conceivably something about the solution and product as well. That was the number that jumped out at me, out of all the numbers I’ve seen in 12 years of Forrester, that one was like, Well, we are not getting it.

Drew: I mean, some of this just sort of classic buyer’s remorse or that there’s something and is there any consistency with those complaints? Or is it all over the board?

Lori: There’s a lot of complaints about making it difficult to find information. There are a lot of complaints about transparency and trust. So I think there’s one of the things that we say about value. It’s not about extracting value from customers and companies that continue to operate with models that are really designed to extract value from customers are going to fit and if you think about it every stage of most vendors, engagement strategies are about extracting value. They’re about, okay, I want to get your name and your email address. And then I want to get you to click on this and attend my webinar. And then I want your money. And so we never think about the “What am I,” we just don’t think about it that way. What am I giving to you, in exchange for that?

Drew: I’m with you all the way on this. And I want to make sure that we get through the building blocks. So we’ve talked about outcomes in terms of revenue growth, and profit margin and retention rates. And we even talked about employee satisfaction. But let’s get sort of basic in terms of the building blocks, we’ve talked about customer value a little bit, but let’s look at them all. And let’s do it one at a time, maybe you could give it the sort of I don’t know if it’s four or five, but with the pillars of being customer obsessed, and then we’ll go through them.

Lori: How this really comes out, I think is that something we just released or started talking about, which is the customer-obsessed growth engine, because we wanted to make customer obsession, more real, and customer obsession leads to growth. And so we wanted to articulate how customer obsession leads to growth. And there are three pillars and I can list them and then we can go through them individually. But the three like major elements are focused on buyer value, customer value, alignment, and alignment is, and I want to talk about that a little bit because alignment is something we’re all tired of hearing about, think we got it and we don’t. And then the second one is actually thinking about tech differently to technology, infrastructure, then taking more of a, how can tech create value, and get not just enable our processes, but really create value for the customer be a source of innovation in customer value creation. So those are the three, really it’s focused on the customer focus on customer value, alignment, and elegant use of tech.

Drew: So we’re gonna go through customer value now. But as I think about it, I’ve been talking about on my show marketing as a service for 10-15 years, about this notion that marketing can add value every step of the stage. And I think there’s some appreciation for that. But it feels to in terms of, we’ve got to deliver value, there’s got to be an exchange of value, it can’t simply being about buy, buy, buy, buy buy now. Yet, your research says that this still isn’t happening. So let’s talk about this value and value exchange and enabling it. And give us an example of what we’re talking about.

Lori: Yes, we’ve talked about value throughout my entire career. But to some extent, the value we think about and sort of inculcated in our heads is the value that our products and services will deliver, how it will manifest. And so it’s only recently that marketing is thinking about the role of marketing is not just to be a source of lead gen for the load-bearing Salesforce, but to actually help enable a buyer through the buying journey. When we ask right now the number of companies in our surveys, they say they rely on buyer journey mapping for their engagement strategy is pretty high, it’s 75%. But again, I’ve been here a long time, and that number was as low as 38%, just a couple of years ago. So you know, there’s a mindset shift and saying, I’m not just a supplier of leads to low back Salesforce. I’m engineer, marketing is the engineer of experience across the entire lifecycle. That’s just a mindset shift and takes a long time, for mindset shifts to happen, and then to become behaviors, then it takes process change after that. And so I need to be thinking about, Okay, what’s my buyers objective at this stage? I’ll give you an example. This is when a company that switched the way it looked at its customer segments from a traditional industry and size, and they just kind of threw that out the window and said, our customers are more like themselves, they segment more naturally into their maturity levels, and using products and services like ours. So they came up with four maturity levels. This happened to be a company was doing outsourcing in the supply chain and logistics area. And they had for maturity levels. The lowest was never, they’d never outsourced anything in their supply chain. The highest was believer, which they strategically used outsourcing as a mechanism for cost control and agility. And there were two in between which it’s not my business. I don’t remember them that well. But you can just see I love this example because you can just see that if I’m thinking about what a never-buyer needs in the early stages of their buying journey, they need to know why would I even consider this “Why do I make this decision? What steps what’s the downside? What’s the risk?” If you think of someone in the hallways, they know that but what they need to know is why you, why you, why are you going to be a good long-term partner for me. Why are you more scalable, more reliable, more risk proof and so they categorize existing customers by work surveys and by working with salespeople, and they created content for these different maturity levels and then they just categorized the names by the content consumption patterns. And the reason I liked the stories, it’s almost a parable, because everything they measured in terms of their performance as a marketing organization, whether it was click-throughs, or leads, or conversion from this to that, increased by a factor of four or five times. So if they were getting like 3%, they were now getting 12, or 15%, that’s was consistent across everything they measured, because they were really, once they really put themselves in their buyers’ context, it was probably easier for them than some companies that have more complex portfolios, more and more complicated basket of outcomes. But once they put themselves really in the customer’s context, at every stage of the buyers journey, they were delivering much more value. And of course, they got the results.

Drew: It makes total sense. And now you have four buckets of people that you can actually get to know and also understand what it is that they need in order to sort of move along and sort of get to this believer stage, which I imagine that would be, you know, an ideal world for them is that they have a bunch of believers in there.

Lori: Yeah, well most of their repeat customers are good customers, are in the believer category. But also, you know, there’s an opportunity to steal believers away from other vendors. There’s always this mix between in any stage of these majority segments between acquisition and customers. That again, in terms of why you can envision how much it took to do that to get there. Let’s look at a two to three-year journey after they made the mindset shift. Marketing is just a lot of work.

Drew: And how do you, I mean, because this is the thing I’m thinking about. A lot of CMOs in the CMO Huddles world is getting the organization behind this kind of shift is a recognition of a problem and a new way of doing business. And those are two very important sort of things that they need to overcome. And it’s a lot because then everything else has to align against the two, right? Because the buyer enablement for the believer versus the never just gonna look like completely different experiences.

Lori: Yeah, marketing doesn’t make this mindset shift alone. And if it does, then we’re not aligned, right? There’s a lot of data that’s available from Forrester and other places about what’s changed. Buying groups are getting more complex, and there are more players, there are more engagements. Interestingly, in 2021, we passed sort of a Rubicon with regard to human versus digital engagement. And for the first time ever engagement with digital properties, there were more, a higher number of engagement with digital properties during a sales buying process than was human properties. Human people are just humans, I think we call them. And that was accelerated by COVID, of course, but it didn’t go back, right? Once you cross this barrier, it didn’t go back. So there’s data about the change. And then in this data, the 83% are not happy with something about their vendor that we’re not doing something right SGMA costs are going up by two or 3%. Over the last couple of years. And so there’s a lot of data that saying we should change, but how do we change, particularly in B2B companies. So they had a strong biz-dev Sales Lead legacy that’s just there in the culture. So what I generally say in terms of how to do that is, it’s crawl, walk, run, right? Well, I used to say that and I say slither is the starting point, often, and if that’s where you are, that’s okay. But also pilot, you just really have to find something that’s important to the company. That is, we want to break into a new market, we’re going to try the new way. We want to improve our profitability, or win rates in this successful segment. But we want to decrease our selling cost, whatever, when it improves something, but something that is important that has the eyes of senior management, but if that is tractable, and then just try it with that tractable program, measure it, be careful about how you measure, make sure you benchmark because a lot of people will do something, and they never benchmarked the initial state. So they’re claiming, yeah, we’re all we’re doing this much better. And it’s like, wow, that doesn’t sound so good, but it’s better. So make sure you use your metrics carefully get agreement that if we do this, this will be good. I mean, manage the pilot well. There’s something I learned long ago in my university psychology class, that it’s easier to act ourselves into a way of thinking than think ourselves into a way of acting. So it’s you apply that at the corporate level, you just basically demonstrate that it’s working, that will accelerate the acceptance of the ideas.

Drew: And that pilot notion of highlighting a different way to think about customer value. And I want to step back. It’s funny, one of the CMOs in CMO Huddles, I was speaking with, counted 137 different touches before the contract was signed. And of those 100 were marketing, which is kind of amazing. And it wasn’t just up to a certain point, and then sales took over. No, they kept coming back different members of the buying committee would come and look at some document or so forth. So I found that sort of startling and wonderful at the same time, because it really elevates the importance of marketing throughout the cycle, and in some ways diminishes the role of sales, I gotta say.

Lori: Yeah, well, I’ve talked about how I look at it because I think I don’t want to, I mean, we’ve done a lot of good press a couple years ago with the Death of a Salesman but we made a lot of enemies in salespeople, but it’s just using the right resources at the right time. And there are things that we’ll never do through digital engagement, because we don’t have enough context, because we won’t build the kind of trust, because we can’t, no matter how good we are, we’re not going to do as good a job at helping the customer envision their success. With a lot of the things that probably a lot of your CMOs are taking to market, they’re complex solutions to complex problems, the vendor is not going to deliver the value, the customer is going to achieve the value when they achieve the outcome. And there’s a lot of companies that trust that their company can do it, that they can lead that change. Getting that shared vision for the future, and imbuing someone with that, empowering some way that you can do this. That’s the stuff our sales channel can do, explaining how the ROI model works or explaining the features or doing comparisons or explaining where the value sources are. These are things that people research on their own. And we can’t do that. So when you do buyer journey mapping, and you really go through it, when I go through it with a client for the first time, you really realize that, woah, first of all the players change in each stage of the journey. And their information needs change. And a lot of them can and then you say can we do this digitally? Or can’t we do this digitally? Do we need more context than we have digitally? And a cassette engineer that engagement strategy?

Drew: Okay, so we’ve established that rethinking how you think about customer value, and the organization is delivering value, whatever the value that customer needs. And this is sort of the term buyer enablement. We’re rethinking that. Okay, that was step one. Now, you mentioned Step two was alignment. And we’ve already talked about that a little bit. And it’s a word that everyone nods their head and says, you know, but what does it really mean, when we’re saying we got to get the whole company aligned around the customer?

Lori: I think alignment is really interesting, because when you say alignment, everybody’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah, tell me something new. But our research around alignment shows that like, only 19% of the marketing executives, in our most recent marketing survey, said that they thought they had good alignment with the rest of the organization with product and sales. And then we do this future of work survey, which looks at executives across all roles, and asked how important is alignment as part of the culture of the organization, and more than half but still only 55% said it was important. And that means very important and important because that’s how we aggregate those two. So that’s low in terms of alignment. So even how we have thought about it and I think how we thought about it has been wrong as well, because we tend to align around internal things. We align around process. When does my process end? And when does yours begin? And we align around handoffs, we aligned around shared goals and shared metrics, ABM was really useful in helping us align around common audiences, which, like, how could that not have been, but it was all too often, and even then we still have these alignment problems. So we still need to focus on the blocking and tackling of alignment. But the again, mindset shift here is to start thinking about if we’re both aligning around the concept of delivering customer value of product marketing, and sales are all saying what is the customer need for us at this stage of their journey. Or how will they realize value? We’re calibrating to the customer. And if we calibrate to the customer, we’re going to be kind of instantly aligned. So it’s a mindset shift. And let’s just take the good things we’ve done in terms of aligning around process and audiences. And now start thinking let’s Okay, let’s have value of the mix are we? What role can we play? What role can you play and if we can play a better role? If nobody’s really focused? I mean, there are so many B2B companies that they’re still underserving the onboarding process. Which if you think about the buyer, journey, onboarding is so critical, because the entire set of stakeholders on the buyer side changes and in many ways, in many cases, they’re victims, a decision was made by somebody else, and now they need to make it happen. And so one morning is so critically important and it was only with the kind of advent of occurring revenue and SAS models, that people even started thinking about it, but it’s critical in every B2B sale. So, again, aligning around value what the customer needs from us. It’s the next dimension of alignment.

Drew: I’m so glad you clarified that. And in the conversations that we have in CMO Huddles, I mean, we have CMOs, who are jointly presenting sales and marketing with this head of sales to their board to the C suite. They are aligned in terms of ABM, and you’re right, ABM has been a factor. And if you ask them, I think they’d say they were aligned with their head of sales, maybe not as much with their head of product. But I think this notion of getting aligned around value is definitely, I mean, one I could see why that would be so important, two I can see why it makes sense. But I can’t see why it’s so hard. And because if it’s only happening 17% of the time, are we just talking about this is such a massive change in terms of mentality and process? I mean, it took so long to get aligned on process.

Lori: You know, well, okay, so first of all, we may see different audiences a CMOs, because the CMO that CMOs are engaging regularly with CMOs and sharing ideas are probably in the vanguard. And I see across the board. So I don’t want to say things aren’t happening with your stakeholders that you know, that are, but I was having a conversation around go-to-market strategy. It’s an interview, research interview actually, with a very forward-looking CMO and we were talking about the difficulties in being audience-centric, just to go to market planning, and being micro-segmented and targeted enough for marketing to communicate well, and engage well, but not so micro-targeted, that there wasn’t enough audience for sales to engage. But he said something during the conversation was that yes, of course, we plan around, we build around, we build programs around customer value and delivery across the lifecycle. But then he said, in the heat of the moment, it’s all about getting the revenue. So we have to operate, it’s reality. I mean, we need to bring in revenue on a regular basis. And our sales team is good at doing that. Sometimes I can close this deal here where there’s actually less value than that deal there where there’s actually a lot of value. Look, we all want them to close a deal that thye can close. So we operate in an imperfect world. And so that’s why really it comes down to short-termism and short-termism is well based in reality. So it’s hard. It’s a constant reminder, like keeping a low flow of energy on this topic, and always thinking about it. And recognizing that sometimes we have to act expediently.

Drew: And when the small percentage of companies that are customer obsessed, and by your definition of that the 7%, who’s driving that? Is the CMO at the center of this? Or is the CEO sort of somehow the light bulb went off and they’re mandating it? How does it happen? It’s light bulb went off? And they’re mandating it? How does it happen?

Lori: It’s different in different industries, in the software industry and the large tech industries. Marketing has been okay. And sales have both been kind of leaders of the charge. But in manufacturing, I’m surprised but, of course, I speak to marketers, but it’s marketers that have gotten the mandate from the CEO. So in some industries, it is a mandate from the CEO, and a board-level mandate. So the whole idea of customer session. We’ve been beating this drum for a number of years, but you know, the idea of customer obsession has been around since the late 80s, I think. And so when I joined Forrester 12 years ago, people would still be asking me, like, why do I need to be customer-obsessed? What do you mean by customer-obsessed? And now it’s like, how, they want to know how, how and how fast.

Drew: Okay, so the third pillar we haven’t talked about yet, which is technology, and using tech differently, can we get specific here? And do you have any examples?

Lori: So inside out with our use of thinking about tech, we look at Tech as a way of automating our processes, taking cost out of our processes, better integrating our processes, which is a good thing. But what’s still an inside-out perspective. The one of the leaders are those places where tech itself is part of the aligned goals. They understand the customer-facing initiatives, strategic initiatives, the company is trying to do and they will figure out how can we add value. How can we create value? Sometimes that’s new products. It is really about saying, I’ve got data here that I’m getting from the sensors and in my products, how can I use that to create a new product, and a lot of cases it was the technology, part of the company that figured out there’s incremental value in this data more than the marketing and sales parts of the company. So there’s value in making the technology leadership part of the innovating on value equation, but also adding to that value exchange at all stages, taking away friction from the engagement at all stages.

Drew: I got the data example. And I’m thinking about gosh, everything from CRM to, you know, marketing automation to the ABM tools that allow you to look at intent data. And I’m just sort of wondering where you know, yes automate, yes integrate, yes costs. But a lot of these tools are used in my mind to sort of develop plays,  right? And execute plays against a given group of people. And I think probably the biggest structural change in the uses of this is, at least with intent data, there’s a chance of adding value because you know that person or persons or company is in the market at least.

Lori: I hate to keep going back to mindset shift all the time. But honestly, I think I’m always backing I hate to keep going back to mindset shift all the time. But honestly, I think I’m always backing people up. It seems from always gotten back to you the go-to-market strategy, which is not so much about are they in market for this product, buckets more are audience-centric and I had a little epiphany a few years back when somebody said they had done buyer journey mapping, but they had done buyer journey mapping for buying this product. And then I had this was really double down when I was talking to a manufacturer of medical, scientific testing equipment. And I said when someone is trying to buy this mass spectrometry system from you, what are they trying to achieve? Well, the answer I got was, they’re trying to buy a mass spectrometry system. I’m like, Okay, but why? And it really took in workshopping easily 30 minutes, maybe more to say, well, oh, sometimes they need to run more assays in order to get to a different audience, or they’re opening up a new lab, or they’re this or they’re that. Marketers don’t think enough about the outcomes that clients are trying to achieve. They just don’t, we think about, I do a little exercise where I just go through how we go from product to value and push our value statements. And every one of us and myself included, has said, Okay, I’ve got a product, I’ve stuck with this product, I have this product, what does it do? You kind of configure it into solutions because I have lots of products? What does it do? What problem does that solve? Who has that problem? So we think we’re being solution-focused and buyer-centric and value-oriented. But all too often that’s a recipe that gets you on the number six on a list of three things I’m going to do this year, right? That’s true, it’s legitimate. It’s just not. It’s not what is top of mind to the buyer. So the flip is, there are economic buyers and key decision makers that we know with buyers for our products, and then saying, what outcomes are they trying to achieve? If I call on this, if this guy stumbles across my content, three or five things that they’re reliably trying to achieve? And then how do I address those, and then my proof points about why I do that better than anybody else. And when you flip it that way, you’re still going through the exact same boxes, but in the reverse order, you have a much better chance of resonating, but it’s really difficult to make that flip, that’s one of the hardest ones because, you know, you basically realize that you’re not taking the market, a basket full of products and services and solutions you’re taking to market a basket full of outcomes you deliver for specific audiences. And every time you focus like that, I always say the flip side of focus is exclusion. Exclusion is the flip side of focus. And as soon as marketers start to do that, and say, we’re gonna put like to use Scott McNeil, his old phrase, of the woods behind these arrows, someone will come out and say, but we just got a seven-figure deal over there doing that. And it’s like, that was the one you were gonna get, well done.

Drew: Yeah, thank you.

Lori: It’s really tough and I think and I don’t mean to say your audience and the people on this call and listening or not doing this, but we need to step up into a higher level of leadership, there’s still too much providing service to the organization and with the shift toward more data-driven strategies. With the shift toward more digital engagement. We are really need to level up and accept the mantle and to be honest fight for the mantle of if we’re going to help our companies succeed, of having a higher level of strategic leadership in the company.

Drew: First of all, people don’t want to shuffle they want to hold they don’t want a flashlight, they want the light and illumination and again, these are sort of old truisms yet we still need to be reminded of it. But um, the I have another thought that I wonder if this is part of this is CMOs have a limited period of time in which to show and demonstrate quick wins and buy the credibility and build trust in order to do something transformational. Right. Often that transformational looks like brand or a new website or a new perhaps go-to market. But I’m curious with this particular approach of customer customer-obsessed growth engine, how long does it take? And do CMOs have the time? Can they do this and get it done and see the results in time to keep them, you know, longer than the average?

Lori: Well, the good news is that one of the big HR companies has just come out recruitment companies, they’ve measured, the tenure of CMOs, and CMOs are only one month short of the average tenure in the C suite. So the 10, it was like 4.1 or 4.3 years. So that’s getting better. But still, no one’s going to come on board and say, I’m going to flip our entire code and market approach and check it in four years. Look, I’m not gonna do what we did last year, because I got a new idea. And you know, what, we’re gonna do something completely different. So you have to drive change while you’re keeping the lights on. So that’s why piloting is so important. And that’s also why piloting attractable problem. And also making sure that you have, let’s say this may take three years to get to the Nirvana state on this, what’s going to happen the year one, what’s going to happen in year two, what are proxies, proxy metrics for we’re on our way, I have to say even CMOs who are very seasoned to tenure, have sometimes not run the kind of designed and managed the kind of transformational initiatives that we’re talking about. And so that’s another thing in terms of realizing that you might be stepping into something that you don’t have all the muscle memory for. And so they’re most multiple ways of shoring up a potential shortfall. Reading research resources, hiring someone who is good at this, you know, that’s one thing, but mainly, I would go back to, sadly, we do have to still build the trust, deliver the numbers, deliver the support, bringing new insights to the company, about customers, which often means creating new processes to gain those insights. In our most recent survey, the number one challenge that was or the challenge that was cited most frequently by the audience, in terms of meeting their 12-month goals was better management of data and insights. Like, again, we’ve talked about being data-driven for years, but how many people in the marketing organization are really good at data visualization and looking at raw data and seeing patterns and seeing opportunities? It’s the few, not the many.

Drew: You also mentioned that part of this process in the critical core, if you’re going to be customer obsessed, part of it is having some insights to drive that obsession. And you then sort of link that to marketers may or may not have the ability to get the data that will help them get to the insights. And as funny as you were talking, I was thinking of several CMOs that I know that have managed to bring their data person with them to three consecutive jobs, because they’re so good. And they know how important that is. And I’ve always felt that the number one hire for almost any B2B CMO, if they don’t have one is someone who can do the data and really help that CMO know, you know, try to separate the garbage out, the noise, and find the insight. And we also talked about they have too many tools already, or they’re not using their tools, right. So you mentioned one insight, I’d love to have one more sort of example of an insight that helped a company become more customer-obsessed,

Lori: The one thing I would say is stop thinking about data-driven, and start thinking about insight-driven. Because not all insights come from data, let’s just recognize that there is a tacit knowledge There are things our organization learns every day about how value is realized by customers. And there’s a lot to be said from very old-fashioned techniques like talking to our salespeople but setting up regular processes for these things. I mean, I was in head of a knowledge management initiative once, and so much of it was just old-school setting up sharing, like communities that shared on a regular basis knowledge that was gained here and needed to be used there. Once I, this was in a small company so this doesn’t scale. But it was an interesting idea. I realized in my small company, we might have been about 50 million. We didn’t know so many things about our customer base and marketing. And I thought every time our company touches a customer, or buyer, what do we learn? And how can we capture it? And so we actually changed our processes. Because we thought about it, how do we gain insight, we change our processes. Not every time you change processes, you know, its supposed to work? No, but it works. You can change culture and mindset by changing process, as well as doing it the other way around. So it is insights, not data, and then in terms of answering your actual question. So an example of insights is there was a company that was selling something very horizontal networking solutions, and they made a bet on outcomes that they were going to enable and they really instantiated on their website, they had navigation paths around. Okay, do your network need better edge protection? Do you need more resiliency in the cloud, I don’t remember the exact actual solutions. But they engineered like five navigation paths around outcomes. And they made that decision. Every time you make almost any decision with regard to customers, the segmentation, the outcomes, it’s a hypothesis. So was a hypothesis. But they put into place some very easy way to test it, which was Web navigation. And they realized that they were getting three times the traffic on this versus that. So it’s, you know, that was an example where they just made a decision to make that call, certainly, they had benefits on their website. They even had roles on their website, but they hadn’t made that bet about the outcomes they were going to enable. And so when they did that took that chance, and they learned, and they said, Okay, we’re better off, doubling down. And taking this particular, let’s say, was resiliency in the cloud, or whatever, and creating three sub-outcomes in that, because that’s what people are clearly doing. So that’s an example of where this pivot and thinking the small steps yielded, like quick results.

Drew: Okay, we’re getting to the end of our conversation, sadly, but I, we talked, at the very beginning that the customer-obsessed growth engine is about more than simply helping to keep customers and upsell and cross-sell that this is a mindset shift, and an organizational shift that has impact on almost every aspect of the business, but certainly marketing, sales and product. And it takes some time, and a lot of time actually to make this happen. And again, I’m gonna go back to something that I’m just going to maybe make you repeat yourself. But how does this end up driving an increased sales among new customers?

Lori: Two ways. One, if we as an organization, this way, I think it starts at alignment on what is that market basket of outcomes that we’re taking to audiences, we have to get agreement between product marketing and sales on that, then marketing will be able to better articulate how we’re going to get you there. Right. And also, they’re better tripwires, right, a lot of marketing is still throwing pretty broad nets. And the analogy I use is drawing a broad net, and then sorting it all out. Versus fly fishing, where I’ve built the content that is going to attract a wide mouth, bass if there is such a thing. So we’ll be more effective there. But also, we can train the sales reps and able to sell stuff, better conversations, products will start building not because it’s the next cool thing or because we can. And matching innovation is good. It takes in a new market sentiment saying that, but they’ll start saying what’s necessary in our product to really better enable the value. But even in working this case, thinking about the whole lifecycle, which is another part of the value crystal lifecycle. I talked to a lot of marketers when I say what has to happen after the sale for your customer to realize the value they invested in. And they’re not sure, they just haven’t thought about it. So I’d say you need to create your value realization architecture. So you understand, because all the way through this process, this buyer is going to be thinking about how am I going to make this happen? How is this going to deliver value for me? And so we need to be thinking about the value realization thing.

Drew: I was thinking about a story that I tell in my book that I think is a perfect summary of the things that you’re talking about the notion of customer obsession, so I was on the board of directors of our co-op. And we needed to renovate the hallways of the building. None of us of the seven on the committee had ever done this before. So we had three construction companies come in to bid on the job. And we thought it was a hallway project. Well, the third one comes in. When we asked what do you guys do, “we only do hallways for coops and condos.” And these and by the way, here are the 10 emails that you’re going to want to send to your shareholders during the process because there’s going to be a lot of potential complaints. And suddenly, we realized that this was not about hiring a hallway come in. We were in the complaint mitigation business. And this individual then went on to tell us that oh, by the way, we budget 10% of our process, a construction process into clean up, so that every day the hallways are vacuumed and we even have sanders that absorb the dust because again, we’re trying to mitigate the amount of complaints that you get during the process, the easiest decision that we ever made and by the way, the other part of the story was that they were obsessed with this one thing that’s all they did so we got value realization and outcomes as well by this and it’s a construction company, but it was really helpful. Alright, so let’s wrap up with two do’s and one don’t for B2B CMOs who want to help their companies become more customer-obsessed.

Lori: So number one on my do’s is definitely focus on value as perceived by the customer. And I’m still in that same do, recognizing that value manifests in different dimensions, there is economic value, there’s prestige value, there are many dimensions of value. The value is not inherent in our product, it is inherent in the customer’s ability to achieve a business outcome. The second is lifecycle, I just cannot say how much I believe that it is the responsibility of the marketing organization to develop the engagement strategy that moves the customer successfully through across the buying journey or helps the customer move across the buying journey. And so it’s value lifecycle. And then I guess my don’t is don’t let short-termism derail you. It’s a reality. We only have so much time to deliver results. As marketers, our company only has so much time to gain revenue as companies, as entities. So it’s a reality work with it, but don’t let it derail you.

Drew: Yeah, I think that last point is so important because it’s sort of have your quick wins, understand what those look like and we created a whole quick wins cheat sheet for new CMOs just so that they could buy the time to make the meaningful change that will really demonstrate leadership and show what marketing is capable of doing, which is transformative. Well, Lori Wizdo from Forrester, thank you so much for all of your insights. I really appreciate you being with us.

Lori: Well, thanks for the opportunity, enjoyed the conversation, Drew.

Drew: If you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to hear more conversations like this one, find out if you qualify to join our community of sharing, caring, and daring CMOs at

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!