April 20, 2023

Evolving the CMO Dashboard with Forrester

The economy is turbulent and marketing budgets are down. But growth goals are up… What’s a marketer to do?! Listen to this episode with Forrester’s VP and Principal Analyst Ross Graber. 

He returned to CMO Huddles to share Forrester’s recommendations for marketing in a downturn. Tune in to learn why customers are the dominant growth engine in 2023, how to solve the problem with sourcing, what the idea marketing dashboard should look like, and a whole lot more.

Want more like this? CMO Huddles is a community partner with Forrester’s B2B Summit, coming to Austin, Texas on June 5th to 7th. Huddlers will get access to preferred pricing + other exclusive benefits — if you’re a B2B CMO looking to connect with fellow CMOs and Forrester’s top-notch analysts in a very special way, reach out here.

What You’ll Learn  

  • What KPIs matter most during a downturn 
  • How to measure efficiency 
  • What’s on an evolved B2B CMO dashboard 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 341 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned


  • [2:26] The dominant growth engine in 2023? Customers 
  • [3:41] Customer marketing KPIs 
  • [11:12] Forrester budget data 
  • [13:22] Budget is down, goals are up… What the heck!? 
  • [19:42] Efficiency measures 
  • [22:16] Integrated campaigns & Partner ecosystems 
  • [24:18] CMO dashboard evolution 
  • [26:08] The problem with sourcing: Justify the CMO role 
  • [32:42] No historical data? Start here. 
  • [34:09] Touches in the buying cycle 
  • [36:04] The ideal marketing dashboard 
  • [40:50] If the #1 priority is lead gen… 
  • [45:05] What metrics for customer health scores? 
  • [46:02] How to build a sophisticated model? 
  • [48:14] Come to Forrester’s B2B Summit! 

Highlighted Quotes  

“For most of the organizations that we're talking to, it's not a matter of how they’re going to deal with not growing, it's how they’re going to grow in light of all of these challenges.” —@RossGraber @Forrester Click To Tweet 

“When we look at B2B organizations, we see that typically 75% to the mid 80% of overall company revenues come from existing customers.” —@RossGraber @Forrester Click To Tweet 

“One of our recommendations for organizations has been to show how much active demand there is, which means: Of the demand potentially in the market, how much have we managed to have first-party engagement with?” —@RossGraber @Forrester Click To Tweet

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Ross Graber


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.

And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months 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 shareyourgenius.com 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 Neisser: 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. The expert at this particular Huddle was returning guest Ross Graber, the VP and principal analyst of Forrester. He joined us to discuss KPIs, dashboards, and more. Let’s get to it. Hello Huddlers and welcome to a very special Bonus Huddle on KPIs and metrics with Forrester Analyst Ross Graber. Ross joined us 18 months ago and is back to update us on his latest research findings. Hello, Ross. How are you? And where are you this fine day?

Ross Graber: Hey, Drew, thanks for having me. I’m doing really well. And I’m sitting in my living room in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Drew Neisser: 18 months ago, which doesn’t seem like a long time, that was October 2021. Most of the marketers that were there with us at that moment, and were listening were being lifted by a rising tide. They couldn’t hire fast enough, deal cycles were shorter than ever, brands were tiptoeing back into physical events, and CFOs were coming to their CMOs and saying, “Hey, if I gave you another million, what could you deliver?” That was just 18 months ago. Fast forward it’s complete chaos two banks have folded, others are on the brink, the tech sector has shed over 118,000 jobs since January, and more are in the works. Deal cycles are lengthening, marketing budgets are being cut faster than you can say, “But wait, don’t you remember what happened during the last recession?” So let’s start there. From a macro perspective, what are the most significant changes you are tracking right now?

Ross Graber: Great place to start. And and one of the things that I’ll qualify is I’m certainly not going to tell this group anything about the economy that they don’t know already. We all are working in an environment where we’re living through, we’re experiencing economic uncertainty. But I think where things get interesting is what organizations are going to do about it. Because at the same time we’re hearing about all of the uncertainty and all about the fears for where growth is going to come from, the idea of growth is still the imperative at most of the organizations that we’re talking to. It’s not a matter of how are we going to deal with not growing, it’s more a question of how are we going to grow in light of all of these challenges? Now, we’re starting to see some signs around what organizations are actually expecting. So where is that growth going to come from? In some of the recent survey data that we’ve received from B2B marketers, B2B marketing leaders, we’re seeing an expectation that the 2023 growth is going to bias a little bit more heavily toward the existing customer base than it has in the past. Businesses and marketers are expecting to see growth come from their customers as opposed to expecting to see it come from entering brand new market segments, or even through the introduction of new products. So the implication here is, if we’re going to grow through our existing customer base, we’ve got to make sure that we have really strong relationships with those customers. So from my point of view, what I’m starting to see is an emphasis on organizations managing, monitoring, paying attention to customer health and customer experience throughout both buying cycles post sale customer life cycles in a way that is a little bit elevated from what we were seeing a year to 18 months ago. So there’s a little bit of a change there.

Drew Neisser: So if we zero in on that just for a second and customer marketing as the dominant growth engine of 2023, what are the KPIs you think these folks should be thinking about in that specific area of customer health customer experience?

Ross Graber: So one of the things that we have been recommending is that we would love to see more organizations emphasize and focus on measuring monitoring performance and performing against their own customer health scores. Now each organization is going to come up with a slightly different blend of what actually makes up a score of a customer health. It may involve some level of utilization of product or service, it may have some level of engagement with your organization, or some advocacy signs. But the important thing here is that we develop something that allows us to keep our arms around it and our eyes upon it, because one of the more disappointing things that I’ve seen in the data around what marketing leaders are measuring across the industry is something like 15 or 16% of companies are actively reporting on customer health scores. And I think that’s something that’s got to change. And I would love to see it double.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so we have customer health. And then I’m wondering—the CMOs are thinking about this—and they’re saying is customer health on their dashboard or not? But then the next part of that is, what’s does really good look like from a marketing standpoint when it comes to customers?

Ross Graber: What does really good look like? So the art of this is always that connection between our impact-oriented measures, which are, do our retention rates look good, does our ability to expand the overall value that we’re seeing from an account—is that taking place? Those are the business impact measures. What marketing tends to need to do, however, is to show that it is successfully engaging with those accounts that it cares about, and that there’s a noticeable difference in the level and the texture of engagement that we’re getting from the accounts that are growing, versus those that we might not be having as much success with. Ideally, when we think about we’re measuring it because we’re trying to perform either better or maybe differently—if that’s what’s actually needed in some of the cases—that we can start to see the patterns to say, “you know, this is what good marketing engagement looks like in terms of volume or texture.” So we can start stepping in and intermediating, where maybe it doesn’t look as good as we might like it to be.

Drew Neisser: The other part of this is in the B2C world. It is just assumed that the marketing people know the customer better than anybody else. And the opportunity right now, if sales are coming from customers, then the marketer in theory has to know the customer better than anybody else. And they can help the customer using marketing to be another service arm, if you will. And so things seem to come together quite nicely.

I want to step back for a second and say—this is great if you have a multi product line. If you’re a single source product you can only sell so much, so this is a problem for you.

Ross Graber: Right, and this can be a problem. We certainly don’t want to have a leaky bucket. And most organizations are best served by making sure that they are continuing to decrease the volume of leaks in that bucket. But overall, when we look at B2B organizations, we see that typically 75 to the mid 80% of overall company revenues come from existing customers. So this is the lion’s share in many organizations.

Drew Neisser: So retain them, upsell them, satisfy them.

Ross Graber: Can I jump in on on one other point that you made because I think customer knowledge and customer understanding is something that’s so important to put a fine point on because we know that when we’re working in account manage selling environments, a good account manager knows more about his accounts or her accounts than your marketers are ever going to know about a given account. Where marketers are really bringing power to the table is when we can start to identify trends and commonalities across extended customer bases and different segments, giving sellers things that they haven’t been able to think about. Because they’re focused on their own patch, their own gopher holes. So our ability as marketers to use data and analytics, and survey the landscape in a bigger way, gives us that power to start saying, “You know what, it might not have worked for this particular account. But we’re seeing that on average, if we get 12 engagements that look like this, you’re on the right path.” This is what it looks like when we’re being successful. And that can be powerful, whether we are focused on our existing customer base, or if we’re going after net new, we have the ability to start showing others what good looks like and start replicating it.

Drew Neisser: So let’s stay big picture for a little bit longer and talk about within the Huddle community, I would say more than half have already had their budget trimmed. What’s your data showing?

Ross Graber: This is something where I think the news that we’re getting off the press came out a little bit different than the data we’re getting back in our surveys. What we saw in our survey data is that 16% of organizations told us they had a meaningful cut in their budget, we had a big percentage of organizations who were expected flat, and combined the cut plus the flat was about half a hair less than that. What I think is happening in a lot of these cases, though, the real spending power, even of the flat feels like a big difference, because with inflation and other factors in the economy our money’s not going as far. So that’s how we start to round the edges on what we’re seeing about budgetary feedback, where I know I have conversations, marketing leaders who are telling me that it’s been cut. However, the data overall was not showing us that. One thing I thought was significant, when we asked marketing leaders about the biggest challenges that they’re seeing for the coming year, the second challenge that they were facing—so second rank challenge—was that limited budget was interfering with their ability to achieve goals. The only thing that was ahead of that, and I don’t think this is going to shock folks, but data quality was the number one complaint when it came to what is going to hold us back from achieving our objectives for the coming year. So I don’t want to minimize, the budget pressure is real, our dollars are not going as far as we expected them to even when we’re seeing increases, those increases are not as big as maybe they had been in the years prior. But our growth expectations, they’re still in place, companies are still expecting to grow.

Drew Neisser: And there’s a disconnect there. But before—and I want to get into that disconnect—because you’re asked to grow 20%, but you have 20% less budget. And so there is one thing that I think we should start seeing. Events and physical events—whether it’s travel or those kinds—those have inflationary dollars, there’s just no doubt about it. But with less ad dollars in the market, because a lot of the startup world is really feeling the pinch, I think you’re gonna see a lot of softness if you haven’t already in ad costs. So there may be some balancing acts there. The other thing that I’m hearing a lot about is negotiation power has increased. So folks are going back and renegotiating contracts, which is a good news/bad news. They may be renegotiating your contract, but it also means that you can renegotiate your MarTech contracts. So there may be some dollars that it’s not just all inflationary thing, but let’s just talk about this bigger challenge of budget is down, goals are up. You know what the heck?

Ross Graber: Aside from what the heck, well, let’s start with what the heck. So goals are up budget is down. And I think this is, it’s hard to start this with anything more than this is a big frustration. Because ideally, we’re in a position as marketing leaders, we’ve been able to impress upon the leadership of our organizations, that marketing is bringing added value in a predictable way back to our organization. The challenge with this is something that is true whether times are tough or not. We’ve always had to set that foundation to help our organizations understand what it takes to produce great outcomes and for marketing to contribute to those, so not new. What is new, though, is probably the level of or not new in the cosmic scheme of things, but a little bit more intensified over the last couple of months is dollars are less available, not just for marketing, but for our organizations. Money or cash is tighter. Decisions about what gets funded, are under more scrutiny. And that’s where it puts an increasing amount of pressure on marketing leaders, but all leaders to be able to express back to the business, what it is that we’re going to get, or that at least that we’ve been historically getting out of these investments that we’re making.

Drew Neisser: Perfect setup for KPIs. There’s two questions, there’s the KPIs that are the ones that really show what helped marketing’s impact. And then there are the KPIs that the C-suite believes matter. Where do you want to start?

Ross Graber: Well, let’s start maybe even a hair ahead of the KPI piece of this, because one of the concepts that I think is important is when money is tight, we not only have to show effectiveness, but efficiency starts to play a bigger role in what it is that we are presenting back to the organization. Not only are we achieving, but are we achieving that at a reasonable set of costs or investments. And some of that is efficiency at the tactical level. So am I getting more for these individual marketing motions that we’re investing in? But I think even more of that relates to are we putting in and prioritizing those strategies that are going to lead to greater efficiency across the organization? Are we targeting the right segments? Are we going—and this ties back to “Hey, are we growing through our existing customer base”—because we think we can drive growth in a more efficient way, by starting with that. And the reason why I bring this up is, one, because I like to lean back on some of the data that we have, and some of the things that we’ve seen in our surveys. We were asking marketers about the top things they were going to focus on to go and succeed this year. And toward the top of the list, and I have it in front of me. So I’m going to read some of these items out. We saw the highest amount of focus was going to be placed against improving their integrated campaigns and efficiency play. 38% of our respondents told us that was a leading priority for them. We saw emphasis on building out the partner ecosystem, organizations were looking to lean more heavily on partners to ensure, not only their selling, but also that they’re providing the level of support that they need for their clients. Because sometimes partners can support our customers in ways that maybe we can’t. We also saw an emphasis on enhancing. So third ranked item was enhancing what we’re referring to as exceptional experiences for buyers and customers. And then lastly, rounding out our top four, we saw as a priority to feed growth strategies, the enhancement of building a purpose driven brand. So these were the top four strategies. I would say the top three of them are very clearly efficiency plays, how do we get more? How do we show that we’re doing more with our organization’s resources to just get better growth? By focusing on those things which will drive efficiency. We can debate and I’m sure we will, whether enhancing the purpose driven brand is an efficiency play as well. I can make this argument, I can certainly make that argument from two different angles. And I don’t know that there’s a verdict yet. So efficiency is going to take center stage. And what I would expect to see is that we will continue to see efficiency metrics live at the top of the performance story for marketing.

Drew Neisser: We’ve got integrated because we want to make sure that the same story is being communicated through all channels, partnership because one plus one equals three and you may be half the costs, and enhancing experience because we’re trying to make sure that the lead to opportunities that we do have we close or customers that we have stay—all efficiency measures. The one thing that I wonder, how you measure integration, I wonder how you measure partnership. We already talked about customer health and that, but if we’re looking to show efficiency metrics, what are those metrics for those first two?

Ross Graber: Yeah. So I’m going to see that my integrated campaigning is working. If I am getting more growth in terms of revenue, as compared to the amount of sales and marketing investment, I’m putting into a segment. You will see organizations use different ratios that they’ll refer to as ROI. But ultimately, when I look at integrated campaigning, that means I’m able to isolate a segment of the market and a particular need that we’re aiming to satisfy with the amount of revenue that I associated with satisfying that need for the segment, and what it costs me to win or maintain it. So that’s a great efficiency measure, the partner ecosystem one gets fuzzy. And I have data that shows how much organizations are struggling with it. The lowest ranked metric we survey in a list of like 60 metrics, what do you include, what don’t you include. The lowest of all metrics was partner program effectiveness, absolute bottom. This is something that organizations struggle with, because what we’re starting to see is that businesses are using partners in so many different ways. Some are growth partners, some are service and support partners, some are development partners. And it becomes very, I don’t know if there’s a better word than hairy, to go and get our arms around the different types of value that we’re getting from this partner ecosystem. I have colleagues in our ecosystem marketing service, who are working on this constantly trying to not only discover but hold up a megaphone to the things that they’re seeing that work, but I don’t know that I can do any of them justice.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. It seems to me there’s an obvious PNPS score that could be measured. It’s just like, because if ever there was the situation, where hey, are they going to recommend you? That would matter. And obviously, the limitations of NPS are always that they don’t tell you why or they don’t give you the details. But it might be a health score, there should be a health score with partnerships.

Ross Graber: Right. One of the things that I do see, and I’m sorry, I was probably a little bit too quick to give up on that one. Something that I do see is I see organizations segmenting their customers, based on the ones that are interacting with their partners, and those that are going solely direct. And looking at how different measures of performance may vary. NPS is a good example, are we getting better NPS scores from our clients who work with partners or with this cohort of partners than others? Are we seeing differing levels of growth from similar sized customers that work with partners and those that work direct? So they’re trying to get their arms around those differences. It’s very much a set of cohort analyses to say, Okay, what is different when partners are part of the mix?

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I think the takeaways, if we think about these efficiencies of integration and partnerships, and maybe even enhancing, there’s a real opportunity—if you have vertical markets—to be running the integrated play versus the non integrated play, the partner play versus the non partner play, and to be thinking about those opportunities to get some of that data. Whether that’s right or wrong, I think it’d probably depend on the individual marketer or whether they can actually create those because it’s hard to tell to one assays salesperson in one segment, “Oh, by the way, we’re not doing integrated for you”. But yeah, there’s got to be testable propositions here.

Ross Graber: Right, absolutely. So we’re on the topic of metrics. And one of the things that I do want to highlight because I think there’s a positive story in some of the evolution I’ve seen in how CMO dashboards have been developing over the couple of years that we’ve been looking at this. Whereas a few years ago, one of the things that was very clear to me is that most B2B CMO dashboards were heavily weighted towards metrics that describe the success of an organization at winning net new business. When we looked at this data in 2020, it was a two to one count between metrics that describe winning net new business versus metrics that describe the organization success across the post sale or extended customer lifecycle. That actually came into balance for the first time this year. And I don’t know that it was significant, but it’s a hair more weighted in the 2023 data toward measures that are showing success in the extended customer lifecycle. And what that means is, you’re seeing more utilization of metrics like annualized customer value, retention rates, more utilization of wallet share style metrics, things that are more inclusive or more holistic than, how much revenue did we source? Or what does our pipeline velocity look like now? So I feel really encouraged by that shift, because it’s catching up to where a lot of at least my client’s businesses have been for a number of years, where they are so dependent on recurring revenue style businesses that live on retention, cross sell, and upsell.

Drew Neisser: This came up to the very beginning of the conversation. And I want to get at this now, because it’s such a complicated thing. Obviously, there’s CMO turnover, CMO turnover is often part of the disconnect and understanding of the C-suite and what marketing can and cannot do, we can put that aside for a second. But marketing is sort of lived in this world where they rationalize their existence based on something like marketing source leads, marketing source pipeline, marketing source thing. And we know how problematic it is. But CMOs do want to justify their existence. And if we just look at revenue, or we look at marketing as percent of revenue, we have a problem with that. So talk through smarter thinking from how do we call for marketing sourced?

Ross Graber: Awesome, and this is something—thank you for asking about this—this is something I’m super passionate about, because I will start with a market overview here. Because what we are seeing, and what we continue to see, this concept of sourcing dominates B2B, it has dominated B2B for years. In our most recent data, 41%, of CMO dashboards highlighted some type of sourcing metric, whether it was source pipeline, or source revenue. Now, there’s a little bit of encouragement for me in that data, because when we measured that in 2020, that number was closer to 50%. So we’re seeing some organizations pull back. The reason why I think it’s important to pull back is most of the organizations that I work with, marketing is responsible for so much more than sourcing, finding demand is part of the mix. But ultimately, the business is succeeding when we win, when we close demand, when it becomes revenue. Now, there are different angles that we have to attack this from. The first is it’s not enough, just to say for a marketing leader to say we hit our revenue target, so marketing must be contributing, don’t look at what’s going on under the hood, because that doesn’t give confidence to our stakeholders. But also when revenue numbers start not to track the way that we wanted them to and things are going wrong, we don’t know what to adjust based on. Our work in recent years has been built around showing the relationship between marketing’s ability to engage with buyers, and buying group members, and how that connects to our ability to create revenue lift—which is a fancy way of saying when we see a certain level of engagement, do we win at a higher rate? And do we win at a larger amount? Because I can take concepts like my win rate and my deal sizes and turn those back into dollars. That is something that’s tangible. And if I can look across a couple of 100 accounts and say, “You know what? We see an inflection point when marketing’s engagement hits the level of 14 interactions per opportunity, our win rate doubles and our deal size goes up 15%.” There’s a dollar amount there. And it also becomes actionable for a lot of organizations because they can say, “Well, wait a second, if 14 is my magic number, let me see if I can start resourcing against driving that volume of engagement against more of my opportunities to attempt to replicate that level of success.” And Drew pull me out if I’m going too deep into a rabbit hole on this one.

Drew Neisser: No, I’m loving this. So what you’re basically saying—when it’s win more and win bigger—is if you can show the correlation based on marketing activities to win more win bigger life is good for the CMO. But I think we got to get now well, how do we get to those 14? Because this is a joke that we have in Huddles—I’d love to tell the story—it’s like the salesperson is out with a customer right before they’re about to close. They had a fabulous Martini beforehand, they had great steak, and there was some killer chocolate mousse at the end of the thing, which of the meal items were the one that helped close the sale?

Ross Graber: Yeah. And I’m not going to answer that for you. I would love if someone could answer it for me. But I can give you an approach like how we approach it to get closer to what is right. Because we’ve got to establish an order of operations here. So can we answer the big questions and then answer the next questions. And the big question for us has been the “how much” question. How much engagement is giving us a big result, is giving us the right results. Once we put a pin in that volume, here’s a good volume. Now I can start experimenting with the mix. And when we say we’re experimenting with a mix, what that looks like is, we’re going to turn the proportions and dials either in one segment versus another segment or a control group versus our test group. And see if we get different reactions in the future. One of the things that I wrestled with as a practitioner, I wrestle with this as an analyst is that even if I can tell you what worked best last quarter, that doesn’t mean it works best next quarter. It is a constant part of the job that we that we’re turning the dials to see how much can we get out of it now, our buyers change our competitive landscape changes. What’s important for us is that we know what good looks like, we know what we’re shooting for, and we have the ability to adjust and adjust to continue to be ahead of the curve on this.

Drew Neisser: You sounded like an investment account at the end, where they say past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. It’s okay, I think all of the CMO listening here are participating appreciate that. If you don’t have historical data. Where do you start?

Ross Graber: So where I’ve been, and I’ve run into a few clients who are in this position, we might not have historical performance data, but we should have some sort of research that we have done perhaps around the journey. And what is typical and what we expect to be typical. So for example, if I am doing persona research, and I am doing journey mapping, because I don’t have past performance data. And my best assumptions based on doing that first party research are that it looks like it takes about eight touches. You know what? Tell the team, that’s what we’re shooting for, track it, and see what happens. Because sometimes your efforts to get eight are going to fall short. You may still have great results, hitting four. Sometimes you’re gonna go long on that and you hit 12. But we’ve got to at some point, start by putting a putting a stake in the sand based on having done some research and work as hard as we can to make sure that we’re capturing that information going forward. We’ve got to find data from somewhere and if it’s not past performance data, at least it’s research based data, which should be technical benchmarks.

Drew Neisser: So speaking of benchmarks if you’re on chat right now, thank you at least one that folk on chat has actually shared that takes three touches for cross sells and 18 for net new, if you could put in what your touch number is that would be helpful and interesting thing. In Huddles conversations that number has gone as high as 27 in one case. Again, long sales cycle, high value product, lots of people on the buying committee, the buying chart looks like spaghetti. The journey is is insane.

Ross Graber: So while they do that, I guess there’s something that we’ve been a little bit more in tune to than in the past, which is we’ve done at Forrester buying studies where we asked by users how many times they interacted to go and make a decision. And that’s where we had a number we were using, which was 27. And that’s where our number came from. But I often heard from organizations saying, we’re not seeing 27, we’re seeing six, or we’re seeing nine. And what we’ve been much more in tune with is on a lot of the buying motions that your buyers are going through are not with you. They may be with third parties, partners, industry analysts. So there’s this very delicate balance that we have to strike also in the way that we research to figure out, okay what types of things do we have to support? How much more support do we need to give to our partners? Or how much more attention do we have to place against analyst relations or influencers to ensure that when our buyers are not coming directly to us to interact, that they’re also getting what is going to be a satisfying experience.

Drew Neisser: So I want to make sure we deliver on the promise of the show in this conversation. And so we’re going to have the ideal marketing dashboard that they present to their CEO and their board, maybe there’s some real time data, maybe there’s quarterly tracking data, whatever. And for the argument’s sake, we’re going to keep that to eight measures. What’s gotta be on the dashboard, right now, in your opinion.

Ross Graber: Oh, boy, so I’m gonna equivocate a little bit here. But your dashboard has to be tied in some way to the way the business is looking to grow. There has to be some reflection of this is where our growth is expected to come from, and we need to connect marketing’s success, marketing’s traction to those growth measures. The number one measure that I saw—and this took me a little bit by surprise—I saw that marketing engagement with buyers and customers engagement rates became our number one metric. In our survey this year, first time it hit number one, which was great, because I think that is a step in the right direction in terms of timing, how well marketing is getting the attention of its audiences, to the results that we’re seeing. From there, I think it’s important that we are being really clear about how those metrics we use are going to relate to our strategy. So for example, I highlighted customer health metrics a little bit earlier, it would be great to have a customer health score tied to retention rate. I love seeing where acquisition is a significant part of our focus. I love seeing something associated with CAC, because it’s important to understand how our Customer Acquisition Costs your tracking, we want to know what it costs us to win it. I don’t typically talk to clients about there being an absolute must do metric, as much as it is that the must do is being really clear to highlight the goals for the organization, and how those cascade down to a few indicators that marketing is taking responsibility for driving. And we are going to track month in month out, quarter in quarter out. Now, I do have some recommendations about what I don’t like to see. So I am still seeing in numbers that I don’t like I am seeing counts of revenue by lead source showing up on CMO dashboards and it makes me want to pull my hair out. Because I think it undermines so much of the work that so many organizations are doing to get great levels of engagement even if it is for net new business throughout buying because it undermines the idea of how much love and attention and care is needed to get revenue to come out the other side. Not a big fan of it. Not a big fan of lead counts. And I think I’ve already made my point of view known that I would love if we were able to achieve a day where sourcing makes it further and further down that list. But I appreciate the fact that in organizations where sourcing is metrics are built into our DNA almost. If we turned off the spigot and stopped showing it, it would be asked for especially if it hasn’t been well replaced with our lift based engagement measures.

Drew Neisser: Okay. We’re not prepared to kill sourcing, we recognize that it would be detrimental to many CMOs, but there’s an evolution here. There’s certainly an evolution and insight to me—this is not a revelation for most of these folks— is, if we can link sourcing with engagements and we can link engagements to close rates, then you have the ability to look at what you’re doing and say, “Hey, if we had more engagements we’d close faster, or we had more engagements that look like this, we would have higher revenue per customer”. Those kinds of things make that data really powerful.

Ross Graber: Okay,yes. And I keep looking over into the chat. And there’s something I want to latch on to because I think Marsha pops something in about when the number one priority is regeneration, how do you respond to that? So I respond by starting with, by taking a deep breath, because I think—and this is gonna be semantics—but I think when they say it’s lead generation, unless you are selling a very simple solution with one buyer buying groups, and if you are, I’ll stop because not because nothing else I’m about to say next is going to matter, it really is about identifying new demand that’s going to close. They may say to us, “Hey, we want more demand”. But if it’s not demand that’s going to close, the very next review cycle is rank the numbers have pulled in the wrong demand. And we’ve been watching this for years and years, this is what happens. So being able to show that demand volumes are sufficient or necessary to hit our targets. Super important, because we’re not going to get to those next conversations about, is it helping our business achieve, or the revenue goals. However, I like to see that expanded with, yes, our volume is good. And this is what it’s taking to make that really come through for us so we can all meet our revenue objectives. In some ways, we’ve got to condition business leaders to think a little bit differently about what the resources of marketing are being applied to.

Drew Neisser: So—and I wonder if it helps—if we can reframe and the problem is the word demand generation, in my mind, and if we reframe this, and we say there’s demand capture, which is there are people in the market for your product or service right now. And then there’s demand creation, there are people who don’t know: one you exist or two, that the problem you solve is a problem they have. So if we look at demand capture, for a moment, and we say, of the people that are actually in the marketplace, are we getting our fair share of those folks? Does that help this conversation at all?

Ross Graber: I think it does. And one of our recommendations for organizations has been to show—we don’t refer to it in the same words that you have used—but how much active demand is there, which means of the demand out potentially in the market, how much have we managed to have first party engagement with? Because as an organization, that starts to give us something that’s predictable, which says market is this big. If we’re getting first party engagement with this much of it, we can feel confident or not that we’re on track to reach our goals. But I think that’s a great nuance that you’re bringing to the table, which is how much of this is about building that demand, the reputational elements of hey, there’s problem out there in the market problem that you’re probably having that, hey, here’s a new way to solve. And we can do that for you.

Drew Neisser: And this is where it gets really interesting. In a downturn, you have forces at work, you have fewer people who are in the demand capture market, which means in theory, you have to close higher or you have to increase the demand creation and budgets getting cut. They’re getting cut in the areas that are the brand for the longer term. So the demand creation work, which some might have called brand awareness, that’s disappearing. And so this exchange for short term long term that’s happening in the marketplace, I think that’s what I see.

Ross Graber: Are you seeing that? Are you seeing that among Huddlers?

Drew Neisser: Yes. Okay. That’s the place to cut, cut from things that are not going to show up in short term demand capture.

Ross Graber: That’s another one. And the reason why I pushed on that is in the conversations that I have, I am hearing the same thing. In the data that we’ve captured—which is a larger set—I am not seeing any greater emphasis on the cuts coming from brands efforts, which I’ve looked at sideways because it doesn’t match the experience that I’m running into.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. I want to give the opportunity if anybody wants to come on cameras so to speak, just raise your hand. Oh, Marshall, thank you come on down.

Marshall Poindexter: So you mentioned customer health as a metric and the importance of that. Besides customer retention, what might be some other elements of that metric that can be rolled into that to track customer health?

Ross Graber: So, some of the things that I’ve seen rolled into customer health scores, I’ve seen things like customer based NPS’s, loyalty scores, advocacy participation, I think I mentioned utilization earlier. Utilization tends to be a big one. Sometimes it’s complaint volume. Sometimes it’s some type of relationship ranking that may be coming from a customer success team. So those are all things that I’ve seen blended into overall scores.

Drew Neisser: Marshall, I read in my book—I think I had a blended—I have seven different measures that you can put in there, some of which are very easy to measure, Jan.

Jan Deahl: Hey, thanks, Ross. This is fascinating, great discussion. You’re talking about some fairly sophisticated models, measurement systems, KPIs. Do you have a view on the resource required to build these best—like some people in the chat were referencing—I have no historical data, or maybe like a hero baseline, because I think some of the could be challenging to build.

Ross Graber: So it can. And I referenced earlier that the thing that we heard really clearly in our study this year was data hurts, data is a problem, data keeps us up at night. So yes, it’s a problem. But let’s talk about starting from somewhere because we do have to start with where we’re at, like, that’s where the journey is. And for most of the engagement-based measures, organizations are starting with a combination of their opportunity data that sits in their Salesforce automation tool, the connection of contacts, either physically on opportunity records are virtually by using like a BI tool to those opportunities, and digital response data that’s largely coming through marketing automation or ABM platforms. It is not in expected that that will be 100% comprehensive. But for a lot of organizations, if they just marry CRM data with map data, they’re getting a big chunk of what they’re looking for. So again, I don’t mean to make it sound more simplistic than it is because there’s a tremendous amount of process discipline that’s associated with it. But those two systems plus a BI tool or an attribution system is usually what we need to get a running start, if folks liked what they were hearing about the study, and we’d like to hear a lot more thought from Forrester analysts around the state of B2B marketing, B2B sales, and B2B product. Our B2B summit is coming up in June.

Drew Neisser: We’ve actually sweeten the pot a little bit for any of you in that not only will you get to see Ross’s research at the conference, if you sign up before the end of April, you will get the discount, get a special report, and get another private analyst meeting. So we’re really hoping that a number of folks can can join the summit.

Ross Graber: And I want to thank all the Huddles for giving me the time today. I really enjoyed being here.

Drew Neisser: Thank you Ross for joining us again.

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 CMOhuddles.com.

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 renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!