May 3, 2024

The CMO “Plus” — Elevating Your Business-Wide Impact

Are you ready to elevate your role from marketing maestro to strategic linchpin within your organization? Tap into your CMO superpower—your “plus”—and discover how it can dramatically expand your impact far beyond the conventional scope of marketing. 

In this enlightening episode, we sit down with three trailblazing CMOs who have transcended traditional boundaries by embracing their “plus.” Learn from their experiences as they share the challenges and triumphs of mastering a dual role that leverages their skills to foster cross-functional success and drive significant organizational change. 

Meet our guests and the pluses they covered: 

What You’ll Learn

  • How 3 CMOs got their “plus”  
  • How to manage two roles in one 
  • How to stay connected to your teams 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 395 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [2:48] Chris Willis: Chief Marketing + Pipeline Officer
  • [13:14] Melanie Marcus: Chief Marketing + CX Officer
  • [22:05] Patti Newcomer: CMO + General Manager
  • [30:17] On CMO Huddles
  • [35:31] Developing an operating system
  • [37:27] How to stay connected to your teams
  • [39:35] CEO conversations
  • [46:06] C-Suite dynamics
  • [51:24] Final wisdom: Getting your “plus”  

Highlighted Quotes  

  • “We’re all CMOs trying to be CMO+ and reaching into other parts of the business. If you’re doing that, you have to be self-aware and okay with letting that happen in other directions. The collaboration that I get in marketing from our CRO? Unexpected and super positive.” —Chris Willis 
  • “For others thinking about doing this is: If you love doing marketing, and you love getting your fingers in the marketing work, this isn’t for you. Because you’re not going to be doing the marketing anymore. You’ve got to rely on your leaders to do it.” —Melanie Marcus 
  • “Where are the places you think you can add value in the organization beyond what you’re currently doing? Line that up the new role so you can continue to be successful in both. Because nobody wants an equation where you’ve got more and you’re not successful.” —Patti Newcomer

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Chris Willis, Melanie Marcus, Patti Newcomer


Drew: Hey, it’s Drew. Welcome to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to B2B greatness, and that donates 1% of revenue to the Global Penguin Society. Wait, what? Yeah, it’s kind of weird, isn’t it? But let me explain. It turns out that B2B CMOs and penguins have a lot in common. Both are highly curious and remarkable problem solvers. Both prevail in harsh environments by working together with peers, and both are remarkably mediagenic. And just as a group of penguins is called a Huddle, our community of over 400 B2B marketing leaders huddle together to gain confidence, colleagues, and coverage. If you’re a B2B CMO who can share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and dive into CMO Huddles. We even have a free starter program. Now let’s get to the 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! You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddles Studio, our live show featuring the brilliant CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. This time, we’ve got a conversation on the evolving role of CMOs with Huddlers, Chris Willis of Axios HQ, Melanie Marcus of Surescripts, and Patti Newcomer previously of FieldRoutes. Let’s dive in. 

I’m your host, Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. For about a year at CMO Huddles, we’ve been talking about the notion of CMO plus, encouraging marketing leaders to seek their plus, more than just a title change, it represents a reimagining of a CMO’s impact across their organization. And any addition to an already demanding role requires improved time management skills and delegation skills, along with a capacity to learn and grow as a business leader. Today, we’re peeling back the layers of this dual role dynamic, exploring the nuances and impacts of stepping into the plus in CMO plus. With that, let’s bring on Chris Willis, Chief Marketing and Pipeline Officer. There’s that plus—at Acrolinx. You’re a returning guest who previously appeared on the show to discuss synergizing martech with AI and future-proofing B2B metrics. So hello, Chris.

Chris: Hello, Drew.

Drew: Where are you this fine day in your fine red jacket?

Chris: I’m sitting in Concord, Massachusetts in our North American headquarters.

Drew: Awesome. All right, well, so let’s talk about pipeline, that’s your plus. How did this come to be? Was it something you actively pursued? Or did it evolve naturally over time, or a little bit of both?

Chris: It was something that I was invited to do. We brought in a new CEO in 2020. And one of the first things that Volker did when he got to the organization was identify that we needed a higher-level view of the entire pipeline, not the sales part of it, and not the marketing part of it, but the whole business part of it. And he said, you know, it could be me, it could be him, or it could be our head of sales. “Who do you want it to be, Chris?” Well, obviously me. I don’t really know what you mean, but I’m excited. And let’s figure this out. And that was the beginning of the last several years of building out a more active approach towards overall pipeline management.

Drew: So let’s talk about, first of all, so it’s been about a couple of years now, talk about the biggest challenges that you faced. Because I mean, it’s not like there are a lot of chief pipeline officers out there, there’s no playbook, there’s no pipeline officer manifesto or other things. How did you sort of get your hands around this job?

Chris: I mean, at the start of it, it was trying to find some level of simplicity. So let’s just break this down as creation, progression, and future health of the business. That’s what the office of the pipeline leader cares about. And those are things that traditionally live inside marketing and a little bit inside sales, but there are levers that are given to this part of the organization, this pipeline organization, to be able to ensure that at the creation standpoint, meetings are happening. I happen to, in my organization, have the BDR organization. So I have marketing creating leads, I have BDRs converting them into meetings, are we flowing through into the sales organization, how’s our handoff looking, then, after the handoff, it moves more into the sales domain, are we creating opportunities? If we are, cool, which ones, and let’s build on that. If we’re not, why not? Let’s figure it out and fix that process. And from there, marketing traditionally looks forward, we’re creating things that are going to, I mean, in an organization like ours, we don’t have a one-quarter sales cycle. So everything that we’re doing today has an impact on the rolling four quarters forward. So now I’m looking at Q1, I’m looking at Q2 to make sure that when the clock ticks on December 31st, it’s January 1st, we’re ready for Q1, we have sufficient unweighted pipeline total value of all the opportunities in the pipeline and weighted pipeline, which is the computation value based on the progression of each individual opportunity, are we walking into a quarter where we’re going to be successful, and knowing that ahead of time, we have the ability to fix it. I think companies do this, but they do it in a lot of different places, and it doesn’t often connect. And so the benefit of taking this approach and having this space in the business is that it opens up that collaboration. I am a marketing person, I’ve been a marketing person for a lot of years. And you can get caught in the world of like, we’re creating what we’re supposed to be creating, and you’re not closing it. And that’s not a healthy place to be in the business. The trick that was played on me here is that it has elevated my view beyond the marketing contribution. I know that marketing is designed to deliver 60% of all pipeline, right, but I care about 100% of the pipeline. So now from being CMO, like we’re doing our part to our entire company delivering what’s necessary, changes the whole collaborative approach between me and our CRO.

Drew: Yeah, I mean, so I’ve so many different thoughts that I want to talk about. But there’s only so many hours in a day. And you know, I think we all have the same number of minutes, 1,440 per day, what did you need to do in order to spend all this time as Chief Pipeline Officer? What did you sort of need to give up? Or what kind of structure did you need underneath yourself, too, in order to make this work?

Chris: I needed remarkably strong second-level management, really, because I needed to not spend as much time in the day-to-day tactics of a scaling-up business. So having a very strong VP of Revenue Marketing, having a very strong VP of Content and Product Marketing allowed me to spend more time looking down over the entire front office function and finding the things that needed to happen. So I’m still involved in the overall marketing strategy because that’s fueling this pipeline. But again, I’m also meeting with individual salespeople, making sure they’re getting what they need. I’m bringing in, for instance, Field Marketing into a meeting with a sales rep saying like, “What are we doing for you specifically in your territory to make sure you’re getting the meetings that allow you to create and progress opportunities?” My product marketing team, as an example, has compensation tied to weighted pipeline, because if deals aren’t progressing, it might be a seller problem, but it might not be. It might be that we don’t have the right ROI tool, it might be the middle of the funnel content isn’t strong enough to drive deals forward. So everybody now is engaged in this process. And they are because of the view, the vantage point that I’ve taken over the entire process.

Drew: I wonder, has this changed the way you think about marketing?

Chris: Well, yes, I mean, I’ve always been a data-driven, demand-oriented marketing person, that’s where I come from. But now you’re seeing it across a much wider swath of the business, everything comes back to how are we driving into the pipeline, and then through the pipeline, and you can map most things that we do in marketing to one of those two things, either creation, obviously, with demand or progression through content and product and social and PR and all the things that we do. It’s all coming back to those two metrics of unweighted and weighted pipeline. And it ties marketing to the outcome of the business in a way that I think most companies don’t manage to. And it creates a trust between the sales organization and the marketing team because the sales team knows that everybody in this process is in it for the same thing that they are. And we don’t run into the, he said, she said, and we’re winning, and you’re not, we all win, or we don’t. And that’s how this business has grown.

Drew: So it definitely seems like it’s giving you greater alignment with sales. And it also sort of connects marketing more to the end goal of the organization, which is obviously to acquire and keep customers, which is pretty much what every business is there to do, right? Is to acquire and keep them happy. I’m wondering if it’s changed the perception of Chris within the rest of the leadership organization because sometimes you hear that, “Oh, well, they’re just the marketing person.” Right?

Chris: I mean, I think that, you know, I’m looking at the future. So here we are in Q4, and we’re working through getting all of our deals closed, getting the year closed. Well, that’s what we’re here to do. But I’m living in Q3 of next year. And having that viewpoint, I’m bringing up completely different situations than what we’re currently working on. And I think that’s the failsafe that we’ve built into the system is that good or bad, Q4 is going to happen, and we’re doing it right now. But the clock continues to tick, right? And the counter continues to turn, and we’re going to get to Q3, and are we going to be okay? And that’s the part where I bring the gravitas. We need to do these things now so that we will be healthy in the fall of next year. And that brings a lot more to the organization. There’s another unintended consequence with this that you wouldn’t think of, is that so we’re all CMOs trying to be CMO-plus and reaching into other parts of the business. But an unintended positive consequence is that if you’re doing that, you have to be self-aware and be okay with letting that happen in other directions. And the collaboration that I get in marketing from our CRO, unexpected and super positive. Because I can’t, I mean, I can’t, it can’t be unilateral. I can’t just be the only one reaching. Shane brings huge value to our messaging, for instance. And not just in making sure people are using it, but actually, I mean, he speaks to customers, he knows so much. And he brings a lot to the process of top-level problems that we solve, differentiators. And so as a front office management team, we’re very integrated. And there isn’t that competition amongst us to see who’s bigger, cooler, and more successful. We’re working together at a strategic level down into the tactics on everything, which is, I think, a very healthy way for a business to run. I didn’t expect it, but here we are.

Drew: Well, I have to summarize this by saying this all sounds like a plus. Okay, with that, I’m going to welcome Melanie Marcus, Chief Market and CX officer at Surescripts, an industry expert who has graced our stage before, to delve into the topic of securing organizational buy-in and structuring marketing departments. So hello, Melanie, wonderful to see you again.

Melanie: Hi, Drew. It’s great to be here.

Drew: So, and just to sort of ground us, where are you this fine day?

Melanie: So I am in Washington, DC at my personal headquarters.

Drew: I love it, you and the nation’s capital right there ready to go! Okay. So you were CMO for six years at Surescripts. By the way, congrats on your tenure and added CX to your title in July of this year. Can you share the story of the story behind the change? How did this happen? 

Melanie: Sure. Well, yeah, so I’ve been here, I’ve been doing marketing for six years, as you know, now it’s six and a half, and then a lot of work to renovate and really develop a very strong marketing function. And similar to Chris, we had a CEO change about now a year and a half ago. But as our CEO came in and was looking at the org, our Chief Customer Officer, who had sales account manager, the whole thing—retired, and our fairly new CEO decided not to replace the position but rather to infuse the customer throughout the organization. We are a customer-led organization, most of our business comes from within our current customer base. And so what when he was doing that, I already had, I had taken on customer experience improvement. And I was, you know, fortunate to be in the situation where it was the right time for everyone, for me to take on account management and customer support. They also at the time, then went over to our strategy lead, who is now our Chief Growth Officer. So we spend a lot of time together.

Drew: Okay, so we’ve got you adding CX suddenly to this thing, and because it makes a lot of sense as you explained it, because we’re dealing with growth, and the growth that you’re going to get has come from existing customers. So marketing and customer experience are almost the same in the sense that they have such common goals at that point. How did it change how you spent your time?

Melanie: Yeah, you know, it’s funny that it’s six months, it’s really been six months at this point. So the first three months was typical for any new job that you take on, right? I was really looking to my marketing leaders to keep that function going, which I completely agree with Chris, the only way to do this kind of job is to make sure you’ve got awesome second-level leaders, and I do. So that was great. But I spent the first three months talking with every single person through focus groups or one-on-one interviews in these new functions to understand what was going on, where were the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and we had some low-hanging fruit, and things that we did to have some quick wins, but then quickly pivoted to like, okay, now I get it, like we are, we have a plan for these new functions for the next year or three years. And now we’ve got one function, right? Marketing and customer experience, it’s a function, and we work together. And there’s a lot of work to be done to do that. It’s only six months. But what, what my time is spent, what happened for me, and I think this is interesting and maybe important for others thinking about doing this, is like, if you love doing marketing and you love getting your fingers in the marketing work, this isn’t for you. Because you’re not going to be doing the marketing anymore. You’ve got to man, you’ve got to rely on your leaders to do it. Now there’s a part of me that still misses it, like I kind of like it, right? But the thing that I’m spending my time on now, and I would expect this to continue and ebb and flow as things happen in the business, but is making sure that the overall team is focused in the right place at the right time to drive business forward and growth. And that sounds like simple and all of that, from a time perspective. What does that mean for me? I actually spend a lot of time out in the market, listening to the market, listening to our customers, and doing things like attending CMO Huddles. I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like in the last six months, but hopefully soon, working with Forrester like understanding what others are doing in these spaces. So I can bring back not only what is it we need to do differently for our business, but maybe how, and some ideas to thread back into the entities’ teams. So I’m spending a lot of time doing that. And I consider that a key part of the job and helping to drive the business forward and set, and the other pieces that are in, really great. We’re in goal-setting time right now, setting the right goals and metrics. So we know when things are on track.

Drew: I love it, there’s so many little exclamation points. So one of the patterns that we’ve seen so far is CEO has to sort of say, “Hey, I want to reorg, and I want to consolidate.” Two is you as the marketer have to be willing to let go, and suddenly, you know, in order to let go, you have to have really strong number two’s, you are no longer doing marketing, you are leading a function. The thing that struck me though, is oftentimes customer success or customer experience and marketing, even if they report the same thing or are thought of as two different departments, and you’re really seeing them as integrated. And I wonder how that works in reality in that the skill sets, the way they’re compensated might be a little bit different. And so how do you actually get this to be one team with, you know, common goals?

Melanie: Yes. So I mean, they won’t have common goals. They will have goals that intersect with each other. But if you think about account management and support, we were pretty clear, even in the first three months, hey, guys, you know, customer, this is about—sure it’s about customer satisfaction, super important to us. NPS is a beacon metric for us, and so forth. But, you know what, it’s also about retention. And it’s about finding opportunities within the customers that you manage. So it’s actually got a pretty good marketing role in a way, you know? So, we’ll see how it goes, where, you know, we’re six months in, and we’re making some changes to go into Q1 of 2024. But I think there’s some excitement, there’s trepidation, and there’s excitement, you know? The trepidation is actually like, “Wait, account management is in one function in the executive team. And sales is in another function in the executive team.” And there’s worry in those teams that, “Hey, we don’t want to like… we work closely together, right?” And they do, and they have to, and so the key here is to make sure we keep those connections. And actually, I think that Chris also said that another element of this is huge cross-functional alignment and constant working together. Because we do not exist in a silo in the org, we exist as part of an interconnected ecosystem. And we have to make sure that stays.

Drew: Yeah, it’s funny. As I was listening to you, one of the thoughts is that, in reality, I think CMOs, as seasoned marketers, can probably make almost everything better if they actually had the time or responsibility because you’re good communicators, you’re good simplifiers, you can set goals, you can get teams, everybody aligned to it. So it’s funny, as I think about this plus, it doesn’t matter necessarily what it is. But the truth is that it’s a growth opportunity for the CMO. And it’s probably a great opportunity for the company to improve some area. Alright, well, let’s talk to—now welcome Patti Newcomer, who was a former CMO of FieldRoutes, who has previously joined us on the show to shed light on the intricacies of engaging employees and finding the perfect CMO gig. Hello, Patti, welcome back.

Patti: Hello.

Drew: So, how are you, and where are you today?

Patti: I am fine. I’m great. I am outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, just over the border in South Carolina.

Drew: Alright. Alright. Cool. That’s like south of the border there. That’s a famous sort of Billboard Central. So you were recently CMO and GM at FieldRoutes? Can you talk about how you ended up with both titles and what that meant?

Patti: Yeah, so just a little background, FieldRoutes was the combination of two businesses, PestRoutes and LobsterMarketing. So PestRoutes was all about the back office, CRM, routing, payments, all that. LobsterMarketing was the marketing, so websites, email, you know, that component, and we rebranded to FieldRoutes and created two suites, the Operation Suite and the Marketing Suite. The entire business was really oriented to the Operation Suite. And we had a person that was in the general manager role of LobsterMarketing. It was the former CEO of LobsterMarketing, and he left the business about a year before I was asked to take on the role. And what happened in the meantime was the business was kind of being run by the junior people that were working on it. And they were asking for a leader, and the business results were problematic. And so there was not a lot of marketing expertise in the business. And I would say the reason that the CEO asked me to take on this role was A) because I’m also a marketer so I have all the expertise about the product that the Marketing Suite was offering. The way I showed up on the ELT was not just as a marketer, I was showing up as a business leader. And because I had said, “I can take on more like I have the capacity to take on more. I have strong leaders.” And I think those three things allowed me to step into this role. Now, unlike the other two speakers, I was very intentional about keeping the two roles separate, because I didn’t want people to think that I, the GM of the Marketing Suite, only meant I was responsible for the marketing. I was responsible for the entire business and the performance of the entire business. And so I very much talked about, “I’m the Chief Marketing Officer of the business, and I’m the General Manager of the Marketing Suite.” So the Chief Marketing Officer role was over the entire company, and the GM of this, you know, half of our, you know, one of our two major product offerings.

Drew: And that’s so interesting, and it’s got to be complicated also because it happens to be a marketing suite. So that must’ve been a little bit of a, you know, hard for folks to wrap their mind around. So I’m assuming that as the GM, you had a P&L. 

Patti: Yep.

Drew: And suddenly, and this is interesting because we’ve had CEOs come join us in Huddles in the past. And, and when we talk about what it takes to get to a CEO role from a CMO role, it’s often some kind of P&L experience. And also at that moment, suddenly, they’re looking at marketing budgets differently. And so you are a CMO over here saying, “I need more money, there should be more money in marketing, less money in sales,” and suddenly you’re over here as a GM going, “Yeah, I don’t know.”

Patti: Yeah, I actually spent most of my time—I was also in this role for about six months. And I spent very little of my time on the marketing, I spent much more of my time on the performance of—we had an attrition issue, we had a sales issue, we had a morale issue. And so I spent, you know, much more of my time on the one minus marketing items here. And our P&L was really not so much driven by the marketing expense, because honestly, the most important sale was to our existing Operation Suite customers. So it wasn’t a huge marketing budget. And the team was, you know, the team was doing a nice job on that. And so there were certainly some aspects of that. But the more important thing was, you know, I used to talk about it as “we got to bring revenue in and we got to keep it.” And, you know, we were not bringing enough in, and we were losing too much of it. And so that was causing, you know, issues on the P&L from both directions. And so, and so my job was really, you know, getting the team focused on that, making sure that the priorities were clear, and making sure that the product roadmap was committed to making sure that the customer service team had the resources and the expertise that they needed, and then spending a lot of time on the morale and the culture in the organization.

Drew: And had you had a GM role before? So what was the steepest learning curve?

Patti: You know, honestly, it wasn’t like, “I didn’t know how to do this.” I feel like I, you know, when I started almost eight years at Intuit in two stints and at Intuit, there’s a lot of focus on leadership and not just your functional hat. Once you get to be a director and I was a VP at Intuit, it’s very emphasized that you need to show up not just with your marketing hat on but also your executive hat on. So for me, it was some of the time management, like how do I really make sure that I spend enough time on both? And I’m not, I’m not ignoring one or the other. But it wasn’t like, “Oh, gosh, I don’t know what to do.”

Drew: And do you think you became a better time manager as a result of that? Or did you just sort of say, “I need to dust off my skills here?”

Patti: I mean, certainly there was a number of months of time management equals more time. And I think that’s normal. But I do think what the other speakers were talking about, Chris and Melanie were talking about in terms of, depending on their leaders also is super important. Like, here’s where I’m going to spend my time. And here’s where I’m, you know, very overt about asking people to step up, and things that I, you know, that I was getting out of that I used to be in it in the past.

Drew: And what’s interesting about this whole conversation, and we’ll, when we bring back Chris and Melanie, we’ll get into this, but it’s really an opportunity for your number twos to step up too. And so if I were number twos in a marketing organization, I’d be encouraging the CMO to take a plus.

Patti: I very much have the philosophy anyway, that like, my number two should have lots of visibility. And I’m, you know, I’m there in the meetings, they’re doing a presentation, I’m giving them credit for things. And so it wasn’t like, “Who are these people that are now showing up?” It was, you know, kind of the next right the next right move for these leaders?

Drew: Yeah, no, I recall those words coming out of your mouth in various Huddle conversations about supporting the team and crediting the team. And that would be essential. The other thing I was just thinking about is how formative and fortunate for you to work at a company like Intuit, which actually does build leaders. And I know that I’ve talked to a number of folks from Intuit over the years who are now CMOs or number twos who came up through that system. And, you know, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking about your career, sometimes it helps to work at a bigger company that actually has procedures and processes to train you to think a little bit about your role.

Patti: Yeah, very much, and you know, the stepping in to see what the business needs is something that I was doing for a number of months out of this suite in the executive leadership team, you know, it wasn’t like, I wasn’t asking these questions or making these recommendations beforehand. It was just okay. Now we’re going to make the role much more specified and official, and that helps with the ability to influence and all that.

Drew: Got it. Okay. All right. Well, now, I’ve already talked about CMO Huddles, but it’s time for us to talk about CMO Huddles a little bit more because we just can’t do it enough here at CMO Huddles Studio, so we launched in 2020. It’s a close-knit community of over 300 highly effective B2B marketing leaders who share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Given the extraordinary time constraints on CMOs these days, everything, and by the way, the time constraints get more real with a plus, everything about CMO Huddles is designed to help leaders save time and empower them to make faster, better decisions. So if you’re a B2B, senior B2B marketer and need a shortcut to B2B greatness, take a second, sign up for our free starter program at 

Chris, Melanie, Patti, your longtime Huddle members, and you’re incredibly busy marketing leaders. I’m wondering if you could share a specific example of how CMO Huddles has helped you.

Patti: I’ll go since I was the one just talking. One of the other things I learned at Intuit is the importance of external inspiration and getting outside of ourselves. And I just find CMO Huddles to be super relevant for like, what are other people doing? What can I—what better things can I bring into my organization that I don’t have to relearn from scratch? I’ve done it, you know, with different vendors and how people are approaching ABM and pipeline conversations. I’ve gotten ideas from and how to sales and marketing partner, and you know, a whole number of topics that have helped me, you know, start not at zero, but start at 40 or 60. And, you know, that helps make me a better leader and helps make me more efficient in my role.

Drew: Amazing. Thank you for sharing that. Melanie, Chris?

Melanie: I can pick up from there. I mean, very well said, Patti, that’s great. I get a lot of that from CMO Huddles, and then I get the occasional, like, great data points or stories that I can bring back and use, and like most recently, I’ll just give a shout-out to a session I was on recently with Peter Weinberg from LinkedIn, B2B, you know, Institute where he was talking about mental availability, and he had this whole game that he played. I am going to do this at our sales meeting so they understand like what we’re trying to do. I know it’s a little brave. I haven’t figured out exactly how, but I’m going to try to figure it out. And then even just sitting here today, I have a whole pipeline, marketing sales pipeline project. And I’m listening to Chris, and I’m like, I want to talk to Chris.

Drew: That’s it. I love it and by the way, we will, you know, that’s one of the things we do. You know, that will set you up, Chris, Melanie, to get yourself a one-on-one. But also, by the way, I love that session with Peter Weinberg, it was just really, it was great, and really got us thinking just again, a little bit bigger. Chris, anything to add?

Chris: Well, I mean, it’s budgeting season right now. And I think, you know, over the course of the last several Huddles, we’ve validated or invalidated certain aspects of our tech stack as a group. And I think it’s super valuable because I’m sitting here with a spreadsheet in front of me trying to figure out what I’m going to spend money on or what I’m not going to spend money on. And I have this community of people that are going through the exact same exercise, and the ability to get that kind of real-time feedback, “Okay, everybody, what are we all real thinking,” is super valuable. And it’s helped us to build out a very effective model for how we go forward without having to rebuild from the ground up.

Drew: Amazing. And it does. You know, what’s funny, as I’m thinking about the show, is these are like mini Huddles too, and I love that aspect of the studio. Anyway, if you’re a B2B CMO, and you want to know what the fundamentals of all of this are about, check out 

Okay, so let’s talk about this. I’m imagining in a moment, where you go, okay, am I putting my GM hat on or my marketing hat on? There’s, you know, do you toggle back and forth at any point in time? Or how do you sort of think about your to-do list even? I’ll start with you, Melanie. I mean, what are we going to do today?

Melanie: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I have a whole process that I go through to make sure that I’ve got my week, my month, my day, my hour, whatever, like, allocated correctly. And now this is just thrown in another element, and it’s just raised it up a level. So I mean, you know, if somebody’s got an issue in the team, of course, I’m going to make time in my day, like that’s just it, right? Like, it doesn’t matter where it is which function it is, I’ll make time in my day. And they know that. Besides that, then I’m still staying at the top. I’m still staying, you know, at the “Where are we on? Where are we off? What are our goals?” And, and that kind of thing. And it doesn’t say which toggle between because I don’t think of it as toggling between right now, I think of my job as my job. My team might be, you know, have different roles, but I think of my job as my job. So that’s where I’m at.

Drew: No, I think it’s interesting what was going through my mind, though, is your marketing folks, and maybe one level down or two levels down, were used to having a little more access to you than they do now. And so that means that your number two’s have to do more.

Melanie: Yeah, let me go on that. I spent an inordinate amount of time, trying to figure out my new mark, my new marketing and customer experience, operating mechanisms, like, how are we going to operate this team? When do we have meetings? When do we have, you know, QBRs? What does a QBR look like? What does an MBR look like? What one-on-ones look like? Do we ever come together as a team? If so, why? Like what, how is it useful? That? And how do we manage team like getting the team engagement? I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on that, and I’ve already gone through two versions, and we’re ready to start the year with another one. I spend a lot of time there.

Drew: Yeah, it’s an operating system of sorts, I’m thinking Chris, you must have had to develop one as well.

Chris: There were definitely some rocky beginnings. And I didn’t know it, but my team did mean, the person that I am, my team comes first, I’m here to support them, make sure that they’re getting the prioritization and context they need to be effective, and helping them in any way possible. And I got a lot of, “Hey, we don’t see you very often,” or “You do not work in marketing anymore.” And that was eye-opening, because it is easy to get excited about the new thing that you’re doing, but pulling you back in, and getting that balance, and remembering at the end of the day that if this part doesn’t work, it doesn’t really matter that I have this other thing. I was hired to be marketing and if I can’t make marketing work, pipeline isn’t going to work, either. So let’s focus on marketing as well. And bringing me back into that world.

Drew: So I’m thinking about this. And I’m wondering if you all have tips on so what we’re really talking about is you just can’t have as much one-to-one time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have FaceTime, somehow. And I’m wondering what you have done to sort of shift to say, my team is bigger, and that’s spread, I can, how do you still have that same leadership impact across a larger group? And Patti from your standpoint, how do you?

Patti: Yeah, so let me just comment on the last question just for a bit, I do think the context switching is a big deal, I found I was doing it in marketing anyway, because product marketing is different from demand gen is different from brand strategy is different from culture and developing capabilities with the team. So I was already doing it, I also manage my team with a top six philosophy. So we all do top six every week, here are the top six things that we’re focused on. And that allows us to have a conversation about there aren’t six—should there be, or there’s 10, you know, and the four that are at the bottom are really not going to be focused on. And so what I did initially was I had a top six for my GM role at a top six for my CMO role. And I had to do for myself, like, between me and my CEO, here’s what my top six is between these two, but the way I interacted with the team was the top six is, you know, in each role. For me the availability question like I, I found Slack, super helpful, like we had a couple of different Slack channels with both teams that were not so much work topics, and I could check in with the team and hey, how are you doing? And here’s some story about what happened to me. And to just keep the visibility, even if I wasn’t in all the meetings. And I also did some sort of very visible a, “Hey, I’m going to I’m going to not do XYZ and ask these other people to lead them and you know, if you ever have any questions or any feedback or anything that you want to give me, you know, I’m available 24/7.”

Drew: Well, maybe 18/7, you got to sleep. As he says, knowing that many CMOs don’t, but you really do work crazy, crazy hours. As three of you were talking and Patti in particular—as you were talking about, I got six over here and six over here. I’m imagining that just changed your relationship with your CEO. And they may have been used to you being the person they say, “Hey, let’s talk marketing.” And now so like so Chris. We could talk part in some ways in your case it could be, we’re only talking about pipeline now, because that’s really where the rubber meets the road anyway, we don’t even need to talk about marketing. That’s one way it could go. And with Melanie, though, I think the CEO might say, “Hey, let’s talk about marketing here. And then now let’s talk about customer success here.” And so I’m wondering how your, your CEO interacts with you with that new role.

Chris: I mean, so much of what we do in marketing results in pipeline, right, that every conversation generally starts with pipeline, right, let’s, let’s see how we’re doing. And then if we’re not on track, then the broader discussion is, “Let’s talk about what the underlying factors are.” And eventually, we’re gonna get back to the tactics going on, in demand gen and content in product marketing. So it doesn’t, it’s more of the layer on top of the overall that sets the agenda for what we’re going to talk about it, if we’re green, we can just tell fun stories. If we’re yellow or red, now, let’s dig into the individual areas. And very few of those individual areas are seller-oriented. So I’m not taking conversations that our CRO is having with our CEO, I’m looking at the parts that I can impact straight through the process.

Drew: So in your case, it’s probably not but I think Melanie in your case, they may have had separate conversations, “How are we doing with success, you know, how we do with marketing,” and they’re, they look at those two things. And honestly, they are different enough that that? And so I’m wondering how your one-on-ones with your CEO, or how that has changed?

Melanie: Yeah, well, so I first would just give a shout out again, to the same thing that Patti mentioned and that you did Drew, like, to the big company, leadership training, I was at McKesson for 20 plus years, and went through all of the big loops. I don’t bring my marketing hat to those conversations with my CEO. I bring my leader-like business tap to those conversations. Anyway, if I’m down in the marketing tactics, it’s because it’s related to a business problem. Otherwise, they’re probably conversations you should not be having with me there. So how does it change my conversation with him right now, it’s all about change management, honestly, like it’s, it’s about change management, there’s a lot, there’s a change mandate associated with this big, you know, orchestration of the customer across the organization. And we all have our version of it. And so it’s about change management. And when it gets to marketing, it’s really about making sure he’s tooled up when he’s going out in the market, right? Like, “Do you have what you need,” you know, it’s that kind of thing that we spend more time on than the actual marketing tactics.

Drew: Right, right. Because again, you are a leader first, a marketer second, and you happened to be leading these two, if you will, functions, that the conversation is a higher one. 

Patti: Hey Drew, can I just add one thing here because we did something that was helpful long before I got into this role, both the the sales guy and I were asked to provide a weekly pipeline demand gen summary to the ELT. And I very intentionally made that summary not just about demand gen, because I don’t want the org to think that marketing is just demand gen. So we had a summary that went to the ELT every week, that was a summary of sort of all the things that were going on in marketing that were contributing to the business outcomes. And so that helped me sort of not have the in-depth marketing conversations with the CEO, because he already had the update. And so if there were questions or things that came from that, you know, that was a conversation and then we were able to spend more time again, on the high-level business strategy questions. 

Drew: Just in case some folks listening or ELT has executive leadership team now. They demand gen. I wanted to sort of, are we talking about demand capture? Are we talking about demand creation? Or are we talking about both?

Patti: Yes, both—all of it. It included the content, it included brand, it included product marketing, it included understanding the customer to influence the product roadmap, it was a very holistic view into what marketing did although it started with, “Here’s the MQL and SQL performance and here’s, you know, what’s going well and not going well.” 

Melanie: Let me build on that for just a sec too because I love that Patti, like I love that you did that. And I do something on every Friday that combines a little bit of that, but it’s mostly about like keeping me in front of my whole team. I send a Friday highlight email to my whole team and copy my boss the CEO on it. And in that I always—I often highlight big things that have happened that week. So then I highlight people’s names associated with them so that they can be seen by Frank and each other about like, “Oh, that was seen, Melanie saw that. And now Frank sees it, right. So it’s a little lighter touch on that like business, right, then Patti, but it also brings the team in.

Drew: Yeah, it’s sort of celebrating that we’re actually accomplishing something, as opposed to one some kind of hamster wheel. And then recognition, which you know, is it’s funny, is reading something that recognition is actually trickier than I thought, like, you know, that you can recognize someone you can give them an award, and then everybody who didn’t get it can feel bad. So recognition is much more complicated something, and I’m looking forward to it because we’re talking to Jen Lim and her “Beyond Happiness” book. And she talks a lot about recognition. So I’m looking forward to getting into how do we do this, right? So that not, you know, people don’t say, “Well, you know, they won an award. But why didn’t I?” or, you know, that kind of thing. Anyway, I want to sort of circle back on how obviously, this is changing you as a leader, this is changing how you’re spending your time, this is changing the relationship that you have with your direct reports and the people on your team. And I wanted to talk a little bit about how it changes your relationship with your peers. And Chris, you’ve talked a little bit about it, let’s go back to your CRO because I’m imagining at other organizations, the CRO thinks he’s doing what you’re doing.

Chris: I think that’s probably accurate. And I’ve said when I’ve spoken about this in the past, I don’t know if this works everywhere, you run into that adversarial relationship between marketing and sales and the who’s got more power and who’s more important. And one of the things that I’m very lucky about—we’re very lucky about is that we don’t have that here, there is not a competitive nature, we’re out for the same thing. And if we look at this quarter, as an example, the fact that there’s a focus on pipeline external to Shane’s everyday CRO role says that he can focus 100% on this quarter, it’s Q4 2023, this is a big quarter for us. And there’s a lot of moving parts. And he’s very focused on that right now and I’ve got him, I’m out ahead. And so I’m out past him looking at the beginning of the year, and he can just be heads down focused on now. And so that creates a very close, trust-based relationship that I have not found in many other companies that I don’t know how I would not now go out and build in any company that I ever work in. Because it’s so clear, it’s the right way to collaborate, whether I’m pipeline something in any other company ever in the future is irrelevant. But this collaboration process that we’ve built, and the closeness between sales and marketing and trust is built up, in hindsight seems supercritical.

Drew: Yeah, and in some ways, you’ve liberated your CRO, and also given a wonderful focus to the organization. Your job is to close.

Chris: And all the things that go with that, there’s so many, like the forecasting of the quarter column, calling that quarter, managing that on a day-to-day basis, and then having the data to be able to look into the future and look a board in the face and say, “I think we’re good,” like based on the data, we’re in good shape. And that’s, that’s what I’m out there trying to provide is that future view of the company? 

Drew: And not to sort of put you on the spot here, Melanie, but do you think that you and sales could have that kind of perspective together?

Melanie: Oh, I mean, we’ve been collaborative for, you know, since I’ve been here, had a very collaborative relationship, and our current Chief Growth Strategist, and I go back for many years, and are incredibly collaborative still. And the team, you know, our teams are incredibly collaborative. We just did an offsite with his team and invited my leaders, right? So like, and I just spent part of today getting debriefs so we could prep for our sales kickoff. And like, you know, I’m talking with all his team over the coming few weeks. So we’re very collaborative. The funny part, this is just funny and that’s what we considered when we made these changes. The funny part with with our colleagues really was like it took it’s taking a little getting used to like we were in a meeting about a sales situation. This is a few months ago and our Chief Growth Officers swings by and is like, “Should I be in this meeting?” We’re like, “No, you’re good. Wait, wait, wait. That was the strategy guy, maybe they should be meeting. And the same thing with me when a customers thing comes up. You know, they’re like, “We’ve got it.” And I’m like, “What, but I probably should know.”

Drew: Right. And so this isn’t the two hat part, where, again, in this sort of dividing between time, what’s interesting here is I’m thinking about this. And I haven’t been a fan of this notion of Chief Market Officer versus Chief Marketing Officer, because I just think it messes with the mind. But when I think about it a little bit now, in the context, certainly of what Chris was doing and Melanie to your thing, in some ways, that’s kind of what your combined job is. In particularly Chris’s case it’s because you are really looking at making the market and thinking about it a year in advance. But anyway, that’s a that’s a topic for another show. What I really want to do right now is ask what would Ben Franklin say. And given what we’ve been talking about, I think this quote is well on point, quote, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” So it’s all about continual growth and progress. I have lots of thoughts and final words of wisdom. But I’m really anxious to get your final words of wisdom to the CMO audience here who’s thinking about a plus, and what the implications are going to be for them if they actually succeed in getting a plus. So let’s start, Patti, final words of wisdom.

Patti: I mean, I think part of this here is making sure that you have your like, I’ve seen this conversation before. And it’s like, wait, I need you to focus on the thing that you were focused on, you know, as the chief, like, do you have that before you’re trying to take on another thing? So you need to make sure you have that with your, with your CEO or your boss? And then I just think, you know, where are the places where you think you can add value to the organization beyond what you’re currently doing? And, in lining up, you know, what the new role is with that so that you can continue to be successful in both because nobody wants an equation where you’ve now got more and you’re not successful.

Drew: Okay, Melanie?

Melanie: Right. So I mean, you have to be ready. And that means, you have to be ready to let go. You have to be ready. Your marketing function needs to be in order, and you have to have your leaders in place, good leaders, great leaders in place to take on even more than maybe they had. So you have to be ready. And then yeah, for a while the job might feel like two because you’re taking on a new job. And the goal would be in the end for the job for yourself anyway, to feel like a role that might have multiple, you know, interdependent teams under it. You gotta be ready.

Drew: No, that’s great. Chris, bring us home!

Chris: Touch of vulnerability, you have to look around your business and identify who’s going to help you who’s the mentor here, because in my case, I was going into something that didn’t exist, like Office of Pipeline Management isn’t a thing, and go look for it on LinkedIn, and try and call the person that also does it. And there isn’t somebody, I mean, there was four years ago, there was a guy with that title, and I called him and it wasn’t the same thing. And so being able to find that person, that’s going to be the mentor, like any other position that you step into, you’re growing into this. And if you don’t see that, it might make success more difficult. In my case, I was very lucky that the person that asked me to do this, had an idea of what they wanted. And we’ve grown this process from that original idea to something much bigger. But if there wasn’t that original idea, this would have been very difficult.

Drew: I love all that. So we wanted to do this show both for CMOs who have current jobs and CMOs who don’t. For those that have jobs, we’re really thinking about is you’re a skilled professional, you’ve been doing this job for a while, step up, think about doing more, it’ll make it much more likely that you’re around next year and the year after because, again, you’re thinking broader than quote, just marketing, you’re bringing a lot more to the table. So it’s a step forward for you. It’s a way to add and you know, if you’re bored with your job, it’s really a good way to do it. If you’re a CMO in transition, and you’re thinking about your plus, think back to some of the things that you did. In addition that were sort of x outside of marketing and think about how you can package yourself up because when you’re trying to sell yourself right now, if you could position yourself as a twofer, maybe there’s an opportunity for you that didn’t exist before that. All right.

Well, thank you, Chris, Melanie, Patti, you’re all wonderful sports and such accomplished leaders. Thank you, audience for staying with us.

To hear more conversations like this one, and submit your questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week!

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 Ishar Cuevas. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro VoiceOver is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests and learn more about CMO Huddles or my CMO coaching service, please visit I’m your host Drew Neisser. Until next time, keep those renegade marketing caps on and strong!