3 Killer Skills Aspiring Marketing Leaders Need For Success In 2018

Most marketers fall into several camps; brand marketers, digital marketers or B2B marketers. The truth is, the camp we all need a lens around is revenue generation — regardless of discipline. In many ways, marketing will evolve into the new sales function.

In fact, we are already seeing that trend with the rise of the CRO — Chief Revenue Officer — job title. According to Venture Beat writer Jim Herbold,

“A great CRO cannot be a one-trick pony, they have to find any and every go-to-market motion that provides leverage.”

The CRO, or the future role of the CMO, needs to encompass all aspects of the marketing camp and then some.

This is a result of marketing taking over the sales funnel. Although there has always been interplay between marketing and sales, it isn’t the same. The sales funnel has changed over the past ten years. The change in the sales funnel occurred as a change in buying behaviours, more so in B2B.

Currently, buyers are far more knowledgeable than they have ever been. As a result, marketing has the potential to be far more influential than ever before. In 2016, Econsultancy found that,

“For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.”

The Transition from Demand to Revenue

Before, marketing was primarily used to generate interest. Then once that interest became demand, sales would take over and close the deal. Now, revenue closure execution ratios are overwhelmingly swayed during the marketing phase of the process.

Marketing has expanded and taken responsibility for what was traditionally the salesperson’s job. That doesn’t mean that sales roles are obsolete though.

The expertise traditionally demanded from sales has changed. Sales positions have morphed into consultants, troubleshooters and brokers of new insights for buyers.

As a result of this shift, there are three specific sets of skills marketers need to have in their toolbox to be successful in 2018.

Three Skills Marketing Leaders Need To Have

1. Connected Thinking

The most important and first skill to develop is your ability to provide connected experiences. We’ve heard about them a lot: building single experiences around the customer, the digital experience, connecting online and offline, etc. This is more crucial than ever because marketing is still being designed in silos.

For example, event marketing and email marketing are handled separately to content marketing and all other avenues. Likewise the data regarding each attempt at generating revenue is analysed separately too (in most cases).

Instead, we need to focus on coming together as a marketing department and looking at the connectivity between all facets. All of them are of equal importance. The number of conversions made from events is not separate to the digital campaign.

Inspired, connected and knowledgeable buyers require multiple touch-points — aligned to their needs and value — not serving marketers needs. Therefore, it is impossible to determine, in many cases which method works best or will work best. Design your funnel (or flow of touch-points) as a whole end-to-end experience.

(*love using a tool called Coggle for this type of work)

Viewing all activities as part of the funnel and focusing on revenue generation as a whole is the most productive focus. Don’t focus on designing one specific thing. Design an organised, connected experience over time that gains momentum across mediums. All of the processes are phased together. Embed them with touchpoints to bring customers through the funnel successfully.

Acquiring this skill will increase revenue generation.

2. Persuasive influencers

We need to get better at being persuasive influencers. Marketing is far more responsible for closing deals and we have to realise that. This is seen in the shift of sales funnels.

If you want to be successful as a leader you have to work on your communication and influencing skills. That means both internally and externally.

Internal Communication

Internally, you can be more persuasive by building strong relationships with key players:

  • CEO
  • CHRO
  • CFO
  • VP Sales

Much like the marketing channels need to be connected, so does the organisation as a whole.

You have to get excellent at persuading them about the value of connectivity in generating revenue. This will allow you to invest the time needed to establish well run systems from the front line. And this won’t happen without a strong foundation of understanding and trust.

Or, as Tim Ambler, author of Marketing and the Bottom Line explained,

While I do indeed think marketers should understand finance, it is more important for the board and the finance director to understand marketing. Accountants merely count the cash that marketing creates.”

Developing your skill of persuasive influence amongst your peers/colleagues is a game changer. It allows you to leverage your knowledge in a way that gets CFOs, and other important people in your organisation to buy in to the need for connected experiences. Not just one-off investments.

External Communication

Your skill at speaking with potential buyers and investors is equally as important. You must realise that marketing is as important as sales. It is directly responsible for revenue generation.

With that confidence, marketing leaders need to go out into the marketplace with persuasive and valuable messages for prospects and buyers. Leverage your creative mindset and hone your sales skills to portray challenges being solved, and outcomes being created.

Get out into the field, do talks, meet customers and communicate specific challenges that like to be solved. In B2B especially this should be done through a sales lens that takes the audience into account. Frame your delivery on the consumers:

  • Challenges
  • Value
  • Outcomes
  • NOT features

Influencing customers with persuasive communication is a great asset to your success and a direct contributor to the organisation’s revenue generation.

3. Learning evangelists

There is often talk in marketing that we have to be influential. To be influential, you need to be ahead of your peers and have a continuous thirst for knowledge.

The buyer’s journey is becoming increasingly difficult to understand. And thus our rate and ability to learn will determine our capacity to be successful.

Becoming a learning evangelist allows us to embrace learning every single day. It prevents the “this is how we do it” mindset. You have to inspire your team and disrupt yourself in the first instance.

To be a leader in marketing you need to build learning into your daily habit. A portion of each day should be dedicated to taking action on that learning. Or within your flow of work. Or else you will be left behind.

You must be fanatical about learning new things and putting them into action. One of my favourite principles here is summarised by the “5-Hour Rule: If you’re not spending 5 hours per week learning, you’re being irresponsible”
The answer is simple: Learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Marketing is changing literally faster than ever.

If you’re not a learning evangelist that thrives on knowledge, you’ll never learn how to build simplistic connected experiences and influence others with your communications, you will never keep up.

The Rise of the Revenue Generation Officer

We all need to be thinking about this. Demand generation will transform everything to revenue generation.

The CMO will transform to the CRO.
Marketing will transform into more of a sales function.

We need to have these transitions in mind when honing our skills as marketers. Our development needs to keep this impending change in mind.

If we focus on designing connected experiences, building persuasive influence and becoming learning evangelists, then we will be revenue execution experts within our businesses.


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