Chief Marketing Officers have come a long way from working solely with the marketing team to working with cross-functional teams across the organization. It’s a sign of a great leader when they can see the macro and micro components of the system and help develop cohesive roadmaps that lead to one another. Whether it’s the product, marketing, sales, or operations team, the success of any business relies on aligning and empowering marketing teams toward a common goal—but how do you practically follow this through?
At our recent MTM Summit, held at Intuit headquarters in Silicon Valley, we gathered key leaders to talk about the future of marketing, talent, and teams. Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO at Coupa, Michael Lacorazza, CEO at Frontpoint, and Ravi Kandikonda, SVP of Marketing at Zillow Group, discussed how to empower marketing teams for success. While each of them comes from different industry sectors, all three leaders share a passion for one of the most important elements for a team’s success: alignment across different cross-functional teams.
- How to Align Marketing Teams with Cross-Functional Teams
- Setting Goals The Whole Team Can Rally Behind
- How to Grow and Support Our Teams
- What Skills are Needed for CMOs to get to CEO?
How to Align Marketing Teams with Cross-Functional Teams
Marketing and Product Teams
Amid rapid change and demand to release the next future-forward product, industries are having to evolve and adapt faster. This rate of change requires teams to ideate, build, create prototypes, launch, and iterate at great speed. While agility is imperative to success, if all organizational functions are not aligned and operating at the same pace, for the same purpose, and working to solve the same customer problem, much can go awry.
Cohesiveness between marketing, product, design, and engineering teams isn’t always natural. As Ravi Kandikonda articulated, “We found ourselves at different points of maturity when launching products, building products, or messaging about them. Which ran the risk of creating unnecessary tension and swirl. It became clear the teams needed to unite and align around the consumer problem and brand purpose.”
Ravi added, “It’s important that we are aligned across all levels of the organization. We created a consistent operational rhythm and simplified our go-to-market approach.” Scaling these processes across marketing and product teams helped both teams tackle them together.
Marketing and Sales Teams
A separate set of challenges results from the inability of marketing and sales to align with each other. One of the problems marketers run into is setting great goals within the marketing team but not for sales and customer success. According to Chandar Pattabhiram, “To have a goal, you must have a shared philosophy. The five words we use daily at Coupa are ‘Set up Sales to Win.'” He shared that those five words are the center of building awareness, acquisition, and advocacy. Once you have a shared philosophy, to create more alignment in sales, he recommends these four pillars to keep in mind as a starting point: See more, Win more, Win bigger, Activate more.
On uniting marketing and sales at Frontpoint, Michael Lacorazza shared “There was no collaboration between our teams. It was a classic misalignment. So, what we did as a leadership team was define what success looks like for the business and made some changes to get sales and marketing in the same order structure, so they had mutual accountability for the outcomes.” Defining success is essential to formulating an agreed-upon outcome. Michael reflected, “We created a clear understanding of what everybody’s role is in helping the business succeed, which helped jointly with their growth.”
Setting Goals The Whole Team Can Rally Behind
How can CMOs and C-Suite leaders make sure they’re creating alignment around common goals? Michael believes “Creating the overall strategy and success for the business definition has to be a top-down exercise. From there, it will be easier to get people involved to craft what they do best and help everyone succeed together.” Even in a hybrid or fully remote work environment, when the organization is centered around what is happening within cross-functional departments, having everyone along for the journey can help people feel like they’re part of something bigger than their functional responsibility.
Chandar echoed, “How does each function work in serving something bigger?” When the product, corporate, and growth marketing teams have their own goals but no common goal, you won’t have harmony across the organization. He added, “the O in CMO is about orchestration; it’s creating harmony.”
Ravi agrees with the philosophy of getting the product, business, and sales teams to have a standard set of goals and metrics that they are working towards, whether that is market share, customer satisfaction, profitability, or efficiency. He stated, “Getting clear on those macro-level goals will simplify many of those processes. It is equally important to be clear about what our tangible and intangible marketing efforts are contributing towards; this is a skill marketers need now and, in the future.”
“Marketing is not a cost; it’s an investment that you’re going to get a return on”
– Chandar Pattabhiram
How to Grow and Support Our Teams
Breaking down the role of the CMO, Chandar emphasized that apart from all the extrinsic responsibilities, it’s about creating tomorrow’s CMOs. He remarked, “If you look at it from that lens, everything you do will be about making them better as a Chief, Marketer, and as an Orchestrator.” Chandar elaborated on the components of impactful CMOs, and how to build skills for better “C’s and O’s”. While many marketers have become successful because they’re good in their domain, mentoring them on the hard and soft skills of leadership is essential.
Ravi shares a valuable piece of wisdom in this regard, stating “the difference between being a great marketer and a great partner is being able to speak the language of who you’re talking to, and being able to put on a marketing hat or business hat interchangeably.” Having that skill set is what will differentiate going from a Senior Director level to an Executive level.
What Skills Are Needed for CMOs to Get to CEO?
Pivoting from CMO to CEO requires understanding how different business segments function together. Relationships between low-level and high-level employees are vital to the heartbeat of a company, and a CMO making the jump to CEO must possess the skills necessary to look after these relationships. Michael, who has successfully made this pivot, said that one of the best ways to do so is “transitioning to a business mindset.” Michael advised, “Businesspeople will take you more seriously when you take profit and loss more seriously. Find ways to show success and experience when you make the pivot.” A well-rounded understanding of business insights will help ensure you have the right mindset when stepping into an executive role.
Empowering team collaboration is a tall task, but the outcomes are worth the effort. Everyone plays a unique role in how a team functions and works towards goals, but it’s up to leaders to help set those goals and coach their teams so the collective effort can be fruitful. Mentoring up-and-coming marketers is an essential function of the CMO role, and building harmony and organizational awareness can be the leading components to empowering marketing teams for success.
The MTM Summit was moderated by Nadine Dietz, EVP of 24 Seven & GM of MTM, and held at the Intuit Headquarters in Silicon Valley. To see our upcoming events, please visit our event calendar.
Ravi Kandikonda, SVP Marketing of Zillow: Ravi Kandikonda is the marketing leader for all Zillow Group businesses, including Zillow and Trulia. Recognized as one of the “The Most Influential Leaders” in the industry, he is responsible for brand leadership, personalization of go-to-market initiatives, driving demand across digital / contact channels, and delivering market share and EBITDA growth. Ravi has transformed organizations focusing on delivering robust consumer engagement through highly personalized experiences that leverage consumer journeys, insights, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning capabilities. He is known for outstanding P&L management, being a change agent, building outstanding teams, and delivering industry-leading market share growth balanced with customer experience improvements.
Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO, Coupa: As the CMO of Coupa, the #1 Business Spend Management platform (COUP), Chandar is responsible for all respects of Revenue Marketing including go-to-market strategy, product and segment marketing, growth marketing and corporate/brand marketing. He has over 25 years of experience in strategic marketing and management consulting in the software industry, such as SaaS, Cloud, Digital Marketing, Ad Tech and Mobile areas. In 2019, he was recognized as one of the Ten Most Influential Marketing Leaders, and in 2017, LinkedIn rated him as one of the top 5 CMOs in the world to follow for thought-leadership on digital marketing.
Michael Lacorazza, CEO, Frontpoint: Michael is the Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of directors. He previously served as CMO at Wells Fargo where he led the development and implementation of enterprise-wide marketing and digital strategies for the Wells Fargo brand, products and services, data and analytics and marketing technology. Lacorazza has more than 20 years of marketing and general management experience successfully building and scaling teams through innovative use of digital, data-driven, growth marketing strategies.
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