Investors to CMOs: Align Marketing & Sales

With the rise of big data, as well as an expanding array of tools and the constantly shifting expectations of modern customers, the nature of the CMO (or VP of Marketing) position has changed rapidly in recent years — from a role primarily championing creativity to one requiring robust analytical and strategic skills, as well.

As a result, alignment with sales has grown progressively more important to CMOs for leading customers through their buying journey. What at one time was necessary for ensuring a consistent, competent customer experience, alignment of marketing and sales is now vital to the bloodline of a business and for mitigating what can be an increasingly complex and costly “leaky bucket” between the two.

-For more on the subject, be sure to download our free eBook: How to Align Marketing with Sales

If you work in the world of venture-funded companies, the importance of alignment isn’t just to maximize effectiveness — investors are demanding it. And they want to see proof that it’s happening.

Dan Lyons at Hubspot recently published an intriguing eBook on the topic of CMOs and what investors expect from them in board meetings, featuring questions directed to six prominent venture capitalists and their responses.

Here are some responses from the VCs that underline the importance of alignment to CMOs:

David Skok, Matrix Partners:

“It’s crucial that the CMO…understand the whole sales and marketing funnel from top to bottom. They have to have a very tight partnership with sales. It’s very common to see sales and marketing out of alignment.”

Brady Bohrmann, Avalon Ventures:

“I always look at the handoff between marketing and sales. Where do you draw the lines? What are your expectations around marketing, your expectations around sales, and do you have alignment around that?”

Pat Grady, Sequoia Capital: 

“If you have a CMO… he or she should be very engaged in that process (of optimizing the sales funnel) — figuring out what is the message, what does the sales process look like, and how can we make it cheaper and really scale.”

David Skok:

“The number one thing I like to see the CMO doing is contributing directly to bookings/revenue. That means optimizing the sales and marketing funnel. It turns out that the funnel can be measured with only three variables:

  • How many leads are flowing through the funnel? (Quality, or Flow)
  • What is our conversion rate for someone that enters the funnel in a closed deal (Conversion Rate)
  • What is the Cost of Acquiring Customer? (CAC). 

Everything marketing and sales is doing should be contributing to those three things. You can walk into a board meeting and pretty quickly tell if marketing is doing its job based on the data they’re showing. If they’re showing they are impacted the flow and conversion rate, then you have a good VP of Marketing.”

The whole eBook is worth a read and discusses many other aspects of the CMO role. David Skok, especially, goes on to discuss the importance of aligning sales and marketing in detail (much of which we’ve also been touching on in various resources and discussions).

The reality is, in today’s age of marketing and sales, the alignment issue is really taking center stage. It’s unacceptable and costly for companies to be misaligned, and misalignment reflects on the effectiveness of those in leadership roles. CMOs must be especially in tune with how sales operates and align marketing to support those efforts. But sales and marketing alignment is not solely on the CMO — it certainly takes a commitment at all levels — but for CMOs especially, given the inherent challenges and perceptions they face in how marketing value is calculated, the endeavor is worthwhile and investors increasingly expect it.

What’s your take? Leave a comment and chat with us @levelelev

Marketing and Sales Alignment


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