5 Goals to Help You Think Like a Chief Growth Officer in 2021

“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent” -Bill Gates

I could not agree more!

It goes without saying – 2020 has required us to be all of these things!

Both in industries that flourished and ones that floundered – agility (also lovingly defined as the ability to pivot 500 times) was the key to success.

I commend my team, colleagues and peers for rising to the challenge! We had to:

  • Re-invent how we engaged with prospects and customers; finding new ways to collaborate, trouble-shoot and align.
  • Change our new logo sales motion – no longer relying on in person events, face-to-face white-board sessions and dinner conversations.
  • Double down on customer success – as their success is our success!
  • Reforecast! And reforecast!
  • …and the list goes on!

As we look back on this past year’s growth, and bullishly move toward the new year, there are five goals that I think will help all sellers, marketers, and business leaders think more like Chief Growth Officers (more on that role here) as we all strive to optimize success after a year of constant change.

1. Shift to a growth mindset!

If you’re a CRO and/or sales leader – CHECK. You’re (hopefully!) already doing this.

However, CMOs are at a crossroads – and 2021 needs to be the year to commit to thinking like a Chief Growth Officer.

Deloitte Consulting published a great article titled The 5 roles of the CMO:

The multiple roles of the 21st-century Chief Marketing Officer – and it’s spot on:

“Chief Marketing Officers are asked to be Chief Storytellers, Capability Builders, Customer Champions, Innovation Catalysts, and Growth Drivers.”

But as you consider the priorities for business in 2021, the role of Growth Driver should absolutely be your main goal. That’s where thinking like a Chief Growth Officer comes into play.

Stepping into the CGO role includes shifting to a strategic view of demand marketing that is centered around the entire customer lifecycle – from acquisition through to customer success. This means shifting away from “random acts of sales and marketing” and focusing instead on orchestrating engagement around the customer journey in order to provide lift to sales. Easier said than done, without doubt, but a critical shift none the less. You can read about how you can do it here.

2. Define and align sales and marketing goals (especially KPIs!)

According to a recent survey conducted by our team at ANNUITAS, 72% of B2B business leaders feel CMOs are measuring against the wrong goals, likely because they aren’t thinking like Chief Growth Officers. This is a number that can’t be ignored.

The single most important goal for 2021 is that CMOs and CROs alike should be driving toward the SAME outcomes: SALES AND REVENUE. You should also be able to constantly analyze the contributions of both to this outcome. As I shared in a previous post, our entire organization is aligned around key metrics including top-of-funnel engagement and bottom-of-funnel opportunity creation. This combination of net-new clients, current customer expansions, and closed-won deals is the result of thinking like Chief Growth Officers. We also keep a close eye on “lift”. Lift is the net contribution to sales of demand marketing programs – a key indicator of success, especially in the early stages of change. It’s also the topic of another blog post by our CEO, Adam Needles.

Best in class organizations focused on growth have aligned sales and marketing around the same KPIs and revenue goals. Check out our recommended set of KPIs we believe are essential when thinking about demand marketing from the perspective of a Chief Growth Officer.

3. Incorporate ABx into your demand marketing strategy

To start, you may be asking what ABx is. We believe account based marketing, or ABM, should be more focused on overlaying an account mindset to your demand marketing rather than adopting a new marketing plan focused solely on accounts. For example: Account Based [Demand Marketing], Account Based [Sales Plan], Account Based [Analytics], etc. Intro ABx.

With that said, 2021 is about target and focus. Quick bit of history… account-based marketing has been around for decades. Founded by ITMSA, this concept was also foundational to economist Vilfredo Pareto’s 80/20 rule which specifies that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes, asserting an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. This is also referred to as the Pareto Principle.

As applied to B2B marketing, 20% of the customer base (and potentially key prospects) are likely to provide a vast majority – or close to 80% of your revenue. Therefore, it benefits both sales and marketing leaders to take an Account Based Demand Marketing approach around those customers and opportunities – TOGETHER – to ensure they are helping to drive priorities, and growth, for the business.

Marketing is shifting to being less about broadcast and more about narrowcast. Targeting is key – and the only way to achieve good results with targeting is understanding everything about your buyer! And while these concepts hold true, it’s important to note here that ABx is not a strategy on its own. It must be a part of a Strategic Demand Marketing plan, supporting an established strategy that really targets and engages the right prospects while including the account based aspects as well. Otherwise, you risk spending too much money on a tool that doesn’t deliver. We write more about that in this blog post: Is ABM A One-Hit Wonder?

4. Continue to keep customer success (obsession, really) at the forefront

Having a customer-first mindset has always been important. In fact, customer obsession is one of our core pillars at ANNUITAS. However, 2020 proved for EVERY organization that it was even more important than ever – and that is a trend that should absolutely be a main goal for 2021!

In every conversation I’ve had with growth leaders over the past six months, customer obsession is the #1 priority.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a CRO Executive Roundtable sponsored by Salesforce – called Leading Through Change: A Dialogue on Adapting Sales and Marketing Strategies.

The core take-aways of the discussion were two-fold:

  • Be customer obsessed! Doing business with organizations that you trust and know will deliver is priority for all our customers. Therefore, it’s our job as leaders in the business to ensure we are 100% aligned to our customer’s business needs – as they are changing too! Now is a great time to really ensure your business takes a strategic approach to its demand marketing – whether with prospects or customers. The central ingredient here is listening to customers – and their needs.
  • Have mutual actions plans! Instead of moving through the sales cycle based on just the seller’s agenda, sellers are structuring the conversation around their buyer’s pain points and are recommending and positioning their product(s) accordingly by tying back to a wholistic Strategic Demand Marketing plan. In most cases, buyers are highly scrutinizing the need for new products or solutions, so sellers must quickly “read the need.”

5. Orchestrate your tech stack

When thinking like a Chief Growth Officer, you have to understand how to orchestrate your tech stack. That means making the shift from “Marketing Ops” living in one silo, and “Sales Ops” living in another. Gone are the days of MarTech. Instead, consider an underlying demand technology stack. Whether the departments physically converge, or simply share a common set of goals, will vary within each organization. However, organizations and growth leaders need to view their operations as a wholistic and strategic demand technology stack.

Similar to the themes discussed across our other 2021 goals, orchestration around the buyer and the customer – as well as their journeys – is critical and therefore requires an integrated and efficient tech stack. Most organizations are separating, and severely underutilizing their MarTech investments, often relying on these tools to blast outbound emails. A strategically orchestrated demand technology stack will instead act as a conversation between your business and your prospects by listening to the buyer as they progress through the funnel and responding appropriately. All this while scoring and weighing the buyer’s activities so that your sales team knows when it’s time to call. Read more about how to orchestrate your demand technology stack in this article.

In Summary:

As we move into 2021, growth leaders need to get into the mindset of Chief Growth Officer and really start driving demand. These 5 goals, all focused around the buyer, your demand strategy, and alignment will help launch you and your business to success in the next year and beyond.

And last, but definitely not least… I will end with a quote from a friend and great growth leader – which inspires an important goal for success in 2021:

“If you’re not changing, you’re not growing! And with that buckle-up!”

Steve Hardy, CMO Secureworks

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