CMOs have to prove their worth. They have to show value to the CEO, the board and the entire C-Suite. Showing results is not just important for career success, but for survival in general.

According to a study by Spencer Stuart, CMO tenure lasts under four years -- a significantly shorter time than most C-level positions. A CFO, for example, typically holds the position for nearly six years, and a CEO has an average tenure just over 8 years.

Additionally, CMO's compensation is increasingly being tied to results. So delivering results doesn’t just impact the company’s ROI, but also a CMO’s personal bank account.

Proving results requires access to the right data that tells the complete picture -- and it must be current and updated in real-time. For the first time in my career, I have access to that data at Domo. And it is liberating.

Gone are the days where I spend money on marketing initiatives, hoping it results in revenue in 12 months. I can tell what every dollar I spend gets me in terms of things like: visitors, engagements, opportunities, pipeline acceleration and ultimately profit. I am able to determine my success, control my relationships across the organization and create my own destiny.

Access to the data that allows CMOs to prove results changes key relationships across the company and ensures a strategic seat at the C-Suite table.

Here are a few relationships that can be significantly impacted based on the use of data:

1. Your Boss, The CEO, The Board

I love it when I walk into a board meeting and my slides are the ones that catch everyone’s attention. I no longer rely on pretty ads and pictures of beautiful tradeshow booths for my board update. Instead, I present key information showing exactly how much revenue marketing created for the company and how marketing is decreasing our cost of sale.

I get nods of agreement and inquisitive comments instead of blank, unengaged stares. I share status updates with my CEO on a regular basis that speak to numbers he cares about, as opposed to the status on creative projects. My status reports include visuals on things like: cost of leads per lead source, ROI by marketing channel, and top customer logos generated from marketing activity.

2. Sales Leadership

Gone are the days of the classic “he said, she said” debacle. In the past, sales would attack our work with claims like, “you are not delivering me enough leads to hit my revenue goals!” My team would respond with equal frustration, “We are delivering, you are not working the leads hard enough!”

In today’s world, the CMO and the CRO can work off the same set of numbers, eliminating needless arguments and unnecessary blame.

When I recently was accused in a sales and marketing meeting of not delivering enough leads when the inside sales team was at risk of not meeting their goal, I brought data to the discussion. It was like having a gun at a knife fight. I showed visuals that marketing was exceeding lead targets delivered and that sales call volume was down. In doing so, I addressed a problem before it was too late to do anything about it and ensured that my department was not left holding unnecessary blame.

3. The CFO

I found it belittling to ask permission from the CFO and the finance team to do my job. I hated walking into their offices to plead for marketing budget. I am the CMO - I shouldn't have to beg for permission to do my job.

Things have changed. Finance rarely argues with my budget needs when I can show, numerically, how the spend will help the companies’ bottom line, and the only way to do that is to have key data at your fingertips.

4. All Star Team Members

As a manager, nothing is more fulfilling than giving your all star team members the recognition they deserve. I cringe when I remember conversations at prior companies when we would rank and rate team members for bonus and raise allocation: “Bob is really great. He works hard and delivers quality. Trust me.”

Now, the conversations sound more like: “Bob reduced cost of online leads and increased conversion rates, saving the company $Xmillion.” Recognizing team members in a meaningful way improves morale, increases loyalty and encourages real results from the team.

The success of the CMO role lies in proving value to the organization. People can’t argue with data … but only if that data is accurate. That requires the CMO to have the right systems in place to track results, bring it into one view, and be able to analyze and share it.

My recommendation to any CMO is to start that journey if you haven’t already. It will be liberating.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Toronto History