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Diary of a first-time CMO - Align your destinies

Hey B2B marketers

Here it is. Four years, $50m+ ARR and 200 pages later… My journey as a first-time CMO.

Covering the key learnings I've gathered in four years of leadership. This diary reveals the lessons that helped me scale Cognism from $3m to $50m ARR, build a team from 3 to 39, and transform our set-up from a classic lead gen function to a demand gen engine.

It’s my handbook for B2B marketers looking to thrive in leadership.

(especially if you’re as daunted as I was when I started out!)

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By: Alice de Courcy
1 minute read

Align your destinies

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Alright - I know I’ve said this a couple times already… but obviously we moved away from a lead gen approach towards demand generation.

However, I do think when we were using lead gen, we had the best possible playbook.

So if you are in a smaller company or startup, and want to run the lead gen playbook then here are some tips.

100% have dedicated sales reps who know and understand:

  • The content you’re producing.
  • The different types of calls you need to make on the back of that content.
  • Focused solely on dealing with these types of leads.

I wrote this post originally because, at the time, we were really focused on getting quality content leads into the funnel for our MDRs to work.

And I believe the main reason that we were so successful with our MDRs was that our destinies were so closely aligned.

For both sales and marketing to succeed, we had to be driving towards the same outcomes.

So one of our KPIs was around the conversion rate between the content lead to sales qualified opportunity, and we were working to increase that.

It had been hanging around the 5% mark and we wanted to push it up to 10%.

By having MDRs in place who specialised in content and by having really close feedback loops i.e. listening to the types of conversations our MDRs were able to have off the back of various pieces of content. We were able to push that information back into the content engine.

Using this process, we pushed our conversion rate up to between 11% and 15%. I believe we made it about as efficient as you can for what I’ll call ‘cold lead gen’. I feel that we nailed that process.

And the key things for us in finding scalable and repeatable success were definitely:

  • Having a dedicated MDR role.
  • Having them work really closely with the B2B marketing function (especially with feedback on content).
  • Having aligned KPIs and working towards the same goals.
  • Feeling as though you’re responsible for the other's success e.g. the marketing team had a responsibility to the MDRs and vice versa.

Because we found feedback to be so crucial in this process, we had weekly calls with the MDRs and the MDR manager.

We’d run through all of the key stats like:

  • Conversion rates.
  • The length of time between lead download and follow-up (we found a strong correlation between a shorter gap between downloads and contacting prospects and higher quality conversations!) Within 48 hours was the sweet spot.
  • Qualitative feedback based on what’s learned during calls (for example, we learned our MDRs found pitching off the back of a cold calling handbook download was easier versus our content marketing playbook).
  • The number of actionable leads per MDR. We signed up to 400 per MDR per month, as this gave them the capacity they needed to hit their MB targets based on current conversion rates.

These meetings were also a great opportunity to flag when MDRs felt low on leads or another part of the process was broken.

Luckily, that meant we never went a month without realising that one of our processes wasn’t working properly, causing a chaotic run around to fix or catch up. 

Want to keep up with Alice's latest CMO advice?

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