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CMOs and Product-Led Growth: A Blueprint for C-Suite Synergy

CRM CRM, Data, Data Strategy & Advisory, Data maturity 5 min read
Profile picture for user Ashley Musumeci

Written by
Ashley Musumeci
Director, Go to Market

A group of seven people are gathered around a wooden table in a meeting room. They have laptops, tablets, notebooks, and coffee cups in front of them. Two of the individuals are standing and shaking hands over the table, while the others are seated, engaged with their devices or each other. The setting appears collaborative and professional.

As we approach Salesforce Connections, I find now to be an opportune moment to reflect on how the role of the CMO is rapidly evolving—and the role that CRM will play in helping them refocus their strategies and meet new expectations placed upon them. My colleagues and I will be at Salesforce Connections with a range of panels and sessions that are designed to help marketing leadership stay ahead of urgent trends in digital marketing, touching on topics like how to scale personalized consumer engagement, data-driven approaches to rewards programs and connecting data to empower AI.

But here, I want to focus on a specific trend that I’ve noticed has grown over the years. CMOs have long felt the pressure to tie their marketing efforts to tangible business impact, but this need has intensified due to the increasingly elevated roles of C-suite peers like the chief product officer (CPO). This is especially true among technology-focused CMOs, who are at the forefront of adopting a product-led growth strategy to effectively address these evolving challenges.

What is product-led growth?

Product-led growth marks a significant redirection of priorities. It places the product itself at the center of the growth strategy, leveraging it as the primary driver of customer acquisition, activation and retention. In this model, funds that were traditionally allocated for upper-funnel marketing activities are increasingly being diverted to support enhanced product development. For CMOs, this shift means embracing new competencies and rethinking how to best support not just initial sales, but the entire customer lifecycle.

This approach not only ensures more sustainable growth but also aligns marketing efforts more closely with the broader business outcomes. And while it signals a major change in strategy, it doesn’t need to be treated with existential dread about your relevance as CMO. Here’s how to get ahead of the shifting expectations that CMOs face.

As C-suite dynamics shift, closer collaboration is key.

Moving away from traditional "brand" thinking, CMOs must now adopt a data-driven approach that aligns closely with product development and customer experience enhancements. This expanded role ensures that marketing strategies are deeply integrated with the product to enhance adoption from the outset, and often means looking beyond front-end acquisition metrics to also focus on deeper, more substantial metrics like customer lifetime value.

At the same time, CMOs also face a shift in power. As the product itself becomes the central tool for growth, the role of the CPO becomes more prominent. In some organizations, this shift can lead to CMOs losing some traditional powers as CPOs take a leading role in driving user acquisition and retention through product innovations—making closer collaboration across the C-suite vital, ensuring that marketing not only attracts but also materially contributes to the financial success of the company. Effective collaboration relies on understanding customer motives and mindsets across the full funnel, which we’ll touch on below.

Embrace a wide-lens view across the customer journey.

In a product-led growth strategy, the modern CMO’s duties extend beyond the initial point of sale. Successfully delivering on this strategy requires a holistic view of the customer lifecycle, ensuring that marketing strategies not only support initial product adoption but are also tightly aligned with ongoing customer retention and expansion.

Achieving this full-funnel view relies on the deployment of sophisticated CRM technologies that are capable of not only reaching new customers but also re-engaging existing ones at various stages of their journey. The effective use of CRM tools allows CMOs to maintain a continuous dialogue with customers, personalize marketing messages, and optimize the timing of outreach efforts. You can learn the ins and outs of this strategy in our Generation AI report, which goes deeper into building interconnected touchpoints that are reactive to customer needs and engagement across the full funnel.

Monk Thoughts In a product-centric organization, the ability to utilize AI for backend sales support becomes invaluable.
Ashley Musumeci headshot

Automated product recommendations can empower sales teams by predicting which products a customer is most likely to purchase next, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of sales conversations and increasing the chances of upselling.

CRM data is crucial to tying marketing activities to business objectives.

So, you’re facing the pressure to expand your horizon beyond the upper funnel and the initial point of sale, and you’re aware of the role that automation and CRM tools will play to help you get there. But how do you begin building a robust data infrastructure to make the most of your CRM data and the latent insights within?

Everything starts with your data foundations, particularly in areas such as marketing and media data warehousing. A well-structured data warehousing strategy not only facilitates better data analysis and insight generation but also helps in breaking down the silos between marketing and product teams.

Next, refine the key performance indicators (KPIs) that signal impact. In the context of product-led growth, CMOs need to look beyond traditional metrics such as cost per acquisition (CPA). Instead, shift your focus towards KPIs that offer deeper insights into customer behavior and loyalty, such as customer lifetime value (CLV) and average number of purchases per customer. These metrics provide a more nuanced understanding of how effectively the product and associated marketing efforts are retaining and engaging customers over time.

In the spirit of collaboration with your sales team, also consider how to accelerate deal cycles and enhance the sophistication of lead scoring mechanisms. These efforts help in identifying the most promising leads faster and more accurately, thereby improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales process.

Thrive—don’t just survive—in the evolution of the CMO’s role.

The key to successful product-led growth lies in the ability to integrate marketing, sales and product development into a cohesive strategy—and with the groundwork laid for powering relevant customer experiences, you’re ready to build new alignment with the CPO and CRO. A good first step here is to build a roadmap that aligns product release schedules with the overall marketing plan.

This enables you to communicate product innovations in the market, maximizing both product adoption and the impact of your marketing. For example, analyzing sales performance to decrease time to close can reveal insights into how marketing can better support sales. This approach resembles lead scoring but goes deeper by enabling sales teams to focus on prospects who are most ready to buy, based on predictive analytics and behavioral data provided by marketing.

When planned successfully, a product-led growth mindset ensures the entire organization is geared towards leveraging its products as the primary growth driver. By fostering this level of collaboration, CMOs, CPOs and CROs can ensure their strategies are not just aligned but are also mutually reinforcing, leading to sustained growth and competitive advantage.

As we look to the future, the evolving role of the CMO in driving product-led growth underscores a clear message: adaptability, collaboration and a deep understanding of data are paramount. CMOs are not just participants but are strategic architects in reshaping the marketing landscape to harness the full potential of product-centric strategies. By fostering robust partnerships with CPOs and CROs, and by embracing advanced technological tools, CMOs can ensure their initiatives not only align with but propel the broader business objectives. Let this be a call to action for all digital marketing leaders to embrace these changes boldly and creatively to drive sustained growth and create enduring value in their organizations.


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The website has been translated to English with the help of Humans and AI