How to hire a Rockstar CMO: the top tips to help you land the talent you need

Even the most industry-transforming product requires effective marketing if it is to reach its target audience. As the CEO of a budding business, hiring a chief marketing officer is one of the most important decisions you will make. The right CMO can assemble a high-performing team of specialists that can not only help you land new customers, but also heighten the brand value of your business. What’s more, according to research from Accenture, 90% of organisations today view the CMO as the connective tissue between different lines of business.

Yet, all too often, CEOs (and first-timers in particular) wind up hiring the wrong person.
At 360Leaders, we regularly meet with some of the world’s most talented marketing professionals. From our experience in Executive Search, we know when we’re onto a winner: for a CMO, that means someone who exudes passion and possesses a natural ability to inspire those around them; it means someone who has a strong understanding of what your customers want and an ability to pull together the efforts of sales and marketing to achieve business objectives.

90% of organisations today view the CMO as the connective tissue between different lines of business.

With this in mind, we’ve outlined our five top tips for sourcing and securing the best talent for the role:

Devise a hiring strategy that works

When hiring a CMO, your strategy should be to secure a metrics-driven marketing mind whose competencies and experience aligns with your requirements. Perhaps more importantly, your strategy should seek to secure someone who you believe can achieve key business goals; it should focus on finding a talent who has experience in achieving objectives similar to your own and someone who you believe will deliver top-line growth for the organisation by optimising the customer experience.

Beyond the requirements of the role, your hiring process should follow a strict timeframe, one that has been agreed by key stakeholders and takes into account not only the days spent sourcing and screening but the negotiation and inevitable notice period.

Source a specialist search partner

According to research from the REC, 85 % of HR decision-makers admit their organisation has made a bad hire, and 33% believe that these mistakes cost their business nothing. In fact, they couldn’t be further from the truth. Avoiding talent-sourcing partnerships may seem like a sure-fire way to save on the costs of recruitment, but unless you land on the perfect candidate by chance, the drain on your time and resources will eventually outweigh the savings made by going it alone.

85 % of HR decision-makers admit their organisation has made a bad hire, and 33% believe that these mistakes cost their business nothing.

A dedicated search partner should be able to paint a clear picture of what a successful CMO should look like and what you should be benchmarking against the role. They will further be able to assist you in sticking to the specific deadlines you have set out for the hiring process, factoring in the time needed to identify and interview candidates.

Collaborating with a search firm who aligns with your unique business goals is the first step to success – of course, not all search firms are equal. Ultimately, the partnering firm you choose should be able to demonstrate how their value proposition will generate a return on investment, minimise risk in the recruitment process and represent your brand to top-tier candidates. As well as an understanding of your own business needs, they must provide you with valuable insight into current market trends and candidate expectations.

Screen your candidates

Great CMOs possess a natural ability to lead and motivate others; they demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence with strong organisational skills which allows them to manage a team across multiple disciplines, from brand management and user acquisition, to communications and product marketing. Your search partner will keep this in mind when sourcing prospective candidates, as should you when interviewing a potential Rockstar CMO.

While sustaining momentum is critical in keeping your candidates engaged, don’t hesitate to put in place a few hoops for them to jump through. Asking them for examples of tools, techniques and strategies they’ve used to achieve objectives in the past is critical; requesting evidence of their ability via an assignment or task can help to filter your shortlist to only those who are fully bought in to your business.

Close the deal and leave no room for confusion

Failing to provide clarity to the candidate and search partner on the terms of the offer is a common mistake made by leaders who fail to devise an effective strategy – while some simply do not have the time to see it through. Although your search firm should be more than capable of closing the deal, the only way they can succeed is if you provide them with all the information they need to win over the candidate.

When it comes to building a suitable proposition, you should always put your best foot forward for roles such as these. Remember, your CMO is a key business investment; this is no place to try and snag a bargain.

Onboard your CMO

Recent research also found that 98 per cent of C-Suite executives agreed that onboarding is a key factor in employee-retention efforts. Yet, when it comes to hiring a CMO, executives often fail to design and implement the integration programmes necessary to yield the results they need.

Having secured a high-calibre candidate for the role, it’s easy to sit back and wait for results. However, success in your marketing department depends not only on the talent of the CMO but the performance conditions you implement. The hiring process may be over, but the first few weeks and months will determine whether or not the candidate truly is the right fit for the role and the company.

98 per cent of C-Suite executives agreed that onboarding is a key factor in employee-retention efforts.

If you don’t onboard your new CMO, their ability to apply their expertise to a new challenge is hindered by their lack of engagement and connection with the company culture. Rockstar CMOs are highly sought after, and leaders would be wise to remember this even after an offer is accepted. In the end, the time you put in to familiarising your CMO will be returned in the form of long-term growth and a marketing team committed to getting results.

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