Show Me the Money: Proving ROI to the C-Suite

Employees looking at laptop screen showing charts and graphs.

As a chief marketing officer (CMO), it can be extremely difficult to prove return on investment (ROI). A CMO in today’s industry often serves as a jack-of-all-trades, overseeing product development, sales, marketing efforts, and customer service. 

Because of this, it can be difficult to explain to the C-suite the many ways in which their efforts contribute to measurable growth. And it doesn’t help that the average tenure for CMOs is decreasing, thus increasing the pressure to meet companywide expectations and provide tangible results. 

Below are three ways to prove ROI and be rightly viewed as an integral part of the sales process. 

1. Paint a Picture

First, it’s helpful to paint a picture of the marketing process itself. To do so, CMOs should ask themselves some basic questions. For example, according to Bob Murphy, a managing partner at Movéo, it’s often helpful to ask, “How does your ideal buyer make the journey from stranger to livelong customer?”.

That is, how does someone go from seeing an advertisement, email, or other form of outreach and eventually get to a website to purchase a certain service or product? Understand that journey, and identify the cracks along the way. Then, CMOs can develop specific strategies and walk the C-Suite through these steps. 

2. Use Data to Fill in the Gaps

From here, an effective CMO will use data to fill in the gaps, providing concrete evidence of their contributions. Bonnie Crater, CEO and founder of Full Circle CRM, identifies several of these data points. Sales funnel volume, for instance, allows the CMO to demonstrate how their marketing strategies are meeting company sales objectives. 

By analyzing the stages of responses to deals, and their corresponding conversion rates, a CMO will be able to visually identify how effectively their strategies are being implemented. Furthermore, an incoming CMO will be able to point to gaps in those different stages and develop strategies to address them. 

Sales velocity is another helpful metric. This measures the length of time of the sales cycle on both a micro and macro level. Velocity can be broken down into stages or analyzed in relation to the overall sales cycle. A CMO can point to increased velocity as an effect of their marketing efforts, breaking them down into stages to illustrate specifics. 

3. Show Revenue Impact

Finally, by pointing to revenue impact, a CMO can show how all of the numbers pertaining to marketing and sales led to actual growth. It’s especially important to communicate campaign attribution, as this will show hows the ends justify the means. 

Fortunately, camping attribution information is more accessible than ever thanks to the rise of CRM platforms that allow for easy measurement of sales. With these platforms, a CMO can quickly refine results, drilling down on specific sales and movements at all stages. It is then up to these professionals to communicate that data effectively and show the fruits of their labor.

The Importance of Clear Communication for CMOs

By providing a clear vision of the process with corresponding data, a CMO can effectively illustrate their ROI and overall worth to the C-suite. It’s also important to avoid becoming complacent with these processes; CRM platforms should be constantly monitored and analyzed for areas for improvement, employing new methods and tweaks to refine the sales process. 

In doing so, a CMO can show that they serve as an indispensable part of an organization, keeping the business humming while always searching for areas for improvement — and, just as importantly, effectively communicating those areas for improvement, along with proven successes.


Image Credit: kan_chana/

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