Hearing that your client is hiring a new CMO can send any account manager into a panic. There are several red flags to raise when this happens, and it’s important for your team to understand how this will impact your relationship with the client.
It’s very likely that the new CMO has worked with other agencies and has built a successful relationship with them. Would they consider enlisting that agency in favor of yours? It’s definitely a possibility, which is why this scenario is a major red flag for client retention.
Second, the new CMO might have very different ideals than the last. Will they value your work as much as the previous CMO? Do they understand the importance of your work as it relates to your client’s business, or is their focus rooted in allocating the marketing budget elsewhere?
Once this flag is raised, your agency will likely put together an action plan to get facetime with the new CMO, and that’s your chance to really understand what he or she cares about and how you fit into that. If you’re lucky enough to get an introductory meeting and find yourself sitting at the same table with the new CMO, make sure to ask the following questions to get the answers you need to hopefully retain the business and make an impression.
This question will help you discern why exactly the CMO has taken on this new role. This question is a Trojan horse to identify what this new CMO really cares about. You could also ask, “What excites you about this place?” or “What parts of this job gets you most fired up?”
You can begin to understand:
- Are they hoping to turn this business on its head?
- Do they want to make a name for themselves?
- Was this a vertical career move or lateral?
- What are they interested in working on or learning?
With this discussion, you can begin to understand the CMO’s goals for their new role, and based on the response, roll into the next question.
Make sure to REALLY listen to this one, that way you can back their response into what we want to accomplish. You want to understand their vision in order to align your work with their goals. With this, you can truly earn a seat at the table.
There are some ways to phrase this question depending on how the conversation is going and how much your CMO is willing to share.
It could be a time-based question, e.g. “What do you want to accomplish in six months or one year?”
Or, depending on how the conversation is going, you could ask, “If it’s six months from now, what would you need to see to double down with us versus moving in a different direction?” It’s blunt, and you should use your best judgment before asking it, but you’ll easily be able to determine the CMO’s sentiment on your agency versus another.
Another variation would be, “What is something you see in your future that you wish you can get to, but you can’t because of all of your other internal priorities? What do you want to get done and how can I help you see it through?”
This puts the ball in the new CMO’s court to engage with you and your team and allows you the opportunity to guide them and answer any burning questions they may have. By asking this, you’re creating a two-way dialogue with the CMO, rather than grilling them with question after question.
Not only that, but it also communicates that you are familiar with the client’s business and processes and can be a resource for the new CMO, who is likely still finding their footing in the organization.
Find out how involved your new CMO will be in the day-to-day. Do they want to be on calls? Copied on emails? Included in monthly reports?
Understand at exactly what level you should be looping the CMO in and confirm this with your POC. This information will ensure you’re getting the most important work on the CMO’s desk and not cluttering their inbox with anything they don’t care about or have their hands in.
It’s your time to shine. First impressions matter, so make sure you have a kickass report, deliverable or presentation up your sleeve. It should be something you know has resonated well with this client, and something you can tie directly to their bottom line or marketing budget.
For example, in one of these exact situations, we presented an analysis that integrated SEO and PPC data in order to prioritize our recommendations based on business impact. We chose this particular analysis because we knew it aligned with our client’s goals of integrating SEO and PPC as much as possible, and knew it would facilitate a thoughtful conversation amongst ourselves and the client.
Beyond that, however, use every amount of information that the CMO has provided for you thus far and make sure to reiterate their own language and goals in your presentation. Tie your insights back to what they’re excited about and what they’re hoping to accomplish. Utilize your presentation to reiterate the answers to the questions they’ve already asked you.
Have any other tips for meeting your client’s new CMO? Let us know in the comments below!