Hot Takes

Most Marketers Don’t Deserve to be in the C-Suite


Do you know what it takes to really be a CMO? Are you really qualified? 

Darryl Praill, a self-proclaimed serial CMO and occasional CRO—and current CMO at Agorapulse—, has an answer to that question.

And the answer is that most marketers do not (huge emphasis on “do not”) actually have any business being in the C-suite at all.

It feels like every dedicated career marketer believes they would be an amazing CMO and would do things differently (aka better) than their existing CMO.

And they might be wrong for three of the common reasons:

  • They prefer to delegate rather than get their hands dirty
  • They don’t want to take risks, conduct experiments, or fail fast, and they don’t want to learn how 
  • They can’t read a balance sheet and have little or no idea what the LKA KPIs actually mean

In reality, most CMOs and aspiring CMOs are far too tactical. They come with plenty of strategies in their marketing toolbox, but:

  • They lack the soft skills needed to lead a team well
  • They focus on execution rather than strategy
  • They can’t build their own brand, let alone the company’s brand
  • They avoid conflict and don’t know how to resolve it
  • They prefer to blame others for their lack of success 

Success in all of Praill’s CMO positions required that he was an officer of the company with true fiduciary responsibility, first and foremost. You own the revenue, the churn rate, and attracting and retaining talent. 

It also meant understanding the role every department played in achieving the company’s goals. If support sucks, churn will go up no matter how great your marketing campaigns are, so that means you’ll stick your nose into the other departments as needed. 

Finally, it meant that his role was to lead through shared goals, culture, and accountability… and all by example. This is how you become an effective leader; your team needs to understand how their own performance is assessed and compensated. You need to be clear here; this is essential.

And so, Praill ended his Hot Takes Live session with a quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be the leader that your team needs by leading by example. Have your employees’ backs, and demonstrate that you’re a company person through and through. Think about the impact you’re making on people and how they feel.

Want more? Join 48 of the top SaaS leaders on February 16th, 2023, as they dish out hot takes and surprising insights on product-led growth, RevOps, marketing, and sales. Save your seat now!