The Year of Being Heard: 3 Ways to Think Like a Market Maker in 2015

It’s downright impossible to be viewed as a C-suite peer when you are heavily incentivized to complete tasks and projects. Things look even bleaker when you spend most of your day fulfilling time-sensitive requests from Sales to deliver better content, leads, and events. One of the members of my private CMO community once told me: “It feels as if I am working in a McDonald’s drive through window.”

How do you know whether you are an order taker or a market maker? Here are two ways to find out where you stand:

  1. Be honest about your own behavior. What performance goals you have established with your CEO and CFO for the coming year? If they are strictly about meeting this quarter’s lead or event related goals, physician chances are you are conditioning them to expect short term miracles and behavior from your team. Your written objectives should allow for activities in these four categories:
  • Fixing yesterday’s chronic issues and problems (as little as possible, unless you have accepted a turnaround executive role)
  • Addressing requests in today’s meetings and inbox (50% or less)
  • Creating and inventing the future (at least 15%-20% of your time)
  • “White space” – for surprise meetings, breaks between meetings to regroup and prepare for the next meeting, exercise, refreshment breaks, customer visits, or ad-hoc idea generation (at least 15%)
  1. Be realistic about your company culture, and what is possible. One of my clients, a rapidly growing, $2B software company, fosters a culture of speed and urgency. “Think time” is rare among VPs. This came to the surface during one of my calls with their VP of Partner Sales. He said that he wanted to create a dramatic improvement in how his channel partners approached marketing. Their partners desperately need help with learning the fundamentals of demand creation.Unfortunately, he was unwilling to dedicate the time required to shift mindsets and behaviors, or to assess the current capabilities and concerns. Instead, he made a quick decision and scheduled some sales skills training. He assumed that they would intuitively learn how to position and attract the right enterprise buyers. (My guess is that Twitter has a similar “do it fast” culture, based on CFO Anthony Noto’s recent gaffe).In cases like these, where your fellow VPs are allowed to focus heavily on short term fixes, you need to escalate the issue and persuade other C-suite members that this is a recipe for long term disaster.
  1. Create a time log. This one may sound painful, but you only have to track how you spend your time for one week. Once you have tallied a week’s worth of activity, what percentage of your time is spent on creating and inventing the future? If you are like many of my community members, you’ll be spending between 0-5% on that activity. It’s no wonder that the leadership team seldom invites you to strategy sessions. Your actions need to align with your intentions.

The time log may reveal that you are saying “yes” to too many requests from your stakeholders, and need help setting clearer boundaries. One of my clients discovered that their CEO had set 10 critical company goals—a surefire way to foster scattered, overworked marketers.

Year of Being HeardThe results from this time tracking exercise may be sobering, that’s true. It’s akin to suffering through your first weigh-in during a weight loss program. Everyone must begin somewhere.

These three steps will open your eyes to your current role, and serve as a baseline for shifting squarely into the role of strategic market maker. This newfound awareness is the first step on your journey to truly being heard in the C-suite.

Were these tips valuable to you? What steps are you taking to shift from order taker to market maker in 2015? Let us know in the comments!

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Copyright 2014, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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In my opinion, this issue isn’t just about time management. Sure, that is important. I believe we need to be fully aware of how we spend our time—and I talked about it extensively in
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