The role of the modern CMO is constantly changing, in parallel to the rapid developments that occur in the marketing space. As marketing headhunters, we know the CMO role isn’t easy – as the impact CMOs have on business success is becoming more prevalent than ever. However, the title also comes with great opportunities when given to the right person. In marketing executive search, finding a candidate with all of the right attributes and demonstrated skills is like mining for gold.

What key competencies and skills does it take to reach the C-suite as a marketer? In today’s world, CMOs hold more power than ever, meaning the path to reach the C-level suite is more difficult and complex than ever before.

Mapping out the course to become a marketing executive may not be so clear-cut, as different industries call for different paths. There are however key skills marketing headhunters believe all aspiring CMOs must have to secure their place as a candidate for a C-level role.

Everything Digital

This may not come as a surprise, but having key digital marketing skills is essential for not only becoming the CMO of tomorrow, but to be a sophisticated marketer of any kind.

No matter what position or discipline you’re in, having digital skills is increasingly valuable as the rise of technology is driving almost everything in marketing to become digitized. In fact, it’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish the boundaries between the traditional world of marketing and digital marketing. Particular digital marketing skills such as SEO, social media, e-commerce, and web development are important to have at least at the very basic level.

Digital channels are the most effective and cost-efficient tactic in driving leads and revenue. It’s critical that today’s marketers understand how emerging digital tools and channels work, and how they work together as a part of a broader digital strategy.

Effective marketing today means becoming more and more digital. Executive recruiters recognize that CMOs who aren’t digital simply won’t survive in their roles. Marketers (at any level) can’t have too many digital marketing skills, so don’t hesitate to become a master of digital marketing tactics during your journey to a CMO position.


marketing executive search marketing headhunters

Great marketing today revolves around the customer and providing them with maximum value. Hopeful CMOs will need to understand the importance of placing the customer first. They will need to become forward-facing marketers who have the ability to help brands create a competitive advantage by utilizing data and immersive technologies to create optimal customer experience.

All departments within an organization should be responsible for driving the customer experience. And leaders in the C-suite are accountable in driving their teams toward enhancing customer experience. The CMO in particular is in the optimal position to take on the accountability of leading customer experience.

The CMO of tomorrow will be deeply customer-centric and data-focused. As a marketer, you should be comfortable with working across departments to align yourself with other teams and ensure that the customer’s journey is seamless. Make sure you’re familiar with monitoring and improving customer experience at all levels utilizing the evolving martech.

Growth Advocate

In correlation with the rapid growth of the CGO role, the forward-facing CMO will need to have the ability to drive meaningful growth within an organization.

CMOs will need to take full ownership of recognizing opportunities for growth and acting upon them. Aspiring leaders must know how to act on new ideas, innovation, and how to lead cross-team collaboration to impement them.

Executive recruiters understand that consistent growth is what all businesses need. Organizations need leaders who know how to support such growth to truly thrive in a digital world.


4 Must-have Skills to Become the CMO of Tomorrow

While sales and marketing are often merged together, it’s important to view these as separate disciplines.

They may both share the same end goal of generating revenue but they have quite different methods and techniques in contributing to the conversion process. Marketing functions on a strategic level, forecasting far into the future with long-term campaigns and overall brand vision. On the other hand, sales planning and execution has to be more tactical, focused on short-term results. Additionally, sales and marketing are responsible for entirely different segments of the sales funnel.

While it’s important to consider these as two distinct disciplines, it is however valuable for marketers to be familiar with the general tactics of sales. It may not be worthwhile for aspiring CMOs to prioritize adding sales skills to their resume. However, as marketing headhunters, we generally find that a strong CMO has a broad understanding of the sales functions.

It may perhaps be more valuable to hone in and focus on additional skills that enhance your ability to drive revenue growth and ROI. Rising CMOs need to know how to align their goals with the organization’s sales team. If the sales team isn’t able to properly leverage customer relationships marketing has built, all of these combined efforts will go to waste.

Bonus: Invaluable Soft Marketing Skills

The skills we’ve discussed generally cover hard marketing skills but as executive marketing headhunters, we know it takes more than that to truly make an impact on a brand. In addition to these skills, certain abilities that are closer to soft marketing skills are necessary to secure a seat in the C-level suite.

Quantifiable track record of success in driving growth

Leaders are insightful and possess the ability to redefine the terms of customer experience and drive growth within their organization. As a rising CMO, you must be able to have a data-driven mindset to support results and performance. More importantly, you must be able to clearly communicate these quantifiable results.

Leadership and executive presence

By the time they’re at the executive level, most CMOs have built something during their careers – a team or a campaign (or something else) from the ground up. You must present leadership skills that demonstrate instances where you had to drive, mentor or develop a team to produce results.

Whether you’re a beginning marketer or a seasoned executive, you’re never too old to learn; staying abreast of trends, and being able to adapt to new developments is critical. Leaders must be the spokesperson for bringing in new ideas and be at the forefront of helping their teams adapt.

Extensive experience

Most CMOs have extensive experience behind them, meaning they’ve dabbled in almost all disciplines in marketing.

By the time you reach candidacy for the C-suite, you will most likely have touched more verticals within marketing than others. To become considered for a marketing executive role, you must have well-rounded experience in the marketing space. As a CMO, you’re owning all of marketing efforts so it’s important to get experience in many realms.


As a rising marketing executive, you must look for ways to leverage current roles and take on different projects to expand your skills.

Be methodical about your next career move – if you’re missing certain elements in a specific disciple, perhaps the next position you pursue will help you develop new skills. Mastering these key competencies alongside valuable leadership skills will amplify your journey of becoming the CMO of tomorrow.