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Break Free B2B Marketing: Latane Conant of 6sense on Reinventing the CMO Role

Posted on May 19th, 2020
Written by Joshua Nite
  • Blog
  • B2B Marketing
  • Break Free B2B Marketing: Latane Conant of 6sense on Reinventing the CMO Role
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    Latane Conant

    What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

    At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

    Latane Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

    For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

    “If I am engaging accounts more effectively than my competition, I will generate more pipeline, I'll win more often, I'll have bigger deals, and I will set my relationship off with those customers better.” #B2BMarketing @LataneConant… Click To Tweet

    Break Free B2B Interview with Latane Conant

    Timeline and Highlights

    :58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

    2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

    4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

    6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

    7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

    8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

    9:00 V2MOM and organization

    10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

    12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

    13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

    16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

    17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

    18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives


    You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 


    Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

    And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

    No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

    And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

    How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

    I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

    The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

    And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

    I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

    So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

    I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

    Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

    Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season: