marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Monday, February 14, 2011

Are you looking for Barbie and forgetting to Lead Score?

A recruiter I’ve known for years showed me a CMO position spec and asked if I knew of any matches. The position looked pretty standard, covering the strategy, positioning, messaging, branding, press and lead gen under the standard umbrella, and I mentally noted a few good candidates who met the basic requirements.

As I delved deeper into the spec, the company described how they were looking to take their company and product space to a new level, citing how their industry was stuck back in the dark ages in terms of leveraging intellectual capital and interpersonal relationships for productivity and efficiency. I had seen this problem in several industries, where the “oldest man in the room” syndrome was the norm, and hoarding knowledge insured job security and maintained a rigid hierarchy. The implication is that a cultural change and essentially a change management process is attached to installing and acclimating the industry customers to newer, more open, and automated systems for creating, managing, and leveraging the knowledge base in the minds of the knowledge hoarders.

The right candidate would then require the marketing knowledge and experience for a normal CMO, but also the patience and change management mindset to educate train and persuade industry members to adopt new and potentially disruptive social technology. The bar was getting higher.  The company would clearly be breaking new ground, and the spec recognized the forward thinking required of the right candidate.

Then I came across the show stopper - the company wanted deep industry experience AND a track record of implementing similar socially oriented knowledge sharing and productivity tools.

Wait, did you catch that? The company was breaking new ground, bringing the industry out of the dark ages to do things that has never been done, but they wanted the same person to be an industry insider with a track record of doing things that the industry has not been doing, ever. Basically, the spec was asking for someone who has done what has never been done in an older industry that has a tradition of sticking to tradition.

That’s when you stop, take a step back, and ask the hard question. “Are you looking for Barbie?” Where Barbie is the mythical perfect person with the perfect background, skills, experience, and other qualities. I think every company would like to hire a “Barbie”, and there’s no reason not to want that, but the question has to be asked “What do you really want this person to do?”

My recruiter colleague has not gotten back to me, but the hiring company should take a long hard look and possibly do a stack ranking of the real requirements. For example the requirements might be:

Rating categoryWeightScore
Deep industry experience1.2
Marketing executive experience2
Experience driving cultural change1.5
Experience marketing to multiple marketing verticals or segments1.3
Experience in marketing knowledge tools1.8
Experience in marketing social technologies2

In the example above, the company would be identifying an experienced marketing executive weighted toward experience in social technologies and knowledge tools and less experienced with multiple vertical segment marketing and potentially less industry experience. Note that if the hiring firm stuck to hiring “Barbie” setting all categories at 2, then “industry experience” could completely replace “marketing social technologies”, and the firm would hire someone without the skill necessary to fill the role.

So trying to hire “Barbie” could lead to poor candidate sourcing and poor decision making in the hiring process. All parties concerned would be best be served by applying a “lead scoring” framework to systematically identify and engage the best candidates.

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