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Case Study: Recruiting a Marketing Automation Expert

THE CLIENT CMO of Global Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Firm


The company was driven by an historically transactional sales culture that had a large global team with extremely high turnover, and where 80% of the sales came from 20% of their top performers. Feeling constrained by the imbalance within Sales, the Leadership decided on a strategic change of direction. This began with the decision to hire a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), who was charged with creating a new function that could transition the company from a sales/hunter-focused company to a strategic marketing organization that would produce high quality leads through outbound content and thought leadership.

The newly minted CMO hired MICA to help find a right-hand professional, a VP-level Marketing Automation Expert who could help him build a marketing function that that would fuel leads for a pared-down, highly focused sales team. MICA determined with the client that this very specialized professional needed to be able to build a marketing automation team AND be a strategic executer.


Discovery and Prioritization

MICA started the project by identifying key technical knowledge and personality traits that would be required to be successful in this role. These revealed that the CMO needed a strong mix of a variety of skill sets including:

  • second-in-command experience building a marketing automation capability;

  • high level of technical knowledge of marketing automation systems;

  • expertise in evaluating marketing automation systems to be compatible with the current tech;

  • experience in rolling out and integrating new systems;

  • ability to create and optimize campaigns based on data, including a high level of experience with A/B testing and evaluating campaign effectiveness;

  • strong understanding of the customer journey from the lead funnel to becoming a paying client;

  • ability to show proof of concept during the transition as well as prove results;

  • ability to assimilate into culture - a hard charger, someone with thick skin.

Furthermore, the professional would have to be highly goal and process-oriented and strongly committed to helping the CMO, along with the leadership team to manage this tremendous strategic change in the company.

Recruiting Plan:

The key to this complex search was to prioritize subject matter expertise in building out marketing automation, rather than the technical expertise of the product the company sold. MICA made this recommendation based on the fact that there was plenty of product expertise in-house and this allowed for a much broader candidate pool. MICA then focused recruiting efforts on the automation industry, specifically companies that provided a multi-year subscription based service. This did NOT have to be SaaS. We opened it up to consulting services as well as B2B technical services to ensure a wide net to capture candidates with all of the required elements identified in the discovery phase.

Interview Plan:

The interview plan included highly focused behavioral questions on the candidates’ experience and direct involvement on the items we uncovered in the discovery phase. For example:

  • Tell me about your process for evaluating a marketing automation software against a current tech stack

  • Tell me about the process you used, start to finish on implementing a new marketing automation system into an organization

  • What would you do differently during the next implementation?

  • How did you provide proof of progress to the leadership team through the implementation?

  • What was the most successful A/B testing you did and why was it so successful?

  • Tell me about a time you had to manage a difficult executive who was important to your professional success.


Within 3 weeks of initiating the search, our client had 4 qualified candidates to interview. And, within 90 days had secured their VP of Marketing Automation.

“MICA’s suggestion to open up the industry had us a little nervous at first but they were spot on with that recommendation, as it brought us excellent candidates we wouldn’t have otherwise considered, and ultimately the one we hired who has been an absolute asset to the team.” Chief Marketing Officer

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