The Impact of the New SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall

June 7, 2017 Claudio Ayub

The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall – a framework shaping the way many channel organizations have managed and tracked leads - was introduced to the channel back in 2006. But as the market evolved through the rise of inbound marketing and the role of marketing automation, so did the Demand Waterfall, getting rearchitected in 2012.

But this year - as we prepared to present our case study on the Brocade Networks global incentive strategy during the SiriusDecisions Summit 2017 -  so was SiriusDecisions working on introducing their new “Demand Unit Waterfall,” which changes your organization's focus from leads to demand units, further aligning product, marketing, and sales. The new waterfall tracks a demand unit through the entire funnel, which in SalesForce.com (SFDC) lingo means, “that’s an opportunity” that, with this new model, will be pushed up the funnel in a way that marketing will be more attuned to tracking deals through the funnel.

Demand units are buying groups with needs that fit your solution.

The new SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall addresses the evolution of the buyer’s journey and the rise of predictive analytics and purchasing intent monitoring. Urging channel marketers to prioritize prospects (now called demand units) that are in active buying cycles and take an account-centric focus to demand creation.

SiriusDecisions’ updated approach empowers organizations to address many of the fundamental shifts towards account based strategies, personalization and customization, and the need for more accuracy in measuring pipeline impact. It emphasizes that channel purchases are made by teams of people, not ‘leads’ or individuals, which underlines the need to generate demand across the buyer’s journey, tying together a lot of the current thinking around account based marketing (ABM), and how sales and marketing must collaborate to gain the attention and guide buyers through their buying cycle.

The fact is that marketing and sales activity should be orchestrated around a buying journey that has multiple personas involved, and even though two new stages were added to the top of the demand waterfall, the entire framework is now more intuitive and reflective of the way businesses buy today.

Organizations may have many demand units and each buying group may have different needs.

The new Demand Unit Waterfall increases emphasis on where your customer personas fit in as part of a larger buying group—there’s specific messaging that channel marketers will now have to develop to address buyers at the organization, functional and individual levels. It also recognizes that each purchase decision typically includes various buyers and influencers across a model, and provides a system for tracking and aggregating these connected leads at the account level.

The new waterfall no longer outlines what marketing and sales are responsible for—they're now both accountable for pipeline and closed deals! The exclusion of words like 'leads' and 'handoff' will go a long way in getting sales and marketing speaking the same language, focusing on the same goals and ultimately driving alignment.

The relationships in the buying unit can be determined by analytics to identify potential buying groups.

The biggest change will be how companies identify the demand units within their prioritized accounts to target their marketing and sales acceleration efforts. This means that channel marketers will need to be even more of a driver of their company’s data strategy, by leveraging analytics to identify potential buying groups. Data becomes paramount to processes across marketing, inside-sales, tele-sales and channel sales, who now must be able to share, acquire and act on information on the buying center in real-time.

However, the transition from targeting an individual to a buying unit - made up of different individuals with different needs - will necessitate marketers to multiply efforts across a wide combination of individual roles and requirements. So, this will involve major procedural changes for channel marketing organizations. Hence, I anticipate marketing being preoccupied over the “Active Demand” stage, and sales obsessing over why certain buyer groups have a higher “Propensity to Buy” over others 😊.

Thinking in terms of demand units rather than individual buyers is potentially a big shift for the channel who is barely learning about, and aligning to the new buyer’s journey. For channel organizations that adopt the new demand units’ waterfall, they will need to understand much more about their target market, as well as specific accounts and the buying groups within them. So, I believe that channel marketing teams will slowly adopt the demand unit framework, and once they begin to understand the complexities of demand units, I’m sure that more channel marketing organizations will slowly allocate greater resources to identify and engage account buying committees more holistically.

No matter what role you play - marketing or sales – we will all now focus on finding, nurturing and closing the same thing.

Strategists will calculate the total available “demand units” in a target market. Marketers will estimate and target those that are truly active at any given time. And that’s a beautiful thing because when marketing can finally explain what’s really happening in the top of the funnel – sales will have confidence in pursuing accordingly. One thing is for sure, revenue doesn’t come from lead generation, but rather it comes from a process that is much more aligned to the Demand Unit waterfall.

What are your thoughts on the new Demand Unit Waterfall?

About the Author

Claudio Ayub

Chief Strategy Officer Claudio brings over 20 years of global channel marketing experience to Perks. He is a loyalty marketing expert with broad knowledge in strategy development, market management and channel sales planning, who has developed and executed major go-to-market programs for a variety of vendors, including AMD, Bing, Cisco, Dell, EMC, IBM, Kaspersky, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Seagate, Symantec, and VMware among others.Claudio is a management strategist with cross-functional expertise in business, finance, sales and marketing, strategic planning, and customer relationship management; an area he has excelled at by executing complex CRM implementations, customizations, and business process re-engineering for CRM applications. He keeps current with changes in technology and is passionate about the business implications of new technology. Claudio is an avid social media user and early adopter of social CRM.

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