The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall is one of the most well-recognized and influential frameworks in the B2B marketing space. It has fundamentally changed the way thousands of B2B organizations have approached, managed and tracked lead management over the past decade.
At the 2017 SiriusDecisions Summit this week, SiriusDecisions unveiled a new Demand WaterFall – adding two new stages (Target Demand and Active Demand) – to reflect evolving dynamics in B2B engagement.
According to the SiriusDecisions blog, the changes made were inspired by several B2B trends:
- Organizations are increasingly focused on understanding their buyers and defining go-to-market strategies designed to align to specific personas and buying centers.
- Thanks to advances in technology, organizations now have more visibility into the earliest stages of the buying cycle.
As Kerry Cunningham explained, “predictive analytics and intent monitoring are helping us …[identify] companies that are currently in the market or should be in the market for solutions. We’re now able to identify, target and engage with these buyers very early in the process.”
The new Demand Unit Waterfall starts with a target market containing potential demand units.
Demand Units are defined as a buying group that has been organized to address a need the organization is challenged with. SD says that demand units – not accounts – are usually the true targets that marketing (and product and sales) should have in mind when thinking about buyers.
This makes a lot of sense intuitively. If you’re selling a B2B technology solution, your target buyers are people in a certain department, in certain roles, looking to solve a specific set of problems, not everybody in the target account.
In addition, while you may think that a specific job title (i.e. VP of Marketing) is the target decision-maker for your product, in reality three other people, i.e. Marketing Operations Manager, Digital Marketing Manager and an email marketing manager, have been tasked with researching solutions in your space.
Instead of relying on your organization’s previous experiences to determine your target buyers, you want to turn to external data sources to identify the real individuals who are actively doing research in your space. You’ll need more granular data points to find these individuals and figure out how to reach out to them.
As SiriusDecisions explains: “third-party intent data can help determine which demand units are not only in a ‘shopping mode’ but also have experienced an identifiable event that means they could be in-market. This data then helps organizations determine where to aim their outbound marketing efforts.”
What is third party intent data and how do I leverage it?
Third-party intent data represents any action taken by a prospect outside of your owned digital properties that signals what they care about. Intent data can come from reading articles from industry publications, discussing business issues on social networks, reading software reviews on tech review sites, and watching videos on 3rd party business-focused content communities.
Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to getting value from this data.
The first approach is Intent Monitoring.
According to Matt Senatore, Senior Director of Account-Based Marketing at SiriusDecisions, intent monitoring “scapes and aggregates evidence of how people within target accounts are researching topics that could be aligned to solutions. It then looks for changes in the frequency and intensity of those activities.
The notion is that if many people within a target account are all searching certain keywords, consuming many pages of content … and participating in online forums and social media in a relevant way, there might be an active buying opportunity.”
This approach is relatively easy to implement and can help marketers and salespeople identify potential accounts and individual contacts to focus on and accelerate a sales cycle.
Right now, there’s a handful of vendors that provide intent monitoring solutions that provide timely information on people and accounts who are showing interest in your space. Some of them provide aggregated account level data from website visits and searches and others, like Socedo, provide contact-level data from social media activities in real-time.
Then, there are also predictive analytics solutions that include intent monitoring in a holistic package to help clients predict who is a likely ideal customer and when they might appear to be in market. Lattice Engines, 6Sense and Radius are a few example vendors that fit into this category. Right now, these predictive solutions are providing intent signals at the account level. By combining this with more granular data on key contacts, you can get great signals for targeting.
Do I need to track new KPIs now?
The new Demand Waterfall is intended to replace the old definitions of Inquiries -> MQL -> SAL. As such, the core metrics marketers use should be updated as well.
Instead of measuring traffic to a company’s website, marketers should measure active demand, or the number of demand units that show evidence of being in the market for the organization’s solutions.
Instead of inquiries, marketers track the number of people in the engaged demand stage. This means demand units with at least one contact who fits into a designated buyer persona and has opted into being identified by the selling organization.
From a process perspective, the key change is that marketers now would be mapping the funnel based on personas and interests.
Further down the Demand Waterfall, from the qualified demand stage to the pipeline stage and closed/won, the emphasis on demand unit continues.
In this new framework, measuring inquiries still matters, it’s just that marketers should measure how many inquiries can be attached to the demand unit they care about.
In this framework, you can use predictive analytics solutions to identify which accounts and contacts are in your target market and then leverage intent monitoring solutions such as Socedo to figure out who are the “suspects” – or the individuals in those buying units (Active Demand).
By using individual contact level intent data, you can segment your database by interests and craft more relevant messaging to increase engagement (Engaged Demand). Lastly, by incorporating third party intent signals in your lead scoring model, you can identify the right people for your sales team to engage (Prioritized Demand).
SiriusDecisions’ unveiling of a new Demand WaterFall is proof that we’ve entered a era of B2B engagement and have to adapt now.
At this point, buyers – who have access to an unprecedented amount of knowledge and information online – are now in charge. To survive and thrive, brands need to work harder to engage buyers on their own terms.
Fortunately, due to the increasing availability of third-party intent data, brands now have visibility into the earliest stages of the buying cycle and can use this information to target the right buyers and engage them at each stage of the buying cycle.
If you’re interested in seeing how your organization may be able to leverage intent data, contact us and we can set you up a free trial and a proof of concept.