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Thoughts On The New SiriusDecisions "Demand Unit Waterfall"

Last week I, along with many others was asked by DemandGen Report to give my insights into the newly revealed SiriusDecisions Waterfall. Given the length of the article, DemandGen Report was not able to publish my full editorial, so I am posting it here on the Customer Experience Blog. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not have an opportunity to attend the conference. However, my opinions have been formed by the information I gathered from a review of the presentation and my discussions with clients and counterparts that were in attendance.

Buying Journeys Are Largely Self-Guided

I can get onboard with assessing your market in the “Target Demand Stage" which is the first stage. However, where things begin to unravel is at the “Active Demand Stage.” Sirius defines this stage as, “showing evidence of acute need or buying intention.”

If we assume this definition, we disregard any self-guided buying the persons in the buying group have done. It is likely that the first signal or “evidence” that a marketer will receive is once the buyer is well down their purchase path, meaning late to the game.

Not All Individuals Participate Equally

I appreciate Sirius taking individuals within accounts as potential first engagers. However, what they seem to miss in their model is that not all members of a buying group (still cannot bring myself to use the awkward term Demand Unit), will equally participate in the buying process.

C-suite execs will often initiate a purchase and then delegate to their teams only to reengage at demo and sign off. Given this dynamic, organizations need to be sure they understand the roles of the individual within each buying group and where to place the emphasis on behavioral interaction.

There Is More To Be Done Post Purchase

The waterfall that was presented seems to address the stages of a potential new customer, but what happens after the sale? As referenced recently in a Marketo blog, Forbes states that 90% of customer value is realized after the sale.

It is hard to believe that the same characteristics of buying would apply once a buyer turns into a customer, yet the model that Sirius presented does not address the approach that organizations should take to not only retain customers, but to increase their share of wallet with cross and upsell opportunities.

By not having a full customer lifecycle program strategy, B2B organizations are potentially leaving a lot of money on the table and opening the door for the competition to take what should be theirs in additional purchase cycles.

Leaves Me Wanting More

Beyond the call outs above; there are a few other things that left me wanting more.

There is a big jump between the Engaged and "Prioritized Demand" Stage. The reality is that buyers may very well repeat the “Engaged Demand Stage” a number of times. This is where mapping the buyers journey gets tricky as the waterfall is not a buyers journey, as buyers do not buy in that linear a fashion.

The second issue is the limited role that is assigned to marketing in the five slides that Sirius showed when it listed the “Primary Owner.” There is only one slide that shows marketing taking a more prominent role and that stops at the "Qualified Demand" Stage. A strong case could be made for the need for marketing’s roles to continue engagement, drive deal velocity and enable sales with the right content.

Lastly, much of this was lost on me when I got to the action items slide and the second action item was “Use SiriusDecisions resources to . . . “ Having been to the very first SiriusDecisions Summit years ago, I never saw them as using their thought leadership to promote their services, but perhaps given both clients and non-clients in attendance, they felt all were in the "Qualified Demand" Stage, so it was time to make the pitch. Bottom line is they know better.

I appreciate the work that SiriusDecisions has done to feed the B2B marketing and sales world, but am afraid there is a lot lacking in this 3.0 version of the waterfall.

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