Unless you are a B2B marketer who has been living under a rock the past month, you have probably heard about the new SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall™ that was unveiled during its annual Summit.
If you are like me, the first thing you did when you heard about the new waterfall was visited the trusty keeper of knowledge (Google) to figure out what you could learn about this new approach. What I immediately discovered was plenty of opinions, but no concrete information on how to actually implement the waterfall for your business.
As I started to analyze the waterfall, I really wanted to understand how an organization could technically implement the new framework for their business in a meaningful, measurable and automated way. What better way to try it out than to use FunnelWise as my guinea pig.
Five Takeaways from Building a Demand Waterfall®
Here are some of my thoughts after putting the Demand Waterfall into practice.
1. You Get Out of It What You Put Into It
After researching the new waterfall, others within FunnelWise and myself weighed the pros and cons of implementing for our business. The new waterfall is not going to be for every organization, so it is really important to understand what you are hoping to achieve by implementing because it is not a simple activation.
Key questions to ask when determining if implementing the Demand Waterfall is right for your business.
- Do we have executive level buy-in and support for adopting this new framework?
- Have we defined our target market? (If you have not, you should probably start working on this step first.)
- Do we understand the available volume in our target market?
- By organizing the waterfall in this way, what additional results do we expect to obtain? How can we measure and track the results?
- How will KPIs change based on the new framework?
- Are we doing this just because SiriusDecisions says we should, or does this truly make sense for our business?
2. Analyze Before Applying
Before even thinking about how to technically implement the new waterfall, businesses must spend the time analyzing their historical data to truly define and classify their demand units. This ensures the waterfall is implemented in the most meaningful way for the business.
Note: It is important to not only analyze the data but also have discussions with sales team members, as they are the ones building the relationships and truly understanding the dynamics within client organizations.
Key considerations to think about when defining demand units:
- What are the various needs of buyers or current customers?
- How do their business requirements vary?
- Are there different roles within each buying unit?
- Are there specific patterns based on buying personas?
- Do we have our target markets properly identified and defined?
- Do we understand the right targeted markets and their volume?
- What are the key buying indicators across demand units, and how are these being tracked?
- Can a buying group have a need for more than one solution?
- How should our demand units be structured?
- Do products, geography, job functions or purchase process impact demand units?
- What impact will this have on our current reporting? What changes will we need to make to ensure proper reporting?
- How will off-funnel stages be addressed (recycled, nurture, closed lost, etc.)?
- How will renewal, upsell and cross-sell opportunities be managed within the new waterfall?
3. Demand Units Aren’t Standard
Unless someone knows something I do not, the native object schema within CRMs and marketing automation platforms do not take into consideration a sub-unit (such as a demand unit) on an account. While Salesforce does allow for account hierarchies, this solution may not meet the needs for every business based on how they want to manage demand units. This means that as businesses begin to implement the new waterfall, additional customization may need to occur to allow for proper organization, tracking and reporting on how buying groups move through the funnel.
As FunnelWise’s Salesforce and Marketo administrator, I understood this was going to be my largest challenge to implementing the waterfall for our business, because customization usually requires an additional level of complexity, especially when it comes to ensuring proper reporting.
Technical considerations to consider before implementing demand units:
- Can a person be in more than one demand unit?
- Can more than one demand unit be associated with an opportunity?
- How do we manage leads? Do we have proper lead-to-account matching in place?
- What does scoring look like on the demand unit?
- Should the members of the demand unit have roles?
- How do we manage sales/marketing activity with a demand unit?
- How should our account hierarchy be built?
- How will we need to leverage demand units in our marketing automation platform to ensure we are able to target our marketing efforts accordingly?
- What key metrics will we need to be able to track as demand units move through the waterfall?
- How can we track responses from multiple demand unit members?
- How can we track proper attribution and sourcing within the demand unit?
4. Adequate Automation
Many businesses already struggle with getting sales and marketing to follow the right processes within CRMs and marketing automation platforms from a data management perspective. To keep them focused on generating demand and closing deals, implementing the concept of demand units cannot overburden sales and marketing from an administrative standpoint, but instead, needs to be able to help them properly focus their efforts and create results.
This is where automation comes into play. Anything a business can do from a technical and administrative standpoint to make the management and tracking of demand units through the funnel easier is critical for making sure the process is being followed throughout the organization.
CRMs are powerful tools to help eliminate some of this burden, but it is imperative the process is properly documented, communicated and agreed upon, prior to implementation.
Automation considerations to consider before implementing demand units:
- Are there standard demand unit types that every account will have?
- Can we automate which buying unit a person falls into?
- How can we automate the creation of demand units?
- How can we historically migrate existing data into the proper demand units?
- How can we associate new leads/contacts into their proper demand unit?
- Is it possible to automatically associate an opportunity with the correct demand unit?
- How can we automate the movement of demand through the top-of-funnel stages based on their interactions and engagement?
- At what threshold level is sales involvement required?
5. Putting it Into Practice
After spending the time mapping out the strategy and the framework for using demand units within our organization, it was time to put them into practice.
Caution: This approach was how FunnelWise decided to implement demand units. It is important to remember, the waterfall stages, definitions and technical configuration needs to be unique for your individual business.
The following is a high-level overview of how we have implemented demand units into our business.
How we defined our demand units:
Based on our research of the buying groups who are involved with the purchase of FunnelWise, it made the most sense to classify our buying centers based on organizational department.
How this works in our tech stack:
Once an account is created, a series of demand units (custom object) are populated on the account object based on the standard demand units for an account. Sales is able to create additional demand units as needed.
Additionally, when a contact is associated with an account, they are automatically added to the correct demand unit based on their function. The contacts on the demand unit also have a contact role, which is similar to how contact roles work on the opportunity object.
Each demand unit has its own individual status that is updated based on where it is in the waterfall. Demand units also have a score that is configured based on the level of engagement across their members. This score triggers engagement from the BDR and sales teams.
As buying groups move through the waterfall, we are continuing to track the activities of the demand units and their members. We are also targeting our marketing based on associated demand unit and status. Once an opportunity is created on an account, we are associating it with the proper demand unit (or units).
Once demand unit reaches closed-won, the process doesn’t stop for us at FunnelWise. Since our solution is used across the business (regardless of who purchased the platform), we track engagement with FunnelWise by demand unit to ensure proper onboarding and usage with the platform. This allows us to better manage the renewal process and ensure we are meeting the different needs of the demand units throughout their experience with FunnelWise.
Once the configuration was completed in Salesforce and Marketo and our organization was trained on the new funnel, a demand unit blueprint was created in our FunnelWise instance to help us manage the waterfall.
Within FunnelWise, we are now able to track our entire funnel from target market through closed won opportunities (and beyond through renewal, not shown here). This allows our business to understand how we engaging our addressable market, if there is enough market share to meet our goals through using FunnelWise’s goal functionality and what additional actions should be taken to improve revenue with FunnelWise’s intelligence feature.
The Demand Waterfall isn’t for the faint of heart. I think some organizations are going to decide they need to implement this because SiriusDecisions says they should, but I do not think this approach is for every business.
Organizations are going to have to make a great deal of fundamental and strategic shifts before they can properly and technically implement demand units. Additionally, due to the complex technical components, it will be imperative that organizations have additional tools in their tech stack to get the full value (this includes a predictive marketing platform such as Radius or Mintigo, as well as funnel diagnostics software such as FunnelWise).
Also, remember this is just a framework. It is not going to work out of the box for most businesses. No one should have a cookie-cutter funnel. In order for it to be impactful for your business, it has to be customized to your business.
If you are interested in learning more about how FunnelWise is using the Demand Waterfall, shoot me an email, I would love to talk.
For additional information on the SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall, attend its webcast this Thursday, June 22.