How Predictive aligns with the new SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall to facilitate Account Based Marketing (ABM) at Scale
Account Based Marketing, ABM, is often seen as a powerful but low volume tool. Quality definitely, but not quantity. Traditionally it’s been difficult for organisations to accurately identify target accounts, and sales/marketing goal misalignment makes execution difficult.
As a result most organisations have used ABM sparingly, to target a few potentially lucrative opportunities.
That’s changing. Now, forward-thinking organisations are beginning to embrace the idea of Account Based Marketing at scale. Instead of targeting a few key prospects or customers, these organisations want to leverage ABM on a broader scale.
That way, you get the quality of ABM without sacrificing quantity. Higher conversion; increased margins; maximum customer lifetime value; more loyalty; better-defined competitive difference.
That’s the why. Let’s look at the how.
The SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall
The SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall represents a new way of thinking about B2B selling. B2B sales has long relied on an understanding of ‘buyer’, ‘lead’, ‘account’, that ignores complexity.
Is the buyer the company? There are often multiple sales opportunities from within one company, so that can’t be the case. So is the buyer one decision-maker? Decisions are made by groups not individuals, so that doesn’t work either.
The waterfall recognises these definitions as redundant given today’s long, complicated sales cycles which involve multiple decision-makers. Instead, the waterfall introduces the B2B buyer audience echelons, which include the presence of multiple buying groups and buying centres within each account:
B2B Buyer Audience Echelons
This new way of thinking empowers Account Based Marketing at scale, by redefining what we mean by ‘buyer’ as demand units. The waterfall outlines how B2B sales professionals must structure their sales efforts around this concept to be successful:
SiriusDecisions Demand Units
Demand units are a buying group made up of decision-makers, influencers, users, and other people who work together to solve a problem their organisation faces. Each member can be in multiple buying groups, and each group represents a pocket of demand your organisation can address.
According to Kerry Cunningham, Senior Research Director at SiriusDecisions, demand units “are the fundamental units of demand that we really need to go out and identify, attract, engage and qualify if we want to sell anything”. “Each logical combination of buying group, needs and solution represents the points for marketing, tele and sales to drive demand”.
Applying this demand unit concept to the original iconic SiriusDecisions waterfall framework gives us a new way to identify, track and progress B2B sales through to close, including both new account acquisition and existing customer growth.
Predictive analytics plays a crucial role in supporting alignment to this waterfall. Let’s look at each stage in turn.
SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall
How Predictive Analytics Aligns To The Demand Unit Waterfall
1 – Target demand – map ideal customer profiles to addressable market
The first stage of the Demand Unit Waterfall is about defining your total addressable market. The aim is to understand (and agree on, across departments) how many potential demand units there are for your solution.
Predictive ties closely into this thanks to intelligent prospect profiling. Advanced predictive goes beyond look-a-like data profiling to build a sophisticated ideal customer profile based on analysis of thousands of internal and external data signals.
You get a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the demand units your business could target, adapted for different kinds of businesses, which acts as the foundation for your ABM strategy.
2 – Active demand – spot the signals indicating an intent to buy
The active demand stage is about discovering the demand units that are actively researching solutions to their business problem(s) that your value propositions(s) can address. The focus is on narrowing down your total addressable market into those most likely to convert, so you can better target your sales and marketing activities.
There’s a clear synergy with advanced predictive. Predictive platforms leverage historic buying intent signals to predict how future accounts will behave. In other words, predictive platforms highlight which demand units will convert and when, and what their total lifetime value will be.
Predictive lead scoring then ranks these leads in priority order by these factors, so sales and marketing can focus their activity accordingly. Poor marketing and sales alignment has always been a big hurdle for Account Based Marketing, as both departments have different goals. The fundamental question – what is a lead? – gets different answers.
This is an issue we must resolve to effectively implement ABM at scale. The demand unit waterfall proffers an answer, which predictive analytics ties into by creating a single customer understanding that all parties can unite around.
3 – Engaged demand – smart content and personalisation to engage
The engaged demand stage occurs when a prospect or customer within the demand unit has responded to you. This stage is the natural result of advanced predictive, which helps better define and target demand units.
Better top-of-waterfall prospect profiling and predictive lead scoring means sales and marketing activity is focussed on the demand units most likely to convert. Both departments are therefore more effective and efficient.
You know which customers and prospects you should target with which messaging and when. The result is higher conversion: more demand units moving more quickly through to the engaged demand stage.
4 – Prioritized demand – pick the right opportunities to pass into sales
A demand unit moves into this stage when they’ve crossed a threshold of engagement that justifies further interaction from your people.
Complex buying funnels with multiple engagement channels traditionally mean lengthy buying cycles, high attrition and low conversion rates. Predictive combats those issues by ensuring you’re targeting the right people, in the right way, at the right time.
This is especially impactful through the BrightTarget platform, thanks to its focus on Customer Lifetime Value. Most predictive platforms offer predictive lead scoring by opportunities most likely to close, but BrightTarget uniquely combines that information with measurement of CLV.
This gives a clear matrix, as below; with likelihood to convert next to lifetime value so you can focus for example your best resources on A1 prospects. By focussing activity on your A1s, you maximise conversion likelihood – and speed – through the demand waterfall.
BrightTarget Predictive Lead Scoring
5 – Qualified demand – invest in the right deals to win better business
The qualified demand stage occurs when customers or prospects from your demand unit have been properly qualified by your interactions so far. A demand unit enters the qualified demand stage when you really understand their needs, fit, buying power, buying intentions and so on.
Predictive analytics assesses all the actions of every member of the demand unit to score an opportunity. This goes much further than basic individual scoring, such as for a lead or contact. BrightTarget includes all activities associated with an account or opportunity to score the best opportunities, so you can invest in the right places.
6 – Pipeline – manage the deal to close, quicker and bigger
When sales can assign a monetary value and projected close date to a demand unit, they’ve entered the pipeline opportunity stage. Not to hammer the point, but advanced predictive means higher demand unit to pipeline opportunity conversion – which is great for the bottom line.
Use the right communications to the right people at the right time to progress opportunity to close and retain maximum sales value.
7 – Closed – the start of even bigger opportunities!
This final stage is successful closure: the deal is done. This stage isn’t the end though. The waterfall simply feeds into another, and another, and another, ad infinitum, as each new account you close generates new opportunities to drive existing account growth through cross-sell, up-sell and retention.
Each new opportunity will have its own demand unit and sales funnel, so once opportunities are created you can manage them through the same process we’ve been discussing. And because advanced predictive leverages machine learning, the funnel gets more effective as you continue to use advanced predictive platforms.
Essentially, each win helps you identify more demand units, more accurately, at the top of the waterfall – be that new accounts or up- and cross-sell opportunities within existing accounts.
And there’s a big implication here for existing account growth, which some organisations don’t fully exploit.
The fact is, most organizations have a wealth of opportunity hidden in their existing, internal customer data, which is very rich – especially if you’re using predictive for acquisition and therefore securing more accounts, and more potential account growth opportunities.
Predictive certainly isn’t just an acquisition tool: it can have a huge impact on B2B profits by mining your existing customer data to drive customer growth too. That’s why the ‘final’ stage of the demand units waterfall isn’t really the end at all.
Predictive analytics fuels B2B sales through Demand Unit Waterfall
B2B organisations today recognise and embrace a shift towards Account Based Marketing at scale. Central to that is the new SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall, which redefines how we define, target, engage and convert B2B buyers.
Predictive analytics aligns closely to this new perspective, which rests on a more comprehensive, multi-faceted understanding of buying behaviour in the B2B organisation.