The Concept of Transformation Dominates SiriusDecisions Summit

May 18, 2017

Transformation is the watchword at the SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit. It’s also a watchword in digital marketing in general, which challenges us with the pace of its change on a daily basis.

Change is happening so fast, it has — apparently — even altered what marketers find sexy. “I think data is incredibly sexy. I don’t know what that says about me. But I do,” Carrie Palin, SVP-CMO, Box, said during a panel session at the Summit Wednesday in Las Vegas.

She further explained her remarks: “Data doesn’t lie. It’s what it allows you to contribute to the business that makes it sexy.”

Transformation was so omnipresent at the Summit that even the Demand Waterfall — SiriusDecision’s influential map of the buyer’s journey — has undergone a change. At the Summit, SiriusDecisions unveiled a new Waterfall, called the Demand Unit Waterfall. This new Waterfall is an acknowledgement that trends such as data-driven marketing, account-based marketing, predictive analytics, and increased sales-marketing alignment have transformed the buyer’s journey and the marketing process.

This new version of the Demand Waterfall differs from previous iterations in several key ways. Here are four of them:

  • First, the Demand Unit Waterfall doesn’t start with the inquiry; it starts with the Target Demand level, which is a business’ total addressable market. The TAM is usually determined by sales and marketing working together and using data, such as an analysis of the current database of customers, to determine what kinds of companies have a need for their products and services.  
  • Second, there’s another layer — Active Demand — that also is placed above the inquiry level. Active Demand refers to prospects who are in the market for a solution but haven’t yet shared an email address to become an inquiry. Predictive analytics tools can analyze prospects’ online and offline behavior to identify them as entering the Active Demand stage.
  • Third, the new Waterfall model is based on the “demand unit,” which is essentially a buying group within a company. The concept of the demand unit bridges the gap between an individual prospect and a company/account. SiriusDecisions designed the demand unit to offer more clarity than the inquiry. The deficiency of counting inquiries is that each individual inquiry doesn’t always represent a distinct sales opportunity — for instance, if each of five members of a buying committee downloaded a piece of content and became inquiries, those five inquiries would only represent one actual buying opportunity.
  • Fourth, the Demand Unit Waterfall acknowledges the primacy of sales and marketing alignment. In prior versions of the waterfall, it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that marketing and sales had clearly delineated responsibllities, with marketing handling the top portion of the waterfall, beginning with the gathering of inquiries, and sales controlling the lower waterfall, ending with closing deals. The Demand Unit Waterfall is constructed to acknowledge that sales and marketing work together through the buyer journey, from the teams collaborating to define the TAM to marketers producing hyper-targeted content to help close deals.

The increased urgency of sales and marketing alignment was a key topic throughout the Summit. In her session on the Summit stage, Andrea Soltsyiak, Global Head of Demand Management Operations, SAP, said marketing and sales at her company have worked hard to build alignment. “Gone are the days just handing over leads to sales. Marketing plays a role every step of the way,” she said.

That kind of approach is becoming more common — and more necessary in this age of digital transformation. Perhaps Phil Harrell, Advisor to Chief Sales Officer at SiriusDecisions, offered the best summation of the current attitude between sales and marketing: “We’ve long believed that revenue generation is a team game,” he said.

For a look at how improved sales and marketing alignment can benefit your company, download  "The Payoffs of Improved Sales & Marketing Alignment" today.