I love B2B marketing. I came for the diversity of challenges. And I’ve stayed for the continuous change. Throughout, I remain acutely aware of the balancing act that’s part and parcel of life in this job. We practice in the space between the scientists who create great products and the warriors who help sell them. We weigh strategic vision against tactical reality.
Last month, I wrote about the potential unifying power of SiriusDecisions’ Demand Unit Waterfall as a strategic concept — bringing all the constituencies in this value chain together around a common understanding of the market and the activity occurring in it. This month, I’m diving deeper into one particular part of our reality: the area where field marketing and sales connect.
I want to share what I think is the fastest, simplest way to add real value to our businesses right now — how marketers can find more of the real, active demand in their markets and funnel that more quickly to sales.
Begin with a diet of humble pie
To be clear, by suggesting we eat some humble pie, I’m not saying we’ve got anything to apologize for. What I mean is, at all times, we need to stay focused on the real goals: adding value to the business and growing faster than the market.
We need to approach our work with a clear understanding that no matter how good we are at what we do, the world’s simply too big and moving too fast for us to get everything right. To have any hope of succeeding relative to our competition (and certainly in the eyes of our diverse constituencies), we need to be super-clear and aligned on what matters most.
To achieve this level of clear-sightedness, we need to be hyper-aware of what’s going on around us. Specifically, we must be honest with ourselves about how long it will take us to reach our objectives if we stay focused on our current course and speed.
We must constantly be asking ourselves: Could there be a faster way to value? Are the workstreams I’m focusing on the only ones that can deliver?
The Demand Unit Waterfall: A major reality check
While some pundits in the industry are choosing to take a contrarian tone, I think SiriusDecisions has delivered an important wake-up call. By recodifying the waterfall, they’re forcing us to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves some questions: Are we thinking clearly about all this? Are we being realistic about our own capabilities and impact? In our endless search for more efficiency, is our current approach working? Is it capturing enough of the available demand? Is it delivering enough of that to our closers?
Demand Unit Waterfall Stage 1: Target demand
For each of us, there really is a total addressable market (TAM). There is only a finite (and eminently calculable) number of companies out there who might ever buy our stuff — the sum of all companies that map to our Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs).
Furthermore, within the ICPs there is a finite number of potential demand units. Once we admit this, we can begin truly focusing on targeted marketing and sales activities. To me, that’s the first step to changing a culture from one that chases any response or any business into one that pursues the right business for the company. Calculate your TAM and the total demand units you can expect it to contain.
Demand Unit Waterfall Stage 2: Active demand
This part’s a bit subtler: At any given point in time, only a relatively small part of the whole TAM — a combination of new and replacement demand — is actually in market. It’s a fact! There are only so many active demand units available — you can call them prospects, leads, opportunities, whatever is easiest — at any given time.
As marketers and sellers, our job is to find and engage them with our value propositions. So, look at your marketing and sales strategies and ask yourself the following:
- How much active demand is there in my market?
- How does this compare to what I can see coming inbound to my website and in the activity in my outbound MAP, tele and field activity? For practically 100 percent of us, these numbers are very different! This is what I call our Available Demand Gap (ADG). It’s a brutally honest measure of how we’re really doing compared to everyone else.
- What can we do about it?
Closing your ADG
You’ve established your ADG. Now it’s time to get real and work hard to close the gap.
Closing your ADG is hard work. It takes time and focus. But there are two pieces of good news that should help you and your constituencies work this through:
- When companies make the commitment to use marketing strategically, they accelerate past their competition.
- While you’re evolving your strategy, you can leverage some key opportunities to catch up in parallel (see more on this below).
Step 1 — Finding more available demand.
Before you can engage real active demand, you need to be able to see it. That means you have to do more than buy lists — lists don’t show activity. And even “leads” only show activity for the contacts you’ve successfully engaged — you still know nothing about other prospects who round out the demand unit.
Predictive modeling can help, but it takes time to work, and it can’t predict where demand activity is happening right now.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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Author: John Steinert