Preparing to Implement the Demand Unit Waterfall for Account Based Marketing

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Research Brief © SiriusDecisions. All Rights Protected and Reserved. 2 The ABM leader should examine and quantify demand units within accounts and create a demand map, leveraging the expertise of individuals across marketing and sales who know the buyer's journey best. A demand map visually represents demand units by illustrating the personas involved in one or more buying groups – the set of individuals who come together to make purchasing decisions – and correlating the organization's solutions to those buying groups according to how well the solution meets those personas' needs. For example, a selling organization (Ace) identifies a target prospect (Acme) and takes action. Predictive intelligence has flagged Acme as having many of the attributes that match the companies to which Ace has previously sold. Therefore, Ace selects Acme (along with 600 other accounts) for potential ABM program treatment. The ABM team creates a demand map that indicates Ace often sells into HR departments with a buying group made up of HR executives, IT and procurement. Ninety percent of all accounts in the potential ABM group – including Acme – contain an HR demand unit, so a total of 540 demand units make up target demand. Two: Active Demand The active demand stage identifies the set of target demand units showing evidence of acute need or buying intention. ABM leaders should work with the marketing and operations teams to identify existing interest among the target accounts. For example, the ABM leader can evaluate news events and monitor social media to predict interest, identifying which ABM accounts may be in the midst of mergers, technology platform switches or new market entries. Events like these are potential proxies for intent. Organizations also can use intent monitoring solutions to identify early-stage interest, with a technically savvy digital marketing or marketing operations team taking the lead. An equally important responsibility for an ABM leader and the marketing team is to proactively generate interest among target accounts through reputation support programs. Such programs may involve building awareness, changing perceptions and/or building preference over other providers (see the brief "Defining Reputation Programs"). An ABM approach often includes specialized tactics for reputation support – for example, IP-based digital advertising to reach specific accounts. Continuing with our example, Ace observes some limited early-stage signals of intent from contacts within Acme. To stimulate that interest, Ace publishes a series of blog posts and uses IP-based digital display advertising to position its thought leadership. Three: Engaged Demand When one or more members of a demand unit respond to a marketing, teleservices or sales stimulus, the demand unit has reached the engaged demand stage. The ABM leader needs to drive depth and breadth of engagement across the buying group associated with the demand unit, then ensure that engaged individuals are properly mapped to demand units. First, the ABM leader may want to cluster accounts, using the demand map and additional insights to group buying centers together for treatment according to common characteristics. This ensures that program design elements such as content, messaging and tactics can be customized at scale for meaningful groups of accounts. Next, the ABM leader orchestrates the development, execution and measurement of campaigns and programs (to all accounts or to clusters). As target individuals engage, business rules must be operationalized to map them to the appropriate demand unit. Specifically, business rules assess each individual's identity and what he or she is engaging with. This process is dynamic, because new responders manifest themselves regularly from running programs. The partnership between the ABM and operations teams is critical at this stage, because associating multiple interested contacts with the appropriate demand unit – and doing so across marketing automation platforms, sales force automation systems and other internal systems in a scalable way – requires significant data and operations expertise. The power of the Demand Unit Waterfall for ABM becomes very apparent in the engaged demand stage. In our example, suppose that Ace decides to treat HR demand units in the financial services industry as a cluster and creates a series of newsletters, microsites and webinars tailored for that cluster. Eight people in Acme's buying group attend a webinar. Instead of being treated as eight separate leads, which might be nurtured individually (some more than others) over a two-month period before one of them has consumed enough content to be transferred to sales for further investigation, with the new Demand Unit Waterfall, these eight individuals are recognized at this stage as a buying group engaged in a purchase process that can be assessed quickly to move ahead to subsequent demand stages.

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