6 reasons why Demand Unit Waterfall is perfect for ABM

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Raghuram KS
VP of Account Based Marketing

As account-based marketing becomes more involved, it’s important to follow a framework that can guide practitioners and set them up for success. The SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall does just that — a useful framework for managing opportunities through every stage of the marketing and sales funnel. Because it focuses on accounts, rather than individual leads, it is especially useful for planning and tracking your ABM strategy. Like most advanced business strategies today, the success of the Demand Unit Waterfall and ABM rely on data. Lots of it.


ABM is an effective strategy for the modern B2B marketer targeting Enterprise accounts, where buying typically involves multiple decision makers spread across multiple departments and levels. As per Sirius Decisions senior research analyst Jonathan Tam,

“Account-based marketing is about targeting buying groups within accounts, or more specifically individuals or personas that make up that buying group to address a need. In order to determine success, organizations have to roll-up individual activity to this buying group level to truly understand performance.”

SiriusDecisions calls this buying group the Demand Unit. I believe it’s a great model for your ABM programs
Here are six of the biggest reasons why:

1. Account level focus
The Sirius Decisions Waterfall recognizes that each purchase decision typically includes multiple buyers and influencers across departments, functions and geographies (depending on the complexity, size and criticality of the product/service in question) and provides a system for tracking these connected leads. These buying groups — or “Demand Units,” flow through the following stages of the Waterfall:

Target Demand — Target Market is actually above the Demand Unit Waterfall. It represents your Total Addressable Market (TAM) — or the number of demand units that exist for your solution in the defined market. This gives you visibility into which organizations are likely to have a need and be a good fit for your solution. This stage helps to align your Marketing, Sales and Product functions behind a common target definition.

Active Demand — Once you’ve established your ideal customer profile, you’ll want to identify which accounts you actually want to go after. How many companies are ready to buy in the near future?

Engaged Demand — Engaged Demand occurs when one or more members of a Demand Unit self-identifies to the seller. The stimulus can come from a variety of sources such as web traffic, form completions in response to content offers, or sales outreach.

There will always be information junkies who download content or register for events who can’t or won’t ever buy from you. The key is to identify over time patterns that are leading indicators of qualified need. This will influence your lead scoring criteria, especially if you can map engagement from multiple individuals in a demand unit. At SalesboxAI, we score not only individual leads but aggregate the scores of demand unit members into a unified demand unit score

Prioritized Demand — In this stage, you’ll take all the target accounts that have engaged with you and prioritize them

Qualified Demand — In this stage, your sales or tele-sales reps are now engaged in a live conversation with an individual in a buying group, and the Demand Unit has satisfied your qualification criteria. At this point, you should start to touch other people in the buying group in the demand unit decision.

Pipeline & Closed — These last two look familiar to all of us, but one thing that’s changed is that in the past, marketers haven’t really paid much attention to pipeline and closed revenue, but now more and more high-performance marketers are getting involved in these last two stages.

2. Aligning on Demand Units
Buying is getting more complicated as more and more stakeholders are involved in the buying side. It’s not uncommon for multiple sales, marketing, IT and finance people to be involved in the purchase of a product or service, rather than a centralized IT or procurement manager.

The Demand Unitwaterfall starts with a targeted Account-Based approach where all “Demand Units” are identified up front for marketing and sales outreach. It then follows the usual engagement, qualification, and sales process steps.
A Demand Unit is a group of buyers in an organization responsible for purchasing a product. They have two characteristics: there are multiple people in the group, and there may be multiple groups within an organization or account. With a Demand unit approach, you just have more visibility on the account and buying group

Figuring out who is in the Demand Unit can be one of the most challenging parts of an Enterprise sales strategy, and it’s no different with ABM. SalesboxAI ABM Suite with its products Discover and Echo, enables discovery of buying group members and build intent data by scoring the activity of individual buying group members

3. Demand Maps
Accounts can have multiple demand units if you have offerings that meet multiple needs. A Demand Map is used to describe the potential of an account in the context of the demand unit. For instance, there may be different buying groups with the same need in an organization, which is known as a Horizontal Demand Map. If there is a single buying group with the need for multiple solutions you offer, then you have a Vertical Demand Map. Most often, you will have a Matrixed Demand Map.
Demand Maps can help guide your cross-selling and upselling activity in existing accounts, and align marketing, sales and product groups on go-to-market strategy.

SalesboxAI, with its conversational AI platform, helps you identify different demand units within each of your target accounts and converse with each member of the Buying Group via natural two-way multi-turn conversations across multiple channels. SalesboxAI then interprets intent and sentiment of the response to qualify and set-up meetings with members of the Buying Group

4. Sales and Marketing Alignment
While modern marketing best practices have been stressing the significance of sales-marketing alignment, this model takes it to the next level with the dividing lines being completely eliminated. Since there are a limited number of accounts that are actively in-market for your product anyway, it doesn’t make sense to divide them up into sales and marketing. Instead, both teams work together to reach and convert their target accounts across each stage of the new framework.

This type of alignment is a key driver of success in ABM. In fact, if you look at the most successful ABM organizations, you’ll notice that their sales and marketing teams work together from the very beginning to deliver relevant, engaging messages across the funnel

5. ABM Simplified
Beyond just simplifying the sales and marketing process, the new Waterfall has also shed a lot of weight. The past two versions had a dizzying array of acronyms: TALs, INQs, AQLs, TGLs, TQLs, SQLs, SGLs. Ditching this alphabet soup of acronyms makes things more simplified and tailored for ABM. Instead of an SQL, we’re finally calling the pipeline what it is: pipeline.

6. Account level Intelligence
In order to identify and engage demand units, sales (and marketing) will need superior account intelligence. While contact and account level profile/behavior data has been available for some time, demand unit related intelligence will need to be derived from multiple sources.

Technology improvisations has made it possible to aggregate account level insights. With SalesboxAI’s Echo, you can go one step further and discover, aggregate and score intent through first party and third party data for each demand unit

The Demand Unit Waterfall provides a much improvised and cleaner approach for your ABM strategy, and it really speaks to the growth and potential of the category. Hopefully, the above gives organizations that have been thinking about ABM for a while the push they need to start implementing the strategy. And for those who have been doing ABM for some time, the Waterfall can serve as a guide for how to do ABM even better.