In the B2B world, sales teams have always worked with opportunities and marketing teams have always worked with leads. It’s like solving a problem using different measurements — it’s nearly impossible.

The biggest challenges in this regard are getting leads that were sent over from marketing converted into contacts and getting those contacts associated with an opportunity through a lot of administrative work within systems just to track what is happening with the deal. The new B2B Revenue Waterfall solves this challenge by tracking the movement of opportunities, with connected buying group members, all the way through from top to bottom.

But what happens when an opportunity doesn’t flow perfectly downstream — top to bottom — in the waterfall?

We all know that, when tracking B2B opportunities in a waterfall, deals can often take a detour, meaning opportunities will sometimes fall back, fall off, or fall out of the waterfall. We consistently see that only 1% of the leads generated at the inquiry stage of a leads-based waterfall make it all the way through to closed-won. Most organizations have strong processes in place to manage opportunities that flow from top to bottom, but few organizations have that same level of rigor around deals that detour, which will cause leaks in your waterfall. Organizations need a process to manage these detoured deals so they can pass along the previous insights and leverage the previous investments to reengage with these potential deals.

To make the most of knowledge gained during the sales process, companies need to recycle opportunities back into the waterfall. Opportunities that go against the grain or need to flow backwards in the waterfall are classified as one of four detour categories: stalled, closed-lost, rejected, or disqualified. Using these detour categories gives the entire revenue engine a standard way to handle opportunities that move backward in the waterfall. It also facilitates the handoff of upstream opportunities from revenue development and sales teams back to the place in the waterfall best suited to engage the opportunity in its current state.

Once these detoured opportunities are reassigned, the revenue development team or marketing team will execute the next best action for the buying group members based on the reason code assigned to that opportunity — for instance, setting up a calling cadence, delivering a reactivation program, or holding the opportunity until it is ready to be reengaged.

For more details on this topic, don’t miss our presentation, “Expect The Unexpected: How To Handle Opportunities That Fall Off The Waterfall,” at Forrester’s annual B2B Summit North America event on May 2–4 in Austin, Texas, and online.