For more than a few months now, I’ve seen a series of articles and blog posts from pundits that have proclaimed the end of the demand waterfall (or the demand “funnel,” as some call it) as a viable model of measurement of aligned B2B marketing and sales.
The trouble with the waterfall, it is claimed, is that it depicts a linear journey of prospects from cold to close. Today’s buyers, on the other hand, often take a circuitous journey, moving in and out of an active cycle before finally crossing the finish line. If you believe the second, then you cannot possibly believe the first, right?
Wait a second, amateur logicians. This is not a conditional if/then statement, but rather two complementary concepts that are being falsely described as antithetical by those who want you to believe they have uncovered the next big thing. In fact, viewing the waterfall and the buyer’s journey as contradictory betrays a faulty understanding of both concepts.
The demand waterfall is a counting mechanism that is underpinned by a series of processes; when established and facilitated properly, these processes should improve not only the ability to count, but the results of the count. The buyer’s journey is one of these processes; in other words, it is a driving component of the waterfall, not equivalent to the waterfall itself.
Even when the process changes – which we began writing about all the way back in 2002 – have the units (either individual prospects or groups of contacts that comprise a buying center) that will eventually be promoted to opportunity and close changed? As my sister used to say, nuh-uh.
Yes, the fact that a buying unit can potentially proceed lower in the waterfall and then be recycled in the other direction happens all the time. Whether that recycled buying unit is counted as net-new when it proceeds again must be managed. Operations people deal with this every single day, and have been doing so for years; nothing to see here, folks.
The demand waterfall and buyer’s journey concepts are critical, and they are linked. Sorry, pundits; go find another construct to pick on.