It’s hard to believe, but it’s been six years since I stood on the main stage at B2B Summit with my then-colleague Kerry Cunningham to introduce a brand new concept in the transformation of the B2B revenue process. Kerry and I prophesied that it was time to change the focus of the revenue process away from individual people and toward the concept of buying groups and opportunities. The goal was to better align with the true buyer in virtually all B2B buying decisions — a group of people (the buying group) all working together to solve a business issue.  

As an analyst, you can always tell how interesting (or controversial) your topic is by the number of cameras that pop up when you show your slide. It’s fair to say that thousands of cameras captured the initial view of the Demand Unit Waterfall, our first iteration of a waterfall focused on buying groups and opportunities.  

The launch of the first opportunity-centric waterfall was met with a huge amount of interest mixed with a pretty strong degree of skepticism. Some people thought it was brilliant! Others thought the idea was senseless. And many didn’t know just what to think other than it was new and dramatically different from the marketing qualified lead (MQL) process they had used throughout their entire marketing career.  

A lot has changed over the last six years:

  • The new B2B Revenue Waterfall added the concept of opportunity types (acquisition, cross-sell, upsell, and retention) to get a better view of revenue performance across new and existing customers.
  • Market interest went from highly curious to cautious to the current wave of revenue process transformation commitment. For most companies, it’s no longer a question of IF they leave MQLs behind, but WHEN and HOW. The current economic challenges are driving us all to become more efficient, so budget constraints fuel the need for revenue process transformations.
  • We see success in the market from this transformation: Multiple clients won (and will win) Return On Integration (ROI) Honors and Program Of The Year (POY) Awards at this year’s Summit events. This year’s Demand And ABM POY winner at B2B Summit North America was a great story of an MQL-to-opportunity transformation done in record time.
  • Marketing and sales tech vendors have embraced the buying group approach. This makes it much easier to make the transformation.

Still, marketers face resistance as they begin the transformation away from MQLs. It requires overcoming the cultural addiction to MQLs; fearing that sales won’t buy in; and concerns that it’s too difficult. If any of these concerns applies to you, I recommend exploring my blog series on the transition and my What It Means podcast episode with my colleague Mike Pregler on how marketing and sales can work together to achieve alignment on opportunities. And, of course, reach out to us for a deeper conversation on how Forrester can help your organization switch from leads to opportunities to improve results.