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What comes to mind when you think of waterfalls? Tropical rainforests? Niagara Falls? White water rafting?

Well, not anymore! Thanks to SiriusDecisions, for B2B marketers at least, waterfalls will forever be associated with…

…demand generation.

Thanks a lot guys.

In all seriousness though, as far as demand gen metaphors go the “SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall” is actually an extremely helpful way of conceptualizing the entire process, which thousands of B2B businesses have already put to effective use.

And this year, at their annual summit in Las Vegas, the clearly aquatic-minded people at SiriusDecisions announced their new “Demand Unit Waterfall” — essentially an updated, more accurate conceptualization of the original.

(See the bottom of this article for a graphic illustration of the Waterfall.)

So… what does it actually mean, and why is this significant?

What’s New?

First, a brief outline of what’s new.

To summarize, the whole essence of the “Waterfall” concept is a move away from a purely leads-focused approach to demand gen, in favor of something more sophisticated, strategic, and reflective of the realities on the ground for B2B sales and marketing. It’s another manifestation of the move towards effective, personalized, audience-centric marketing in the B2B industry we’ve seen in recent years.

Introducing the new Demand Unit Waterfall, SiriusDecisions Senior Research Director Terry Flaherty framed the latest evolution of the concept as a reaction to a shift towards account-based strategies in particular. Again, this isn’t just a conceptual shift, but rather one which more accurately reflects the very real dynamics of B2B buying cycles today.

“The existing model starts with an inquiry, which is when an individual hand is raised,” Flaherty explained to Demand Gen Report. “The reality is B2B buying decisions are made by multiple people and with more organizations aimed to drive coverage and engagement across target accounts, there is a need to change how companies define and track key stages of engagement.”

By contrast, the new “Demand Unit Waterfall” model “adds two new stages — target demand and active demand — which are aimed at identifying target buyers before they have raised their hand or self-identified on your site,” to quote the same article.

The key concept that is introduced is the “Demand Unit”. Demand Units are comprised of Buying Groups that are activated to find solutions to business needs that match the selling organization’s solutions.

Kerry Cunningham, the other co-author of the Demand Unit Waterfall and also a SiriusDecisions Senior Research Director, further noted an additional layer of considerations, in that “organizations may have many demand units, depending on different solutions they sell, and each will have their own unique needs and requirements.”

Why it Matters

There are many advantages of the Demand Unit Waterfall approach. But two features in particular which stand out are its focus on identifying and familiarizing with your target audience(s) from the very outset; and the importance of pursuing a single, consistent, full-funnel marketing strategy to guide prospects at every stage from the very top of funnel down to closing the deal.

It’s an approach we’ve been advocating here at Leadspace for quite some time, informed by our own experience with customers, as well as more recently by an industry study carried out by the Marketing Technology Industry Council.

Audience-centric marketing is all about understanding the people who make up your buying groups, as different personas within an organization align to solve a specific demand generation problem.

Our B2B Audience Management Platform was built, over many long months, precisely with this dynamic in mind.

B2B Audience Management Platform: How it Works

It all starts with defining the target audience (i.e. the individuals within the buying group) that have the problem or problems your company can help them solve.

Leadspace Audience Modeling uses Artificial Intelligence to analyze your past and present pipeline and closed-won opportunities, and surfaces the characteristics that make up an ideal account. Simultaneously, the AI model identifies the different personas that comprise the demand unit within those organizations.


No company has 0 people in their marketing database, so Leadspace Audience Data Management identifies which such personas you already have in your marketing database — in most cases along with those personas you’re missing.


Leadspace Audience Discovery provides you with visibility into your TAM based on the definition of your target demand units. It also identifies what channels to reach those audiences/units on, as well as how to engage with those people in a personalized way.

Here’s how Tipalti used our Audience Discovery tool to efficiently and effectively build their list of target accounts for account-based marketing (ABM).

This handy infographic below outlines how Leadspace plugs into each stage of the Demand Unit Waterfall, along with a step-by-step explanation of the Demand Unit Waterfall itself.

How Leadspace works throughout SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall

Target Demand:

Total Available Market. The number of potential Demand Units that exist for our solution in the defined market.

Active Demand:

Demand Units that are showing evidence of acute need or buying intention.

Engaged Demand:

A member(s) of the demand unit responds to a marketing, tele or sales stimulus.

Prioritized Demand:

The level of engagement from the demand unit has reached a threshold that justifies additional interactions from tele or sales resources.

Qualified Demand:

Based on actual interactions with members of the demand unit, the Fit and Urgency of prospect Needs, as well as potential purchase resources and willingness to engage has been verified.


Demand Unit can be entered into pipeline based on projected deal size and close date.


Closed-won deal.

Find out how Marketo implemented an end-to-end, audience-centric demand gen strategy, and increased their Win Rate and ASP by >40%:

Marketo Case Study - Leadspace

Image by unformat on Pixabay | CC0 Public Domain

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