At SiriusDecisions Summit 2011: Making the 'demand waterfall' a success

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Scottsdale, Ariz.—A record-breaking audience of about 800 attendees gathered here Wednesday for the SiriusDecisions Summit 2011, the sixth annual brainstorming conference staged by the sales and marketing consultancy. Dominating the agenda this year are sales enablement and the processes by which marketing can support the sales process. According to Tony Jaros, SiriusDecisions VP-research, the major glitch in the “demand waterfall,” where prospects proceed from inquiry to closed sale, is in the handoff from marketing to sales. “Some elements between the top and the bottom of the waterfall are added by companies and others are left out, but the one most often left out is sales-accepted leads, where sales acknowledges and begins to process them,” he said. “That is a big mistake,” Jaros said. “You want to formalize this handoff between marketing and sales.” A poll of attendees conducted by Jim Ninivaggi, SiriusDecisions research director, reinforced that conclusion. When asked about obstacles in pipeline management and forecasting, “major problems with sales compliance” was first on attendees' list. SiriusDecisions research, unveiled at the conference, showed that top-performing companies qualify a greater proportion of prospects at each stage of the demand waterfall than do average-performers. The gap was particularly large in the sales-accepted lead handoff. While closed business for average-performing companies ultimately resulted in 2.89 wins per 1,000 inquires, best-in-class companies averaged 14.23 sales per inquiry. “This is real money and signals a significantly better relation between sales and marketing,” Jaros said. “Best-in-class companies are doing targeting and segmenting better; their messages and offers are better; their teleprospecting is good; and sales trusts what they're getting from marketing and is willing to spend time working it.” For effective sales enablement, Jaros detailed five essential tasks for marketing: Seed the ground for demand to be created; generate marketing-qualified leads; help sales reps increase their productivity; nurture prospects toward a close; and accelerate deals through the pipeline. Jaros told BtoB that this year's attendance has maxed out the capacity of the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, which has hosted the event for three years. For the 2012 event, he said, SiriusDecisions will move to the Phoenician nearby, which has more meeting space.
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