MarketOne Insights: The New SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall

JEFF WRIGHT, Director Demand Center Consulting

I wanted to post this last week while at the show, but with all the discussions leading deep into the evening on Wednesday, wrapping up the conference and traveling back to the east coast Thursday, it never happened.  Finally, topping off the week by trying to fit five days of meetings into one day (my friend on the plane from Pegasystems knows that pain too) and the US Memorial Day holiday weekend, which had beautiful weather – I am just now getting to post my comments on the new SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall today.


The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall

Copyright © SiriusDecisions


There are three main areas that I found to be most interesting about the new model:

1)      AQL + TQL = MQL and TGL = MQL too…

2)      Funnel x 3 = Inquiries are not the only VIPs allowed into the club

3)      SQL – proceed with caution, field sales rep processes ahead.

My commentary on #1 is below – #2 and #3 will be coming shortly….

For more on the above acronyms, you can visit my previous post.

#1 – “Tele-prospecting is more important than ever” – SiriusDecisions

Sales and Marketing teams have been using tele-prospecting for decades.  Before email it was considered the low cost channel to reach a broader base of prospects and customers with your message and try to source more qualified leads for sales.  So if I took a poll of attendees at the conference my guess is that 100% of the organizations in attendance have used some flavor of tele-prospecting to drive leads into the funnel.

However, I think the point Sirius is trying to make here is that this proven process needs to be aligned properly with best-in-class demand generation modeling and measurement.  As a result it also needs to be measured in a new way and used to validate your programs and campaigns early and often.  The place they insert this is in the Marketing Qualification stage of the waterfall – also known as Marketing Qualified Lead stage – MQL in the previous model.  Sirius has moved beyond a single definition of an MQL and instead broken it down into 4 separate sub-stages.  Following is my summary of these sub-stages, followed by my thoughts on how our clients could operationalize the model to measure success – and maybe get up on stage next year as an early adopter of the new model…

  • Automation Qualified Leads (AQL) as Sirius defined it, is the use of marketing automation to score inquires to determine which ones are ready for the next step in qualification – teleprospecting.  I would also add that education oriented nurture streams should be tightly aligned to this stage as those inquiries that do not score high enough to move to teleprospecting should be automatically routed for further education and then allowed to trickle through your AQL gate.
  • Teleprospecting Accepted Leads (TAL) as Sirius defined it, is the use of a dedicated teleprospecting team to evaluate the AQL and accept or reject it.  What will be in debate here is whether a visual inspection of the AQL is enough or whether companies will require at least one successful call attempt– i.e. was there enough data provided and was the data “true” enough to make a valid tele-connection.  The only way to do that is to pick up the phone and at minimum reach the prospects admin, voicemail or have the main switchboard verify the information.
  • Teleprospecting Qualified Leads (TQL)- What I think will be interesting here is that companies like MarketOne, who have been doing teleprospecting for more than a decade, understand several key drivers to hitting a target metric for a TQL.  For example there are large increases in conversion from sweep 1 to sweep 3 of a database – but once you move to sweep 4+ you get a rapidly diminished return on the effort.  Companies will need to be okay with pulling up the fishing poles and moving to another fishing hole.
    The timing of the calls is also important – you need a team that can manage the call cycles over the right timeline.  Making call sweeps too close together will not allow the voice mail to germinate – on the flip side too much time between calls will kill any recency of activity the prospect might have to the event that generated the call to start.That leads to the next key factor – the voice mail.  It needs to be aligned and focused on the respondent’s area of interest at the time they enter the teleprospecting phase.
    This is why Sirius emphasizes the tele-prospecting team needs to be a function of marketing not sales, and they need to play by their own set of metrics – not just pipeline revenue and overall revenue.  Also – I think the program that Adobe mentioned on Tuesday at Sirius (highlighted in my last post), which links marketing content to call script guidance is something marketers should consider configuring into the lead management workflow.
  • Teleprospecting Generated Leads (TGL)– This will in my opinion be the hardest part to govern for a centralized team.  Once the word gets out that the team is making outbound cold calls – the requests will start to come in from field marketing, field sales, partner marketing/sales and product marketing.  This will be even harder teams that are in-sourced to manage, as the mentality of “it is free” to run my call program through this team will emerge.  (Might be more reason to outsource this group to help protect bandwidth).
    The trick will be prioritizing activities, and that will typically be based on how you measure and compensate the team.  So make sure you have some flexibility and don’t align all KPIs to immediate pipeline.  Overall, this part of the tele-prospecting methodology needs to have alignment with the field i.e. there needs to be a set of accounts pre-vetted by sales/field marketing for the team to attack ad-hoc.  This will allow the teleprospecting team to transition from inbound to outbound calling on the fly and not require some batch marketing list load to keep them busy.
    There also needs to be additional metrics aligned to this – i.e. name development, event registrations and nurture generation metrics to go along with pipeline generation.  Expectations need to be set with the field that it’s going to take months, maybe even over a year before an opportunity emerges within these accounts.  When it does, there needs to be an expectation that it may bounce between sales and marketing for a few months as the prospect tries to align internal teams to the opportunity.  Finally, you need to consider how to handle referrals – are they part of TQL or TGL?  It will require some time to think about the design of the workflow and how the tele-team “treats” new names they generate overall.

So what I think Sirius was trying to say with the new Marketing Qualification stage is use a scoring model to determine which leads are qualified and more importantly which are not and don’t be afraid to use the tele-prospecting team to A/B test scoring scenarios. The emphasis being that even though you score leads you still need to have a tele-prospecting process evaluating and converting leads for sales.

“Do I need tele-qualification if I have a scoring application – YES YOU DO!” SiriusDecisions

The way I see it is the alignment of tele-prospecting with scoring can be a critical operational alignment to identify early in the campaign lifecycle whether you are trending towards a potential successful campaign or not.  By marketing having a team at the ready to accept and reject the leads that pass the scoring threshold and also have source code information attached to it – you can begin to understand in days/weeks what channels are gaining traction and whether or not you are evaluating those channels with the right scoring model.  This will allow marketing to adjust campaign configuration early and often, which will ensure you provide sales with a high value product and don’t bog them down with potentially poor performing campaign results.

So who has been doing this? We have worked with several clients to align marketing and sales. We set up a lead management workflow that fed leads into Eloqua, scored them, and then passed only qualified leads to inside sales in I am not going to mention names here, because there was one major flaw in the implementation that Sirius has emphasized for several years and restated again this year. These clients tried to leverage an existing inside sales team that was not 100% dedicated to lead qualification. These teams only did the qualification part time, which resulted in less than 100% compliance with the new workflow. While we did validate that scored leads convert at a higher rate – what we were not able to achieve was the analysis of the scoring model and early campaign success indicators, since there still was a “cherry picking” mentality in place.

In addition to the inconsistent compliance to the workflow, there was also no follow-up by the marketing team on the model. MarketOne handed off the model, even supported some of the training material – but once the workflow was live, the client took delivery of the process and parted ways with our consulting team. We consistently went back in to understand KPIs – but it was clear that the marketing teams were struggling with sales compliance and had moved on to the next big marketing idea and never really validated the program success beyond the top line MQL generation number.

What companies need to consider is staffing a dedicated tele-team under marketing that can both manage the inbound workflow and outbound activities that align with account based marketing, event marketing, channel, product marketing etc. Also, as I hinted at above – think about outsourcing this team so that it does not look like a place to do “free” calling.

Points #2 and #3 to follow shortly.

If you would like to continue the discussion, email me at:

In order to improve your user experience and to provide you with the most relevant content, this site uses cookies. If you continue to browse, we will assume you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For further information, visit our Privacy page.