Why leads as a marketing concept need to evolve

In the “old days” of events and tradeshows, marketers would collect business cards in large glass bowls – often promising some sort of price in a “business card lottery”. After the tradeshow, they would come back to the office and hand over the business cards as leads to sales. In “todays” more digital marketing landscape, a similar scenario plays out. But instead of business cards at a tradeshow, leads are collected through content conversions on websites.


One problem is around the way that many Marketing Automation systems are designed. A lead is equal to an e-mail address – without an account relationship and thus the connection to other buyers and influencers in the same account. This makes it hard for both marketing and sales reps to quickly get the whole picture without actually doing the lead conversion and broader account analysis.


Regardless of technique, the above examples (and potentially others) suffer the same problem – the leads are often too “raw/weak”. Marketing Sherpa has in one survey found that up to 80% of leads passed to sales lack sufficient qualification.


Sirius brings this up in their new and improved demand waterfall. Individual leads should not be regarded as qualified for sales. Instead, they speak about “demand units” – a more comprehensive cluster of data around a prospect account.


The demand unit includes several components, for example:

  • Demographic fit
  • Intent (lead score)
  • Match to offering
  • Identified key buyer personas


This becomes a more complete package and obviously, a much more qualified piece of information to the sales department. Consequently, conversion rates will be higher, and sales reps will spend more time on the right prospects, armed with more account insight and intelligence.

This means tougher demands on marketing, and potentially more headcount – for example, more in-depth tele-qualification resources reporting to heads of marketing (instead of SDRs reporting to sales directors).


At Upsales, we are excited about this “new” way of looking at leads. Our platform combines marketing automation, ABM and CRM in the same system. This means we don’t work with a separate module called leads – it’s just accounts and contacts. It makes life easier for both marketing and sales in getting the account overview directly. Through our native data integrations, we can match and qualify quickly and distribute more ready-made packages of account data from marketing to sales.


Below is the complete demand waterfall. A full run though will not be possible in this blog post alone, but one key observation is that it starts with target demand (rather than inbound lead/inquiry). I think this important as many marketers (and sales) see that we can no longer rely on inbound. We must focus on target demand and cultivate that into more comprehensive demand units – truly ready for active sales engagement!



For more information about the new SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall.