The Origins of the Bowtie
In mid-2020, NetWise was part of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SaaS Factory program. With the launch of our B2B Audience Platform we are in the midst of a transition from licensing our data to big customers to a SaaS business model when we launched a new web platform for mid-market customers. Through the AWS program we were able to learn from the best as we worked to expand and transition our business model.
It was a really great process and gave us a powerful, almost academic, business-school framework for how to think about our sales pipeline and organize responsibilities based on how customers flow through their full life cycle. This evolved within our own conversations and we added a bit of our own magic to refine our thinking in to a new framework.
We call this framework the Data-Driven Growth Bowtie. Here’s what it looks like:
In a conventional, vertical sales funnel, the broadest opportunities can be found at the top before they are whittled down to a narrow point where the deals are closed. But in the Data-Driven Growth Bowtie, the sales funnel is horizontal, broadly starting at the left with those first anonymous touchpoints, before prospects flow to a narrow center point where the deals are closed. With the Bowtie, the funnel should re-expand at this point as sophisticated sales and customer success teams uncover further opportunities to sell clients other products and services.
We use this framework almost every day when trying to determine how to handle unusual issues with customers. We look at the bowtie to see where the issue falls and determine who should address it. It’s become a management, revenue, and life cycle concept, all rolled into one.
Data: The Great Enabler
It’s not hard to understand why this moment makes the Data-Driven Growth Bowtie possible. One hundred years ago, your typical door-to-door salesman had no options other than a traditional sales funnel that ends at a point once the deal is closed. He didn’t have the sophistication to follow up with his customers and upsell other products. His funnel necessarily was limited by business technology.
It’s important to note that the Data-Driven Growth Bowtie is specific to complex, high-priced B2B software projects with long sales cycles. It’s enabled by the SaaS model, and there’s an even larger opportunity with DaaS — data as a service — which is our sweet spot. The more a product is digitized, the more likely that the right side of the bowtie can become as broad as the left.
Business technology and the data it yields have enabled the Data-Driven Growth Bowtie to exist. We can now quantify customer success, marketing performance and sales efficacy as part of one master data set. If the sales, marketing and customer success teams can all access the same data and approach it in the right way, they can create an amplifying feedback loop, instead of disparate departments operating in silos.
Why it's Useful
One great thing about working with the AWS team is their focus on the customer journey. This project and the resulting Data-Driven Growth Bowtie really got us thinking about our business structure in terms of how our customers flow through our systems. In comparison, the organizational chart is the focus in a traditional model.
This becomes more obvious when your system is software. You have to build your org chart to match your software, which you have to build to match your customer. Success is difficult if your org chart is a mess compared to the customer’s journey through your business. Layering the software on top of the customer journey creates an academic approach to the business structure. Every time we discuss how a customer’s need should be addressed, we can look at the chart and assign responsibility based on where it falls in the Data-Driven Growth Bowtie.
There’s a ton of intelligence, depth and dimensions within the above graphic. It recognizes that customer support is not a cost center anymore, but can be a profit center for the business. It’s operationally helpful and inspires me to always think through how revenue is generated in our business.