Understanding the Stages of a Lead Lifecycle

Learn about the stages of lead lifecycle: from subscribers to evangelists - understand how each stage works and how it affects customer journey.

Understanding the Stages of a Lead Lifecycle

Leads are one step ahead of subscribers. Your interaction with your company is more active. Instead of passively reading your content, they've taken some action that indicates that they're potentially interested in your products or services. It also makes this process measurable.

By analyzing what percentage of your MQL progresses to become SQL, you'll have a way to track the success of your criteria in identifying useful leads. With this data in hand, you can refine your processes so that only the best leads reach your sales team. That gives them time to focus on encouraging potential customers who are likely to convert, without wasting time on people who will never become customers. You'll also have a clear idea of the content that's needed for contacts at each stage. Subscribers need good quality blog posts and email content that interest them in what else you can offer.

Potential customers are ready to take the next step and learn more about you. For them, you can offer them educational content that positions you as a source of authority, such as e-books, guides or technical documents. With this data, you can look for strengths and weaknesses in your sales funnel. That way, you can plan your content marketing campaigns more efficiently (and effectively) to reach your potential customers, regardless of where they are in the customer journey. It's especially important to have these definitions clear, since marketing and sales teams often have different ideas about what it means to be a marketing-qualified lead than a sales-qualified lead.

To help you begin to define the stages of the lifecycle of your potential customers, I'll guide you through each stage and explain how you can identify what each one means for your company. A contact in the lead lifecycle phase has been converted to your website or through some other interaction with your organization beyond registering a subscription. For example, in HubSpot, this is set up automatically when a contact is converted to a lead form, synchronized with HubSpot from Salesforce, or created from a contact profile in Gmail or Outlook. If you have multiple conversion points on your website, you should identify which conversion points, such as forms, pop-ups or chatbots, define a new contact as a potential customer. A qualified marketing lead, or MQL, is a contact that your marketing team has rated as ready for the sales team. A qualified sales lead, or SQL, is a contact that your sales team has rated as a potential customer.

Whatever your company's behavior, an SQL should be someone more likely to make a purchase than a subscriber, a potential customer, or MQL. Your sales team may have more information about what qualities or behaviors identify a contact as an opportunity for your team. For example, if an SQL is someone who requests a demonstration of their product or service, an opportunity could be someone who has completed their demonstration and has given verbal confirmation that the price of their product or service is within their range. Where things can get complicated is if you offer free products or services. If that's the case, talk to your marketing and sales teams to find out if you would consider these types of contacts as customers in your CRM. An evangelist is a client who has advocated for their organization and whose networks can be harnessed to gain more potential clients.

It could be someone who left a review about your product or even shared your brand on their social media platforms. By determining which customers in your system are evangelists, you can run specific campaigns for them as a way to generate new leads. By identifying and organizing each of your potential customers based on their readiness to buy, you'll be able to develop a lead management strategy that helps your potential customers progress through the buying process. But it doesn't stop there: once you've defined each of the stages of your life cycle, you need to determine which teams are responsible for each type of potential customer. Marketing is generally responsible for subscribers, leads, and MQLs, while sales are responsible for SQL and opportunities. No matter what your company looks like, confirming who is responsible for what type of potential customer will help ensure that no one goes unnoticed. Each month, Marketing will deliver 1000 qualified leads to Sales, and the Sales Department will contact each of those potential customers within 24 hours of receiving them.

If you're struggling to quantify your goals, check out HubSpot's marketing and sales goal calculator and SLA template. Do you want to learn more about managing leads throughout their lifecycle? Check out this free lead management course with Zapier. Why customer marketing should be a priority and how to turn it into one Why customer marketing should be a priority and how to turn it into one The two key steps in this process are qualified marketing leads (MQL) and qualified sales leads (SQL). These are the points where, first, your marketing team and then your sales team rate a potential customer as “ready to sell”.When we were in Business School, our teachers would give us projects to test our entrepreneurial spirit. I remember that during one of those projects we were asked to form groups and draw up a business plan.

One of my classmates had an incredible idea but when asked how he would execute it and how he would encourage his potential customers to become prospects he replied: “I'm going to improvise”. My teacher wasn't happy. And that's how he gave us our first lesson on understanding the stages of the lead lifecycle.

Seth Munkberg
Seth Munkberg

Total social media nerd. Professional travel guru. Hipster-friendly tvaholic. Lifelong music specialist. Typical thinker. Professional zombie geek.

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