Lead Lifecyle Flow v3

How do I specify my lead lifecycle?

Lead lifecycle refers to how we manage the life of a lead (or contact or prospect depending on your terminology) from the moment it shows up in your marketing platform to deal close. The lead lifecycle defines where a lead can live, how a lead moves along the lead lifecycle, and what we do with a lead at each stage.

The lead lifecycle is something that is enabled once you have a marketing platform like Marketo and in one sentence it is a joint process that includes marketing and sales. Often my clients don’t have a joint process prior to me coming on the scene. Marketing is often doing its own thing and Sales may have a well defind process for the late stages of the deal cycle.

Lead Lifecycle is a critical process for business to business clients that need to blend marketing with sales.  The opportunity with a functioning lead lifecycle is to have marketing automate parts of the process with automated targeted communication, and for marketing to prioritize leads that should be talking to sales. Then sales is only workign with the best prospects.

To show what a successful lifecycle means, at Marketo approximately 85% of revenue is impacted by marketing, and marketing is passing truly warm leads to sales so sales quotas can be higher than they otherwise would be.


Companies typically use a lead lifecycle model for several primary reasons:

  • Knowing what stage a lead is at
  • Preventing Marketo leads leakage and reporting on conversion rates from stage to stage enabling optimization of movement between stages.
  • Set the stage for reporting on lead movement along these stages

Here is what a lead lifecycle can look like when mapped out:

Lead Lifecyle Flow v3


Here are the 9 parameters to consider when setting-up your lead lifecycle!

  1. What are the stages? – Each blue box above is a stage. Leads in your lifecycle must be in one of these stages. There is nowhere else they can live. This ensures that you know where each lead is.
  2. What is the definition of each stage? – Stage definitions need to be agreed between sales and marketing. For example we typically define recycle as “this lead might buy at some point but a purchase is not within x timeframe.”
  3. What lead lifecycle campaigns will be needed to move leads along the lead lifecycle? – In the above example, you would need the following campaigns:
    1. Move from Known to Engaged – This campaign would move leads from Known to Engaged if there is any score at all.
    2. Move from Engaged to Marketing Qualified – This campaign would move leads from Engaged to Marketing Qualified based on the score threshold.
    3. Move from Recycle to Marketing Qualified – This campaign will move leads from Recycle to Marketing Qualified. It can be the same as the previous campaign.
  4. What fast track campaigns will need to be created? – Fast track campaigns move leads to a certain stage no matter what based on a certain action. These campaigns override scoring. In this example we have one fast-track campaign:
    1. Contact me form – You will need a campaign that moves leads to Sales Qualified if they fill out the contact me form.
  5. How will you alert the sales reps? – When a lead reaches Marketing Qualified or Sales Qualified there are numerous ways to alert the reps. Here are some options:
    1. Base case – If your reps’ dashboards are set-up to look at a certain Lifecycle Status, leads that change to that status will automatically show up on Lead or Contact tab in SFDC for that rep.
    2. Optional email alert for sales rep – You can also send an email alert to sale reps when a lead reaches Marketing Qualified and/or Sales Qualified. One option is to send the email alert to the SFDC lead owner.
    3. Optional task for sales rep – You can also create a SFDC task when a lead reaches Marketing Qualified and/or Sales Qualified. Note: To create a task in SFDC you will need to know the lead owner in SFDC.
  6. What field will you use to track the lead lifecycle? – There are several options. Here are a few:
    1. Option 1 – One option is to create a new field called Lifecycle Status. You can create this field on the SFDC lead and SFDC Contact, map them to each other in SFDC, and this will result in the field being in Marketo as well.
    2. Option 2 – You can use the existing lead status on SFDC lead and create a Contact Status field on SFDC contact record. The challenge with this option is to keep the fields in sync.
  7. What scoring reset campaigns will support this lead lifecycle? – In the above example two scoring reset campaigns will be required:
    1. Recycle – When a rep moves a lead from Marketing Qualified to Recycle, we usually recommend a score reset to zero. Then the lead can bubble back up to Marketing Qualified based on reaching a score threshold again.
    2. Disqualified – When a rep moves a lead from Marketing Qualified to Disqualified, we usually recommend a large negative score like -250. This will ensure that disqualified leads don’t get to the reps again.
  8. How will you assign leads to lead owners? – Typically we recommend using SFDC auto-assignment rules to assign leads. So when a lead is synced to SFDC it is assigned to the lead owner. Typically marketing automation tools can be used to assign leads as well but SFDC will be more robust for assignment.
  9. Optional: Would you like a time limit for certain stages? – In the above example you may want your inside sales reps to have a certain number of days to either convert the lead to Sales Qualified, Recycle it or Disqualify it. You can use time limits for the Sales Qualified stage as well. If you would like time limits, you will need to set-up campaigns that generate alerts based on the time limits.

No 2 lead lifecycles are the same so these 9 parameters of lead lifecycle should help you design a lead lifecycle that works for your organization!

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