Giving every lead individual and personalised attention is the best strategy for ultimately achieving a conversion. However, as databases increase and the buying process becomes more complex, ensuring leads are delivering the right information at the right time to move them down the sales funnel becomes increasingly challenging.
In this piece, we explore the lead lifecycle management process and its related buzzwords – account-based marketing (ABM) and account scoring, and the role that Martech plays in maximising conversions
What is lead lifecycle management, and why is it important?
Lead lifecycle management describes the entire process of converting a lead, starting from when there is engagement with your website or online marketing content through to becoming a customer and beyond. This process involves both the marketing and sales teams, meaning that typically multiple people within your company will be responsible for the various touchpoints, leveraging a range of different tools and strategies to aid the conversion.
Successful lead lifecycle management requires nurturing the lead with appropriately timed content to move them down the marketing and sales funnel. A lead’s position in the lifecycle is determined through scoring criteria based on the actions taken. Marketers and sales teams will have a predetermined number of touchpoints that activate the next designated contact with the lead, either automated or manual, to move them onto the subsequent stage.
A robust lead lifecycle also defines who is responsible for leads at each stage and controls the handover of leads to different people or teams through the stages. For example, it defines a good quality lead and openly acknowledges the handover of qualified leads from marketing to sales. Furthermore, it manages the recycling or rejection of leads back from the sales process. Depending on the outcome of sales conversations, the sales team can indicate if a lead is either not ready to purchase yet or if it should be completely disqualified from the process altogether.
Correct identification of the lifecycle position, the method of contact and the team responsible for action, will maximise chances of conversion. Conversely, any missed or incorrectly identified stages could result in a lead disappearing and lost business opportunities.
What are the stages of the lead lifecycle?
At WoolfHodson, our perspective to the lead lifecycle recognises its cyclical journey and the way in which leads can circle between the marketing and sales stages.
There are six stages within this process:
- The Prospect stage is assigned to a person at the point they enter the database – it is when they first become known to the company.
- The Engaged stage is assigned to a person when they interact with marketing activities and their lead score increases to be greater than zero.
- The Marketing Qualified stage is assigned to a person when they have reached the qualification threshold and is ready to be passed to the sales team for entry into the sales process.
- The Sales Accepted stage is assigned to a person when the sales team has reviewed the lead and defined that they are good quality and should be moved to the next stage of the sales process.
- The Sales Qualified stage is assigned to a person when the sales team has decided that they have enough information about the lead to create an opportunity associated to the lead.
- The Closed or Won stage is when a lead becomes a customer after an opportunity is won.
The diagram below illustrates how if a lead does not meet the criteria to become a sales qualified lead or customer, the person can feed back into the marketing process to continue to receive more top-end, awareness-style content before they are ready to progress forward again.