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A lead lifecycle tracks how your customers evolve as they make purchasing decisions.

It all starts with awareness: Are your leads aware of your business, products or services? The first step is simply building awareness about the solutions you offer that will solve their specific problem.

The next step centers on driving interest: Why should someone be interested in what you have to offer? Is your offering unique?

Comparison is the third step. This is typically when prospects start to size you up against your competitors. It’s important that you stand out from the rest.

Then a selection is made resulting in a purchase. Clearly, you want that decision to be in your favor as you turn prospects into paying customers.

While some businesses think the lifecycle ends there, the next steps are even more important to your future success. Retention follows the purchase – what are you doing to retain your customers? How are you inspiring loyalty?

Lastly, word-of-mouth or advocacy is the final stage, where customers willingly promote and proclaim how fantastic your product or service is. All of the previous stages need to be pretty much perfect if you want this to happen, and you need to encourage this behavior (“share this with a friend”) as well.

While is can be simple to map out your lead lifecycle on paper, the challenge is tracking prospects automatically as they move through each stage. Lead stages should be tracked within Salesforce.com using the Lead Status field so that sales reps can speak to prospects based on where they are in the buying process. By integrating a marketing automation platform like Pardot or Marketo with your CRM, stages can be adjusted automatically as a prospect’s score reaches a certain threshold allowing reps to focus on prospects who are further along in their purchasing cycle.

As an example, if you were working on a scoring model of a 0-100 scale, marketing could own all leads that were below 70 points. However, if that prospect were to reach 71+ points, then they would automatically be assigned to the appropriate sales rep with an updated lead status.

The result: marketing keeps marketing to leads who aren’t purchase-ready, while sales can focus on the leads who are.

Jen Stretch

Jen Stretch is a marketing professional with a decade of web-based technical experience. Her core competencies include Salesforce.com and marketing automation consulting, implementation, and training. She is a certified Salesforce.com Administrator with five years of marketing automation experience.

Jen is also a enthusiastic cyclist and applies the same competitive spirit that she has on the bike to push businesses out of their comfort zone and beyond their perceived finish line.

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