How to Create Marketing Automation Lead Stages - dummies

How to Create Marketing Automation Lead Stages

By Mathew Sweezey

One of the best uses of marketing automation is gauging future lead flow. Marketing automation can gauge future lead flow because it gives you visibility into your leads, telling you where they are and the average time you can expect them to move to the next stage. Tracking by lead stage allows you to plan for resource allocation and future business direction.

Start by creating three lead stages. According to a research paper published by Mathew Sweezey, titled “State of Demand 2013” and put out by ExactTarget in 2013, the average lead goes back to Google to research a purchase three times before talking to a salesperson.

The research also states that the higher the price of your product/service, the more stages you are likely to have. So start with three stages, as explained in the following list, and move up or down from there as time goes on if you feel it is necessary.

  • Lead stage 1 — No identified need: Use your first stage to identify leads who are just beginning their journey for a solution. This means that most of the time, leads don’t have a refined pain point yet. For example, when searching for marketing automation, it’s common to search first for email marketing or something other than marketing automation.

  • Lead stage 2 — Identified need, no B.A.N.T.: The second stage of a lead in your marketing cycle is a lead who knows what he needs but can’t purchase yet.

    Remember, most B2B purchases happen with a committee, so a single person might push for the idea, but he has to have agreement from the entire team before he can set up demos or have the Budget, Authority, Need, or Timeline (B.A.N.T.) to purchase.

  • Lead stage 3 — The short list: Leads in stage three have B.A.N.T. and are ready to set up their demos. A great statistic to keep in mind at this stage comes from the Consumer Executive Board. Its research states that after a lead gets to a conversation with a salesperson, he is already two-thirds of the way to a purchase.

    This means that he has a short list of solutions in mind well before reaching out to set up a demo. So the last stage of marketing is used to prove why the prospect should set up a demo with you.

Creating your lead stages is very easy. Either your tool is set up to run this report, or it is not. If it is not, you just need to create three custom segments to drive your reporting on lead stages. Ask your vendor before you start building anything to see how the vendor suggests accomplishing this report.