12: Lifecycle: A Martech Saga part 1: Future-proof your Martech with lifecycle

Main takeaway:
Set yourself up for long term success with a solid B2B Lifecycle program. Not only does it help you exert control and mastery over your reporting, it provides a framework for having tough discussions between sales & marketing.

It opens up career opportunities – average salary according to glassdoor and others for lifecycle marketing manager is $80-$120K – yeah, you unlock big value for your own career.

This topic is too big for a single post, so here’s what’s in store:

Traditionally, a lot of companies refer to leads as if you’re taking their temperature. Hot medium and cold leads. 

The system isn’t really based off of metrics and is not an effective way to sort leads for sales. There’s no consideration for a lead’s progression from first visit to conversion then to customer. 

In this scenario, marketing and sales often clash because there’s no system in place to create alignment. Sales isn’t tackling leads in the most optimal way. Marketing is generating leads that sales might not care about. 

What is lifecycle, JT? How do you define it?

Lifecycle is the journey contacts in your database take to become a customer. It mirrors your typical funnel journey and operates in much the same way. Unlike funnel, lifecycle is a bit more specific to conditions in your database.

Your funnel has basic stages that describe the buyer’s journey: awareness through interest, evaluation, purchase, etc.

They are totally compatible! But lifecycle requires data properties or fields in your marketing automation platform to track. 

Standard stages

Everyone gets lost in acronym land. Enterprise teams largely follow the standards from the SiriusDecisions waterfall model. What are the standard stages as you see it, and do you think they have to be customized/adapted for each company?

Let’s run through them quick:

  • Lead – Yeah, someone in your database
  • MQL – a marketing qualified lead — literally exactly as it sounds — marketing qualifies leads
  • SAL – sales accepted lead – leads that sales agrees to work with
  • SQL – sales qualified – leads that sales qualifies – common in team where front-line sales reps qualify leads to send to account executives
  • Opportunity – it’s got an open opportunity 
  • Customer – they’ve purchased! 

Of course, you can do whatever you want! I’m not your mother!

This is a cross section of the database. To me, this is table stakes for any MAP.


Benefits are huge but can be summed up in two points:

  • Mastery over your contact DB
  • A common language for sales & marketing


So I’m putting my startup hat on, maybe the ops person on that team is wearing many other hats and doesn’t have time to build all these fields and time stamps and create all this alignment.  If you don’t have the cycles, at least start with a master lifecycle lists. Some kind of way to get a sense of what stage people are in your db. Because this is a big project, there’s no getting around that.

Multiple teams agreeing on definitions and standard operating procedures. So like every problem, there’s a systems and tech side, how to implement what’s possible, but there’s the human side, if we build this, will it be used, is this helping people? Do people even want this?

What makes this project so hard?

Lots of stakeholders, the people side is so much harder. Lots of things that need to be agreed upon. Can be sprawling and daunting if your DB is a mess. Needs long term follow up after deployment to be successful. 

Traditional sales folks who have a process that works well enough often see this as as theoretical or not as important as revenue driving activities. One thing I’ll say here is that this can never be pitch as a marketing idea, it can never be pitched as a top down initiative. This has to be something that is built through the alignment of sales and marketing. Dual buy-in, common languages. 

Why on earth should anyone take on this project?

JT, I know you’ve done this in Marketo and HubSpot for clients and in-house — it’s potentially a huge project… Why on earth should anyone take on this project?

It’s 101 for anyone looking to go deep into marketing operations and opens up a super cool avenue for your career. It will allow you to attain mastery over your database. It opens up career opportunities – average salary according to glassdoor and others for lifecycle marketing manager is $120K – yeah, you unlock big value for your own career.

Lifecycle episodes:

Intro music by Wowa via Unminus
Podcast artwork font by StarJedi Special Edition by Boba Fonts

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