By Stephanie Carrillo, Senior Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

It would be a perfect world if everyone you spoke with at your last event was ready to buy today.  Over the course of a week your company may have collected a few hundred leads, but chances are only one or two of those prospects are ready to make a purchase.

At Heinz marketing, we recommend five lead stages to our customers to help guide a prospect through the sales funnel to make a purchase.   Our goal is to generate demand for each of our clients and create a dialog between them and their prospects.

When we develop the lead stages, this process works in tandem with defining the buying committees and building out the personas.  We spend a fair amount of time developing those items because it is the fundamental framework for building Nurture and ABM campaigns.

The five lead stages we recommend are:

  1. Name  Here is where a bulk of your leads enters your pipeline.  The uploaded list might be from a source like DiscoverOrg or a badge scan at an event.  We don’t know much of anything about these prospects, and they have little to no engagement with your company.
  2. In-profile Leads  These leads might have arrived on your website and subscribed to an email list or possibly looked at some content on the site. In this case, they have shown some mild interest in your company.
  3. Marketing Qualified Leads  Once a lead has shown some buying intent, through the download of a whitepaper, asking for additional information, or attending a webinar. These leads start to develop a lead score, which will define the next course of action.  Although it is tempting to pass these leads on to sales, these leads are not ready for hand-off just yet, these companies are still at the top of the buying funnel.
  4. Sales Qualified Leads  Prospects who enter this stage have a high lead score based on interacting with middle funnel content or taken a high-level action. These leads should be passed to your sales team to determine if the prospect is worth pursuing.
  5. Sales Accepted Leads  Sales focus is on qualifying the leads at this stage, before moving them into the sales funnel. A discovery meeting is a great place to ask questions to determine if the potential customer meets the BANT guidelines.  If these leads are not ready to move to an opportunity stage, we recommend sending them to a top of funnel email Nurture program to keep your company top of mind until they meet a qualifying lead score.

We start every journey with upper funnel content, then slowly build up to the product offerings.  This content is to help educate customers about the industry you serve.  It provides industry insights, statistics, and general education to help establish a relationship by giving the buying committee useful information to make an informed decision.  As the journey continues through the lead stages, we slowly introduce product information, case studies, and other industry insights to continue building a relationship.

It is always best practice to evaluate your buyers’ journey and lead stages from time to time to make sure they are in alignment with your buying committee map.  It will ensure your prospects are receiving the most up to date information to address their customers decision making  process.    To learn more about Lead stages and lead scoring here are some past blog post by Heinz Marketing.