#Unpacked EP 13: Lifecycle Stages

George Thomas: It is officially. Yeah. Yeah.

Remington Begg: We are live. That was a journey and a half.

George Thomas: Oh, my gosh. I hate technical difficulties, but the good thing is that none of the technical difficulties that Remington and I have just been facing had anything to do with HubSpot.

Remington Begg: Today.

George Thomas: Today, today, so that's a good thing. Remington, how are you doing, fine sir?

Remington Begg: I'm doing great. I'm doing great. Other than some technical difficulties with the internet of things, things are awesome. Things are awesome.

George Thomas: Yeah, yeah, for sure. It's fun because we've been wanting to do this episode for a couple weeks. We're going to go ahead and dive into this episode. And we're talking about lifecycle stages inside of HubSpot. Remington, why don't you give the Sprocket Talk viewers and listeners kind of a backstory to how you brought this up and why we want to talk about it and all that good stuff.

Remington Begg: Yeah, so the big thing was we've got people asking questions in the HubSpot partner community, and someone said something about an MQL and then didn't hear anything. They're like, "Wait, what the heck's an MQL?" And that got me thinking that we as HubSpot users, you as an evangelist, we don't really see much going on in that regard of people not understanding what it is that we're dealing with. And then on the flip side, that's our life. That one field is the center of our universe.

Remington Begg: And there's just a couple of things there. So when I saw that, I was like, "Well, there's a lot of really cool things that we do with the lifecycle stage. And at the same time, there must be a lot of people that don't necessarily know what it is." So I figured it would be a great thing to unpack.

George Thomas: Yeah. For me, it's funny because when you brought it up I was like, "Well, I've dealt with that for six years now. Why?" And then I'm like, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. As an educator, one of the things that we should always be doing is figuring out what new people, what people who have even been using the tool for awhile, may have missed along the way." And my brain, Remington, started to go to, why do we watch HubSpot certifications or lessons over and over and over again? Because it's like when you watch a good movie, right? You get those nuggets. You get those little pieces, and you start to piece it together.

George Thomas: So while I go get the stream set up on our live page instead of just only on YouTube, Remington, why don't you give us a foundation and just start to tell the story of this thing that is lifecycle stages.

Remington Begg: No, YouTube isn't on either at the moment, but you can check into that, and I'll just keep talking. And if nothing else, this is recorded. So we'll figure that out too. But so lifecycle stage in HubSpot is really that pivotal field that a lot of things rely on, especially when you start thinking about someone is in the buyer's journey. So when we think about the buyer's journey, it's the journey from, I don't know who the heck you are all the way through to you're an awesome customer and even going on to an evangelist. And so those lifecycle stages are subscriber. They've said, "I want to hear from you." A lead, they've shown interest in you. A marketing qualified lead, your marketing team has identified that this contact is viable and something that could be in the future sales being interested in. An MQL to us at Impulse is someone that shows intent in the buying process and interest. So when we look at those two things, that's the big area.

Remington Begg: And then when you start getting into the next phase, that's an SQL which is a sales qualified lead. I'm a big proponent that sales is the one that pulls the lever and actually turns that into that thing. That's like an sales accepted lead is essentially what I look at. And then from there goes into an opportunity. Any of you who have the default settings turned on for HubSpot, if you make a contact or associated contact with a deal, and that deal is in the pipeline, your contacts will have the lifecycle stage of opportunity automatically.

Remington Begg: And then of course, you've got customer, which I don't think I have to explain customer, but they are a customer in fact. And then of course we also have evangelist. An evangelist is someone who may not be a good fit from a customer point of view but could be a really great proponent of getting people out there and getting involved with your company. And then they also have other, which is their shortcut way to saying not any of the above.

George Thomas: Yeah, I love that. So now we have a rundown of the actual stages. One of the things that I want to talk about, and hopefully I'm not stealing your thunder here, is I used HubSpot for... By the way, you can go to the Sprocket Talk Unpacked, sprockettalk.com/unpacked/live, and the video is up and rolling on that page. So one of the things that was interesting to me is that I used HubSpot for a lot, a lot of years. And I would just look for ways to manually change those lifecycle stages. And I think this is where a lot of people live.

George Thomas: And then I'll never forget I was talking to this really wise guy and not like a wise guy, like eh, wise guy, but a wise guy as in educational information. And he said to me, I'll never forget this, I'll never forget this, that he goes, "Well, are you using hidden fields in your forms?" And I said, "What are you talking about?" And he said, "Well, if somebody fills out a certain form, are you using a hidden field that says if they fill this out, i.e., they're on a service page, and they fill out a form, they're automatically sales qualified." And I'm like... And of course, you know who that wise person was, right?

Remington Begg: Who was that?

George Thomas: It was Remington Begg, and it was years ago. But to me, it was a mind altering moment because it also led me to something else that I'm going to talk a little bit later in this episode of, oh, my Gosh, there has to be a way that people can pay attention to what's happening with all of this data and really start to understand not when they should manually trigger. Although, there are times when people should manually trigger their lifecycle stages but how the system can trigger it for them.

George Thomas: So hidden fields inside your forms, setting the lifecycle stage that you want, that Remington just talked about, absolutely to me is a no brainer, a great starting place. But what else do you think about when you think about lifecycle stages inside of HubSpot, Remington?

Remington Begg: Yeah, so this is a very anti-flywheel comment at the moment, but the big thing is you have funnels... In a lot of cases, you have funnels in your funnels, and before I get too meta on that, you've got people that you want to bring through the journey, of that customer journey, and you've got those subscribers all the way through to those opportunities. And those customers, but not all of those forms to what you're talking about, are created equal. So you might want to put heavier weight on certain, we'll call them MOFU forms, middle of the funnel forms that we put out. We use naming conventions, which is part of an organization episode. You should go check it out. But the big thing that we have is trying to identify the intent or understanding where people are at, and those hidden fields are super valuable.

Remington Begg: When you start to think about key performance indicators of marketing, it's not necessarily how many net new contacts did I get. And in some cases, it might be. It could be, is the bulk of our people, are they being pushed down the funnel through the funnel? And if that is the case, then for sure, right? Let's think about those. And so you can create smart lists for each one of those. We've got a super hacky way that we're actually turning into a course on how to build out the ultimate HubSpot funnel that we'll be kind of dropping, but that is a really big area where it's centered overall for the field. And it's all powered off of that one field. So it's a pretty crazy thought, but you've really got to start thinking about how that can be leveraged in your tool to understand momentum.

Remington Begg: By the way, love that new sign you got there.

George Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. So we should take a moment. If you're watching this right now, definitely leave us a thumbs up. Also let us know how you've been dealing with... I love that Frances Bowman is like, "Ding, ding, ding. That's on my short list to implement." It's amazing. And actually what I can do, Remington, is I can just add it to the broadcast and go ahead and just slap it right there, so Frances gets a little face time on the show. But leave a comment for us about the lifecycle stages, your use of it, your lack of use of it, or questions that you may have. And if you're watching this after the actual live broadcast and make sure you hit us up. We're here. We do this because we're passionate about the community.

Remington Begg: Yes. 100%.

George Thomas: We want you to be successful. There's no ulterior motive here. We're talking about these things for sometimes 30, sometimes 40 minutes of our time of our day so that you can be the best that you can be when it comes to your HubSpot usage.

Remington Begg: For sure.

George Thomas: So Remington, when I think of lifecycle stages, I go into this thing, and I'm not going to explain the whole thing because if you're watching this and all of a sudden you're like, "Oh, my gosh. I need to know more." Well, then you can hit us up. You can hit us up. But we have this thing called radar research revenue. And inside radar research revenue, which by the way is a mindset for marketers and salespeople to understand what actions should be being taken dependent upon what we're paying attention to, they should be on our radar. We should be doing some research, or we should be driving revenue yesterday, right? So it's simple. It's simple. Which by the way might be... How to keep HubSpot simple might be an episode that we should do at some point because everybody wants to kind of make it complex.

Remington Begg: Sure.

George Thomas: With that said, I'm just going to go into one vein. We have basically five major pillars that live in this system, and one is informationally qualified, right? And so if somebody has informed themselves at different levels, and this would be based on average page views or number of page views, and it would be based on the amount of organic traffic you're getting and all sorts of things. So to totally customize this to you, the viewer, we'd have to know more information, right?

George Thomas: But the idea is, let's say somebody read five pages of your website. That might be, they're on your radar. If somebody's read 15 pages of your website, you might want to start doing some research because they're starting to educate themselves potentially more than your sales team is educating themselves with your blog article and your content, right? And then if they read 30 pages, it might be, look, real deal Holyfield. If somebody reads 30 pages of your website, it might be time to sell them some junk or hire them as an employee. I'm just going to throw that out there, right? One or two things should probably happen.

George Thomas: And so now think about that though. Because with HubSpot, you can then have lists, and people can end up in lists, and because they ended up in lists, you could trigger lifecycle stage adjustments. And that's what I like, Remington, is thinking about all the micro ways that you can push buttons and pull levers and make data spit out smartly on the other side.

Remington Begg: Yeah. So that's a process where you're talking about letting a lead score define that status, which I think is great for some companies. Definitely SaaS, right? But when you start talking about some more B2C companies or companies who have people in the sales process, you might want to define what I would call a service level agreement on what understanding or everyone communicating that if we talk about an MQL, this is what it is and this is what it means to our company, right? And that's a really important thing because if people come from a previous backgrounds, if they've used HubSpot before, and MQL could mean something completely different for your organization than it does someone else's. So that's a big thing to consider.

Remington Begg: The other is one we're thinking about that from a service level agreement is communicating effectively with the rest of your team around if you have an SQL that converts on a form, maybe something different should happen, right? So I think about that as, a lot of times, we'll create top of the funnel forums or webinar forms or whatever else, and those may not have that hidden field that we talked about that Frances really liked. But it could just be these forms are submitted, and yet we send the same notification in a lot of cases with HubSpot notifications that the form was submitted, but it doesn't provide the additional information that might be necessary for people to know a salesperson should jump on this. Because in my opinion, if a sales qualified lead or an opportunity for that matter downloads one of my top of the funnel eBooks, that means that they're going backwards in my funnel, or it means that they want additional information. And if they want additional information, we definitely don't want to hold it from them.

Remington Begg: But it doesn't mean that you would treat that with a net new top of the funnel lead, right? So if we come back, and we kind of circle back around, maybe that notification then should happen to the sales team or to that owner that says, "Hey, this opportunity converted on this top of the funnel offer. Maybe you should follow up and say, 'Hey, what's up?'" Right? Because it's a very different conversation that you could have because they're just trying to add more contacts as a prospect.

Remington Begg: So that's a big, big, big, big piece for me is one, making sure you understand and the company understands what the definitions are of those different stages and then two, changing some actions based on them.

George Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. I love that because... And it's interesting, no matter if you're B2B or B2C, we're all P2P, right, person to person.

Remington Begg: Yeah. Or [crosstalk 00:15:21]

George Thomas: There are things that... Yeah, you just got to leverage it. And when I start to think about that, Remington, and I listened to what you were talking about because you were talking about internal communication happening at these things. It's funny because I start to think about people. I start to think about relationships. I start to think about communication and then realize that instead of it just being a lifecycle property, but thinking of breaking that word up, and it's life and the cycle in which it goes, right? So I start to think about how this now becomes a guide for the level in which you should be communicating with the potential leads.

George Thomas: So for instance, pardon me, if you're watching this, and you have somebody fill out a blog subscribe form, and they become a subscriber, and you do not right now have a welcome to the wonderful world of acmeco.com. Really? You could literally be their digital guide. Hey, here are some places that you might like to go. Here are some things that you might like to watch. Here are some things that you'll probably find fun about our company. Welcome to my house. Here's my dishes. Here's the bathroom. You're literally being the person who is inviting them into the space and making them feel comfortable once they subscribe.

George Thomas: Now, if they go and download an eBook, a guide, a checklist, and all of a sudden they're go from subscriber to lead. Everybody just goes, "Oh, well, that's cool. They a lead." This should be a hooray moment. Now, we haven't just invited him over for dinner one time. Now they're coming to our card parties. Now, we're barbecuing in the backyard. There's more conversation happening. Pretty soon, we're going to be high fiving, and we're going to be buddies and pals, right?

Remington Begg: Hopefully.

George Thomas: And so there should be some type of communication, or they're going to find another set of friends. But that's probably based on you and based on them. There are people who are non fit.

Remington Begg: Yup.

George Thomas: But think about this. Think about this though.

Remington Begg: To that point though, right? So you have that, you're taking that person through subscribing and saying, "Look at all my dishes. This is where everything is," all of that. If someone's already a lead, and they subscribe, that message... If they already know where the dishes are, could you imagine your friend telling you where everything was every single time you came to the house, right?

George Thomas: Absolutely.

Remington Begg: So that's where this context is fricking huge. So you should flip that.

George Thomas: There's a disorder for that. That's what I'll say. Yeah, you should never talk backwards. But what I want you to think about as you kind of unleash your mind into this level though, is at an MQL, you can start to talk about things that you wouldn't want to talk about as a subscriber. As an SQL, you might be sitting on your back porch and have a fire going and talking about how they're having a difficult time with their kids, right? That's some deep conversation from a B2B or B2C level. That's exactly where you're at in those MQL, SQL opportunity stages too. So think about it from the cycle of communication in which you would have as a human being with other human beings.

George Thomas: And forget that you're in HubSpot. Forget that you're doing digital or inbound or content marketing, whatever you call it. Realize that you are using lifecycle stages to communicate. Oh, my boy, Dan Moyle. Dan Moyle says, "Context is huge. Smart content for the win." Absolutely. We put that little comment up there. So the idea, right, and you're right, Dan, it's context to the conversation and talking about the right things at the right time, and Remington would say, "Without guardrails and goalposts."

Remington Begg: Goalposts. Yup.

George Thomas: Lifecycle stages. You don't know when you should be having those conversations, and most of you are going out to dinner on a first date and asking people to get married. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous.

Remington Begg: Yeah. So let's talk about this field because this field cannot be edited.

George Thomas: Nope.

Remington Begg: And so with that, there's some guardrails.

George Thomas: It's twin brother can be. It's twin brother can be, but we'll talk about that later.

Remington Begg: Yeah, yeah. So that's a great point. I'll let you unpack that one. But so it can't be changed, but it's also integral to a lot of the inner workings of what's going on with HubSpot. So that's something to be thought about. So regardless of whether an MQL fits into your day to day strategy, you need to have a definition for it at least on your marketing team or however your sales team is going to be leveraging and maybe that twin sister or brother, right?

Remington Begg: But when we start thinking about other ways that you could use it, a lot of times, and this happens for Impulse as well, so you can come in, and you can get a website design from Impulse Creative. You can also come in and get website content only, right? You could also come in and get a logo design. Hell, you could even come in, and we could do blogging for you on an ongoing basis. So as we're thinking about all of these things, those technically are all customers, right? And we don't win 100% of our deals. And so a lot of times, people think about that field that comes through and marks them as an opportunity.

Remington Begg: Or they are a customer already. How do I know that I can integrate into other parts of my business? Because cross selling is going to be huge for your business. It's a lot easier to keep a customer than it is to find a new one. And so if you have multiple business segments, it's really important to create some sisters and brothers, maybe not twin sisters and brothers, George is going to go into, but a lifecycle stage and then a customer type, right?

Remington Begg: So if you have customer type... We have a customer type, and it's got 17 different things in it, and those 17 different things are going to say the types of things that they're a customer in, and what you can do is pretty powerful when you start referencing only those two fields. If you have a customer type of blogging and a lifecycle stage as customer, now you know that someone is paying you for blogging, but they're not paying you for website design. Now, the inverse is true. If someone's a lead and blogging is a customer type is there, that means they're interested in blogging, but they're not yet a customer. So you could do so many things with just one or two additional fields that allows for it to tie into some other parallel segments of your business.

George Thomas: Yeah, and it's interesting because that was a great agency example, right, the service, but you could do any company and provide that service.

Remington Begg: You can take that insurance too, right? Chris Green, I know he's probably hanging out with us. You could go into the different segments. It could be about flood insurance or it could be about renters insurance. It could be about all of these different things. So you could also take it that route. You just have to whittle away at the types of business you got.

George Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. So the moral of the story, to be honest with everybody watching this, is that lifecycle stage, just like human beings, was never meant to live alone. It's never meant to live alone. It's supposed to be partnered with people or properties that can always make it better just like we're supposed to partner with people that always make us better, that push us to the next level, that make us grow.

George Thomas: And so when I start to think about lifecycle stages and the combinations... And you gave a great example, Remington, but I also think of lead status. People get so confused on lead status, and literally lead status is in HubSpot by default but is customizable to your process. So now, you can hook up a customized lead status with a non customizable lifecycle stages, and you can get somewhere really powerful. It's like the Wonder Twins. I swear to God it's like the Wonder Twins activating the power of HubSpot, right? But then I think of coming along the side, the new series of Stranger Things is coming out here in the next couple of days.

Remington Begg: Lost me.

George Thomas: That's okay. That's okay. It's Netflix. Most of the, all the viewers know what it is probably, but there's a band of merry guys, kids and a girl, and it's really cool. It's really cool. So when I think of banding people together or properties together, I think of lifecycle stages, I think of lead status, and I think of persona. And my goodness, people, when you put those three together in smart ways and start to use them together in the tool with lists or filters or workflows or email nurturing, you're just in a way better place than if you're flying by the seat of your pants and have zero...

George Thomas: Think about this. It's literally, who am I talking to, how well do I know that person, and what level of conversation can I have? And are there any micro notes that I should pay attention to? Oh, my God, they're allergic to nuts. That is literally those three things.

Remington Begg: Let's send them an Almond Joy.

George Thomas: Oh.

Remington Begg: No, don't do that.

George Thomas: Don't do that.

Remington Begg: But, yeah, so to that point, the context is huge, and how I usually try to communicate this is same thing with lead scoring, right? If you got a phone call right now from the hottest client in your database right now, so you didn't know it was coming, but the hottest client in your database, and all you could do is pull up information and in one breath know where they are, who they are, and where they came from, you're going to have to be able to find it really easily. And lead score ties into that but so does these lifecycle stages and these other fields that tie into them. So that's huge.

Remington Begg: So one thing I want to talk about real quick is some of those limitations again. So you can't change any of the drop downs. You can also, via workflow, not go up the funnel automatically. And I think that's actually a pretty safe way that HubSpot solves the problem. Now for the record, if you do it as a hidden field, it can, but what you can do is you could use a workflow that's a little bit more general, based on those specific forums. Or if they are already a known customer, you can make workflows change that stuff in the future too.

Remington Begg: But when you think of the form submit, right, and someone coming through and submitting a form, and it triggers a workflow that's going down the funnel, but if we're thinking from a workflow point of view, let's imagine the scenario that someone is, they're in your opportunity pipeline. You go through, and it doesn't work out. You put them in that closed lost. Well, you can create a workflow that takes the closed lost and then triggers them to be back to a sales qualified lead because they didn't close. It doesn't mean that they're dead to you, but they're sure as heck not an opportunity anymore.

Remington Begg: And so you can take that, and you can make that happen. The way you do that is two steps in the workflow instead of one. You're going to clear an existing property, so you're actually going to clear the lifecycle stage, and then you're going to set it the way that you want it. So it's two steps. It's not a lot of extra work. It's one more step in regards to your workflow. But if you just set it that way, HubSpot's got really good with warning you about that now. It used to just not work and not say anything.

George Thomas: Yeah, my pro tip right there, because I like that you can do this, but my pro tip is to be very, very careful because oh, my gosh.

Remington Begg: Right.

George Thomas: If you accidentally did it to your entire database versus the one or two or three people that happen. So when you're building that workflow that Remington's talking about, make sure you're being very, very careful.

Remington Begg: So we don't actually, to that point, to be careful, we don't set triggers on workflows as a normal practice until after all the criteria is set.

George Thomas: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You want to be careful.

Remington Begg: And then you can hook it up.

George Thomas: Well, Remington, this has been a very... It's interesting, every time I think that we're not going to be able to talk about a micro, very niche section of the tool for a 30 minute period, man, we just blow it out of the water because there's so much more that we could talk about. There just is more that we could talk about.

George Thomas: If there are things that you want us to talk about, Sprocket Talk viewers and listeners, make sure you hit us up. He's @RemingtonBegg on the Twitters. I'm @GeorgeBThomas on the tweeters, Twitters, tweeters, whatever. Doesn't matter.

Remington Begg: And join our group.

George Thomas: Yeah, you can join the private Facebook group. You can subscribe on YouTube. You can email us. Hell, you can even send up smoke signals if you live close to Fort Myers or Babcock or Indian Trail, we'll see them. I'll look out my window, and I'll be like, "Oh, we got to do a tutorial on that."

Remington Begg: They got to be orange.

George Thomas: Yeah, yeah, that'd be kind of cool actually, orange smoke signals. I had never thought about that.

Remington Begg: You get attention.

George Thomas: Anyway, we digress. We digress. Remington, any parting words before we shut this live off that you want to share with the viewers?

Remington Begg: Yeah, we're at the infancy of about... Well, not infancy, we're at the final stages of trying to launch sprockettalk.com. There's a little orange blanket over what is going to be amazing. So if you have not already, make sure you fill out the form on there, sprockettalk.com. And yeah, it's going to be just absolutely incredible. Launching, I'm going to say next week.

George Thomas: Yeah. Yeah, man. I just don't know if the world is ready. Well, the world's ready. I don't know if Hublandia is ready.

Remington Begg: It's going to be fun. It's going to be fun.

George Thomas: Just throwing that out there. It's going to be good. Awesome. Well, until next time, folks, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble human and do some happy HubSpotting along the way.

Remington Begg: Tootles.