HubSpot Sales Enablement: Building the “Internal Buyers Journey”

HubSpot offers a robust set of tools for lead generation and customer acquisition. However, you'll need to properly configure your system to make it work according to the requirements of your business. 

At Flawless Inbound, we understand that mapping your sales process is critical. You'll want to administer the full funnel journey, starting from the first touch to the closed customer to overlaying automation technology and gaining efficiencies. As you work within HubSpot, you'll realize that there are two core properties required to build out the “Internal Buyers Journey” sales process:

  • Lifecycle Stages (applied to the Contact/Lead)
  • Deal Stages (applied to the pending Deal/Sales Contract)

Let's see how you can use the lifecycle stage for completely mapping your sales process. We will look at a simple two-step verification process to either move the lead into the deal stage to sell your product/services — or hand the lead back to marketing.

Using Lifecycle Stages

Lifecycle stages are significant in streamlining your lead management and improving your marketing and sales activity. Basically, lifecycle stages will help you organize and segment your contact database based on where individual contacts are in your sales cycle. 

The lifecycle stages are also used to populate many of the dashboard reports, such as the ‘Customer’ reporting on the main Marketing Performance dashboard.

Internal Buyers Journey 1

Lifecycle stages can help you efficiently manage your contacts and customize your interactions to help move leads and/or contacts towards a sale.  

In HubSpot, you can sort your contacts as Subscribers, Leads, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), Opportunities, Customers, and Evangelists. These lifecycle stage properties can also be used when building custom reports in HubSpot.

Defining the Lifecycle Stage 

Let's compare the lifecycle stage of the Subscriber to the Lead. The term "Subscriber" implies that this contact may have given explicit consent to be contacted; i.e. blog subscribers. But it can also be used to define contacts who provided a business card at a tradeshow, etc. and have given implied consent to be contacted. Leads, on the other hand, subscribe to the blog and also share an interest in what your business is offering. Perhaps they converted on an Awareness stage offer like an eBook or case study.

The way that we define our lifecycle stages is:

Internal Buyers Journey 2

Subscriber: Has provided implied or explicit consent to be contacted.

Lead: A person who has converted on a lower-level, Awareness or Consideration stage offer.

Marketing Qualified Lead: A person who has filled in a Decision stage form/conversion point.

Sales Qualified Lead: A lead handed-off, contacted, qualified and accepted by the sales team.

Opportunity: A lead with a high probability of becoming a customer, typically triggered by entering into the second deal stage of the sales pipeline.

Customer: These are your closed deals.

Evangelist: Customers that have become ambassadors of your brand.

Other: Lost deals, unqualified leads, anything that can be removed from your HubSpot CRM.

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Using Workflows to Assign Lifecycle stages

Internal Buyers Journey 3

You can use HubSpot to automate lead qualification, management, and handoff. Instead of manually assigning lifecycle stages to your contacts, you can assign contacts to specific lifecycle stages automatically. As a best practice, try to automate as much as possible as it greatly helps to eliminate repetitive tasks and to reduce the risk of error.

Also, be sure to segment your existing contacts and filter them into their suitable lifecycle stage. The Lifecycle stage property can be updated retroactively with Workflows to set the Lifecycle stage in bulk based on form submissions or list membership enrolment criteria.

Another good best practice would be to have all decision stage forms include a ‘hidden’ property to set the Lifecycle stage to Marketing Qualified Lead immediately. i.e. a contact form where the visitor has indicated that they would like to learn more about doing business.

Internal Buyers Journey 4

Include a Simple Two-Step Verification Process

The most critical part of the ‘Internal Buyer’s Journey’ comes down to the two-step verification process. The first step is to verify whether or not the contact is ready for the sales team to begin their conversation, this can be set to ‘pending' by default.

Internal Buyers Journey 5

Use a workflow, similar to one below, to notify the appropriate sales rep that there is a new potential sales lead that requires verification. Once the custom property, “1. Verified as a Sales Lead” is set to “Yes” a new deal can be created, and the Lifecycle stage can be automatically set to “Customer.” If the contact is followed-up with and he/she is not a sales lead, setting the custom property to “No” can trigger a separate workflow to set the Lifecycle to ‘Other’ automatically.

This simple process works in almost situation and satisfies the need for a sales rep to manually approve/verify each sales lead. The second part of this process is “2. Lead Rejection — Dropdown.” It is beneficial to use a dropdown menu to record the reason why this lead chose not to do business with you.

The contact's reasons for rejection can be used as a means to re-engage and nurture the lead back into the sales process again when the time is right. The reason for rejection dropdown menu can include general categories such as insufficient budget, does not match client needs, or different solution required, etc.

Using Tasks and Notifications

Here are some automation hacks that you can implement right away using HubSpot workflows. 

  • Send internal reminders for follow-up when lead hit a particular lifecycle stage (i.e. Marketing Qualified Lead)
  • Create a deal in your first deal stage when a lead reaches the Sales Qualified Lead lifecycle stage
  • Assign new deals to a sales rep based on territory, product interest, or other factors

Internal Buyers Journey 8

Defining the Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Having a Service Level Agreement ensures sales and marketing alignment accountability.

Some of the main agreements to have in place are:

  • Number and quality of leads marketing will pass to sales each month
  • Speed of follow-up that sales agrees to
  • Follow-up attempts by sales
  • Agreement to mark lifecycle/lead stages (use the 2-step SQL verification)
  • Lead hand-off procedure (use the 2-step SQL verification)
  • Lead Rejection procedure (use the 2-step SQL verification)

Understanding where your leads are in the sales cycle can help you with segmentation, reporting and optimization. Using lifecycle stages, internal notifications, and tasks refines your sales and marketing efforts while helping your prospects with relevant and timely interactions.  However, this article is just the beginning, learn more about using the HubSpot deal stages and pipelines here.

Internal Buyers Journey 9

At Flawless Inbound, we help our clients sort their database according to the properties, allowing the marketing and sales teams to take an ultra-tailored approach to communicate with the contacts and follow-up with the hottest sales leads first.

If you want expert insights and recommendations on how to best leverage HubSpot for lead management, get in touch with our team here