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Ask any CEO or sales director in the B2B marketplace what their key business challenge is and they will all tell you the same thing: generating sales qualified leads.

Without leads and new business enquiries, a company will struggle to generate any new business. No leads mean a severe lack of sales opportunities, no sales opportunities mean no business revenue, and no revenue means no business growth or progression.

But don't just take our word for it. According to HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound report, 63% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge and 71% of companies say closing more deals is their top sales priority.

Clearly, most – if not all – B2B businesses have lead generation, customer acquisition and client engagement at the top of their agenda. They all want to improve the number and quality of leads they generate through their marketing activity and they all want to turn those leads into real sales opportunities for the business.

And yet in the same research, HubSpot found that only 8% of the salespeople reviewed felt that the leads they received from marketing were of very high quality; a quarter (25%) said marketing was their best source of leads; and while 52% of marketers said they provide salespeople with their “best quality leads”, salespeople ranked marketing-sourced leads last.

Just to emphasise this, salespeople rank marketing-sourced leads as their worst leads!

HubSpot can help to connect your marketing and sales activity and is the perfect tool for aligning your marketing and sales teams. HubSpot allows you to streamline lead qualification, nurturing and subsequent handoff of leads from marketing to sales for engagement. However, HubSpot is only the enabler - before you even think about the workflows and automation you can build, you need to ask yourself the following question:

Are your marketing and sales teams disconnected?

When it comes to lead generation, everything must be clearly defined.

More often than not, in instances where businesses generate “leads” but struggle to turn those leads into customers, the problem comes down to marketing and sales working in silos and not taking the time to build and agree on a lead qualification, nurture and handoff process.

As a result, marketing passes “leads” over to sales which they believe to be “sales-ready” – but in reality, they have not undergone the necessary lead qualification as no set criteria are in place. Sales then engage with these "leads" only to find out that they are not a good fit for the business, uninterested, or simply not ready to speak to a salesperson! Marketing thinks they have “done their job” while Sales feel that Marketing has not “delivered quality leads”. This misalignment leads to discord – and that discord creates tension between the two teams. Both teams want the same thing: better results for the company – but often take different approaches to getting there.

The thing is, while both teams are working harder to generate leads for the business, they are not working smarter or together.

Want to get over that? Here’s what you need to do…

Define your lead criteria

The qualification of leads and handoff between Marketing and Sales is a key part of any lead generation programme. In an ideal world, Sales should have all the information they need to effectively engage with leads and to have the best chance of turning those leads into paying customers, while Marketing should have a defined set of criteria to help them nurture those leads until they are “sales-ready”.

What constitutes a lead? What questions need to be asked or actions need to be taken before they can be moved onto Sales? What should we call each lead stage? By asking these questions, both Marketing and Sales will be able to define their lead stages, lead criteria, lead qualification process and approach to lead nurturing.

HubSpot can, of course, help to streamline this process – but even without a tool like HubSpot, it’s important to document your processes and agree to follow them.

How can HubSpot help?

Defining your lead criteria, qualification and handoff need not be difficult. HubSpot, for example, can help to integrate both your Marketing and Sales processes. See the whole process of setting up HubSpot in our HubSpot Setup guide. With HubSpot, your marketing team can qualify and nurture leads (via sophisticated workflows) until they are ready to be passed on to Sales – all of which can be automated – and your sales team have access to that lead’s contact record in HubSpot, allowing them to see all the activity that has taken place up until this point.

Of course, to use HubSpot effectively and optimise lead handoff, you will need to familiarise yourself with its lead stages and lead properties.

1. What is a lifecycle stage?

The Lifecycle Stage property in HubSpot helps you to organise your leads based on where they are in your sales cycle - essentially how qualified they are. The default properties in HubSpot are listed below - remember the definitions for these will be slightly different for each company!

  • Subscribers are those who have opted in to hear from you periodically – usually website visitors who have signed up to your blog or newsletter and nothing else.
  • Leads are those who have shown interest in what your business has to offer but have only interacted with a high-level piece of content, for example, an eBook.
  • Marketing Qualified Leads are those who have identified themselves as more engaged with your business – but are not sales-ready. In order to ensure maximum qualification, you should use bottom-of-the-funnel content assets such as demo requests, pricing documents, and consultation packages as the gate between marketing and sales.
  • Sales Qualified Leads are those that your sales team have qualified as showing enough engagement and interest in order to warrant sales contact.
  • Opportunities are those who have become real sales opportunities for your business - these leads would usually now have a projected value and close probability placed against them.

Customer and Evangelist are self-explanatory. There is, however, another contact property called ‘Other’ which can be used for a variety of reasons or for any other lead stages as defined by your business. The default Lifecycle Stage property options within HubSpot cannot be edited.

Your interaction with leads will depend on where they are in the sales cycle – and having these properties makes it easier for you to segment your leads. This allows you to create lists of contacts for any criteria, for example, who currently sits with marketing to try to engage, who is sales-ready and needs to be contacted, and who has an opportunity against them.

2. What is a lead status?

While the Lifecycle Stage helps you to organise your leads, the Lead Status property gives you more insight into them and, as defined by HubSpot, “indicates where your sales team is in the process of qualifying a lead into an opportunity”.

The Lead Status property allows you to segment your leads based on previous sales activities and prioritise your outreach based on a lead’s status. It also keeps your sales team aware of leads currently in the funnel, ensuring none of them is lost or “slip through the cracks”.

The default options for the Lead Status property are:

  • New
  • Open
  • In Progress
  • Open Deal
  • Unqualified
  • Attempted to Contact
  • Connected
  • Bad Timing

3. What are deal pipelines and deal stages?

Deal pipelines in HubSpot allow you to “accurately predict revenue and identify roadblocks in your selling process” – it essentially provides you with an end-to-end view of your sales opportunities and how close (and likely) they are to being closed by your sales team.

Deal stages, on the other hand, are steps that – as defined by HubSpot – “signify to your sales team that an opportunity is moving toward the point of closing”.

First, you need to set up your deal pipeline as this will allow you to accurately predict business revenue and identify any problems in the selling process. Once set up, you can then configure or edit the stages in your pipeline or change the order of them.

Next, are your deal stages. Using deal stages, you can categorise and track the progress of ‘Deals’ (business opportunities) that you are working on in HubSpot. Each stage has a “probability associated that indicates the likelihood of closing deals marked with that deal stage.”

The default deal stages in HubSpot are as follows - however, you can edit these as you wish!

  • Appointment scheduled (20%)
  • Qualified to buy (40%)
  • Presentation scheduled (60%)
  • Decision maker bought-in (80%)
  • Contract sent (90%)
  • Closed won (100% Won)
  • Closed lost (0% Lost)

If you want to know more about setting up your deal pipeline and deal stages, please click here.

Automating handoff between HubSpot Marketing and Sales

Using HubSpot’s workflows and forms, you can automate lead handoff from Marketing to Sales – but before you do anything, you need to decide when you would like that to occur.

To set up a workflow, click on Automation on your HubSpot Dashboard and select 'workflows'. At this point, you can either start from scratch or centre around a date if you were using this for a webinar or something similar that has a set date.

After selecting an option, click Create workflow and you will then be able to build out your workflow using specific enrolment triggers (which can trigger automatically or manually). The enrolment criteria literally mean 'who do you want to automatically be placed on this workflow?'.

You can also add actions that trigger based on what the enrolled contact does on your website – or their current status. So, for example, you could create a workflow that triggers when a website visitor fills in a specific form and downloads an offer. Once that visitor completes that action, you could include the Set contact property action in the workflow to move that website visitor to “Lead” in your HubSpot CRM. You can also add a trigger that will assign an owner to that lead once the lead fulfils certain criteria.

The focus behind this is that you can easily set up the system to change things like lifecycle stage, lead owner and lead status based purely on behaviour - with no manual editing involved.

All of the actions your contacts take on your website are recorded in their contact profile in your HubSpot portal, so once a Lead becomes a Sales Qualified Lead, you can set up an action that will send a sales representative an email directing them to that lead’s contact record in HubSpot – giving them all the information they need to engage.

P.S. The list of triggers is comprehensive, so we would recommend reading this. In addition, you can see a screenshot of a very basic workflow below. 


By using HubSpot’s workflows, lead management and lead qualification tools, your marketing team can effectively manage leads and ensure only relevant, high-quality leads are passed on to sales. Sales then have the tools and information they need to engage with prospects, generate sales opportunities, and close deals.

If you want to improve your marketing and sales lead handoff process through the use of HubSpot – we can help. We conduct regular HubSpot training sessions that cover everything you need to know about the tool and Inbound Marketing. If you want to cover specific aspects of the tool in detail, tell us and we’ll create a bespoke training agenda for you.

Are you looking for help with your HubSpot portal?

Click here to book some time with one of our consultants to run through our HubSpot support packages, or ask about one of our upcoming HubSpot Training Courses.

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