Quiz time!—Put on your thinking caps and answer me this:

What one thing can help you achieve these three things?

  1. Generate more leads
  2. Do more upselling and cross-selling
  3. Better drive your partner channel to produce revenue

Give up? The answer is a lifecycle process.

You may be thinking, “Wait…what is that?!” Allow me to clarify: Lifecycle is a process that enables leads to move through a joint sales and marketing process (sales and marketing, unite!) Typically, lifecycle is represented by a funnel which shows the progression of a lead from a starting point (awareness) all the way through to the ultimate goal—usually revenue. A lifecycle is an efficient way for sales and marketing to work together in order to better track leads and at a lower cost.

…But, there are different “species” of lifecycles [and no, I don’t mean “species” like Asterias rubens (starfish) for all my science (and beach)-loving friends]. Instead, I mean net new lifecycle, customer lifestyle, and partner lifecycle—all three awesome, but each is distinct. So, let’s explore which species is right your organization should be classified as!

Net New Lifecycle

If you are tasked with catalyzing people to engage with your organization, a net new lifecycle process could work for you. Think of this lifecycle as your funnel for net new leads.

In this image, net new people come into the funnel on the left and progress through stages such as Marketing Qualified (MQL) and Sales Accepted. (This example assumes there is marketing and sales, but this aspect will vary by client or product.) The point of the net new lifecycle is to have a process for net new acquisition and ultimately drive these people to revenue.

This new net lifecycle process will define many things, such as:

  • What are the stages?
  • How do we handle people at each stage?
  • Is there just marketing, or is there marketing and sales?
  • If sales is there, which notifications are needed?
  • How do we communicate with people at different stages?
  • How do we report on movement across the stages?

Traditionally, the majority of marketing resources focus on this type of net new lifecycle.

An estimate from Gartner Group, however, indicates that 80% of a company’s future profits will come from just 20% of existing customers. Which leads us to…

Customer Lifecycle

As you probably figured out, the net new lifecycle will get new customers in the door and typically all the way to their first purchase. A customer lifecycle, on the other hand, will help you retain and upsell customers (Nice!).

Ask yourself—are your retention and renewal rates below par? Are your marketing efforts disproportionately focused on acquiring new leads while ignoring the customers you already have? A customer lifecycle would provide the benefits of lifecycle to the customer maximization challenge. Here are some ways marketers can benefit:

  • Improve retention
  • Increase upsell
  • Drive referrals

If these align to your priorities, you need a customer lifecycle! Here’s how to pursue it:

You will need to develop a customer lifecycle model. Having this in place allows for solid reporting and provides a structure to support automated, personalized communications to existing customers during onboarding, loyalty, and renewal phases. To get started, you will want to:

  • Utilize behavioral and demographic scoring to better understand where customers are in the lifecycle
  • Create a multi-touch email nurturing program that delivers relevant and timely content for each stage of the customer retention and renewal process
  • Build additional customer lifecycle models and lifecycles for each customer goal: onboarding, upsell, cross-sell, and renewal by region for example

Vendors typically provide professional services, so this is a good resource if you need help.

To give you some context, here is an example of the steps you would take if Marketo’s your platform:

  1. Define and document business requirements for the lifecycle and communications
  2. Guide the CRM team on any customizations and data work needed to enable the program
  3. Define and document technical requirements for the lifecycle and communications
  4. Build revenue cycle model for customer lifecycle
  5. Build the lifecycle program for customer lifecycle
  6. Develop test scenarios
  7. Test meticulously!
  8. Monitor results and reporting to identify any issues
  9. Advise business on internal training and compliance with processes

Partner Lifecycle

Is one of your goals to have a robust partner channel? Are there opportunities to better the partner recruitment, onboarding, enablement and management process at your company? A partner lifecycle will help you keep your eye on the ball and drive productive partners. Here are some benefits of a partner lifecycle:

  • Improve recruitment, program application, onboarding and ongoing engagement programs
  • Improve partner experience once in the program and accelerate their time to sales
  • Gain insights into what successful partners are doing and when
  • Identify potential programs to target partners that don’t progress through the lifecycle in a timely fashion
  • Identify and prioritize prospective partners
  • Nurture your partners at every stage of their lifecycle—from recruitment through onboarding and maturity

Tying It All Together

Each of the three species of lifecycle brings a similar type of process to bear on a different goal you might have. The degree of benefit each can provide varies by client. So it will be critical that you identify the benefits you want and prioritize. Who knows—if you are a large enterprise, you may need all three species!

Which type of lifecycle works for you? Let us know in the comments below!