The 4 Stages of the B2B Lead Generation Lifecycle


Share on LinkedIn

B2B Lead Generation - When Magic HappensNurturing through Every Stage Until the Magic Happens

Traditionally, we used to speak of the sales funnel and how it’s important to make sure you filter down the best quality leads, progressing them to conversion. In these days of digital marketing and social media optimization, we engage more time and resources studying and analyzing buyer behaviour through the sales lifecycle. As more advances in digital tools and technologies are made, there will, undoubtedly, be increased sophistication in how we follow a buyer through the sales journey. The point I’m getting at is, the more we are evolving our tools and processes to “simplify” lead generation and marketing, the more complicated it will become—that’s inevitable.

So what’s the solution? In my opinion, it requires going back to the basic 4 stages of a B2B lead generation lifecycle. You have to examine your cycle and determine where you are:

1.  Is it in the infancy stage? So perhaps you are still trying anything and everything to see what sticks.

2.  Are you in the prime of the lead generation cycle? Your buyers are engaged and getting closer to conversion. It’s easy to get complacent and drop the ball, or literally, allow a hot lead to turn cold due to lack of attention.

3.  Is it beginning to come of age? Beware of the dangers of this stage where it’s easy to get stuck in a silo, caught up in legacy systems and processes and become averse or inflexible to change.

4.  Has conversion happened already? Well then, its’ time to repeat the success. Identify the steps in your process that are repeatable and the ones that need adjustment for the next sale to be faster, longer-lasting and of greater value (not just monetary value but customer lifetime value).

Needless to say, you have to nurture your high quality leads through every stage until the magic happens. And by magic, I don’t mean closing the sale. I mean going far beyond  a sale to achieve the highest Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) you can for every customer. Its sounds really easy, but it takes a lot of commitment, passion, a shared vision and close alignment of your internal and external resources before you can get to this point. Let me give you an anecdotal experience to explain.

Last week I was on an island that is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded in history. Over 3600 years ago, the Minoan eruption left a caldera or cauldron-like feature, which is now the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece. It is ranked the world’s top island by many leading magazines and travel sites. Besides the natural setting, gorgeous sunshine and turquoise blue waters around, I enjoyed the warm hospitality of the local people. In particular, my visit to this local restaurant called Naoussa Tavern left me feeling completely overwhelmed.

Dining in Santorini - from Louis FoongI was lucky to be in Santorini off-season so there were no usual tourist crowds, the local shops and restaurants were not busy, the pace of life was, in general, very relaxed and peaceful. The best part of the off-season was that the local people had plenty of time to talk to me. I enjoyed my interactions and my learning of their culture, lifestyle, history and local economy. One late afternoon, I stepped out for a meal and went into this local restaurant. It wasn’t a very fancy place and it was empty; I was the only one there. A gentleman, who I thought was the server, came out to speak with me. He turned out to be the chef and he was most enthusiastic about knowing what I would like to eat. We chatted for a while and he served me the most delightful meal. I didn’t even look at the menu—he custom-made every dish he believed I would truly enjoy; he was absolutely right! And, he refused to let me pay. Gosh, where was I? Surely this place must be where the Greek Gods live!

Dining in Santorini - from Louis Foong  Dining in Santorini - from Louis Foong

After the meal, the chef chatted with me some more and didn’t want me to leave. He brought me coffee and then would not allow me to call a taxi, saying the restaurant owner would drive me home. By this point, I was completely mesmerized by his genuine show of hospitality. The owner came and his driver drove us to my hotel. We kept chatting on the drive back, so I learned that he owned nine restaurants. The chef and the owner invited me back the next day for a special meal. I was treated to the most delicious octopus I have ever eaten in my life. The special sauce for the accompanying beef dish took five hours to prepare. The dessert was exquisite and it was accompanied by a very special bottle of 12-year old dessert wine which the owner brought me from his own winery—a Vinsanto Santorini. The type of grape used in this wine is only grown in Santorini. Then I was ready to leave—but wait, I was told; there’s more! So I stayed longer watching some live entertainment and enjoying my host’s warm company.

I have made friends now in Santorini—the kind I will never forget and I don’t think they will forget me either. See how the magic happened for me? I was out looking for a meal. Not only did I find one that satisfied my hunger but it elevated my experience as a customer to an unmatched level of delight and lasting memories. It could very well have been a run-of-the-mill “transaction”. I would walk in, ask for the menu, order my food, eat, pay and leave. The chef, who is an employee, took it upon himself to win me over (and how!), and the owner picked up the lead beautifully to make me his friend and customer for life.

  • How often do you examine your B2B lead generation cycle to find the gaps and define the right strategy to fill them?
  • What best practices does your team adopt to deliver a phenomenal customer experience?
  • Have you mapped the Customer Lifetime Value of your key customers?
  • Do you have a strategy to consistently maintain and increase that value quotient?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here