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Difficulty reporting due to deletion of Became x Lifecycle Stage Date property?

Regular Contributor

A lot of our reporting is made very difficult by the fact that when someone is revrted to a previous lifecycle stage, HubSpot automatically deletes the value for the property "Became x Lifecycle Stage Date" for the further along the funnel stage. 



An MQL becomes an SQL, then is reverted back to MQL by the sales team --> this deletes the property for the date on which the Became an SQL. 


This deletion seems illogical to me, and makes it difficult to do any historical reporting, for example: how many contacts in total became an SQL in month x, or month y? Querying by Became an SQL Date is not accurate due to that data being deleted for contacts who were reverted back to MQL (instead of moving to Opportunity). 


Has anyone else had this issue? How do you go about accurately querying for number of SQLs in a month? Thanks!

10 Replies
Community Manager

Hi @AndreaWeir


This is a known functionality of the tool that is designed to work that way. This is in an effort to keep your data up to date and reflect the accurate stats for your contacts in a certain life cycle. 


If you are seeing that it is inteferring with your data, I would recommend setting this information in a custom contact property to ensure that it is available for reporting purposes. 


Thank you,

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Community Thought Leader

PROBLEM: Difficulty reporting due to violation of HubSpot Lifecycle Stage Best Practice.


Occasionally, clients face this problem. Here's how we recommend they 'fix' it.
As with anything else, some listen ... some don't.



If we agree that the goal of any CRM is to help manage the customer relationship by increasing alignment between marketing and sales, then we can have a dialog around that overarching goal. If not, then we've already relegated our CRM to nothing more than an expensive digital rolodex.
[- stop reading now -]


hubspot-crm-sales-thief-v01.pngThe Lead Thief



As you know, the built-in HubSpot Marketing Lifecycle Stages are setup as a ratchet system which means HubSpot contacts are intended to move forward in Lifecycle Stage and NEVER backwards. Ever.

In fact, when even attempting to perform a Lifecycle Stage violation in HubSpot we are presented with a warning. And, workflows won't perform such violations without both a warning AND an explicit command to explicitly clear the Lifecycle Stage Contact Property before setting it 'back in time' -- aka: destroying the existing data.




Matching an organization's sales pipeline workflow process with HubSpot's forward-moving Lifecycle Stage behavior guarantees continuity in the CRM (to the extent possible). This 'never move backwards' Lifecycle Stage behavior also allows for some interesting advanced automation using Predictive Lead Scoring and Workflows as more and more lead intelligence is gathered over time.
- see Predictive Lead Scoring criteria



So, how do we deal with the 'so-called SQLs that aren't really SQLs' problem?


We fix the misalignment between marketing and sales instead of breaking the CRM to match thereby creating a 2nd un-fixable problem (data destruction).





Here's how.

-1- Align Marketing and Sales goals and KPI's so that Prospects, Subscribers or Leads only become MQLs after meeting agreed-upon criteria.


-2- Align Marketing and Sales goals and KPI's so that MQLs only become SQLs after meeting agreed-upon criteria.


-3- Employ the use of exclusive SQL Lead Statuses (used only by the Sales Team).
- SQL - Bad SQL (i.e., should've never even been an SQL)
- SQL - Bad MQL (i.e., should've never even been an MQL)

Notice, even the names of these examples reek of misalignment between marketing and sales and are prime examples of why agreed-upon criteria must be defined when promoting MQLs to SQLs.

Contact records in these lead statuses are excellent candidates for discussion during the regular alignment meetings (aka: scrub meetings) between the Marketing and Sales Managers. Similar systems put in place allow both managers to easily track volume and accountability on their teams . That is, 'how many are occuring' and 'who is triggering these statuses' which can yield valuable feedback used to further align marketing and sales.

- Feedback -
Use of 'SQL - Bad SQL' is a potential indication of weak SQL criteria.
Use of 'SQL - Bad MQL' is a potential indication of weak MQL criteria.
Excessive use of either is a potential indication of a personnel issue.


And finally,
-4- Agree that an SQL remains an SQL until they either become an Opportunity, a Customer, or they die in the CRM (i.e., become unqualified, or become a candidate for opt-out or deletion).

The biggest complaint we've heard about the one-way Lifecycle Stage ratchet system typically comes from guys who have a tendency to wanna work the newer Leads (NOT SQLs) while leaving perfectly good SQLs to die on the vine.

Considering the costs of lead acquisition, qualification, management, nurturing, etc, choosing to work new Leads at the expense of existing SQLs is tantamount to stealing money from the company by wasting resources. No different than taking reams of copy paper home by the box, only MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE. (facepalm)

Fortunately, we can restrict and/or track theft behavior in the CRM. How each company decides to deal with thieves is up to them. Here, we cut off their ... wait for it ...



(get your mind out the gutter) haha

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Occasional Contributor

Love the good explanation of the theory. It was an eye opener for me. However I still have a few questions.


- When a potential sale is lost, the opportunity stage does not fit the subscription anymore. The contact does not move forward to the customer stage, but the contact still is a quality lead and fits the SQL stage. Should the contact be therefore a SQL?

Community Thought Leader

HubSpot, like many other CRMs, is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, HubSpot, to a greater extent than say Salesforce, has extreme limitations when it comes to its CRM. In other words, there are scenarios the HubSpot CRM simply wasn't built to accomodate. De-evolution (or reversal) of the Lifecycle Stage is just one such scenario.

In our experience, the best solution is an accountable team aligned around uniform objectives. In our world, we don't separate sales and marketing -- because one cannot truely scale and remain competitive without the other. At least not in an evolving 21st centry buyer-centric sales environment.

>>"When a potential sale is lost ... Should the contact be therefore a SQL?"
Yes. In our world. But only because the definition of an SQL that we use internally -- i.e., a lead with the capacity and willingness to pay for our product &/or services, and who has expressed interest in US after reviewing our offerings -- i.e., emailed us, or scheduled a meeting with us.

- Notice how our SQL definition doesn't say whether or not ... they're new, have a deal in progress, been connected with, etc.

- Notice how that definition doesn't say 'ready to buy'. (an important distinction in my mind)
- Notice also how it doesn't include people who subscribe to some blog, who've downloaded some ebook, or who've completed some contact form. These tactical tools are not true indicators of sales readiness, but are mear micro-conversions along the way to sales readiness.

Think of it like this ...
Last year we spent close to ~$150 per client acquisition. The bulk of those costs came from QUALIFYING LEADS. So, for argument's sake, let's say we opted to do away with the lead qualification process and Lifecycle Stages, and simply just meet with everyone who had a question. Since we use to do things this way in 'the old days' (2012) we have excellent data around how well it works by comparison ... it doesn't.

Why? Because we're in the service business and our most valuable resource (time) is finite.

The decision to build a sales funnel to pre-qualify leads dramatically reduced the NUMBER of leads that crosses our desk, but it also dramatically increased the CONVERSION RATE for the remaining leads. Some would call these the 'Glengarry Glenn Ross' leads. (from the movie) Smiley Wink

Something else it did was INCREASE THE VALUE OF EACH LEAD! (shutup) Nope. Seriously. Think about it. If we're pre-qualifying leads -- (our model) -- that means we're effectively turning away people who may have otherwise turned into buyers with just a little 'convincing', cajoling, or whateverthehell -- (long story for another time, but not our model).


Once we qualify a lead internally as an SQL, they NEVER become unqualified unless / until they explicitly express disinterest or die in the CRM through attrition. (aka: list decay)

Why? Because we continue to provide value to them even if they're not our client -- via follow-up emails, via this forum, via free calls, etc.. In other words, we don't stop the sales process for SQLs simply because they're not ready to buy TODAY. If we did that we'd be out of business in less than a year.

This model works for us because our target buyers evolve in both their careers and in their HubSpot expertise over time. They realize that marketing is only getting harder and more complex, so they will eventually need help navigating the evolving HubSpot terrain. On more than a few occasions this has translated into month's old SQLs re-engaging us even after moving to other companies.


Always happy to help. Reach out anytime if we can be of assistance with HubSpot.



Remote  B2B Digital Marketing Manager


MFrankJohnson.com | Connect on LinkedIn

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Regular Contributor

Thanks for your thorough response - it is much appreciated! Everything you've said definitely makes sense in terms of ensuring sales/marketing alignment in lead graduation criteria. I still just have one question...


Under this methodology, how would we deal with a contact who moved through the funnel, became an SQL, for example (rightfully, with proper criteria being met), but is eventually determined to not be a potential sale, at least at this time. The sales team says they dont have an immediate need right now, but let's put them into a marketing nurture campaign and see if they bite again somewhere down the road when a need has arisen in their business. At that point I wouldn't (personally) consider them to be an SQL - I would consider them to be a reverted lead and wouldn't want them cluttering up the SQL stage of our funnel - how would you deal with lifecycle stage in this scenario? 


Thanks again for taking the time to discuss this! 

Community Thought Leader

>>"... a reverted lead ... cluttering up the SQL stage of our funnel ..."
Wow. Interesting perspective.
Certainly a valid concern if one defines SQLs as only those who are 'ready to buy'. (as mentioned above, "not our model")

Much of the difficulty we encounter with Lifecycle Stage as an indicator of sales readiness is that many clients mistakenly view this property in isolation. We don't view it that way.

Lifecycle Stage alone mearly indicates WHERE a contact or company is in our marketing/sales funnel. Not their STATUS as a lead.

We always consider the Lead Status (with customizations) when viewing a contact in Lead, MQL, or SQL stage.
- see What is the difference between Lifecycle Stage and Lead Status?
(see image)



When combined with Lifecycle Stage, Lead Status can be used to trigger very specific behavior. An example customization we build for clients includes a custom Lead Status ('Re-Engage Later') and custom Deal and Contact properties -- e.g., Closed Lost Reason, Re-engage, and Re-Engage Date.


In our build, we use the Closed Lost Deal stage to trigger auto-creation of follow-up tasks when a Deal is closed lost with a Reason of 'Re-Engage Later'.

- see How to copy HubSpot Deal Properties to Contacts & Companies ...

Finally, we routinely use HubSpot best practices combined with cloud-based integration tools like Zapier and Automate.io to push HubSpot further than its default capabilities. That being said, we also recognize there are many scenarios the HubSpot CRM simply wasn't built to accomodate. 


Always happy to help. Reach out anytime if we can be of assistance with HubSpot.





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Community Thought Leader

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Community Thought Leader



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New Contributor

Yes, but what when the salespeople actually don't work with contacts? We sell B2B - to companies, not individuals. So whereas marketing hands over MQLs for sales to follow up with, sales only makes changes to the associated COMPANY - they either reject the lead with a lead rejection reason and a lifecycle downgrade to Lead or accept it by changing the lifecycle stage to SQL. So, no "Lead status" available.

Community Thought Leader

@Charlott >>"Yes, but what when the salespeople actually don't work with contacts? We sell B2B - to companies, not individuals. So whereas marketing hands over MQLs for sales to follow up with, sales only makes changes to the associated COMPANY - they either reject the lead with a lead rejection reason and a lifecycle downgrade to Lead or accept it by changing the lifecycle stage to SQL. So, no "Lead status" available."


While you are free to manage your sales process however you see fit, HubSpot is a contact-centric platform (by design). As such, recommendations we make in support of the HubSpot platform are contact-centric. After all, in reality, the sales process always involves influencers / decision makers who are people (contacts).


Companies don't visit our webpages. Companies don't fill out contact forms. Companies aren't the recipients of our downloads, emails, or calls. And finally, we don't have meetings with companies.


Even when we initially evaluate leads based on company-related criteria we ultimately must engage people (contacts) at that company. And it's those interactions with contacts that drive the sales process forward ... or not.


A 'company' is but a set of people (contacts) operating under an umbrella of collective criteria ...


Good luck on your project.

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