Transition of a Lead to a Sale, Think of it Like a Butterfly


Seeing a butterfly is truly one of life’s greatest little joys. People are always happy to see the beautiful creatures flying around. However, before that butterfly was the bright specimen fluttering about, it began its life as a caterpillar. It had to beat the odds and survive its environment while consuming enough to nourish itself through its transformation. Thinking like that, it is not hard to draw the comparison of a butterfly to a completed sale.


First, it hatches!

A new contact has been created in the database. A contact has become known. A tiny egg has hatched. The hatchling needs two things to have a chance at becoming a butterfly, a safe environment and nutrition. A safe environment is a well-maintained Marketo Engage instance with functional operational programs to handle tasks like scoring, tracking a record’s status, and data hygiene. Nutrition means this record will go through programs and campaigns that trigger email outreach. 


A clean environment will lay the foundation for the growth of our potential butterfly. That means the Marketo instance has a well-thought-out scoring system developed with plenty of collaboration with the sales team. This collaboration should be ongoing, not just a set it and forget it interaction. A select group of smart campaigns will be responsible for tracking a contact’s journey through life cycle statuses. Lastly, keeping the database clean means you are less likely to have a record missing out on programs. Records living in a healthy environment means more chances for qualified leads to be hatched.


A finely tuned Marketo instance is going to be spoon-feeding new records with all of the nutrition they could ever need. This starts with standard email sends. However, it certainly doesn’t end there. It will go on to include nurture campaigns, invitations to both live and digital events, and links to resources on the web. 

And then it flies.

Eventually, our caterpillar decides to take a bite, much like a record being marketed to. They choose to interact with one of the emails they have received. Maybe they click through to a landing page. Maybe they register for a webinar. Or, maybe they decide they need to register for a monthly newsletter. Whatever the case may be, our lead has started storing up the data it will need to undergo its glorious metamorphosis into an opportunity and then a customer. In Marketo’s language, the record just earned its first behavior-scoring points.


As our record continues receiving various forms of outreach and taking various actions in response, their score will continue to rise. At some predetermined point, they will have earned enough points to become an MQL, a marketing-qualified lead. This means that the lead has demonstrated enough interest and meets the minimum threshold of characteristics that they are ready to be handed off to the sales team.


At this point, the sales team will assess if they believe this record is indeed ready for their efforts. If the sales team doesn’t think this lead has what it takes, well, it’s not all bad news. The magic of Marketo means the lead has another shot at eventually getting its wings. If they accept the MQL, the record becomes a sales accepted lead, SAL, and continues its journey. 

The Rewind Button

In real life, a caterpillar really only has one shot to make it all the way to butterfly. Fortunately, a well-maintained Marketo lifecycle will have its smart campaigns listening for various triggers to reset a record’s status. In this way, an MQL can be rejected by the sales team, and instead of its chance being over, it can instead be reset as an engaged record that will continue to receive outreach and education. Once again, actions from the contact will accumulate points, and possibly even regain its status as an MQL.


The beauty of this ability to rewind is that it can occur at virtually any point in the lifecycle and reset to any previous status however many steps ago that was in the journey. A recycled contact stays in the automation flows, hopefully bringing them back again with a higher chance of success on their return visit, and it frees up sales to work on records that are hopefully more fruitful.

The Sales Journey

The sales team will continue to work on their SALs. But Marketo can still play a role here too. Smart campaigns can be configured to look at a record’s status in the life cycle. These campaigns can be used to help keep specific information or announcements top of mind for your contacts without forcing the sales team to directly reach out to everyone in every instance.


As the sales team works with the contact, they may decide that this record wasn’t quite ready for a firm sales pitch yet. They can still recycle that contact back into a previous status. Or, if everything is going well, and they think this contact is ready, they can decide the record is now a SQL, sales-qualified lead. It is at this point, typically, that a sales opportunity is associated with the lead. And then the lead, much like our baby caterpillar, is ready for its next stage.

The Cocoon

The sales team will still need to work with the lead to answer questions and engage the contact during the sales process. Again, Marketo campaigns can be leveraged to whatever extent the sales team feels comfortable to aid in communications during this process.


Just because a caterpillar has made its cocoon, that doesn’t guarantee the caterpillar is going to survive all the way to its emergence and initial flight. Just like in nature, a record at this point in the life cycle has all the information it could need and is in a safe, secure place. However, some small twist of fate may mean this deal was not meant to be. If that’s the case, if the sales team thinks they could maybe potentially come around for another try later, they can recycle them to a previous life cycle status.

The Birth of a Beautiful Butterfly

The record decided to go with your company and purchase your services. After its beginning as a virtually unknown quantity, that record was nurtured by well-engineered Marketo campaigns and a great sales team. The lead came to know and respect your brand and team during its journey. A glorious, new butterfly has entered the world. What started as a little crawling caterpillar was given a safe, bountiful place to mature in your environment. And, aren’t we all just a little more joyous for playing our part in its presence?

View More Posts >>