How to automate HubSpot Lifecycle Stages right (Practical Guide 2023)

How To Run Account Based Selling For Your B2B Company [GUIDE]

WARNING: Automating and managing lifecycle stages is not easy. You can mess it up in hundreds of ways. Before you automate it, ensure you have the right lifecycle stages strategy first.

In this article, I will explain a step-by-step process for automating lifecycle stages. By following our guidelines, you will gain the ability to:

  1. Achieve full-funnel visibility: Gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire customer journey, from Leads to MQLs, SQLs, and beyond.

  2. Track volume: Keep a close eye on the quantity of Leads, MQLs, SQLs, and other lifecycle stages, enabling accurate reporting.

  3. Monitor conversion rates: Measure the success of your campaigns and initiatives by tracking conversion rates at each stage of the customer lifecycle.

  4. Track time metrics: Analyze the time it takes for prospects to move through different stages, identifying potential bottlenecks and areas for improvement.

Let's dive into it.

Table of Contents 

Lifecycle stages automation fundamental rules

Before we begin, check the lifecycle stages automation best practices.

  • Keep it linear and don't move backward in stages 
  • Don't skip stages otherwise, your funnel report will be broken
  • Set meaningful triggers that determine moving to the next stage
  • Restrict anyone from changing this field manually
  • Assign and make sure all your contacts have Lifecycle Stage
  • Integrate contact and company lifecycle stages

Okay. It's time to get our hands dirty with practice. This is the process I will go through.

  1. Defining stages and triggers
  2. Building inclusion lists for each lifecycle stage
  3. Building reset lists for each lifecycle stage
  4. Building workflows
  5. Turning on the automation 

Define stages and triggers

Before jumping into automating lifecycle stages, you need to define clear triggers that will prompt a certain contact to move from one phase to another. 

PRO TIP: Define triggers individually for each go-to-market motion. 

Here is an example:

Lifecycle Stages triggersBuild Inclusion & Reset Lists


Inclusions lists are built inside HubSpot to keep all contacts that fit the criteria. and Reset lists are crucial to ensure that a contact will not skip any step.

Below you can see the example of MQLs inclusion and reset lists.

Inclusion List example for MQL Lifecycle Stage

MQL inclusion list

Reset List example for MQL Lifecycle Stage

MQL - Reset List

Build Workflows for Lifecycle Stages

In this step, you build 3 types of workflows:

1. Reset - if the contact is in Reset List C but is a member of Inclusion List B, check time stamps for Stage A or B, clear Lifecycle Stage, add to Stage A, then B, it's the correct stage.

2. Lifecycle stage inclusion workflow - if a member of inclusion list A, update the lifecycle Stage to A but check all previous stages and make sure contact goes through them if not already time stamped.

3. Time-stamp custom lifecycle stages - if the contact moves to list X, update "became an X date" to "Date of step" (if applicable).

Below you can see the example of a reset, as well as MQLs inclusion workflow.

Reset workflow example for lifecycle stages

0.1 LCS - Reset Contact Lifecycle Stage (manual enrollment)

Inclusion workflow example for MQL Lifecycle Stage

1.2 LCS - MQL Lifecycle Stage

Remember, you need to create inclusions workflows for all your lifecycle stages to make the automation work.

Uncheck the sync lifecycle stages option

It's very easy to overlook, but if you don't do that, contacts will skip the stages and the whole operation will take a hit.

Go to the Contacts -> Lifecycle Stage and uncheck "Sync lifecycle stages":

Lifecycle stages set-up in HS

Turn on Workflows

Finally, it's time to put this marvel of HubSpot engineering in motion. To make it right follow this exact order:

  1. Reset workflow first, make contacts run through, then turn it off.
  2. Turn on your inclusion workflows one by one in the order of your customer journey - Lead, MQL, SQL, etc.

Before running the next one, confirm all contacts have run through that workflow.

Voilà. This is what the funnel report looks like with properly set up lifecycle stages.

Funnel report

As you can see, HubSpot already sees all contacts with automatically assigned lifecycle stages.

Stages in HubSpot


Setting up HubSpot lifecycle stages is not a Sunday walk.

But it's a must-have if you want your reports and analytics to give you actionable insights into your funnel.

Not to mention streamlined processes for your teams and better cooperation between departments 

So, to make sure we didn't miss anything, let's wrap the whole process up again:

  1. Define triggers for all lifecycle stages that will prompt contact to move from one phase to another.
  2. Build inclusion and reset lists for all lifecycle stages.
  3. Build reset and inclusion workflows for all lifecycle stages.
  4. Uncheck the "Sync lifecycle stages" option before jumping into automation.
  5. Run reset workflow first, then turn inclusion workflows one by one (Lead, MQL, SQL, etc.)

Hope it was helpful.

If you have any questions regarding HubSpot automation, just contact us, and let's chat. 

about the author
Arek Piatek - I help B2B companies drive revenue with Demand Generation Programs. RevOps Evangelist and marketer who thinks outside the funnel. Creating marketing programs aligned with how people want to buy, not in a way companies want to sell to them.