HubSpot Lifecycle Stages and Lead Statuses (Ultimate Guide 2023)

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

If you want to find out how lifecycle stages and lead statuses can work together to supercharge your business performance, you're in a good place. 

After reading this article, you'll know everything about how to combine these 2 properties in HubSpot to guide your teams' actions like GPS.

We'll cover crucial lifecycle stages and lead statuses definitions, differences, triggers, and best practices for both of them. 

Shall we?

Table of Contents 

What are lifecycle stages?

Lifecycle stages represent the sequential steps that your customers follow, starting from their initial interaction with your marketing efforts through their purchase process, up until onboarding and renewal.

In a more techy way...

The lifecycle stage is a property of a contact or a company that defines where in the customer journey said object currently resides.

Default HubSpot lifecycle stages

Funnel - all stages

  • Subscriber: This refers to an individual who has chosen to stay updated with your content by subscribing to your blog or newsletter.

  • Lead: This is an individual or organization that has shown interest in your offerings beyond just subscribing, typically by converting on your website or through some other form of engagement.

  • Marketing Qualified Lead: This is an individual or organization that your marketing team has identified as being prepared for direct sales engagement.

  • Sales Qualified Lead: This refers to an individual or organization that your sales team has recognized as a prospective customer, with this stage including various sub-stages which are captured in the Lead Status property.

  • Opportunity: This term refers to an individual or organization that is linked to a potential business transaction or deal with your company.

  • Customer: This is an individual or organization that has completed at least one transaction with your company.

  • Evangelist: This term refers to a customer who has publicly endorsed or promoted your organization. Other: This is an individual or organization that doesn't fit into any of the aforementioned categories.

Can you customize customer Lifecycle Stages?

Absolutely, we highly recommend that you do so.

This is something you couldn't change up until the recent HubSpot update. Now you are allowed to customize lifecycle stages and tailor them to your unique journey and business processes.

To edit and change customer lifecycle stages you can simply go to settings > objects > contacts > lifecycle stages tab > edit/change lifecycle stages in HubSpot

Screenshot 2023-05-22 at 15.35.27

What is wrong with HubSpot's default lifecycle stages?

They are focused on a new business, neglecting the existing business part of the bowtie. If you end on a customer lifecycle stage, you can't tell if your customer finished an onboarding, received an impact, or turned into a recurring customer that reached a lifetime value.

To truly thrive, you need end-to-end visibility across your entire funnel, measuring both new and existing business metrics:

  • Volume metrics - track SQLs and opportunities generated 
  • Time metrics - analyze stage progression time
  • Conversion metrics - optimize conversion rates

Bowtie Data Model

It's crucial to win new opportunities, but...  existing business - upsell, cross-sell, and renewal are the secret sauce that spices up your growth recipe.


WBD Growth vs Existing


(if you're not familiar with Data Model, check this framework from Winning by Design)

Lifecycle stages are critical for your performance visibility

They allow you to identify areas for improvement and drive business growth.

If you are not able to measure your lifecycle stages.

STOP everything you do and get Lifecycle Stages right.


(credits to Matt Bolian, Co-founder of RevPartners and Supered)

Find weaknesses in your conversion rates and identify the highest-value accounts so you can focus on the type of companies that are getting the most from your product or service.

Funnel report

Measure your sales cycle and work on team and buyer enablement to improve to progress from one stage to another faster. 

Time metrics

Combine lifecycle stages with lead statuses to identify what is happening with contacts at each stage of a journey.

Lead Status and Lifecycle Stage

Track volumes over time and control business health trends.


Start with definitions

Before you dive into the triggers, make sure you're all on the same page. You need crystal-clear lifecycle stage definitions that everyone in the company can high-five over.

Companies build their own unique mix of lifecycle stages and definitions. There are common reasons for choosing different metrics:

✨ Different customer journeys 

🎯 Customized goals and objectives for each company

🤝 Diverse sales and marketing team responsibilities

🏢 Impact of organizational structure

🌍 Complexity of the go-to-market complexity

As a result, the construction of the funnel varies depending on the company's stage and maturity but.. you can clearly see there are legit market benchmarks you should leverage to get it right.

Lifecycle Stages definition

Tips for lifecycle stages definitions

  1. Keep it simple, don't overcomplicate things you can't measure or track
  2. Involve your entire team in defining and understanding the stages
  3. Map it out, create a visual roadmap that illustrates the journey
  4. Set measurable criteria and leave no room for interpretation
  5. Don't change them or rarely iterate to adapt and stay relevant

Triggers are essential for a proper lifecycle stages setup 

To automate lifecycle stages, you need clear actions that will prompt a certain contact to move from one phase to another. 

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

Lifecycle Stages triggers

Contact and Company Lifecycle Stages

That is a big pain for a lot of companies that want to track Lifecycle Stages on a company level, not on a contact level. Here is the recipe.

1. Contact level: Each contact has its own customer lifecycle stage

2. Company level: The company inherits the highest stage of a contact

Contact vs Company Lifecycle Stages

Lifecycle stages best practices

  • Align and make sure you share the same definitions across your organization
  • 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
  • Automate all the Lifecycle Stages and reduce any type of manual work
  • Assign and make sure all your contacts have Lifecycle Stage
  • Integrate contact and company lifecycle stages

Lifecycle stages vs lead statuses

Lifecycle stages show you where the customers are in their journey, but they don't tell you what your teams should do with them. This is where lead statuses come in. 

Lead statuses relate directly to the specific actions your sales team is taking when a contact is in a specific lifecycle stage.

Lead Statuses Definition

For that reason, lead statuses are a base for sales-level agreements (SLAs)

Lead Statuses Actions & SLAs

Combining Lifecycle stages with lead statuses

Working in combination, these two properties provide a full picture of the prospect.

How Lifecycle Stages & Lead Statuses work together

Watch the below video to see how Lifecycle Stages & Lead Statuses work in practice for your sales team.



What a ride, huh? 

As you see, lifecycle stages and lead statuses are critical for your business performance and visibility.

If set up right, they give you insights into a full customer journey and guide your go-to-market team's actions like a GPS.

But if you botch the job...

Your teams are operating in the dark. They start guessing instead of acting based on key customer data.

And your funnel reports? Totally useless. 

So, to make sure we didn't miss anything, let's wrap the whole thing up.

  1. Lifecycle stages represent the sequential steps customers go through from initial interaction to renewal.

  2. HubSpot's default lifecycle stages focus on new business and neglect the existing business part. This is why you should customize lifecycle stages in HubSpot to gain visibility into the full customer journey.

  3. You need to establish clear lifecycle stage definitions to effectively measure conversion rates, sales cycle length, and business growth. As a result, you can identify opportunities and weak spots in your funnel.

  4. Lifecycle stages should work automatically, without the manual intervention of any of the team members. To make that happen, you need to first define triggers that will prompt a certain contact to move from one phase to another. 

  5. Lifecycle stages show you where the customers are in their journey, but they don't tell you what your teams should do with them. That's why in addition to lifecycle stages, you also need lead statuses.

  6. Lead statuses complement lifecycle stages by indicating specific actions taken by the sales team. By combining these two properties, you gain a comprehensive view of your customers.
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.