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How to Fast Track Your Lead Lifecycle – The Monopoly Approach

How to Fast Track Your Lead Lifecycle – The Monopoly Approach

While playing Monopoly with my daughter recently, I was thinking about a way to optimize a client’s lead lifecycle funnel. Yes, I should have been concerned with her recent acquisition of Boardwalk, but a sudden trip to Reading Railroad got my creative juices flowing. Finally, I had a great example for something we marketers must do to measure conversions effectively–the Reading Railroad strategy.

Lead lifecycle chance

Developing a Funnel is Hard

Developing a measurable funnel helps businesses put predictability into the lead lifecycle. Do 1,000 leads turn into 50 deals? 20 deals? Which programs and campaigns are driving the most revenue? These answers help businesses gain clarity into what’s working and what is not.

Most organizations embrace the concept, but putting that concept into practice is usually the challenge. One common question I receive is, “how do I make my pretty funnel slide a reality?” You know, the one that you put up at executive meetings–the one where obtaining those numbers is almost impossible so you take an educated guess.

In a few weeks, I will be speaking at the Marketo Summit on how to build a measurable lead lifecycle in 30 days along with Marketo guru Josh Hill. There are six or seven strategies that I will cover, but today, I will dive into one of those. I call it the Reading Railroad strategy.

Fast Track to Reading Railroad

Lead Lifecycel funnel

Fast Track – A rapid means of achieving a goal.

In 1903, the game of Monopoly was invented. Besides buying all the properties, one of the objects of the games is to pass GO and collect your $200.  As you may know, Reading Railroad is one of the properties on the board. In fact, there is a Chance card that sends you directly to Reading Railroad if you get it.

Besides fast tracking to Reading Railroad where you skip everything in between, what else happens when you select this Chance card? You pass GO and collect your $200 bucks. You receive credit for passing GO even though you went directly to the Reading Railroad property.

Measure a Fast Tracked Lead through Your Lead Lifecycle

FunnelFastrack600 lead lifecycle

What happens when a lead shows major interest and skips stages? Let’s apply the Reading Railroad example to your funnel.

John Black just filled out a demo request form and becomes a marketing qualified lead (MQL). Usually, the next stage is for your tele rep to call John Black to qualify and accept the lead (SAL). However, what if the call goes great and John is ready to skip right through to an opportunity (Opp)?  Like going to the Reading Railroad in Monopoly, John fast tracks through the funnel, rapidly achieving the opportunity status. The reporting question–What happens to the skipped stages in between since John Black went straight to an opportunity?

Just like passing GO and getting $200, leveraging the Reading Railroad technique ensures that all the stages in between get credit. Even though the lead technically skips all of the stages, all of those stages still get tagged for the pass through.

The Benefits – Insight

The Reading Railroad technique allows organizations to measure all the funnel stages just like passing through a turnstile at a baseball game. Once you go through one stage, you can never go back.

The technique provides organizations with true waterfall conversion analysis, which was made popular by Sirius Decisions. For example, we know that every lead that has gone through SQL has also gone through SAL—and every SAL has gone through MQL. Without this type of waterfall effect, businesses will have a difficult time measuring true conversion.

The technique also helps marketing executives see how quickly leads go through their system. Leads that fast track have a shorter timeframe than leads that don’t fast track. For example, leads generated from Sales may accelerate through the system faster than marketing generated leads. By using the Reading Railroad technique, we see the fast tracked leads pass through in an instant.

lead lifecycle

Waterfall Conversion Example – Gain insights into how different types of leads flow through your funnel.

 The Reading Railroad Technique in Action

Now that you have the concept down, how do you execute? The Reading Railroad technique leverages a date stamping technique to track whatever lead is touched and changes stages.

The concept: Whenever a lead changes stages, the lead gets date stamped. The campaign will look at the dates of previous stages. If a previous stage’s date is BLANK, the campaign will stamp it with today’s date. In effect, each stage is like “GO” where the lead gets credit for passing through as it skips.

For organizations that leverage Marketo, marketers can use lifecycle campaigns to perform the Reading Railroad technique. This technique is required in every lifecycle campaign. In the below example, this TAL lifecycle campaign is listening for a change to Accepted. When that happens, all of the Reading Railroad date stamping occurs.

readingrailroad lead lifecycle

Example of how to build a lifecycle campaign in Marketo using the Reading Railroad technique



Developing a funnel strategy and then executing on that strategy is one of the biggest challenges organizations face today. The Reading Railroad strategy is one of several techniques that can help simplify your business’s lead lifecycle management.

If you are attending the Marketo Summit and are interested in learning about some of the other techniques for simplifying your lifecycle funnel, stop by and say hello. Marketo guru Josh Hill and I are co-presenting on the subject.

About Jeff Coveney

Jeff is an accomplished marketing expert with more than 20 years success in generating demand and creating buzz for leading technology organizations. Jeff is the founder of RevEngine Insider and regularly consults via RevEngine Marketing.
  • Justin Norris

    Jeff — awesome post. This is something I’ve been thinking about/working on a lot lately and this is a simple but elegant approach to make sure your funnel ratios stay clean. I like it.

    One thing I wonder is, if a lead goes straight to SAL/SQL (let’s say, a sales person prospecting gets lucky) would you still stamp previous states that may not actually be relevant to them like Inquiry or MQL? In effect, the lead really did *skip* those states (they never inquired nor participated in any marketing).

    This is where the non-linear nature of the funnel makes a waterfall get a bit messy. Would be interested to know how you address this in practice.

    P.S. I already have your and Josh’s session in my Summit agenda! 🙂

    • Jeff Coveney

      Justin, took a couple of years various iterations to get to this. Love to hear your thoughts when we catch up at the summit.

    • Jeff Coveney

      Justin, great question and a debateable one. The answer for this model is YES. However, it’s vital to flag Marketing gen vs Sales gen leads as Sales gen fly through the system. Will cover this technique as one of the steps in the preso.

      • Justin Norris

        Makes sense. If you can segment by lead source and pull out your sales gen leads that way then it’s all good.

        See you next week Jeff!

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