Getting Started with Lead Scoring

​Lead management is an integral part of any effective demand generation strategy, and lead scoring is a huge part of that. Just think, today 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, but only 27% of those leads will be qualified (Marketing Sherpa). Not only does this create friction between marketing and sales teams, but it also wastes internal resources and is not an effective process for lead qualification. Part of the issue is that without lead scoring, prospective customers are often passed on to sales without even knowing whether they are 1) the right kind of leads or 2) interested in being leads.

Here’s where lead scoring comes in:

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents their perceived value to an organization. Think of it this way: a prospective customer can have many different qualities, each of which may be more or less valuable to you. Ideally, you want them to have a certain job title (or level of title), be in a certain department, work at a specific type of company, have decision-making power, etc. And of course, you also want that prospect to be interested in your organization before you spend too much time and effort contacting them. Lead scoring allows you to progressively rank your prospective customers based on the qualities that are of value to you — as well as behaviors that represent interest.

Why is lead scoring important?

When applied correctly, lead scoring can greatly increase the efficiency of sales and marketing efforts within an organization. This should make sense, since lead scoring enables you to reach out to those prospective customers that you know are valuable to your organization — and that have also been showing some interest in you. And at the end of the day, that all ties back to revenue. In fact, 68% of successful marketers cite lead scoring as most responsible for improving revenue based on content engagement according to a Lenskold & Pedowitz Group study.

What kinds of things can I score?

There are three main types of lead scoring criteria (or the types of things you can use to score leads). They are explicit, implicit, and negative:

  • Explicit Criteria: This is information intentionally provided by the user (via a registration form, for example), and it is usually used to judge how good of a fit a prospective customer may be. It can include characteristics such as someone’s location, company, industry, revenue, number of employees, etc.
  • Implicit Criteria: This is information that is not provided intentionally, but rather derived from analysis of data or behavior. It’s very helpful in gauging a prospective customer’s interest, because it includes data such as website visits, content interactions, media downloads, webinar attendance, form completion, etc.
  • Negative Criteria: This information is used to adjust lead scores in response to factors that make a lead less desirable. For example, a lead may be nonresponsive for a long period of time or unsubscribe to your emails. Or perhaps you find out that they have no influence or decision-making power within their organization. Or they visit a specific page on your website, such as Careers, which signifies their interest in you is not as a customer.

Where do I start?

The first thing you’ll need to do is hold a joint workshop with your sales and marketing teams. It’s crucial that these teams are on the same page in order for lead scoring to be effective. These are some of the questions we cover in our lead scoring workshops with our clients:

  • What are the biggest issues sales and marketing are currently having with identifying good leads?
  • What is an ideal lead? How does this differ between sales and marketing? How is it the same?
  • What attributes are most important to the organization when it comes to a prospective lead?
  • What behavior most clearly exhibits a lead’s interest in the organization? At which point is it worth reaching out?

These are just some of the questions to ask as you consider implementing lead scoring. After that, you’ll need to create a criteria checklist, put scores to every line item on your checklist, set up thresholds between different levels of sales readiness, and implement your strategy. Ideally, you will ultimately get to a point where you can automatically move leads through your sales funnel based on agreed-upon attributes and behaviors — and flag them as marketing qualified or sales qualified when appropriate.

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