Lead Scoring Defined:
Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads a receiving function (e.g. sales, partners, teleprospecting) will engage, in order of priority.
Ranking prospects and understanding their buying potential is an art, but the methodology is logical, strategic and proven. Lead scoring increases your organization’s efficiency and effectiveness because instead of repeatedly marketing to the same leads, you can develop a good lead scoring framework to ensure you’re spending the bulk of your time on leads that are ranked the highest: or HOT leads. You will shorten sales cycles, improve conversion rates, and yield higher-than-average contract values. Ultimately, our goal as full-service marketing automation strategists is that the practices will be extremely apparent in your organization’s bottom line.
The User’s Journey
Behavioral and psychological aspects are important to take into account when developing a good lead scoring system. Many organizations struggle with behavioral scoring and only score on basic behaviors such as web visits, downloads, and form fills. But tracking where the user is at in the buyer’s journey is the most integral and impactful solution lead scoring can provide.
Tracking behavioral scoring can lead to errors and poor leads if the buyer’s journey isn’t considered. The key to lead scoring is understanding what criteria is necessary to determine if this is a viable lead or something that wastes valuable time. If you know that your product or service is only suitable for organizations greater than $50m in revenue, then qualifying an organization for $1m is a waste of time for both the buyer and the seller. Determine what demographic keys are necessary in order to produce the highest quality leads for sales, prioritize those criteria, and score accordingly.
Don’t forget to stay focused on the buyer in order to position them correctly. It is also extremely valuable to be able to score intent as well as behavior. Impossible you say? Think of this in terms of a more traditional sales cycle: simply because you are talking to the decision maker in your target call and a need has been established for your product or service, does not necessarily mean that they are ready to buy right now. How immediate is the need? To get an idea of timeline, don’t ask when they will be making a decision. Instead, ask how important it is to spend money to fix this problem within the next three months. If they provide a low value for that query, they probably aren’t moving forward anytime soon and you can put them into a follow up nurturing campaign.”
For high-quality lead scoring to work properly, it is absolutely vital for sales and marketing to work together. Timing is LITERALLY everything. It’s important to have a clear sense of when a buyer is ready to be approached by the sales team. The sales team will be competing for their attention if they are too late, but going in too early is a waste of sales time and resources. I saw this quote from Cliff on Marketo’s Website:
Cliff Pollan of Postwire (@cliffpollan) knows, “The goal of lead scoring is to get the ‘right’ leads into the hands of sales at the right moment. Flood the team with too many leads, and they spend too much time on leads that are not qualified and miss getting to the ‘good’ leads. Often, we think of lead scoring as helping to identify needles in the haystack. More likely we are trying to identify the best needles in what looks like a stack of needles.”
The Sales Cycle
The role of sales teams in lead scoring cannot be overstated and is vital to the sales process. Salespeople can monitor what type of leads convert, and give feedback on the timing of the sales cycle and when, in their experience, are the best touch points.
We recommend that sales and marketing teams (in many cases, we’re our clients’ 360 degree marketing team) to meet regularly to review the cycle, look for trends, and adjust the scoring process as factors change. Here are some potential review topics we suggest:
- Take the top 10 leads for the month, as determined by the software, and discuss what made them the top. See which leads moved most quickly from lead to true opportunity.
- Take all (or 10 or so) deals that closed last month and review their lead characteristics.
- Look at leads sourced by sales, and determine the variables of each that became opportunities and/or closed. Try applying those same principles to your lead scoring strategy. If those leads are converting better than those sourced via online channels, you might be missing something in your scoring process.
- What happened to the lost leads – why were they lost? Were they given to sales at the wrong time? Where they not the right people – not the decision maker? Is their market segment not a good fit for your business?
The Simple Sell
If your marketing team is scoring leads properly, then the sales team will have the right customer at the right time. Although building a lead scoring process takes time and testing, good communication and collaboration between sales and marketing teams will bring home wins more often guaranteed. As mentioned above, we partner with our clients to offer full circle marketing solutions, and lead scoring is single-handedly one of the most impactful solutions we offer. Start with a free web analysis on our site, and we can talk more about what’s possible.