By Lisa Heay, Marketing Planning Manager at Heinz Marketing
Lead scoring is defined as a shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine their sales-readiness. It should be a foundational element of your sales and marketing alignment strategy, but it’s often overlooked, or deemed too complex to implement for a lot of organizations.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Getting started doesn’t have to be a big project. And the benefits of doing it are hard to deny.
Organizations who implement lead scoring often experience lower marketing costs and higher conversion rates. With scoring, you can cut out the marketing channels that drive lower quality leads.
Sales teams at organizations who use lead scoring also often have a higher confidence in Marketing. If sales is only being sent the most qualified leads—leads that both teams have agreed upon as being the best quality for the organization— they won’t waste their time chasing leads who aren’t, and they’ll start valuing the leads they get from Marketing a lot more. They can focus their time on the leads that are more likely to turn into opportunities, and increase productivity. Win-win for all.
Preparing for Successful Lead Scoring
Before you get started with Lead Scoring, you do need to have a few things in place first to set you off on the right foot:
You need to have a defined target market, ideal customer profile, and target personas. Without this, how do you know which attributes to award points to?
You need to understand from your sales team what makes a lead “sales-ready”. Without this, how do you know what attributes make up a qualified lead, which would determine the hand off to sales? What behaviors indicate someone may be in buying mode?
You also need to understand from your sales team what makes a lead automatically disqualified. With this information, you can implement score degradation, and take away points for those attributes that may indicate a lead is not a qualified prospect. Are they a student doing research? Or a consultant without any buying power? Are they located in a country that you cannot serve?
You need to understand all the ways in which leads enter your system. You need an audit of every lead source, so that you can determine the point value to associate with each one. Your demo request form may generate high quality leads, but your content syndication platform may not. Maybe your partner webinars are a great source of opportunities, but your demand generation webinars aren’t. Capture them all, and determine which sources provide the most qualified leads so you can distribute the points accordingly.
You need to do a database audit. What data do you collect on your forms? Is your data complete and up to date? Do you have an append service to fill in missing information? If you are scoring based on industry, but have no way to gather industry data for your contacts, it won’t get you anywhere.
Once you have your marketing strategy defined and the foundational elements in place, you’re ready to move forward with Lead Scoring. Here’s a few best practice and informational guides to get you started:
The Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring
This guide from Marketo is well worth your form submission, in my opinion. I’ve turned to this guide many times in making recommendations for our internal scoring, as well as for concepts and best practices to share with clients. This is a thorough guide, covering everything from lead scoring basics, advanced scoring strategies, lifecycle management, common issues, and ROI. This is a guide for anyone looking to deep dive into lead scoring, not just Marketo customers. Run, don’t walk, on over to Marketo’s site and download this one today.
10 lead scoring best practices to improve sales efficiency
This article from TechTarget is another thorough review of what lead scoring is, considerations and best practices, attribute ideas and implementation tips, and the required technologies to enable success. They even offer a suggestion many overlook—the opinion of your customers themselves. According to TechTarget, “When speaking with customers, the best information to collect — outside of their demographics data, which assists with company and persona profiles — are specifics around what drove them to make their purchase.” This one is worth the read.
7 B2B Lead Scoring Best Practices for 2021
This article from the Leadspace team reinforces some of what we’ve covered already. You need to have your ICP defined so that you know who your customers are, and you need to have a way to collect that crucial data. They also touch on some more advanced concepts, like using AI models to identify buyer personas and including intent signals in your scoring models.
The Beginner’s Guide to Lead Scoring
This blog from ZoomInfo is a thorough read, part of a larger series on Lead Generation. In this article on scoring, readers will learn what lead scoring is, why you should do it, examples, and how to determine the point threshold that makes a lead qualified for sales follow up.
Top 5 Benefits of Lead Scoring
If you need any more convincing as to why you need to implement lead scoring in your organization, check out Aptivio’s article highlighting the benefits of lead scoring, including increased productivity, sales and marketing alignment, and improved customer experience.
Lead Scoring for Beginners
This article shares an introduction to behavior and demographic scoring, how to determine your scoring values, score decay, and how to define an MQL. Check it out!
Putting it All Together
The most important thing to remember is that lead scoring is an iterative process. It’s never going to be perfect right out of the gate, and you must collaborate with your sales team to determine if the leads your scoring system is sending them are quality or not.
And when you do get it right, the market will change, your products/services may change, and the definition of your ideal customer may change. Plan to revisit your scoring strategy at least once per year.
In short, you’re doing your sales and marketing teams a disservice if you’re not prioritizing lead scoring in your organization today. Get to it and good luck!