Advanced Topic: How to score leads more effectively

Lead Score Judges

Before developing a lead scoring process, your company must first determine if it’s ready for lead scoring.

Does My Company Need Lead Scoring?

Not all companies are ready for this formal approach and are satisfied with their existing techniques. One popular method for managing leads we have seen involves the use of home-grown spreadsheets. The challenge with this method, among many others, is that you risk leaving an interested lead on a spreadsheet for too long, which can cause it to get cold.

When companies are ready to move beyond the spreadsheet method, they make an investment in a CRM, like Salesforce. Although this is a step in the right direction because it helps to manage leads more efficiently, it fails to properly handle leads that are not ready to talk to sales reps. What ends up happening is that prospects who are still in the research phase of the buying process end up getting passed on to sales reps too early and wasting their time. This leads to…

  • Frustrated sales reps
  • Missed conversion opportunities

In order to determine if lead scoring is right for your business, consider the following questions:

  1. Is Sales getting enough leads? Lead scoring is a priority when sales is getting enough leads. Marketing should consider efforts into assisting Sales prioritize engagement and nurturing of these leads.
  2. Is Sales frustrated with the leads Marketing sends them? Sales demands new leads and marketing complies by generating leads, any leads, and passes them to Sales. When Sales calls upon the “I’m just researching” lead, the conversation can be very frustrating. Eventually, Sales begins to question the validity of the leads being provided and the finger-pointing games between the two departments begin. This usually indicates that Sales and Marketing are not aligned in how and when leads are passed between departments.
  3. Do I have enough data to even begin lead scoring? You might be surprised that most companies do. You will need to consider two types of data for lead scoring: the first type are identifier variables, which are typically captured on your online lead forms; the second type are response variables, which involve intelligence about how the lead interacts with your website and marketing activities.

If you answered yes to these questions, then your company may be ready to implement lead scoring.

How do I Implement Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring requires Marketing and Sales to first agree on the definition of a qualified lead. As mentioned previously, two components make up the process of identifying a qualified lead – “identifier “ and “response” variables.

“Identifier variables” involve demographics, geographic and psychographic information, which are typically gathered via your online forms. This data helps define whether the leads are ideal for your company.

“Response variables” involve the implicit behavioral information gathered from lead web activities, including benefits, usage, and frequency. The behavioral information also helps determine whether the lead is sufficiently engaged enough and ready to begin a conversation with sales.

With these “variables” defined, we can begin creating a Lead Score Worksheet as seen below. In this worksheet you list the variables scoring and begin to calculate when a prospect is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and when they might become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). Here is an example of what a Lead Score Worksheet may look like for a fictitious company:

How to Use the Lead Score Worksheet

Step 1 – Define and score the identifier and response variables
This is a collaborative exercise for both Marketing and Sales to work and agree on. Some variables may have a positive score (i.e., right vertical and big company), while other variables may have a negative score (i.e., small company or wrong title).

Step 2: Calculate the range for MQLs and SQLs
For illustrative purposes, create a Lead Score Results Arrow from 1 – 100. This will provide a range of values within which a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) may fall. Imagine that 0 represents a visitor that has never heard of your company and that 100 represents a new customer.

Step 3: Determine a Number that Triggers SQLs
Its important to determine a number that best represents how far along in the process you feel a prospect would be ready to talk to sales, assuming the scale the scale reference in step 1. As a rule of thumb we use the ⅔ rule since Marketing must do the heavy lifting by nurturing the prospect with the right content and offers before Sales begins the actual engagement.

This is a great opportunity for Marketing to shine in the organization and become the Marketing Hero. In our example above, using the ⅔ rule on a score of a 100, we identified 65. This number should be established and agreed to by both Marketing and Sales. This number may change over time and every company’s number may be unique.

Step 4: Integrate your Marketing and Sales Systems
If you are using a Marketing Automation system, then your next step will be to set up automatic alerts into your company’s CRM. This will ensure that sales reps are notified when MQLs become SQLs.

Step 5 – Final Recommendation
To ensure the accuracy of this exercise run through as many scenarios a prospective web visitor may take to ensure your proposed scoring system works.

Lead Scoresheet - Hidden Peak Interactive

Lead Scoresheet – Hidden Peak Interactive

The Bottom Line

Lead scoring is a process that cannot be done manually. Not only can a lead’s activity changes from day to day and a lead’s individual score will also change over time. Lead management, with marketing automation software that is integrated with the company’s CRM, will enable you to manage and update scoring criteria in real time and is an essential part of the sales process.

Finally, lead scoring allows Marketing and Sales to begin strategic collaboration on lead management. You will need to agree on not just the definition of a qualified lead, but the correct next actions when and by whom for all leads that meet these definitions. In summary, a sound lead scoring methodology forms the foundation of B2B lead generation management.

What methods are you finding helpful when scoring your leads today?

About Michael Senger

Michael Senger is an energetic, results-oriented Senior Marketing Professional with almost 15 years experience in strategic online marketing. Before joining Hidden Peak Interactive, Michael successfully led the launch of StoneMass, a web marketing agency. Michael also spent 8 years at Symantec, directing their Global Online Marketing initiatives leading a diverse global team of matrixed team leaders and digital/online agencies leading to successful global results.

Michael has a MBA in Marketing Information Technology from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

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