In order to sort, filter and rank qualified leads, many companies turn to lead scoring, a system used to differentiate between leads that are uninterested, lukewarm or ready-to-purchase. On a basic level, lead scoring assigns a negative or positive point value to certain actions that consumers take, which allows the marketing and sales teams to easily rank prospects on sales-readiness. Typically, consumers with a higher number of points are viewed as more likely to convert compared to consumers with a lower score.
In a previous post, we covered the difference between marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads. We also noted that not every customer will evolve into a marketing qualified lead; and likewise, not every marketing qualified lead will become a sales qualified lead. To ease this process and increase alignment between the marketing and sales teams, we want to explore the process of lead scoring in more depth.
Like many things in marketing, advertising and sales, there is no perfect formula to guarantee conversions since every business is unique and aims to achieve slightly different goals. However, we’ll explore some best practices for implementing lead scoring, with the goal of increasing efficiency when moving customers from marketing to sales and driving revenue.
The Benefits of Lead Scoring
Lead scoring offers the ability to create harmony between your marketing and sales teams. In developing a lead scoring point system, the two teams will naturally come together to define consumer behaviors and understand what to look for when evaluating leads. Through this, they’ll clearly outline what defines a “qualified lead,” ensuring that both teams work toward the same goal moving forward.
Beyond alignment between marketing and sales, lead scoring offers companies the benefit of higher-quality conversions because the focus is placed on lead quality from the very beginning. As a caveat, it’s important to understand that lead scoring doesn’t increase the number of leads overall — think quality over quantity.
As a result of focusing on lead quality, many companies also experience improved sales efficiency with this system in place, subsequently increasing their revenue. This traces back to the sales team’s ability to invest time and resources into the consumers with the highest potential for conversion. In a nutshell, lead scoring can be an extremely effective method for driving conversions as it allows brands to understand their consumers’ level of commitment.
Now that you understand the benefits of lead scoring, let’s move into the basics of how to implement it in your business.
Step 1: Define your Audience
Gaining a deep understanding of your consumers is the first step in developing your lead scoring system. We recommend starting broad and then zeroing in on your “ideal consumer” based on certain characteristics, helping you to identify the more niche details about the consumers you want to reach.
When considering your target audience, you’ll want to be able to define their background to a certain degree, including their age, location and household income – to the extent to which it’s feasible to collect such information. You will also need a sense of what they want, their interests and their reason for potentially choosing your product/service over a competitor. Once you’ve defined your audience, look at the specific characteristics of your ideal customer, such as previous purchase behavior and any other characteristics pertinent to your product or service. This is when you’ll be glad you started broad.
Step 2: Developing Your Point Values
Now that your audience has been defined, it’s time to begin developing the point values that your marketing and sales teams will use to determine the sales-readiness of a lead. This is the hallmark of lead scoring. Off the bat, it’s important that all your criteria are trackable on the back end, allowing you to easily tabulate consumer scores without the need for human opinion, which can vary from person to person. Most companies rank prospects on a scale from 0-100.
By using your previous research on your ideal customer and combining it with data about your current consumer base (if available), you can indentify the criteria to categorize a lead as “qualified.” Actions that may receive positive points could include downloading a white paper or other branded content, watching a demo, contacting a sales representative, visiting a landing page, stopping by a trade-show booth, viewing your product’s pricing page, attending a webinar, opening an email, submitting info on a contact form and other activities of this nature. Depending on your company, the above actions will “earn” your leads varying amounts of points.
On the other hand, there are also activities that may trigger a point deduction. These could range from unsubscribing from a mailing list or newsletter, working in a different industry, providing a fake email address, visiting the careers page, and other activities that signal disinterest in purchasing a product or service. Similar to point additions, the value of each “negative” action depends on what you identify as detrimental to your sales efforts. It’s important to note that point deductions are equally important as point additions, since both help you narrow down your pool of leads to include only those who are most qualified.
This would be the perfect time for your sales team to weigh in on patterns they’ve identified while working with consumers. You may also want to check with consumers for feedback on their purchasing experience to ensure that your scoring system is as accurate and useful as possible. Lastly, you’ll want to determine a points threshold that consumers need to reach to become a marketing qualified lead and later a sales qualified lead — again, these numbers will look different for all companies.
Additionally, streamlining how you tally and process points will also be crucial to success, since consumer scores can fluctuate throughout their purchase journey. While it’s possible to host all this information in an Excel sheet, we recommend leveraging a marketing platform for a more automated experience.
While we’ve only scratched the surface on lead scoring, these need-to-knows should give you a good starting point if you’re just delving in. We know that identifying qualified leads can be challenging, but we hope that this post allows you to better organize and sort your prospects on their sales-readiness to increase efficiency, bring together your marketing and sales teams, and ultimately drive more sales.