In today's economy, businesses are quickly realizing that they must do a lot more with significantly less. A strong Lead Management program has never been more critical in marking your number. So how do we grow the top of the funnel while only selecting the leads with the highest chance for conversion? Lead scoring can help.

What is your sales and marketing organization doing to not only maximize your leads but also put your team in a position to making your number? In my last blog post, The Market Is Uncertain, But Your Demand Gen Strategy Shouldn’t Be, I discussed what changes agile businesses need to consider to optimize demand generation activities in uncertain times. Here we take demand generation to the next level with the implementation of Lead Scoring.

 

What Is Lead Scoring?

 

Lead scoring is a process of assigning values to prospects based upon their attributes and behaviors with your company, website, email campaigns, social media pages, etc.  These interactions are tracked through the marriage of your marketing automation and CRM tools. The goal of Lead Scoring is to ensure that your sales team is provided with only high-quality, sales-ready leads so they can improve their overall productivity and conversion rate.  We call these leads Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) because marketing sets a threshold for which these leads must meet before they are handed off to the sales team.  If these leads do not reach the threshold set by marketing, they’re either disqualified or nurtured based on target customer profile fit.

 

According to Hubspot, typically, less than 10% of your leads will convert into customers.  If every lead is handed off to sales, that would be incredibly taxing on your sales team and marketing budget.   This is why lead scoring is so important.

 

Ensure You Have Technology Alignment

 

Many companies spend countless dollars implementing robust Marketing Automation and CRM tools but fail to take advantage of their features.   Work with your IT organization to make sure your Marketing Automation tools are speaking with your CRM suite.   Without this connection, lead scoring is a tedious manual process.   Information needs to be shared in real-time and flow back and forth seamlessly.   Most top tier CRM tools have lead scoring capabilities built-in; you just need to input the scoring criteria and manage the data.

 

Establishing Lead Scoring Criteria

 

Once you have the tools in place, you will need to look at your buyer’s journey and understand all of the interaction points between your prospects and your organization.  Based on your current customers, you will need to understand what interaction points were most common in prospects that converted into paying customers.  These interaction points will require higher assigned lead scoring values that will ultimately help the prospect meet the threshold for a sales-ready MQL.   When establishing the lead scoring criteria, don’t forget to assign negative values for adverse interactions such as unsubscribes or unfollows.  The vast majority of leads are actually poor-quality leads. The quicker you disqualify these leads, the more productive your sales force will be, and a higher conversion rate will follow.

 

Here is a sample lead scorecard.   For this example, let’s assume the threshold for an MQL is 40 points:

 

 

Download the Lead Criteria Scorecard Here

 

Understand Prospect Behaviors

 

One of the most foundational elements of lead scoring is awarding points based on specific behaviors and engagement.  To maximize the value of lead scoring, look at your converted customers, and understand what behaviors they exhibited and how they have historically engaged with you during their buying process. You will want to assign higher point values to those specific behaviors that led to sales.   A great example of this would be a prospect who visits your pricing page or requests a product demo.   Also, consider behaviors such as email forwards, direct contact requests, whitepaper downloads, free trial activations, and social media follows.

 

Know Your Audience

 

The real secret to successful lead scoring is segmenting your output.  Many marketers use a blanket message and will score leads based upon website visits and engagement.  This will leave your sales force spread too thin, and your conversion rate too low.  A strong messaging architecture combined with demographic-based inputs will help identify with your target audience.   Depending on your business objectives, you do not need to score demographics but can simply use them as sorting criteria for your MQLs.  When looking at demographics, consider segmenting by company name, annual revenue, company size, role, department, product, location, etc.

 

 

Involve the Sales Team

 

It’s a great idea to involve your sales team in establishing thresholds for what leads are likely to convert.   According to MarketingSherpa, almost two-thirds of B2B marketers send every lead over to sales; however, only 27% of those leads are qualified.   This results in countless cycles against low converting leads that should have been disqualified through the lead scoring process.   If your sales team has limited resources, they will likely spend their time sorting through leads rather than converting prospects into customers.  Instead, work with the sales team to map the buyer’s journey and establish thresholds for both the sales lead hand-off and when to disqualify leads.

 

Conclusion

 

It can often feel that lead scoring is more of an art than a science, but the fact that you are implementing lead scoring puts you ahead of 61% of all marketers using CRM platforms.  The key to ongoing success is to continually evolve your scoring criteria as your customer mix, engagement levels, and product portfolio evolves.   To do this, you will need to stay in close contact with your sales team to understand MQL conversion rates, lead quality, and sales force utilization.   Although the market feels quite uncertain, a strong demand generation program complemented by lead scoring will provide you with strong leads, improved conversation rates, and a sales force in awe of your marketing team.

 

Download the Lead Criteria Scorecard for examples of how Lead Scoring works, and scoring values to be used on each engagement point.

 

In today’s new “normal,” we have to make the most of the resources we have.   How can I help you optimize your Demand Generation Program to grow the top of the funnel and provide your sales team with more highly-qualified leads?   Contact me at erik.rexo@salesbenchmarkindex.com

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik Rexo

Helping clients develop and execute marketing strategies that grow revenue, improve market share, and create market disruption.

Erik is a highly accomplished Marketing Executive and Business Strategy Consultant with over 16 years’ of global b2b and b2c experience in top tier consultancies serving start-ups to Fortune 500 clients in Telecom, Media & Entertainment, Automotive, Chemicals, Manufacturing, Life Sciences, and High Tech industries.

 

Erik is an innovative and creative thinker that has facilitated and coached Fortune 500 companies in launching nearly 100 new products, services, and innovations into both new and existing markets.  He has designed and implemented globally recognized marketing programs aimed at developing internal marketing capabilities while positioning priority initiatives to accelerate market success. Erik maintains a proven track record of exceptional performance.  He is skilled at implementing disruptive and transformative marketing approaches, leading high-performance engagement teams and full-scale multi-national deployment teams, launching new ventures and business units, as well as solving complex business problems in highly ambiguous, challenging environments.

 

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