Lead scoring is a tool more and more companies are considering. But what exactly is lead scoring, how does it help you close more new customers and how do B2B companies use lead scoring when the buyer journey is more complex than ever?
These are excellent questions.
Let’s start by digging into lead scoring and really understanding exactly what it is, how to use it and how to make sure it delivers on its promise to help sales reps spend their limited time with their best prospects.
Lead scoring is a process by which prospects are assigned a numeric score, typically from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best and 1 being the worst. The score should be reflective of how likely this specific prospect is to become a new customer.
What goes into calculating a lead score is a bit more challenging simply because almost any piece of data on the prospect can be used to calculate the score. Typically, numbers are applied to various demographic, behavioral or intent-based data to come up with the lead score.
You can create a simple or complex lead-scoring model. Our advice to companies using lead scoring for the first time is usually to start with a simple calculation and over time, as you get more information and see the model in action, you can add additional elements to make it more accurate.
For example, the goal of lead scoring is to give your sales reps better insight into which prospects are the best leads, so they spend more time with the best leads and less time with the leads not as likely to close.
This means your lead-scoring model should assign high value to those characteristics represented by your best customers.
Here’s how we typically go about setting up a lead-scoring model for a B2B company. First, let’s look at the available demographic information. This might include the size of the business, the industry and the role of the person you’re talking to.
Generally, the bigger the business, the better the opportunity, so the higher the score. The more aligned the prospect’s industry is with those industries you see success with, the higher the score. The higher the title and the more aligned the title, the higher the score.
Let me show you two prospects and two lead scores.
Prospect 1 is a $10 million company in the manufacturing space, and the title of the person reaching out is Director of Finance.
Prospect 2 is a $100 million company in the professional services space, and the person reaching out is the CEO.
This company’s lead scoring model looks like this – 33 is the most points you can earn for each of the three categories (size, vertical and role).
Prospect 1 scores 10 out of 33 for size, 33 out of 33 for vertical because manufacturing is this company’s top targeted vertical and 20 out of 33 for the person being director level. The total lead score is 63, which is good but not great.
Prospect 2 scores 33 out of 33 for size, 23 out of 33 for vertical and 33 out of 33 for the role. Their total lead score is 89, which is great.
This is a basic demographic model, but there are more complex ways to do lead scoring.
For example, you could give points to people based on the time they’ve spent on your website. The more pages they visit or the more times they return, the more points they earn.
Sometimes, the pages they visit can also mean they are a better prospect. Prospects who visit your pricing page might be further along in their buyer journey and might warrant a higher score.
Depending on what they download or sign up for could also impact their score. Prospects who subscribe to your blog, attend a webinar or download the e-book from your homepage could score higher than those who don’t
The elements of your lead-scoring model are endless.
The most important information to consider is knowing what behaviors and what information typically leads to prospects turning into sales opportunities and then eventually new customers. Once you uncover those patterns, use that data to build your lead-scoring model.
Now that you have the scores, what are reps supposed to do with that data?
From our example above, the sales rep handling both of these opportunities knows that Prospect 2 should get more of her attention. There might even be different types of content or special offers that can be applied to prospects that score this high.
I want to be clear; sales reps shouldn’t ignore prospects with lower lead scores, but they should be aware of the time and attention they are providing to people who are less likely to close.
I think it’s a better approach to create slightly different lanes in your sales process where high-scoring leads get more personal attention and lower-scoring leads might get more automated attention.
Higher-scoring leads might have additional resources allocated to the sales process, like an engineer or executive, and lower-scoring leads might simply be handled entirely by the sales reps.
The lead score can also be used to ensure all your sales reps are getting an equal amount of highly qualified leads and less qualified leads.
Historically, quality has been left to the judgment of the rep, and that’s not always impartial. All reps think they’re not getting enough high-quality leads, and being able to show them a score and equitable distribution of high-scoring leads across the entire team squashes this age-old issue.
Now that you’re going to go all in on lead scoring, you should consider how you measure the effectiveness of using lead-scoring models.
The first measure should be a close rate. You should see your close rate go up if you’re spending more time and more quality time with better, more qualified prospects.
The next measure that should also improve is the sales cycle. This should actually decrease. It should be easier and faster to close higher qualified prospects.
Another measure is overall lead quality. This means getting an aggregate lead score for all leads in your pipeline. This shows you if your marketing is generating high-quality leads or not. If you average all your lead scores and it’s 75 out of 100, you should work to improve that month over month.
You do that by dialing in your marketing message, refining your campaign targeting, improving the offers you are providing and generally aligning all your marketing directly to the higher-scoring lead models.
You can then dial in lead score by the campaign, by vertical, by role and even by specific prospect pain or challenge and see how well you’re doing in each of these narrow lanes. This intelligence will help inform future campaigns and might also give you data on how to adjust your lead-scoring model.
Overall, you’ll have an ongoing lead-scoring program that you’ll be optimizing over time. This is the secret to dialing in your lead generation efforts so that they produce the best leads.
This might be a question you’re asking now. Generally, if you have a long sales cycle, have complex sales process, sell products or services for larger dollars and have a decent-sized sales team, using lead scoring is probably going to add significant value to your efforts.
Here are some other signals that lead scoring should be in your future:
There is one other aspect that you should be aware of before starting a lead-scoring project, and that has to do with your CRM. You’ll need a CRM that does the lead scoring for you as part of its feature set.
Most CRM tools should have a lead-scoring feature as part of their pro or enterprise-level products. It’s possible that baseline CRM systems might not support lead scoring. If that’s the case and you’ve decided you need lead scoring, I’d go ahead and upgrade to the next level. You’ll likely benefit from additional features when you upgrade.
The CRM should allow you to build your scoring model right in the tool using data available in the CRM, and you should be able to present the score and set activities based on the score.
This means you’re building the score into your sales process and using the score to dictate certain tasks, templates or next steps for your sales reps to follow based on the prospect score.
I’d consider at least some light training and perhaps some role-play exercises with the reps so that they understand how the score is calculated as well as how the score influences the sales process and any directed activities based on the score.
This approach should set you up for success when you introduce lead scoring to your team.
This is one of the least-asked questions and one of the most important. The answer is generally someone very comfortable with your tech stack. If you’re on HubSpot, they should be a HubSpot expert. If you’re on Salesforce, they should be a Salesforce expert.
They should be very comfortable with the data available in your CRM. It’s this data that contributes to the lead score calculation. This means the data has to be available in your technology platform.
For example, you might want to use visits to your pricing page in your score calculation, but if that data isn’t available in your CRM, you won’t be able to use it in your calculation.
The last consideration is about making ongoing adjustments, upgrades, updates and optimizations to the lead-scoring model over time.
As feedback starts coming in from sales and marketing around the accuracy of the score, you’ll need someone who can go in and make changes to the score based on that feedback.
You’ll also need someone to report on the overall performance of the score based on the data we talked about above. This might include a dashboard that highlights the sales cycle length, the close rate, the overall lead quality score and any other data associated with lead scoring.
Over the past few years, this has become a more formal role in some companies. Revenue operations is the name for a role that provides support as we’re discussing. Some companies are hiring revenue operations people in-house, and others are outsourcing revenue operations support to agencies like ours.
In some cases, revenue operations can support all or most of your technology requirements, with lead scoring being just one of the tasks associated with this work.
Lead scoring is quickly becoming something that most companies should be using, especially as their prospects’ buyer journeys have become more complex and elongated. If you’re looking for efficiency inside the sales team and thinking that focusing sales reps on your best prospects is going to help them improve their performance, lead scoring should be on your list of things to do in early 2023.