With all the different tasks involved in lead generation, lead scoring is another one that seems small but has a huge impact. Lead scoring allows sales, marketing, and SDR teams to prioritize and focus on leads with the highest potential for conversion to meet your sales quotas and drive business growth.
Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, a startup, or an enterprise, lead scoring helps you optimize your lead generation efforts, streamline your sales pipeline, and drive more revenue. In this blog, we’ll cover the following topics:
What Is Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring is a process used in sales and marketing that assigns value (or a “score”) to prospects and leads in the sales pipeline based on their lead qualifying criteria, interest in your product or service, and engagement with your sales and marketing materials. Lead scoring helps sales and marketing teams easily identify which leads in the sales funnel are most likely to convert into customers.
Lead scoring models look different for every business because they depend on a company’s target market and ideal customer profile (ICP). Lead scoring consists of analyzing a wide range of prospect data, like their demographic information, amount of engagement with sales and marketing materials, and interactions with sales development representatives (SDRs). A prospect’s demographic data includes lead qualifying criteria, like their:
- Geographic location
- Industry served
- Number of full-time employees
- Annual revenue generated
- Decision-maker job title
- And more
If a prospect meets all of your business’s lead qualifying criteria, they’re considered a sales qualified lead (SQL). If they don’t, they’re removed from the sales pipeline since there’s no opportunity to close business.
While lead qualifying criteria are important for scoring leads, so is the level of interest prospects show in your sales and marketing materials and the quality of interactions they have with your SDRs. The more often a lead engages with your marketing materials or has a great conversation with one of your SDRs, the higher they rank on the lead scoring scale. This is easy to track with a customer relationship management (CRM) platform or lead management system.
For more insight into the differences between using a CRM and lead management system, read our blog here.
Why Is Lead Scoring Important?
Some leads in the sales pipeline are more ready to buy than others, which is why lead scoring is such a crucial part of the sales development process. Having a lead scoring process:
- Allows you to prioritize the most qualified leads: Lead scoring allows SDRs to spend more time building relationships with leads who are toward the end of their buying cycle, securing more sales meetings and boosting conversion rates.
- Saves valuable SDR time: SDRs have a lot on their plate. With a lead scoring process in place, they can spend more time setting sales teams up with high-quality meetings and less time chasing leads that aren’t ready to convert.
- Improves relationships between marketing and sales teams: Lead scoring supports the relationship between marketing and sales teams because it ensures that the marketing department is only providing them with ready-to-buy, qualified leads.
- Shortens a prospect’s time in the sales cycle: When SDRs prioritize hot leads, they reduce the amount of time they spend in the sales cycle. This is because SDRs are providing prospects with the products or services they’re looking for, providing them with an immediate solution.
Steps to Creating a Lead Scoring Model
Now that you have a firm grasp of what lead scoring is and why it’s important, how do you go about building a lead scoring model?
Here are the steps it takes to create a lead scoring model that gets results:
Step 1: Determine Who Your Ideal Customers Are
We know you’ve probably already defined your target market, but now it’s time to determine who your ideal customers are. Building your ideal customer profile is essential for getting the impact you want from your lead generation efforts.
First thing’s first, identify your lead qualifiers. You can do this by taking a look at their demographic data and seeing where most of your opportunities lay. This involves taking a look at your current book of business and identifying commonalities between your best customers: what industry do they serve? Who are the most common decision-makers you work with in these industries? How many full-time employees do they have? How much revenue do they generate on a monthly or yearly basis? Taking a look at all this demographic information can help you narrow down your ICP so SDRs know what to look for when qualifying leads.
In addition to looking at your current clientele, you must also get insight from your sales team. What are they seeing regarding the current state of your market? What do potential sales opportunities seem to be most interested in? What kind of sales meetings are more likely to convert into customers? Gaining insight from the sales department empowers SDR and marketing teams to craft and distribute content that prospects are most likely to engage with, boosting their lead score and their possibility of agreeing to a sales meeting.
Step 2: Map Out Your Customer Journey
Mapping out your customer journey is an important step in the lead scoring model because it enables SDRs to understand what the most likely route is for them to move through the sales funnel and agree to a sales appointment with one of your account executives.
You can map out a customer’s journey by examining data from previous lead generation efforts and exploring commonalities between your most successful business partnerships. Do you see more qualified leads coming in from different sources than others? Are they finding you through organic search or direct outreach efforts? Are they submitting their contact information after reading specific blog posts? Are they converting from leads to sales opportunities through your outbound lead nurturing campaigns?
Once you have a thorough understanding of a prospect’s customer journey, your SDR and marketing teams can use this information to create a more effective approach to lead generation and reduce the amount of time they spend in the sales cycle.
Step 3: Make a List of Sales Qualifying Criteria
And last but not least, you must make a list of sales qualifying criteria that you want prospects to align with. This includes determining your ideal demographic information, behavioral (or activity) data, and negative lead scoring criteria (which we’ll jump into in the next section). Once you have this qualifying criteria organized and streamlined between sales and marketing departments, you must assign points (usually on a scale from 1 to 5) to each of these components based on their level of importance to you and your business growth efforts. The more important a lead scoring aspect is to you, the higher the lead score should be, so they’re identified as more of a priority in the sales pipeline.
Lead Scoring Best Practices
While lead scoring is an important component of your lead generation process, there are right and wrong ways to approach it. Here are some lead scoring best practices that your SDR and marketing teams should follow:
Practice Negative Lead Scoring
Negative lead scoring is a lead scoring method that immediately weeds out prospects that do not fit your qualifications (or you don’t fit theirs). As your SDRs and marketing specialists score leads in the pipeline, it’s important that they check to see if they are:
- Spam leads: Spam leads often come in through inbound digital marketing efforts. They’re frequently trying to get you to buy something from them rather than interested in purchasing from your business. Therefore, marketing teams should disregard their inquiry and not pass the information along to the sales team.
- Job applicants: It’s always an honor when someone is interested in working for your company; however, this isn’t directly the intent when it comes to lead generation. If someone enters your inbound sales funnel because they’re interested in working for your business, it’s important to direct them to the best point of contact and remove them from the pipeline so your SDRs can prioritize connecting with buying-ready decision-makers.
- Unsubscribed from additional sales materials: If a prospect takes themselves off your sales email or newsletter campaign list, they should be scored negatively because they no longer (or never) have an interest in receiving sales and marketing materials from your business. While they may not need to be removed from the sales pipeline as a whole, they should be scored negatively so they’re less prioritized.
- Direct competitors: Imagine a commercial HVAC company pitching another commercial HVAC company … odds are they aren’t going to buy, right? When building prospecting lists, sometimes direct competitors make their way in the mix. When this occurs, SDRs must remove them from the sales pipeline so they can focus on pitching prospects that actually have a need for your product or service expertise.
Routinely Optimize and Adjust Your Lead Scoring Process
Lead scoring processes should consistently be adjusted and optimized for greater sales and marketing productivity. Before making updates to your lead scoring process, it’s essential that sales, marketing, and sales development teams collaborate to learn what each department is seeing success with, and where there may be room for improvement.
Alert Your Sales and SDR Teams of Your Hottest Leads
Marketing teams should consistently be working to set sales teams up with the best leads. High-intent signals to buy like multiple pageviews in an hour, multiple case study downloads, contact page visits, demo requests, etc. should trigger sales to contact the lead. The sooner the sales and SDR teams know about a hot lead, the quicker they’re able to get in contact and close a sale.
Put Your Hottest Leads Into Conversion-Focused Campaigns
While you don’t want to be too salesy with your sales and marketing materials, you also don’t want to be too hands off. If you see a qualified prospect in your sales pipeline that’s consistently engaging with your content, they should be implemented into more conversion-focused campaigns where they receive more case studies rather than educational and informational content. This allows them to seriously consider your product or service offerings and envision themselves as your customer.
Lead scoring plays a significant role in lead generation. Without a lead scoring process in place, you risk wasting a significant amount of time chasing leads that aren’t ready to take the next steps in the buying cycle. Lead scoring empowers SDR and marketing teams to prioritize leads who are qualified and ready to make a purchase, reducing the amount of time they spend in the sales cycle.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, our SDR and marketing teams are specialized to effectively score leads in our clients’ sales pipelines, prioritizing those who are ready to take the next step in the buyer’s journey. With the help of our CRM software, we’re able to track leads and their engagements with your SDR and sales and marketing materials. The more often they interact with your business, the more likely you are to build strong relationships, converting them from leads into customers.
If you need help prioritizing more buying-ready leads but don’t have the bandwidth to take it on internally, contact the lead generation experts at Abstrakt!
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