One of the key goals of your marketing plan — particularly for B2B companies — is to get a steady stream of new leads into your sales funnel. But getting leads for sales is only part of the process; you must be able to determine which ones have great potential to move through the funnel and which are just beginning their search.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use lead scoring to identify which leads are ready to buy, and which ones need more nurturing. What you’ll learn includes:
- How lead scoring works
- Why it’s effective in improving the sales process
- How to create your own lead scoring model
- What criteria you should include
- How your sales and marketing teams will benefit from it
This might sound like a lot to take on but, as you’ll soon learn, lead scoring has many benefits, including helping to streamline your sales process.
Understanding Lead Scoring
One of the most effective tools to help classify and categorize your leads is a process called lead scoring. This means that you assign a value, or “score,” to specific actions made by potential customers; this helps you determine how likely someone is to buy. Lead scoring for a B2B company could mean using people’s actions such as visiting certain pages on your website, downloading documents such as an e-book or case study or filling out and submitting forms as ways to gauge their interest and buying potential.
Leads also can be scored based on things such as their job title, the industry that they’re in or the size of their company. Basically, if there’s an attribute or action that can be linked to the sales process, you can benefit from attaching a score to it.
When you score your leads properly, your sales team can better prioritize the leads and respond to them in an appropriate way — which increases the odds of converting potential customers’ actions into a sale.
It also takes the subjectivity out of the process; instead of acting on what your team “hopes” will happen, lead scoring gives them a mathematical, proven equation for qualifying leads that shows which prospects have the best chance of converting.
Better yet, it helps signal when it’s time to reach out and ask for the sale and when it’s necessary to nurture the process — or walk away from it. It’s so reliable that companies that use lead scoring show an incredible 77% increase in lead generation ROI.
Whether you are looking to jumpstart your company’s sales or you’re already doing well and want to become even more successful, lead scoring can help. You’ll end up spending more time with qualified leads and stop wasting time on unqualified, dead-end leads. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use lead scoring to improve the conversion rate for your sales.
Creating a Lead-Scoring Model
When it comes to creating a model, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every company has slightly different criteria, and the way numbers are assigned can be different too. Many companies assign scores or numbers from 1 to 100, but you can also use a range of 1 to 50 or even just 1 to 3.
The numbers you choose are less important than ensuring they work for your business. The idea is to simplify the process, not complicate things. Remember, the simpler you make it, the more likely you and your team are to use it.
That’s particularly important if you have a small business and you’re thinking maybe you’re too small to need such a system; creating a simple lead-scoring process gives you a good sense of your prospects and what they are engaging with on your site. You’ll see what’s drawing prospects in and what appears to be resonating.
One of the challenges facing companies that operate online is knowing when to have a salesperson reach out. Wait too long and you can miss the opportunity; move in too soon and you might scare them off. Lead scoring takes the guesswork out of when to reach out and what offer should be most appealing.
Selecting Your Lead-Scoring Criteria
There are different types of criteria that can be used for lead scoring, but the two most common types are behavioral and demographic. You may end up using either one, or you might find use a combination of these two categories as you create a lead-scoring program. Demographic information includes such details as:
- The prospect’s location
- Prospect’s age
- The size of the company
- Industry of the company
- The prospect’s department within that industry
- Job title or seniority
This can be helpful if, say, you are selling goods or services to a certain geographical area, as you can make sure that points are subtracted for anyone outside of it. This saves your sales team time by preventing them from chasing down leads that ultimately will not qualify.
The job title or department can make a difference too; make sure that you’re dealing with individuals who are in a position to make a decision, not those who are just searching for additional information.
As we briefly touched on above, behavioral information is based on the kind of actions people take on your site. We’ll use our own lead-scoring process as an example.
At m3, criteria used for lead scoring include submitting a free assessment or consultation form (80 points), opening five or more marketing emails (25 points), subscribing to our newsletter (15 points), visiting our site more than twice in a 30-day period (10 points), and more. (There are also ways to lose points, such as not visiting the website or unsubscribing.)
When these numbers are calculated, it generates a lead score that will help determine the next steps. The lead becomes a marketing qualified lead, or MQL, when the score is 50 points or greater. That means it has been vetted by the marketing department and, if nurtured correctly, might be on its way to becoming a customer.
When the lead score reaches 80 or more, it is considered a sales qualified lead, or SQL, which is ready for direct follow-up with a member of the sales team.
How Your Sales and Marketing Teams Benefit
Lead scoring turns your sales and marketing teams’ actions into simple math that helps outline what steps to take next. Many companies rely on sales automation software, like Hubspot, that helps streamline the process even more.
When your lead scores are automatically calculated and recorded in your CRM, your sales and marketing teams can see, at a glance, which leads should be followed up on immediately. They’ll also know more about the prospect based on what information the person has downloaded or what emails were opened.
Because your team has access to so much “inside information,” lead scoring can help your business experience rapid growth. You’ll see an increase in productivity, as sales reps are dealing with qualified, scored leads. At the same time, it typically increases the lead conversion rate as well.
Once you have your system in place, revisit it occasionally to ensure the criteria are still relevant and that your scoring system is up to date with what your site offers. Over time, you’ll see areas that need tweaking, and you’ll be able to further streamline your sales and marketing efforts. You may want to develop additional lead-scoring criteria based on buyer personas or other factors.
If your B2B company isn’t already using lead scoring, you’re missing a great opportunity to identify and classify leads. It will improve alignment between your sales and marketing teams, save time for your sales team and create a more positive experience for prospects — which further increases the likelihood that they’ll buy.