Lead Scoring Best Practices: Everything You Need to Know
“Ugh, I’ve got too many good leads,” said no salesperson in history.
But many sales teams do struggle to manage and prioritize their leads effectively. Overwhelmed with a list of prospects — all at different lifecycle stages — a sales rep can quickly end up in reaction mode, and that is not a recipe for success. Lead scoring best practices can improve the efficiency of both sales and marketing teams and, ultimately, improve cooperation and conversions.
What is Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring is a vital tool that allows your organization to prioritize potential customers based on the likelihood they’ll make a purchase. (It’s also essential to avoiding a “blame game” between sales and marketing when deals are slow.)
Scoring is based on two factors:
What is lead scoring NOT? It’s not an indication of how a prospect feels about your brand. Someone can love your company and not be ready to work with you, or be indifferent to your specific business but really need your solution. Lead scoring is not there to stroke your ego — like how many people liked your last social post. It’s about determining readiness to buy.
The Benefits of Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is a pretty old-school practice. Does it really matter to your team? You’ve got a lot more data at your fingertips than marketing or sales teams ever had.
The short answer is yes, it does matter. All that information has only increased the benefits of lead scoring. Look at it this way: you only have so many hours in a day. With metrics on web traffic, social interactions, email opens, and ad click-through rates, you have way more potential customers on your plate than you could ever follow up with. But one of those prospects is probably your next big deal in the making.
Lead scoring helps you prioritize all those contacts as they progress along their individual buyer journeys so you know where to focus. Implementing lead scoring best practices can help your teams:
Still think you don’t need lead scoring? If your organization has infinite resources to follow up with every single person who visits your site, downloads your content, follows you on Facebook, or picks up your card at a trade show, you win. You don’t specifically need lead scoring.
Lead scoring can still help you improve your prospects’ overall experiences, enhancing their satisfaction with your brand and setting them up to be advocates on your behalf.
Should Your Team Be Scoring Leads?
Timing is essential when it comes to lead scoring. If your organization struggles to acquire enough leads, you might want to hold off on lead scoring for now. Focus on lead generation activities and make sure your buyer personas are current.
But don’t wait too long to start implementing lead scoring best practices. If any of these issues sound familiar, the time to start scoring leads is now.
If your sales team is overwhelmed with leads once you’ve implemented a lead scoring system, it just means you need to adjust so lower-scoring prospects stay in nurture funnels longer while sales teams focus on those with the most potential.
How to Implement a Lead Scoring System
Define leads’ readiness for sales contact on a scale of 0 to 100. Sales and marketing teams often have different names for these levels, so make sure you’re aligned on where a lead transitions to the next stage.
For immediate follow-up
Determining Fit and Interest
A lead’s sales readiness is based on two key factors:
These are the top criteria for defining a sales-ready lead:
Track your leads’ activity — both digital and analog — to understand their intent. Pay attention to:
You’ve agreed on what your lead scores mean — but what about how they’re assigned? You won’t reap the benefits of lead scoring if sales and marketing can’t agree on what criteria identifies a good lead. (Experienced frontline sales reps generally have a clear picture of what makes a lead cold, warm, or hot. Don’t ignore their expertise.)
Prioritize implicit and explicit criteria and group them by importance:
Image source: HubSpot
Now it’s time for some math. Does the sum of a typical lead’s points produce the expected score? (Don’t worry if it doesn’t — this is an iterative process, and it’s unlikely you’ll nail it on the first attempt.)
If you have a marketing automation tool with built-in lead scoring, you can simply implement the methodology you’ve developed, and the tech will handle the rest. If you don’t, open a spreadsheet and start listing attributes and assigning them positive or negative scores.
Post-Lead Scoring Best Practices
With your lead scoring system in place, your work has just begun! Make sure you have a clear, effective process for handing leads from marketing to sales, so valuable potential customers don’t slip through internal cracks.
Knowing which leads are hot and which are cold is pretty useless if you don’t know what to do with them. Develop an action plan that details what sales and marketing should do at each level.
Evaluate Your System
If at first you don’t succeed… you know what comes next.
Examine SQL close rates a few months after implementing your lead scoring system. Can your sales team handle more leads? Are they getting too many? Keep adjusting until you find the right balance.
If you find several prospects have gone through your process and deals have fallen through, gone stagnant, or been disqualified, re-examine your lead scoring criteria to see what went wrong. You may need to weight some factors more heavily — or additional metrics may be needed.
Ready to Reap the Benefits of Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring only becomes more valuable as the channels where you engage with leads (and the data you have on them) increases. It can drive revenue, help lower costs, and improve the all-important customer experience.
Hopefully, you now realize it’s not as complex as you previously thought, but if you’re still daunted, we’re here to help.
At TPM, we have decades of experience helping B2B tech companies of all sizes generate, score, and nurture leads. Let our team kickstart your marketing efforts. Contact us today to discuss what we can do for you.