Lead Scoring: Step-By-Step Process to Identifying Sales-Ready Leads

How good are the leads you’re assigning to your sales team?

Not all leads are created equally; and lead scoring can tell you the ones far superior to others.

If your leads are poor quality, not able to buy or simply not ready yet, your salesforce will waste a lot of time chasing people and accounts who just aren’t going to buy.

Pursuing unqualified leads is a huge time waster for your sales team and has an impact on your overall sales and revenues, too.

How can you tell which leads are good, which are lukewarm and which need a lot more nurturing?

Scoring and ranking your leads can help.

Coming up with a set of criteria and guidelines to assign a score to each lead can help you identify which leads to pursue, which to continue to nurture and which may not be ready at all.

Scoring is an essential part of a marketing automation program and one that most businesses need.

Your marketing and sales efforts will be more in alignment once you begin scoring your leads using a standardized system and you’ll be setting your sales team up for success.

Guesswork, hunches and hopes just aren’t enough when it comes to qualifying leads.

Creating a lead scoring model can help you swiftly sort and identify leads so your team knows what to do first.

Your sales team will stop wasting time pursuing unproductive leads and will be able to focus on closing deals with customers who are truly ready to buy.

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What is Lead Scoring? Do I Need It?

email marketing engagement scoring by delivra

When you score your leads, you use a standardized system to fully evaluate each piece of information and determine which leads are hot – and which leads are not.

A lead score allows your marketing and sales teams to direct their efforts and energy towards the opportunities that are most likely to generate revenue.

Each member of your sales team only has so many hours a week to pursue leads and close deals.

By pointing them to the leads with the most potential you set your sales team up for success and ensure your business has a steady stream of revenue.

Do I Need Lead Scoring?

Every business is different.

According to the 2017 Email Marketing Census, only 29 percent of marketers are taking advantage of scoring.

Additionally, 25 percent said they were planning to implement lead scoring, and nearly half said they don’t utilize any sort of ranking model.

lead scoring 2017 email marketing census

Look at the following questions can help you determine if a lead scoring model would help your team run more efficiently and productively:

Is my sales team getting enough leads?

If your team is getting leads but you’d like to up your closing percentage, then scoring could help. If your team is struggling for leads, you may need to up your generation game first.

Does my sales team follow through with the leads they receive?

Does every lead get followed up on and do you have a clear procedure in place?

If your team is too small to follow up or they are neglecting some leads, then scoring could help them decide what to focus on first. If your team is simply not following through, additional training may be required to help them succeed.

Do I have enough data to begin to score leads?

You’ll need to gather information to truly score your leads. Look at the data you have and determine if it reveals if the prospect is able to buy (meaning they have funds and authority to spend), their key demographic information and where they are in your funnel. If you are not collecting enough data, you may need to modify the lead generation and data collection process to begin to gather more information.

Scoring, Lead Nurturing, and Determines Sales-Ready Leads

Figuring out when a lead is sales-ready is like watching relay runners exchanging the baton between legs of a race.

The handoff only occurs when the next team member is truly ready.

Lead scoring can help businesses make that same kind of exchange between marketing and sales.

There are four basic dimensions to scoring:

Lead Fit

You already have useful data to determine what demographics or buyer personas are most likely to buy.

Use this information to hone in on leads that are truly good fits.

BANT, or Budget, Authority, Need and Time are all good qualifying metrics to consider.

Assign a point value to each of these key metrics to properly rank your prospects.

Lead Interest

How engaged is this lead?

Are they opening your emails, clicking through and engaging?

Are they attending webinars, downloading materials and resources and visiting often?

These actions show that the lead is actively interested in and engaging with your brand and can help determine how ready they are to buy.

Lead Behavior

Is a particular prospect engaging in active buying behaviors, like requesting calls or demos or are they in the early, more latent stages (reading your blog, following your social media channels)?

Buying Stage

Defining the buying stage can help score your leads.

Most prospects fall somewhere in your sales funnel:

  • Early stage: This prospect is aware of your brand, reads your blog or downloads free resources
  • Mid stage: This prospect is downloading resources that may require opt-in, using buyer’s guides and ROI calculators to gather information.
  • Late stage: This prospect is practically begging for your sales team to call, requesting demos and asking for price quotes.

Once you have these determining factors in place, you can start to build out your scoring and ranking model.

Creating the Perfect Lead Scoring Model

delivra engagement scoring

You’ll need to determine a numeric value for each point below; some should be weighted more heavily than others.

The actual values assigned are up to you – but the higher the overall score, the better the lead, whether you use a 1-100 value or simply assign a set number of points to each factor.

Set a Minimum Data Threshold

What information is needed?

Usually, the email address, job title and role, company type or size and other data is needed to effectively score a lead.

Assign points to each factor, from company size to the ability to purchase.

Determine Your Target Market

What do your top customers have in common?

Commonalities can help you determine what factors matter most when you score leads.

Determine Your Ideal Lead

What does your perfect lead look like?

How much do they have to spend, what questions do they ask and what do they need from you?

Determine Lead Behaviors

For your business, what behaviors reveal a lead’s level of interest?

Email opens, web page visits, free resource downloads and more fall into this category.

Assign points to each action so you can rank leads accordingly.

Critical Behaviors

Based on past performance, which behaviors are most indicative of a pending sale?

The request of a demo or for pricing is likely the sign of a hotter lead than a simple email open.

Assign higher points to more critical action.

Test Your Model

Compare your lead scoring model to your existing customers and to leads that went nowhere.

If you are on the right track, your existing customers will score well – and those fizzled leads will not.

Common Lead Scoring Mistakes

Using a scoring model can drastically improve efficiency and results, but only if the model is effective.

These common scoring model errors could derail your efforts:

  • Not Using Negative Scoring: You’ll assign positive points to leads as they work through your funnel, so some scores can become inflated over time. Scoring reduction can help reduce bias in your lead scoring system.
  • Using One Scoring Model: Lead scoring is not one size fits all; different product lines may need different scoring modes.
  • Giving Each Action Equal Value: Some activities are simply more indicative of interest and buying behavior than others and should be ranked more highly.
  • Giving Points for Each Email Open: Some prospects just like mail. Give points the first time an email is opened, not every time to avoid artificially inflating the score.
  • Not Establishing a Ranking Threshold: Once a lead passes a set number of points, it needs to head to the sales team. Set a threshold that works with your system so leads are automatically routed when they are ready.

The right lead scoring model can increase your sales team’s productivity, decrease the length of your sales cycle and even increase conversions.

Want to get the inside scoop on sales sales scoring?

Delivra takes the guesswork out of the process by allowing you to assign points and incorporate your own lead scoring models right into your email marketing software.


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