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

It’s important to understand where each lead actually exists in your sales funnel. Scoring and ranking your leads can help.

Keeping accurate segmented lists based on these scores ensures you’re speaking to the right leads at the right time in the customer’s journey.

Check out some of these industry averages for clicks, opens, unsubscribes, and bounce rates on email alone.

You should know the industry averages and email benchmarks for proper lead scoring


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

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.

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

It also helps you create automated email drip campaigns that reach out to the right people at the right time. You wouldn’t thank someone for a purchase they haven’t made yet, so don’t skip any other steps leading up to that point.

Marketing automation works best when accurate, real-time data is used.

So, the more you understand about the real people who are visiting your site and contacting your business every day, the easier you can proactively answer their questions and serve their needs.

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.

That’s the true power of marketing automation and how SXSW created this effective campaign.

That’s the true power of marketing automation and how SXSW created this effective campaign.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Here’s how to replicate their success.

What is lead scoring? Do I need it?

When you score your leads, you use a standardized system to fully evaluate each piece of information and determine which leads are likely to succeed—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, but there are some commonalities.

According to Statista’s forecasts, the U.S. is expected spend over $350 million on email advertising. Meanwhile, a recent survey showed a 760% revenue increase for marketers using segmented campaigns.

Looking 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

Data is the backbone of a successful marketing campaign. Use this information to hone in on leads that are truly good fits.

To do this, you’ll want to look for four key ingredients, which we identify through the use of the BANT acronym:

  • Budget
  • Authority
  • Need
  • Time

Each buyer persona has a different score, which translates to their potential (and even ability) to buy.

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.

If they’re not, save your sales team the trouble and remove them from your list to increase engagement. That’ll really power up your drip campaigns.

Use a lead scoring model for better results.

Source: Delivra

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)? Behaviors can include several things, including:

  • Purchasing
  • Viewing
  • Subscribing
  • Unsubscribing
  • Clicking
  • Commenting and more

Buying stage

Defining the buying stage is how you determine what your lead scores really mean.

The lower the lead score, the earlier the stage of 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. These are the numbers that will drive your targeted marketing campaigns across all media channels.

Creating the perfect lead scoring model

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.

Here’s a helpful chart to help you visualize this concept of scoring a lead.

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.

Source: CMS Wire

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. The key to determining your target market is to not try appealing to the masses. It’s impossible to do!

Your niche has a specific audience and you need to define it. Not sure where to start? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who would benefit from your solution the most?
  • Who are your competitors targeting?

These two questions alone can and will help you pinpoint who your target audience is, allowing you to move on to the next step.

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.
  • Not creating separate scores for demographic values and behavioral values: there is a significant difference between a CEO that has no interest in your solution and the low-level contributor with high interest. While both leads are of value, they will require different approaches to make the final conversion.
  • 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.
  • Only use 1st part engagement data: with only a small percentage of leads reaching directly out to a business for something on first contact, the chances of you collecting enough valuable data from 1st party engagement is slim.
  • 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.

So long as your scoring model avoids these mistakes, it’ll remain an effective tool in your sales tool kit.

Wrap up

Lead scoring is an integral step in automating your sales funnel and delivering the most qualified leads to your sales team. Not only does it help increase overall conversions while lowering the amount of time and effort it takes to get those conversions, they help to increase your sales team’s overall productivity.

The ultimate success of your lead scoring initiative hinges on these key factors:

  • Lead fit measures a potential lead’s engagement with the brand across all platforms.
  • Lead behavior determines which buying stage a customer is in.
  • Buying stage determines what information will be the next step in the funnel.

Want to get the inside scoop on 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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