Any small business owner, marketer, and sales team member is likely all too familiar with the frustration that comes from chasing down leads that were ultimately never going to convert. We’ve all spent countless follow-up calls and emails trying to get in touch with leads, sometimes even putting all of our focus on the wrong people altogether and costing us not one but two sales.
Knowing which leads to pursue is a game-changer for businesses of all sizes, and it ensures that your sales team will be able to put all their time and energy into the right people who are most likely to actually convert. This is crucial when you want to improve your marketing and sales funnels, pushing more users through the pipeline and hopefully scaling your business long-term.
So the secret to identifying those hotter, likelier-to-convert leads? It all comes down to lead scoring and knowing how to rank leads.
In this post, we’re going to look at how to rank leads so your sales team won’t waste a second of their precious time, allowing them to put all their eggs into the right baskets moving forward.
What Is Lead Scoring & How Do I Rank Leads?
Lead scoring is the practice of ranking prospective customers by key criteria to help you determine how much perceived value they may be to your organization. This can help your sales team determine which leads they want to pursue most aggressively, and which aren’t even a good fit for your brand.
While you never want to ignore potential leads, a lead scoring system can help you prioritize which prospects to reach out to first and most aggressively.
It’s most powerful when combined with lead status (which is updated by the sales associates as they’re nurturing the lead), giving you a custom score for each individual prospect that can help you track their potential to convert.
No two customers are ever exactly the same, after all, which is where your talented sales team comes into play.
The factors you look at and their perceived value depend entirely on your business.
Common examples of lead scoring criteria for B2B businesses might include job position and company size. Taking other factors into consideration, like the referral source, can be useful (customers who are referred by existing clients, for example, are significantly more likely to convert, spend more, and be retained longer).
Determining What High-Value Leads Look Like: The Basics
If your business is already up and running, the best way to determine a profile for potential high-value customers is to look at the customers you already have.
Take some time to look at everything you know about your customers, breaking them down into different niches if possible. Identify your most valuable customers (longest retaining and highest spending), and look for what they have in common.
This will help you determine what your marketing qualified leads (or “MQLs”) look like based on their specific demographic, business, and activity information. Once you do this, you can identify different criteria and assign points to each one to effectively rank leads coming to you.
For example, in my own business, I know that small and medium-sized B2B businesses that have dedicated marketing teams are my highest-value clients. Those who come from referrals from other clients are also most likely to convert and sign long-term contracts.
The referral part of the equation is easily the most significant indicator, so it would have more weight on the scale than the specific industry, which is slightly less reliable.
Once you have your lead scoring metric sheet and know how to rank leads, you can set up your lead forms to capture crucial information to flag potential high-value prospects for your sales team. You can ask about company size, current ad spend, industry, and more. Think about what information is most essential to you, and start there.
How to Rank Leads to Set Your Sales Team Up for Success
Alright, we know what this likes in theory, but what about the practicality of it?
Here are two key points to consider:
- You want leads to receive a score somewhere between 0-100 points, so you don’t want added-up criteria to exceed that 100 point system. This keeps it easier for you to assess the quality of potential leads.
- Not all criteria need to be valued equally; if you know that someone visiting your site four times before getting in touch was a significantly more reliable indicator of readiness than industry, this can be weighted more heavily.
Let’s look at an example of how this would work. Say you own a graphic design agency that targets B2B clients of varying sizes. You want to prioritize clients who need ongoing retainer work and high-profile clients, as they’re most valuable long-term. Your lead score list may look like this:
- Leads with established brands like “Shopify” or “Lending Tree” score 5 points, while small local brands only get 1 point.
- Leads from companies with over 100 people get 10 points, while those with 10 people or fewer only get one point. You may even assign single-member startups a -1.
- Leads who have visited your site five times get 5 points, and those who have visited it once get 1 point.
- Users who are sent to your sales team from a referral email automatically earn 15 points.
- Those in the marketing, finance and insurance fields gain 10 points, while those in consulting, copywriting, and site design industries get 5 points.
A mid-sized financial investment firm with 50 employees who have visited your site four times might accrue a lead rank of 19 points just based on these criteria alone.
Set Thresholds for Your Sales Team to Refer Back To
Having solid, clear metrics to help your sales team rank and prioritize leads is a great start, but taking the time to determine what the cutoff for outreach and follow-up should be can be essential, too.
Once you roll out the new lead scoring system, your sales team reports back that anyone under the score of 25 never converted. These are users who just aren’t ready, and reaching out to aggressively pursue sales won’t get you anywhere. This might be the threshold where your sales team draws the line for who to pursue.
How to Put Lead Scoring Into Practice
Lead scoring is clearly a relatively complex process to set up, even though it simplifies your sales team’s job along the way.
When it comes to actually run the calculations and scoring leads, you really have two choices: Using a manual system or opting for software that can improve automation, accuracy, and efficiency. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Manual Lead Scoring
Manual lead scoring involves taking the time to dive deep into your analytics to try to match up audience demographics and core identifying criteria to set up a scoring system.
Your team will then need to manually rank leads as they’re coming in. They can do this with easily tracked information like company size, but they won’t be able to see information like how many times a user has visited your site.
Manual lead scoring is completely free, but it’s also difficult to implement accurately, especially since all lead scoring requires some trial-and-error to get right, and your system will need to evolve alongside your business over time.
Lead Scoring Using Specialized Software
If all this sounds exhausting and complicated to set up, you’re right… which is where lead scoring software like Breadcrumbs.io comes into play.
Our software can sync up with your data sources (i.e., your Hubspot account) to dive deep into your customer information. It will help you track indicators of quality leads, including past interactions and activity with your business, and automatically rank leads as they’re interacting with your business. You can set up your own scoring model or use our builder to create a custom model within our system.
This way, your sales team doesn’t have to spend any time trying to assess the quality of leads; they can be notified of high-value prospects and hit the ground running right away without wasting time trying to prioritize or manually rank leads.
It’s important to note that high-quality lead scoring software doesn’t simply calculate a system once and leave it at that; we know that your customer base will evolve alongside your business and that your lead scoring system should be evolving alongside both.
Our software automatically tracks these changes and makes adjustments automatically so you don’t have to, though checking in with your sales team frequently to get their feedback can still help you fine-tune things on your end.
Scaling your business is only possible with an influx of new, high-quality leads that your sales team can realistically convert into clients, and clearing the metaphorical clutter so they can focus on the right people is crucial.
Lead scoring is the most effective, accurate way to assess lead quality to make your sales team’s job significantly easier, especially since it’s based entirely on your customers, your digital sales funnel, and your business.
You can even use this information and send it back to your marketing department to explain what audience segments you want to reach, allowing you to essentially push more of the right people into your lead funnel to begin with.
The ability to gain more leads while also creating stronger buyer personas is a win-win.
Take the time to set up your lead scoring system for success with adequate research and some time for trial and error. We also (of course!) strongly recommend testing out lead scoring software to automate and optimize the process of ranking leads, saving you time and money while maximizing efficiency.
It’s hard to say no to that, and trust us: Your sales team will thank you later!
Interested in trying out lead scoring for your business? Sign up for free with Breadcrumbs here to start improving your lead qualifying process today.