The Essential HubSpot Lead Scoring Guide For Your Business

If you are using HubSpot’s CRM software, you may have come across their lead scoring tool and asked yourself: what is HubSpot lead scoring, and am I missing out if I don’t use it?

Let’s take a step back: while lead scoring is a fairly established concept, over the years, there have been a number of fundamentally different approaches to lead scoring that have either yielded sub-par results or opened the door to new and–quite frankly–exciting developments (hello, AI!)

HubSpot makes no exception, and while their lead scoring functionality is straightforward and easy to set up, a question remains: how do you create a winning lead-scoring strategy?

To answer this question, we’ll first discuss what lead scoring is all about and how to set up lead scoring in HubSpot in just three steps.

And in the last section, we’ll introduce you to the five essential ingredients we use at Breadcrumbs to create the perfect lead-scoring strategy for your business.

Let’s dive in!

How Does Lead Scoring Work?

Lead Scoring Signals

At its core, lead scoring is a prioritization engine: you use a number of scoring criteria to rank your leads based on how likely they are to purchase your product or service.

Instead of having an endless list from your inbound marketing efforts, you can prioritize the ones that closely resemble your ideal customer profile (ICP) and have your sales team speak to qualified leads only.

It starts with clearly defining lead qualification stages that your marketing team and your sales team agree upon:

  1. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) come through targeted marketing campaigns that are then sent to the sales team.
  2. Sales qualified leads (SQLs) are leads your sales team has identified as high value and is actively working on converting.  
  3. Product qualified leads (PQLs) are users who have engaged with your product often through a freemium or a free trial and are qualified by showing interest.

In a good lead scoring system, you’ll immediately know a marketing-qualified lead from a sales-qualified lead. This information will help you have smoother marketing-to-sales lead handoff, spark collaboration between your marketing and sales teams, and unlock revenue acceleration.

An example? You can nurture MQLs with email marketing campaigns and start conversations with SQLs that are ready to buy.

On the other hand, a poor lead scoring system will give you unclear results or favor one criterion over the other, missing out on how the different criteria can play together in defining higher-quality leads.

The result? Sales and marketing efforts will not be aligned, and the sales process will be affected, resulting in fewer deals closed and increasing frustration.

What Are Lead Scoring Models?

A typical lead scoring process can take the form of a point system where you’ll get a maximum score if all the scoring attributes are valid, or fewer points (a negative score), depending on how many points your lead scores.

Lead Scoring Model - Hot Vs Cold

The multiple attributes (or lead scoring criteria) that make up your point value system are essential to determine if your lead scoring model will deliver the best leads to your sales reps and help them close more deals.

At this point, you’d usually see me compile a list of lead scoring models from easiest to most complex. Let’s do an experiment: I’ll reverse that list and subtract features instead of adding them.

Predictive lead scoring

In short, the predictive lead scoring method is a data-driven approach that applies big data and machine learning algorithms to lead scoring.

It allows you to find the right combination of key fit attributes (i.e., job title and company revenue) and activity and behaviors (i.e., pricing page views) of existing and potential customers. Then, these attributes are automatically matched and ranked to those of new leads.

Predictive lead scoring solutions can be problematic because they often result in one-size-fits-all black boxes. They don’t adjust to changes in your industry and don’t factor time into the equation, generating a misaligned model.

When this happens, the systems score leads inaccurately and causes chaos in your sales and marketing team.

The solution? A blended approach: use a machine learning-assisted approach in which you are still at the helm but can make decisions based on machine learning and big data analysis. Such a system will include the following:

  • Fit (or firmographic) data:  This type of data, such as Company Revenue, Job Title, and Industry, is used to score your contacts based on how closely they resemble your ICP.
  • Activity data: This behavioral data, such as page visits, email clicks, and trial sign-ups, is used to uncover which of your contacts are the most engaged.
  • Time: The recency of action and the frequency at which the action is taken should be a large part of the overall equation.

One single type or source of data will not solve all your problems. A predictive lead scoring method will assist you along your demand gen journey when you combine internal contact data with a lead scoring system that you can control and tweak according to your unique needs.

Manual lead scoring

Manual lead scoring has an entirely different approach. Your team will need to rank leads as they’re coming in manually. They can do this with fit information like Job Title and Company Size, but they won’t be able to see activity information like how many times a user has visited your site in real-time.

Lead Scoring Templates Score Modeler
Image: Source

Manual lead scoring is free, but it’s also difficult to implement accurately, especially since all lead scoring requires some trial and error. Plus, your system will need to evolve alongside your business over time.

Numerical score based on Fit & Activity

This lead scoring model still allows you to qualify leads based on both fit and activity. Still, it gives you one single score, and there’s no way to gauge how much of the score is coming from fit-related data points or activity-based point values, giving you no clues on why the lead was marked as hot in the first place.

Fit-based or Activity-based only

Finally, some models are solely based on either fit or activity, completely missing half of your lead’s score story.

What Are Lead Scoring Benefits For Sales And Marketing Teams?

How do you know if lead scoring will benefit your sales and marketing team? Critical advantages of implementing a lead scoring model in your company include:

1. Increased conversions: By identifying the right product-market fit, your team will be able to reach out to prospects at the right time when they are ready to buy.

2. Shorten sales cycle: Knowing when a lead is ready to close will take your team less effort and time to do it.

3. Hand off leads at the right time: With a transparent lead handoff, your marketing and sales teams will collaborate (and increase success rate) like never before.

4. Know what lead gen activities are working: By learning what enticed your high-converting prospects to close, you’ll learn what kind of content you’ll need to create to do it again.

Protip: When deciding to implement lead scoring in your company, you should also evaluate whether it would be better to build or buy your lead scoring system.

How to Set Up HubSpot Lead Scoring in Just 3 Steps

Now to the HubSpot lead scoring setup cave!

On a technical level, HubSpot lead scoring is built around a numerical score, in which points are added to (Positive Attributes) or detracted from (Negative Attributes) your records based on several criteria you can set up in your account.

Ready to build your HubSpot lead scoring system with your browser tab open? Not so fast.

Before filling in all the HubSpot lead scoring properties, you’d need to

  • define your ICP, and set up your lead scoring criteria accordingly,
  • understand how the system works,
  • and set up your lead scores in HubSpot.

HubSpot Lead Scoring Step 1: Define your ICP

Before you start scoring leads using a HubSpot lead scoring model, you have to decide which criteria are essential for your business and how much they should weigh in the overall analysis of your leads.

But where to start?

Define your ideal customer profile (ICP) to understand your niche and your prospective customers better. The more accurate the ICP, the better your model will be.

Illustration Of Breadcrumbs Icp Worksheet


Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet

Learn how to create an Ideal Customer Profile and build a successful sales strategy with this Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet.

Ask your existing clients, look into the data you already have on them, and look for the recurring criteria in successful clients; you’ll find some hidden gems.

Speak with your sales reps: ensure that you have your sales team’s input; they speak with clients daily and will help you validate your lead scoring matrix.

Now that you know more about your potential clients, you just need to do some math. Hubspot lead scoring system outputs your lead score as a number. That number is usually a mix of two components:

  • Fit: when using these criteria, you’ll rank your lead based on their fit into your preferred demographic categories, such as job title, industry, or company size.
  • Activity: when using these criteria, you’ll rank your lead based on engagement with you and your business, such as how many times they have visited your website or opened one of your emails.

The higher the number, the hotter the score, but remember: in HubSpot, your sum must add up to 100.

HubSpot Lead Scoring Step 2: Calculate your score in HubSpot

Now, let’s see how the system works.

HubSpot lead scoring tool has two main attribute sets; they can be:

  • Positive Attributes: points are added to the score if the record meets the criteria in this set. Conversely, points are removed from the score if the record doesn’t meet the criteria.
  • Negative Attributes: points are removed from the score if the record meets the criteria in this set. Conversely, points are added to the score if the record doesn’t meet the criteria.

You can add several criteria to either of these sets, and the points will be added or removed once, depending on where the criteria have been added to. In the HubSpot lead scoring system, there are two different types of criteria:

  • HubSpot default score properties: these are the default contact properties that HubSpot has in its system, and they are available for all free and subscription plans.
  • HubSpot custom score properties: for top-tier plans (Professional & Enterprise), HubSpot offers the ability to customize the default contact properties with custom criteria.
Note: there's no way to add points incrementally for some criteria (i.e., add one point each time a user opens one of your emails), but you'll be able to create a set of lead scoring rules to do that.

HubSpot Lead Scoring Step 3: Implement your lead score in HubSpot

Now that you have designed your matrix, it’s time to set it up in the HubSpot lead scoring system.

1. First, you’ll need to create a lead scoring rule. Once in your HubSpot account, click the settings icon on the right-hand side of your navigation bar and navigate to Properties. Type in “HubSpot score” or search for a custom score property and click the property name.

Hubspot Lead Scoring - How To Find A Hubspot Score

2. To set your criteria, click “Add new set” next to Positive Attributes (to assign points) or Negative Attributes (to remove points.) Click “AND” to add additional criteria to an existing set of attributes. Leads need to meet all criteria for the attribute to apply. To create another set of attributes, click again on “Add new set.”

Hubspot Lead Scoring: Positive And Negative Attributes Setup

3. You can change the number of points added or removed to your lead scoring matrix when a lead meets the criteria of the attribute. Click the “edit” icon and input your new score.

4. Click “Test contact” if you need to test your score property (recommended.) To view the score of a specific record, search and select their contact name.

Note: In HubSpot lead scoring, the number of criteria you set for your score property has to add up to 100 (that is: you can add as many criteria as you want, but the final number considering the positive and negative attributes must make 100.)

Take HubSpot Lead Scoring To The Next Level With Breadcrumbs

In the previous section, we saw how to set up HubSpot lead scoring, but the question remains: how do you create a winning lead-scoring strategy?

Here’s some food for thought on what features we think a great lead-scoring system should have.

1. Combine Recency and Frequency

We believe that Recency and Frequency are two of the most important criteria for lead scoring.

On the one hand, Recency allows you to evaluate and prioritize activities that are currently happening. On the other hand, Frequency allows you to infer a stronger interest from a prospect that repeats an action in a short period of time.

Combining these two criteria can be powerful because it will allow you to know exactly when a prospect is ready to be contacted by your sales team.

In HubSpot lead scoring, there is no combined recency and frequency evaluation–you have to choose one over the other when evaluating your engagement, which may mean missing out on prospects ready to close a deal.

Our easy-to-use contact scoring models account for both the number of times an activity was taken and how recently those activities were taken.

Hubspot Lead Scoring: Combine Recency And Frequency With Breadcrumbs

While it may seem like a small detail, this is actually extremely significant. The ability to score contacts based on both Recency and Frequency gives your sales team a much more accurate view, so they know how to prioritize leads.

2. Define clear levels of differentiation

At Breadcrumbs, we’re all in for clear, actionable data. All fine, but what does it mean?

To us, it means that when you look at the data that comes out from your lead scoring matrix, you need to be absolutely sure of what you are looking at. Seems legit, right?

Clear differentiation makes the process smoother for your marketing and sales team and–definitely–less frustrating.

Ss Rating Slider Fig@2X 1

This may be tricky in HubSpot lead scoring as, out of the box, scoring is all done in one field. This means that it will be difficult to understand what you are looking at and whether it’s the fit or the engagement making up your score.

3. Report on your lead scoring

One of the first–and recurring–actions you need to make to have an always relevant and up-to-date lead scoring matrix is to analyze your leads and customers.

You definitely need to report on your current pipeline to be able to build (for the first time) and adjust (moving forward) your lead scoring according to what your prospects, customers, and lost customers are telling you.

Hubspot Lead Scoring: Report On Your Lead Scoring With Breadcrumbs

While effectively scoring your leads, HubSpot lead scoring doesn’t have dedicated or out-of-the-box reporting to understand the makeup of your leads, and it will be challenging to understand and tweak your matrix.

4. Manage and scale with an easy setup

If you’ve got this far, you likely know how difficult it can be to set up, manage and scale your lead scoring system.

We know it all so well.

This is why, at Breadcrumbs, we have designed an easy setup that will allow you to get started with your scoring model by answering a few simple questions or using our intuitive model builder to create an entirely custom one.

When the setup is:

  • complicated, there’s no way to categorize what you want to score with different scoring outputs;
  • manual, you would need to create all these categories one by one

… it will be hard to manage and scale moving forward, AND you may end up with a subpar solution that took you too much time to build.

5. Using HubSpot already? Start with Breadcrumbs for FREE

One of the key benefits of HubSpot lead scoring is that it’s free if you’re using HubSpot CRM software. But what if you could have a significantly more powerful engine for free?

In reality, Breadcrumbs alternatives are a tradeoff between ineffective or, at minimum, a $150K investment yearly. Larger companies can spend north of $500K to implement and maintain their scoring solution.

Lead scoring, when done right, delivers measurable ROI through substantial impacts on your revenue funnel. Companies that use lead scoring to qualify leads see a 77% greater marketing ROI, making scoring a worthwhile investment based on this alone.

We genuinely believe scoring is a must for every business, and we built Breadcrumbs with this in mind.

Breadcrumbs scoring not only enables acquisition-focused lead scoring for sales-assisted motions. Breadcrumbs unlocks the potential of scoring for up-sell, cross-sell, retention, product adoption, and more. It does all of this regardless of GTM strategy; PLS and PLG are no exception.

Hubspot Lead Scoring: Use Hubspot With Breadcrumbs

We believe in the power of Breadcrumbs scoring so strongly that we are now offering a free plan! Suppose you want to start your Revenue Acceleration journey powered by Breadcrumbs Scoring but would like to explore a little before you commit.

In that case, you can take advantage of our free plan immediately. You will get access to everything a paid subscription to Breadcrumbs provides:

  • Reveal: Connect your data sources and explore the completeness, quality, and predictive power of the data you already have
  • Score: Build as many models as you would like to test hypotheses and validate how they would behave
  • Explore: Dig deep into contact and account records to see what they are doing and how that impacts their likelihood to buy across your entire GTM stack

You get the whole Breadcrumbs experience with two significant caveats on the FREE plan. The number of leads you will be able to score is limited, and scores will only be available in Breadcrumbs.

Grab your free Breadcrumbs account today.

FAQs on HubSpot lead scoring

Does Hubspot have lead scoring?

Yes, you can start using lead scoring in HubSpot CRM with a free plan. Some functionalities, such as custom score properties, are only available for top-tier plans.

How is HubSpot score calculated?

To calculate your lead score in HubSpot, detract or assign point values depending on fit criteria such as job title, company size, and activities such as if your lead interacts with your pricing page.

How do you implement HubSpot lead scoring?

When in HubSpot, navigate to ‘Properties’ and type in HubSpot score or the name of your custom score property. From there, you’ll be able to create or edit your HubSpot lead scoring rules.

How do I find my lead score in HubSpot?

Once you have created your HubSpot lead scoring model, you’ll find the score in each contact property. Similarly, if you integrate Breadcrumbs with HubSpot CRM, you’ll find the Breadcrumbs score directly in HubSpot.

How does Breadcrumbs integrate with HubSpot CRM?

Breadcrumbs fully integrates with HubSpot, allowing you to prioritize leads with both fit and activity and factoring in the Recency and Frequency of the action taken. Breadcrumbs’ ML-assisted co-dynamic approach unlocks the potential of scoring for up-sell, cross-sell, retention, product adoption, and more. It does all of this regardless of GTM strategy; PLS and PLG are no exception.

The best part? You can start for free today. Grab your free account, increase lead quality and take full advantage of Breadcrumbs + HubSpot today.

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