What is lead scoring?

DEFINITION
Lead scoring is the method of assigning points to a contact or potential prospects based on how closely they resemble your buyer persona. The higher the lead score, the more likely the lead is to be a good fit for your product or service.

đź’ˇUnderstanding lead scoring

Lead scoring is commonly used by marketing and sales teams to sort through their contact database and reroute the highest quality leads to the sales department immediately – significantly shortening the sales cycle.

By implementing a lead scoring system, your sales team can de-prioritize low-quality leads and prioritize leads who have the highest chance of converting. This, in turn, can help to align sales and marketing efforts in a more measurable way.

Lead scoring can be done through a lead scoring software or manually through spreadsheets – however, the latter can be quite tedious and requires daily maintenance to be accurate.

Predictive lead scoring software takes this one step further and uses big data and machine learning algorithms to find the right combination of behaviors and data points of existing and potential customers. Then, these attributes are automatically matched and ranked to those of new leads.

Once your scoring system is in place, you can then use your marketing automation tool to send your qualified leads to your team to start the sales process and move leads down your sales funnel.

đź–‹ Takeaway

Lead scoring is the process of assigning point values to your contacts based on how closely they resemble your ideal customer. Lead scores are then used to determine which contacts should be handled immediately by your sales team.

Sales and marketing teams who implement a lead scoring system into their database typically see a higher conversion rate, shorter sales cycle, and a higher interest level than those who do not.


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Why do I need lead scoring?

Lead scoring is not just beneficial to your sales team. Rather, it is an important process for any sales and marketing teams in that it can streamline the way that marketing pre-qualifies leads and make your sales team more efficient by following up with the right leads at the right time. 

When setting up a lead scoring system, you’ll be able to:

  1. Increase your conversion rate. By finding more qualified leads the moment they’re ready to buy, your sales team will have a better chance at increase your conversion rate and meeting your revenue goals.
  2. Shorten your sales cycle. By knowing when to reach out to your best leads, your scoring efforts will allow you to close more deals faster.
  3. Break down sales and marketing silos. Having a lead scoring system in place assists your team in deciding precisely who, when, and how a lead handoff should happen.
  4. Easily identify the ROI of marketing campaigns. Learning what resonates more with your high-converting prospects ensures you’re equipped to create better content to convert more leads.

All in all, no two leads are exactly the same (even if they may look identical). This is where lead scoring comes into play – it helps to isolate and promote these differences so a salesperson better understands who they will be communicating with and whether they should have that conversation at all.

What are lead scoring models and how are leads scored?

A scoring model is a scale you use for scoring leads and works by ranking your leads based on specific criteria you set. A higher lead score means the contact is more likely to be a better fit for your offering than a contact with a low score.

Scoring criteria can include firmographic data (company size and revenue), demographic data (job title, location), and offline or online activity (website activity, product usage, demos, etc).  Contact information can be gathered by lead generation forms, data enrichment services, or imported from product data.

These contacts are then ranked using one of three traditional lead scoring model types.

  • Lead Scoring Model #1 – Numeric Lead Score Output Your score output is a number, usually on a scale of 1-100. The higher the number, the higher your score. Conversely, the lower the number, the lower the score. The score is usually a mix of fit (demographics and firmographics) and activity.
  • Lead Scoring Model #2 – Hot Vs. Cold Your score output is usually represented by hot peppers or flames, whereas cold could be an icicle.  The more hot items you have, the hotter your contact is and vice versa. This type of scoring will only focus on behavior and activity and doesn’t consider the fit of the contact.
  • Lead Scoring Model #3 Co-Dynamic Lead Scoring – Your score is broken out into both a letter and a number, and typically has 16 possible variations. The letter represents the fit of the contact and is articulated as either A, B, C, D – where A is the highest fit and D is the lowest. The number represents activity and is articulated as either 1, 2, 3, 4 – where 1 is the highest level of engagement and 4 is the lowest.

In order to have the most comprehensive lead scoring strategy, we recommend using the co-dynamic lead scoring model – however predictive lead scoring tools can sometimes end up as black boxes where you cannot control your scoring models. Tools like Breadcrumbs take a hybrid approach by combining the power of AI and allowing you to manipulate the models in real-time as your business changes priorities and goals.

What are lead scoring best practices?

There are a few key points to ensuring your lead scoring model creates accurate (and actionable results.

  • Create an informed (and accurate) lead scoring model. When creating a scoring model, many overlook the most fundamental rule of the process – prioritizing the criteria that really matters. Taking the time to create a buyer persona that fully encompasses who your ideal customer is will be the key to success. Using existing customer data and information from a successful closed deal can help you to qualify leads in a more tactical way.
  • Create models with a fit and engagement score. Strong lead scoring models not only take the demographics/firmographics into consideration, but also the activity and frequency of a contact interaction as well. Someone who responds to emails promptly and has frequently visited your pricing page in the past few days will have a higher likelihood of purchasing from you than someone who converted on a lead magnet but hasn’t opened any other messages. 
  • Automate your process. While spreadsheets are a necessary business tool, creating scoring models in them is far from ideal and can lead to lackluster results (and expensive mistakes). Spreadsheets need to be updated manually, and working with a large database of leads means that your scoring model will never be fully accurate or up to date. Investing in a system built specifically to score leads in a timely manner can make or break your lead scoring process.

How do you build an effective lead scoring process?

The first step of creating a comprehensive lead scoring system is to define your point values and model criteria. The easiest way to do this is to work with your sales reps and marketing team to figure out which characteristics typically indicate a higher intent to purchase.

These indicators can be found in a variety of ways – by looking at the demographics and firmographics of your current customers, reviewing the online behavior of these contacts, and conducting customer interviews with your existing customers.

After you’ve created your scoring model and assigned point values, you can then move on to ranking the leads in your database. Many marketing automation tools have scoring systems built into their product, but these tools are usually pre-built and don’t offer the flexibility of a co-dynamic scoring method that we mentioned above.

After you have your lead scores, you can then apply them (manually or otherwise) to the leads in your database.

For organizations with limited bandwidth or budget, this strategy can quickly help you to uncover hidden revenue opportunities that are lying dormant inside your database at this very moment.

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