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What Are Best Practices for Effective Lead Scoring

lead scoring best practices

What process considerations, data values and lead actions must be considered for a best practice lead scoring process?

68% of marketers use a form of lead scoring or lead qualification to move prospects from one stage of the funnel to the next - Spear Marketing: State of Marketing Automation Maturity Report

Do you have a well-planned, buyer-focussed marketing process in place? If so, you should be generating a good number of leads. But, can you prioritise those leads to ensure sales and marketing teams only nurture the highest quality opportunities for your business?


Lead scoring is one way to do just that - and in turn, streamline processes for best use of resource. So what information do you need to lead score effectively? What data points should be reviewed, and how can marketing and sales work together for success?

Lead Scoring Explained

Lead scoring is a methodology where points are allocated to (and detracted from) prospects based on:

  • Their demographics (buyer profile, company size, budget etc)
  • Interactions (downloads, pages visited, information provided etc.)
  • Engagement with your brand and content (such as opening/responding to workflow communications).  

With points assigned for positive attributes, and removed for negative ones, leads are typically given a total score out of 100. Firstly, this allows teams to identify best-fit opportunities at a glance and prioritise resources for those most likely to close. Secondly, lead scoring ensures sales won’t engage too early with leads who need more nurture.


Because this process helps to organise higher volumes of leads, and because a lead’s activity (and score) can change on a daily basis, lead scoring is often automated and managed via lead management software. Here, points will be gathered throughout a lead’s journey with your brand. Then, once MQLs reach a predetermined SQL score, they can be assessed for a handover to sales.


Note that lead scoring may not work for all organisations. But if:

  • Your business generates a high volume of leads
  • Your sales team are actively following up on leads generated
  • And you’re collecting demographic lead data (via lead capture forms) and behavioural data/ lead intelligence (by monitoring how leads engage with your site)

 

Then lead scoring may be a good option for you.


As getting lead scoring right, and allocating the right scores for the right data can be tricky, below are key points to consider, as well as considerations for implementing an effective process.

How To Implement An Effective Lead Scoring System

1. First, align marketing and sales

An aligned marketing & sales team is essential to ensure your whole organisation works toward the same lead definitions. Specifically for lead scoring, marketing and sales need to be aligned on the criteria defining an MQL (marketing qualified lead) and SQL (sales qualified lead) for your business.


These defining lead characteristics (demographics, behaviours etc) can then be used to inform your scoring system. For example you might assign points to leads from target locations or industries, or remove points if they don’t fit the right niche.

82% of organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams believe their marketing to be effective. - Hubspot State of Inbound 2016

2. Define the value of lead data points

Once marketing and sales are aligned on ‘quality lead’ definitions, it’s time to decide what scores/point values should be set throughout the sales cycle.


Generally, the point values you attribute to each lead action will be unique to your organisation, and informed by the factors you deem valuable in assessing a lead’s fit/ readiness to speak with sales.


Historical lead and customer data can be useful when defining points of value. For example, what actions have previous MQLs taken before becoming sales-ready?

Points to consider may include:


  • Lead demographics (You might assign more points to great fit leads with the right budget, niche and location for you, and fewer points to those without)
  • If leads make multiple visits to your site before downloading content (indicating that they are almost ready to consider a solution)
  • If leads open your nurture emails on a regular basis
  • The pages leads visit most on your site (‘Pricing’ page views may indicate sales readiness)
  • The type of content a lead views or downloads (which indicates their buying pain)
  • The timespan between each interaction - are they frequently looking for help?
  • Whether your lead is already active with your brand or sales reps on social media

Don’t forget you can (and should) allocate negative scores to leads who don’t fit the criteria you’re looking for.


Of course there are many more actions that may be of value to your business in identifying a lead’s position. It’s important here that marketing sits down with sales to define priority actions and data points. If you get them wrong, your process will be misaligned and you’ll focus on the wrong leads.

3. Define a ‘good’ lead score

Of course, once you’ve set your data point values, you need to define the final score that indicates a high-quality, sales-ready lead. Remember, a lead’s score can change on a daily basis, so it’s important that sales teams are ready to contact leads who reach that sweet-spot score straight away. Setting alerts (depending on your marketing automation platform and CRM) can help here.

Ensuring A Focus On Quality

Though marketing efforts often produce good lead volumes, time and money can be wasted if leads are not qualified before passing to sales. Implementing an effective lead scoring system allows organisations to focus on the best-fit leads for them; leading to improved conversion, more relevant conversations and enhanced return on investment.