April 22, 2022
By Chantel Hall, Marketing Content Specialist
Lead scoring helps marketing and sales teams understand the quality of their leads and allows them to focus their efforts on prospects who are the most likely to become customers. Most B2B marketers understand the importance of lead scoring, but your lead scoring system may not be as effective as it could be if you’re not customizing it to your buyers. The average cost of bad leads is $4 million a year for enterprise companies — so you literally can’t afford to spend your time pursuing bad leads.1
The average cost of bad leads is $4 million a year for enterprise companies. -Inegrate
Using a lead scoring system that utilizes stakeholder input and accompanying lead criteria will enable marketing and sales teams to weed out unqualified leads and focus their time on leads that have a high chance of conversion.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to ensure your lead scoring system provides valuable insight to your marketing and sales teams and facilitates successful lead handling.
Lead scoring systems assign numerical values to certain actions, so as leads interact with a company’s website and marketing efforts they’re assigned a certain number of points. Once they reach a pre-determined number of points (usually 100), they are handed off to sales to sales. Customizing your lead scoring system using insight from marketing, sales, and customer data is critical to your lead scoring system’s success.
Each industry is unique, and even companies within each industry are marketing to different positions, personalities, and pain points. Your lead scoring system will be different from your competitors and should be suited to your unique solution or product.
Salespeoples’ direct interactions with leads and customers give them insight into which leads are converting to customers. Their direct experience also provides a deeper understanding of the messaging and strategies high-value buyers are likely to be interested in and respond to; what platforms they’re likely to engage with; and how their behavior changes throughout the process.
You can use this insight to give weight to leads who complete certain activities whe passing them off to sales. It’s important to ensure sales and marketing are on the same page when it comes to lead quality, and working together to develop a lead scoring system unique to your company supports sales and marketing alignment.
Data about your current customers can also guide you when deciding what activities to give weight to. You can learn what conversion points qualified leads flock to, which actions indicate that a lead has high intent, and which pain points attract your most valuable customers.
For example, downloading a white paper shows higher interest and intent than reading a blog post, so a lead who downloads a white paper might be given 20 points, while a lead that reads a blog post might get two. How you assign points depends on the data you collect about your buyer’s journey and the path to purchase your current customers took.
Lead scoring systems are typically based on activities leads perform. While that can be a good indicator of interest and intent, lead criteria are also needed to create a holistic lead scoring system that provides more texture and content for evaluating leads. Understanding what industries your highest quality leads come from, what their technical maturity is, their location, how big they are, and their budgets can help you avoid spending time on leads who might be interested but ultimately won’t be a good candidate for your solution.
Sales and marketing can provide insight into what categories of leads are typically high-quality. Still, you should use hard data as much as possible to ensure your lead scoring and criteria aren’t based on one person’s experience or bias. Analyze your current customer’s firmographic data and use what you learn to create a system for ranking or scoring different categories of companies.
Similar to the points given to interactions with your website and marketing assets, points can be given to leads based on criteria that matched your ideal customer profiles. Companies that are the right size, in the right industry, and in the right geographic area will be given more points than companies that don’t match your ideal criteria.
Your criteria doesn’t have to be completely black and white; for example, you might find that enterprise companies make up your highest-value accounts, while medium-sized companies are also valuable but typically make up smaller accounts. In that scenario, enterprise companies could get a higher score, while medium-size companies get a slightly lower score but aren’t discounted completely.
Understanding which leads are not qualified is just as important as understanding which leads you should be actively nurturing. Unqualified leads sometimes behave in a way that makes them look qualified, and it’s essential to distinguish between a qualified lead and someone who is revisiting your website for unrelated reasons.
Your negative scoring criteria should include leads with spam emails or email addresses not affiliated with a company, job seekers, student emails, competitors, and leads that aren’t internal champions or decision-makers. Depending on your product, your negative scoring criteria might also include specific industries or businesses, companies outside a particular geographical area, or businesses with budgets that are out of line with your offering.
These criteria might change over time depending on feedback from sales, new products being introduced, or changing company goals. Keep open communication channels with the sales team to ensure you’re updating your negative scoring criteria and your ideal customer profiles and target audiences.
B2B lead scoring needs to be data-based and customized to your unique buyer’s journey to take full advantage of lead scoring automation. Manual lead scoring creates a lot of room for inconsistencies, and different people can have difficulty drawing the correct conclusions when they have to score leads manually.
Automating lead scoring takes a massive amount of work off your marketing and sales teams’ plates and ensures that your system is applied consistently so that qualified leads don’t get lost through a manual scoring process.
HubSpot, Pardot, and other marketing platforms have built-in lead scoring automation to customize your lead scoring and criteria and automatically alert the correct person when leads meet a certain scoring threshold.
Automation is also another great selling point for skeptical adopters. Introducing a new scoring system that automatically delivers qualified leads to salespeople makes adoption easier and requires less work from them before they can reap the benefits of the new system. Additionally, automation depends on data input, so if your sales and marketing teams are not on board with this lead scoring process and inputting their lead and sales data into your CRM, your automated process won’t be as beneficial as it could.
Change management is necessary when implementing any new processes or frameworks, but it’s especially important when you’re asking salespeople to change the way they evaluate leads and decide which ones to pursue. It’s a central part of their job, and long-time salespeople may not see the benefit in a new or different lead scoring system if what they’re doing has worked for them so far.
Some of the things we’ve discussed so far can help alleviate these concerns: using hard data to back up your lead scoring decisions and giving salespeople a stake in the conversation by utilizing their input and insights can build confidence in the new or changing lead scoring system.
Having internal champions who utilize the lead scoring system before it’s more widely implemented and can demonstrate success can also help get everyone who will be using the lead scoring system on board. When salespeople can see how the lead scoring system has worked for their peers, they can more easily see the benefit of changing their approach and learning to use new tools.
As with any marketing process, you need to be open to adjusting your lead scoring system as you track how it’s performing and gather feedback from marketing and sales. As your company grows — along with your marketing and sales teams — and you add new products, improve your marketing strategies, and learn more about your buyers, you will naturally identify areas of improvement in your lead scoring system. Don’t be so tied to any aspect of your system that you refuse to change it; follow the data and take your teams’ feedback seriously.
Understanding that you’re not likely to get anything perfectly right on the first try is the key to success in many marketing efforts, and lead scoring is no exception. You will find the most success when you make improving your system an ongoing process and involve your stakeholders in fine-tuning your lead scoring system and criteria.
1Integrate, Cost of a Bad Lead 2020: The Demand Marketers Guide, 2020
McGaw.io, How You Can Use Lead Scoring to Explode Sales and Automate Every Stage of the Customer Lifecycle, July 24, 2020
The Pipeline, The Beginner’s Guide to Lead Scoring
Outfunnel, Lead Scoring: The Complete Guide for B2B Sales and Marketing, March 21, 2021
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