Lead scoring is a methodology to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to an organization. The resulting score determines how marketing will respond to each lead to propel the prospective buyer through the Revenue Marketing journey. Here are five best practices:
1. Start with the end in mind: enabling sales efficiencies
Ultimately, the objective of lead scoring is to escalate leads to establish an order of priority for sales engagement. If we accept that digital engagement is more affordable than sales interaction we also accept that the expense of a sales person should be focused interactions with the best qualified leads. From a business perspective we are tasked with making the best use of funds to acquire revenue.
Lead scoring becomes both a tool to initiate relevant digital conversations and align marketing efforts with moving an inquiry, whether it be a net new prospect or an existing customer, through the stages of the purchase consideration.
In the end, lead scoring needs to be a sales enabling function that not only generates credible attribution to the marketing effort, but also inherits credit for efficiency improvements from the selling effort.
2. Design scoring from multiple inputs: marketing, salespeople, research and data analysis
Lead scores mean nothing if the method of creating the score is not relevant to the people tasked with targets set for achieving revenue. In its most basic form, the lead score is an aggregated measure of prioritization derived from demographic profiling and digital behavior parameters. At a minimum, the inputs for determining these measures should be a collaborative and agreed upon definition from sales people, marketing, and data analysis of success profiling or research on targeted/penetrated markets.
If the goal of lead scoring is to prioritize salespeople’s focus, then it only makes sense to have buy-in from them with their participation in the scoring design, testing, deployment and rollout.
3. Lead scoring is a competency requiring continuous improvement
We see a lot of companies take a set it and forget it approach to lead scoring. I challenge your readers to ask themselves, “When was the last time the lead scoring committee reviewed or validated the accuracy and success of scored leads? When did they last make changes to lead scoring?”
At a minimum, lead scoring should be reviewed quarterly by a team representative of the inputs mentioned above. Are the scores generating the sales efficiency and lead conversion goals that are achieving their revenue targets? Is the implementation of lead scoring changing sales behaviors so they realize the efficiencies that lead scoring is meant to achieve?
If an organization successfully employs the collaborative approach to designing lead scoring, the continuous improvement approach to refining lead scoring and demonstrates competency and adoption from both a sales and marketing perspective, lead scoring can be a control valve: lower lead scoring to allow more leads to sales when the top of the funnel is light and raise lead scores to constrict lead flow to sales when pipeline is strong.
For more advanced organizations that use lead scoring, is there a focus on lead scoring as a continuous improvement type of effort? Are people exploring new ways of leveraging data to improve lead scoring? We hear the buzz about predictive lead scoring, an exceptional concept, however, I assure you if an organization is not focused on lead scoring as a competency, predictive lead scoring won’t be much more than a fantasy.
4. Sales enablement and adoption in leveraging lead scoring is a critical success point
I’ve been in sales for nearly 25 years and while I hate to admit it, sales people often have a short horizon attention span – typically focusing on the next step in an opportunity, the next closing of a deal, the pending doom of exceeding quota. If I had a dollar for every salesperson who loses focus on prospecting and creates a peak/valley forecast, I’d likely be retired.
I think it safe to say that we (salespeople) won’t mind being reminded of lead score definitions or the value that acting upon the priority leads from marketing makes it easier for us to build pipeline and achieve our targets.
Many companies invest a lot of money into sales training, sales enablement initiatives and demand generation (leads) to help sales. If only they would turn some of that investment into more advanced lead scoring and focus on improving the enablement and adoption of the capability, I think we would see many more success stories about sales and marketing alignment and marketing contribution or revenue attribution.
5. A lead score is an inquiry, an account score is an opportunity
There is significant, relatively new, interest in account based marketing. Top-performing B2B salespeople have always focused their selling efforts at an “account” level. We have known that for the most part selling to businesses requires selling to a committee or group of stakeholders or constituents.
Don’t get me wrong, we love when a C-Level executive is searching for a resolution to a business issue, finds our information and fills out the contact me form indicating he/she is ready to buy. Chances of that happening frequently enough for us to hit quota are just slightly better than hitting the lottery.
A more common scenario would be that the C-Level executive initiates a project to resolve a business issue, directing their staff to research the problem and find potential solutions. Most of the time that initiative will be investigated by more than one person. Imagine the delight of a sales person when they review their list of scored leads and realize that multiple people from the same company demonstrated interest in their solution. Isn’t that an account sales would be more likely engage with?
Lead score, most often created through a marketing automation platform, represents an individual. An Account Score, made up of multiple individuals from the same company would be a much stronger indicator of that account’s propensity revenue machine to achieve even greater success.
Scott Benedetti is vice president of sales at The Pedowitz Group,where he is accountable for helping TPG and its client organizations achieve measurable revenue results.