Lead Scoring is the grading system that indicates lead quality. It mirrors the progress from new prospect to buyer, and should predict “buyer readiness” when done correctly. The scoring process is something every sales team member should want to know.
If the sales team members believe that higher scores mean better prospects, then they can use this information to focus their efforts where they have a better chance of success–with people that are seriously interested in the company’s products or services.
Scoring is a grading system that works like this: the more a prospect interacts with us, the higher their score, and the higher their score, the more likely they are to become buyers. It seems so simple, and yet so true. So why does scoring fail so many organizations?
Scoring is a benchmark. It is a device for measuring something, in this case prospect intent. Benchmarks must be universally agreed upon, or their use as a measuring device will not work. For example, it cannot just be marketing’s benchmark, or the sales team’s benchmark—it must be accepted by the sales team, the marketing team, and the executive team.
Top 3 Ways to Get Sales Buy-In
- Research Recent Deals – A thorough investigation of recent deals will provide you with invaluable information about what is working. If your organization is already scoring leads, you can see how close to the mark the score was at the point the lead generated an opportunity. For example, if most of the lead scores were at the threshold when they were handed off to sales, then your scoring system is working. If the scores are too low or high when opportunities are created from the leads, your scoring is not working. Understanding this process will help sales and marketing see the real buyer readiness.
- Agree on behaviors and demographic attributes that indicate lead quality – For example, if 40% of the people that come to a regional sales event are likely to become buyers, but only 5% of the people that attend webinars are likely to become buyers, then a higher score should be given to regional sales attendees than webinar attendees. Sales and marketing should discuss the behaviors and demographic attributes, and then agree on the merits and relative scores of those attributes and behaviors.
- Ask sales to determine the threshold score at which a lead should be handed to sales – Too often we see unripened leads given to sales teams. These leads are not sales-ready, and most of these people are not seeking a conversation with a sales rep; in fact they may avoid it. However, the sales team is investing just as much time attempting to contact these unripe leads as they might spend trying to contact a lead that is sales-ready. Sales should tell marketing how to identify the “ripeness” threshold for a lead. They have the experience that lets them know who is ready to talk, and who is not. Marketing can suggest a threshold based on observations, but in the end the sales team has to agree that they are getting a good lead.
Lead Scoring Best Practices
Let’s say that that sales and marketing have already had a great conversation about lead scoring, and have agreed on the behavior and demographic scores that will work for the organization. Now it is time to build out the score mechanism in your marketing automation system. Here are some best practices that will help you create a scoring mechanism that works:
- Use a fixed range of scores – When no fixed score range is used, you will likely see scores that range from “-1200” to “+6500”. How is an apples-to-apples comparison of leads possible without a range? Use a grading scale that we are all familiar with, 0-100. With this grading scale, we could also apply letter grades to our scores 90+ = A, 80-89 = B, and so on. The scoring threshold could be set to 90, which tells everyone, “this lead is ripe and has indicated a readiness to buy.”
- Centralize the processing – Let’s say that your organization uses Marketo, and lead scoring is in use, but not centrally located. This means that when Mary creates a webinar program, she configures score adjustments right in that program. Let’s say that Bill also creates a webinar program, and also scores leads in that program, but he scores differently than Mary. Best practice shows that a global scoring system produces the most consistent scores and reduces errors in scoring. Also, when a global scoring system is deployed, it runs in the background, and does not require any scoring steps in an individual program like a webinar.
- Review and adjust – A scoring mechanism is like a gauge to tell you when a person’s attributes and behaviors indicate their readiness to buy. It needs to be honed until it is better at zeroing in on the right target. Rather than just deploying and forgetting it, we need to watch it, adjust it, watch it more, and adjust it again. This should be repeated few times in the first 60 days after deploying, and then less frequently thereafter.
So marketers should always be asking themselves questions like these: “Are the leads I provide to my sales team the right quality?” “If I were a sales representative, would I find these leads valuable or a waste of my time?”
When the sales team is given leads that have been too easily graded, the sales team is wasting valuable time, the company does not hit its marks, and marketing has failed. Don’t be an easy grader, be a great grader!