Picture this — your marketing efforts are paying off, and your sales team is happy that leads are coming in like crazy.
It sounds like a good scenario, doesn’t it?
It is, in part.
But having a decent amount of leads coming in doesn’t mean they’re all good leads. In fact, the whole thing can backfire if your sales reps are faced with spending a significant amount of time going through these leads manually and often contacting leads that are never going to convert.
So how can you separate the wheat from the chaff to get to the qualified leads that are worth reaching out to and, fingers crossed, turn into paying customers?
The answer lies in lead scoring.
What is Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring is, quite simply, the process of assigning a value, most commonly in numerical form, to each lead generated for your business. It ranks the readiness of your prospects to convert (whether that is to buy a product or subscribe to a service) by using a numeric system that helps quantify their value for your company.
For example, you can set up a score from 1 to 3 in which 3 points are the most relevant and 1 point the least. We’ll dive deeper into the process of setting up a lead scoring system later, but as a very brief example, if a lead scores the most points across the pre-defined parameters and reaches a specific high score, then that lead would be worth chasing by your sales team.
Hence, lead scoring helps inform business decisions such as how much time and resources to allocate to each lead and increases the speed of processing it along the funnel.
Why You Need Lead Scoring
Efficient lead scoring can play a key role in any successful marketing and sales strategy since, as just mentioned, it helps streamline your sales team’s workload and have each rep focus on the most likely to convert leads.
Yet the positive impact of lead scoring implementation goes far beyond the daily work of your sales reps.
According to DemandGen Report’s The State Of B2B Lead Scoring, forty-one percent of report participants saw their conversion rate improve after applying lead scoring. What’s more, fifty-three percent saw an improvement in sales and marketing alignment, and forty-three found qualified leads that would otherwise have been overlooked. Additionally, looking into MQLs and SQLs, forty-three percent of participants reported a boost in the number of MQLs and thirty-two in SQLs.
And still, this is not all lead scoring has to offer.
Main Benefits of Lead Scoring
In addition to streamlining the lead classification process and removing the guesswork from the outreach equation, lead scoring offers three other main benefits.
First, it can lower marketing and acquisition costs, by helping identify the marketing channels that capture the lowest-quality leads and removing them from your marketing strategy.
Second, lead scoring leads to higher conversion rates by identifying the highest-scoring leads and having sales reps reach out exclusively to them.
Finally, having lead scoring in place can result in higher revenue as shown by this study that concluded an average of thirty percent increase in deal close rates and eighteen percent in company revenue.
Types of Lead Scoring Models
You’re probably convinced of the advantages of lead scoring by now. But before we move on to learning how to set up a lead scoring system, let’s have a look at the different types of models you can have.
A lead scoring model is a way of ensuring that the value assigned to each lead reflects their compatibility with your product or service which in turn can serve as an indicator of their willingness to buy it. Each created model is intended to support a particular attribute of your customer. The better and more detailed your model, the more accurate it will be.
Common lead scoring models are:
- Company information: asking your leads about company information can determine if they’re a good fit. Think B2B vs. B2C, company size, or industry. You’ll be able to give more points to those leads who better fit into your target audience and less to those who are not.
- Website visits/interaction: how a lead behaves when visiting your website can be a good indicator of how likely they are to make a purchase. The way you score this can be based on how many and which pages they visit, if they fill out a form or not, or even if they were engaged for a while and suddenly stopped and never returned.
- Email engagement: simply signing up to receive emails is not a good enough reason to qualify a lead as good. On the other hand, data such as open and clickthrough rates help paint a clearer picture of buying intent, which you can build into your lead scoring system. Similarly, engagement on social media can also be incorporated into lead scoring.
- Spam: a good thing about lead scoring is that it can attribute negative scores. For example, if a lead fills out a form with an invalid phone number or suspicious e-mail address, you can give them negative points so that your sales reps don’t need to bother trying to contact them.
Best Practices to Set Up Your Lead Scoring System
Now, to the good stuff!
If you want to get started on setting up your own lead scoring system, there are certain best practices you should follow. We’ve already highlighted them in a previous article, but here are the main ones that bear repeating.
Designing a Score Model that Makes Sense and Combining Data
As already mentioned, lead scoring relies on the models you design that attribute a score and value to each lead. The key to properly setting up your lead scoring system is to design a scoring model that makes sense for your business.
There are a number of places online that will tell you you need to score this data point or that one. A common one is relying on demographic data like the lead’s location, company, or job title. While this information can help, it’s not enough.
A better way to go about this is to combine data and pair demographics with behavioral scoring. Behavioral scores are nothing more than how leads behave towards your product or service online — website and social engagement, form submissions, or email open rates, to name a few.
Also, don’t just stick to what lead scoring guides tell you. They’re there to guide you, but they are not set in stone. The best place to look for the best lead indicators is your own customer base. So, look at how your customers typically behave and build your system from there.
Marketing and Sales Collaboration
Making sure your marketing and sales teams are aligned is a critical point in setting up your lead scoring system.
Even though marketing is bringing in and qualifying the leads, the sales team are closer to them. So, they are more likely to understand your prospects, their pain points, and triggers much better than you. They are the ones with insights into customer profiles, tendencies, and behaviors and so should be involved in creating your scoring model.
Working on the scoring model together is sure to contribute to its success, so make sure your teams are collaborating on the project.
Incorporate Negative Scores and Discard Low-Scoring Leads
Spam was already mentioned as a possible lead factor that gets attributed a negative score as a way to know the lead is not worth the effort.
Incorporating negative scores into your lead scoring system is a valuable step in identifying negative-scoring leads that can be discarded. Your sales team will thank you for it!
Some actions that can result in a negative score are unsubscribing from your email list, filling in a form with invalid or incorrect information, or visiting your website’s job page.
Similarly, you should also consider discarding leads not with a negative but with a low score. The main goal of lead scoring is to help identify the most sales-ready leads and pass them on to sales. In the way, don’t be afraid of discarding the bad leads as a further step in streamlining your operations.
Establish Clear Goals and Review Your System
Speaking of goals, establishing them is a very important practice when implementing a lead scoring system.
You should aim to establish clear objectives for your marketing team when it comes to lead scoring, for example, generate X amount of leads with a score of Y. A clear goal will help you and your team organize as well as identify issues faster.
Additionally, lead scoring is a never-ending process.
Now, don’t think this in the overbearing direction. It simply means that you should be tracking and measuring your progress as you go and iterating and changing things whenever necessary.
As customer behaviors change, so should your scoring system to be sure it keeps up with said changes. Review your measurement parameters on a regular basis and make adjustments that reflect the times.
When implemented successfully, a lead scoring system can live up to its full potential of generating more sales and improving your business.
Challenges in Lead Scoring
However, lead scoring doesn’t come without its challenges, and one of them is hurrying the process and ending up with a system that is not properly set up.
As a result, you could see the exact opposite happen than what was mentioned before as lead scoring benefits — poorer conversion rates, sales funnel dropouts or customers who stop considering your company altogether because they were contacted too early in the process and weren’t interested enough to make a purchase.
However, there is also a lack of trust from marketers in lead scoring systems. The top two reasons for it are inconsistent data and insufficient insight into which actions or attributes better indicate buying behavior. Demand Gen Report additionally indicates the false positives that can result from inaccurate data as another reason why marketers at times feel skeptical about relying on such systems to score leads.
And finally, let’s face it — lead scoring can be a morose and time-consuming process, especially if you’re doing it manually.
But this factor, at least, is easy to solve.
Lead Scoring Automation
Without automation, lead scoring is an absolute nightmare. To be effective, you need to automate as much of the process as possible.
There are several ways to add automation to your lead scoring system. There’s predictive scoring, for instance, that uses machine learning to scan through all users’ data points to identify your best leads, so that you don’t have to do it manually. What’s more, because it relies on machine learning, predictive scoring keeps learning and getting better over time, removing the manual reviewing part from the process as well.
It sounds cool. And it is!
However, a chatbot can do just a good, if not better, job at lead scoring.
A lead scoring bot qualifies leads using a pre-defined conversation flow as the prospects engage in conversation with it. They reply to a series of qualifying questions, and the bot assigns a value to them, either qualifying or disqualifying them.
The big advantage such a bot has to offer is that it scores the lead instantly, instead of there being a need to evaluate the data after the interaction. This way, it can immediately hand off the hottest leads to a sales rep — increasing the chances of a purchase — and steer the low or negative qualified ones in a different direction.
Not just that, lead scoring bots can function on your website, but also inside a mobile app or messaging platform like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. With a single conversational flow, you’ll be able to interact and qualify leads at multiple touchpoints.
If you made it through to the end of this guide, congratulations!
You are now ready to start scoring your leads. As you’ve seen along the way, lead scoring offers multiple benefits, not just to your sales team but to your business as a whole as well.
It can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. Simply follow the best practices shared, or all the steps needed to create a bot that will automate the process for you, and you’ll be good to go!