Are you getting lots of leads but not enough sales? Lead scoring can help you practice smart B2B sales triage, while boosting conversions and revenues.

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While having too many leads may sound like a nice problem to have, it can actually be worse than not having enough leads.

Wait, Too Many Leads Can Be A Problem?

The reason too many leads can be a problem has to do with separating the wheat from the chaff. Most marketing organizations hand off huge lists of leads and expect sales to call them.

After a few calls, most salespeople give up, deriding the leads as weak. And then the finger pointing begins.

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This antiquated approach is counter-productive and creates inefficiencies in an organization’s revenue generation abilities. Sales, in particular, can waste a lot of time and effort in sifting through all the leads. Meanwhile, the strong leads (that have been sitting under a pile of weak ones) may get away because they were not contacted in a timely manner.

“B2B marketers who emphasize lead volume over lead quality reduce sales efficiency, increase campaign costs, and fuel the gap between sales and marketing. To generate qualified demand, marketers need technology and processes that capture lead quality information; validate, score, and classify leads; develop programs to nurture leads that don’t yet warrant sales attention; and define metrics that directly identify marketing’s contribution to the sales pipeline and closed deals.”

Laura Ramos, Forrester Research

Sales Triage for B2B Marketers

Enter lead scoring, an objective ranking of one sales lead against another.

Lead scoring is a process of ranking a lead’s interest level and sales readiness based on a methodology agreed upon by marketing and sales. Companies can score leads in a variety of ways by assigning points and implementing rankings like “hot,” “warm,” or “cold.” Or A, B, C, or D.

Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Throughout the buying process, some customers are more ready to buy than others. And marketing and sales need to agree on the characteristics of a sales ready lead.

It will boil down to a combination of “fit” and “interest.”

Lead Scoring Matrix

If there is a fit but low interest, marketing needs to nurture the lead. If there is a fit and interest, sales needs to follow up quickly.

The actual scoring should incorporate a combination of explicit data and implicit data. Explicit data is information the prospect provides such as title, industry, company, etc. Implicit data is what is revealed by the prospect’s online behavior such as pages visited, and recency or frequency of visits.

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Caution: Lead scoring fails approximately 100% of the time if sales is not involved in determining what constitutes a “qualified” lead. Don’t leave this determination entirely up to the marketing people.

And remember, lead scoring is not done only to chase the hot leads and ignore the rest. The goal of lead scoring is to identify which leads can be sent to sales and which leads need further nurturing from marketing so that, to borrow a military expression, “no lead is left behind.”

Does Lead Scoring Work?

In an Eloqua study of 10 B2B companies using lead scoring systems, on average, deal close rates increased by 30 percent; company revenue increased by 18%; and revenue per deal increased by 17%

Companies that get lead scoring right have a 192% higher average lead qualification than those that do not, according to Aberdeen Research. And a 10% improvement in lead quality can result in a 40% improvement in sales productivity, according to Cisco.

Never Stop Tweaking Your Scores

There are two secrets to lead scoring: 1) getting started, and 2) never stop analyzing and tweaking your lead scoring methodology. The more information and time that you have to refine your lead scoring, the more valuable your B2B sales “secret sauce” will become.

A few lead scoring optimization tips:

  • Review the scores of your won and lost opportunities. Were the scores where they should have been?
  • Look at the high scores that did not convert into sales. Is there anything that could have been done to lower the score so that sales could have been more efficient?
  • Check your demographic scoring to see if any of those variables (i.e. stated by the prospect) are throwing off the scoring.
  • Watch their digital body language. What do your best leads’ online behavior look like? Is there something most of them have in common (e.g. a certain page view threshold)?

That which can be measured can be improved! Lead scoring can dramatically improve your sales effectiveness and revenue generation. The most important step to take is getting started. Now, go get ‘em – and leave no lead behind!

Photo credit: NOAA FishWatch Chart graphics courtesy of HubSpot and Marketo

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