improve ROILead scoring has become an integral part of lead generation today, especially for larger businesses that generate hundreds of leads each day.

When done well, lead scoring enables sales teams to become more productive by focusing on those prospects most likely to purchase. It can also help guide marketing in the creation of campaigns that deliver more high-quality leads. And for agencies contracted to drive leads to enterprise clients, lead scoring can be an invaluable means of proving the quality, impact, and ROI of your programs.

But while there is no shortage of advice for marketers on how to score leads that convert online, there is very little on how to score the inbound calls your marketing generates. And the two lead types are quite different.

A web lead is someone who filled out a form on your site or landing page and moved on with their day. They might not expect (or even want) your sales team to contact them. But someone who calls you is expecting to speak with you right away, even though it might not be in your best interest to have a sales manager speak with them. Scoring these calls requires a different mindset and a different set of technologies than scoring web leads.

If you are interested in scoring the phone leads you generate for your own business or for clients, below are some four ways to do it. I’m presenting them as an integrated, step-by-step process, but you may choose to use just one or two of these techniques, depending on the nature of your campaigns and business.

Step 1: IVR Virtual Receptionist for Filtering Out Bad Calls

While inbound calls are often the most lucrative lead type, it’s important to remember that not every call is created equal. Studies show that 19% of inbound calls are high-quality sales leads, but others are often mundane inquiries for things like business hours and store directions. Many calls will also be job requests, misdials, or solicitations. Wasting marketing budget on campaigns that drive these calls is bad enough, but you don’t want to compound the problem by having your sales staff waste time answering them.

That’s why marketers often send calls to an IVR virtual receptionist first to qualify callers. The IVR will ask callers the questions you determine work best to qualify them. It may be as simple as “press 1 for sales, press 2 for support, press 3 for account information, press 4 for business hours, etc.” Forcing callers to pick an option can weed out the misdials and robocalls, and provide answers to callers inquiring about non-sales related matters or account information.

You can also create a list of more elaborate and campaign-specific questions the IVR can ask each caller to determine if they are really sales-ready. For the ones that are, they can be routed to a sales manager to assist, while the ones that aren’t can be sent to a voicemail box or even a second IVR menu to assist them.

Step 2: Keyword Spotting for Automated Call Quality Scoring

The next step after filtering out the bad calls is to score the quality of the ones sent to sales. Since it obviously isn’t practical to listen to every conversation to access value, you can automate the process with keyword spotting technology. Keyword spotting monitors conversations between callers and sales agent for the keywords you determine best indicate a lead’s quality (if the lead says “buy” or “pricing” or “appointment,” for example). It then scores the call based on the appearance and frequency of those words, and who said them.

The keywords and scoring system you use are customizable for each campaign and can also be adjusted to improve accuracy. It’s a great way for enterprises with high call volumes to measure call quality, and for agencies and lead gen services that need an easy way to prove the quality of the leads they send to clients.

Step 3: Call Recording for Proving Call Value

Hearing really is believing, and sometimes when scoring phones leads there is just no substitute for listening to the actual conversation. That’s why many companies record their sales calls as a way to evaluate quality and measure the effectiveness of sales agent performance.

True, manually examining call recordings is not practical for large marketing campaigns with high call volumes. That’s what keyword spotting is for. But call recordings can come in handy when you need to double-check scores from keyword spotting reports or prove to doubting executives that your scoring data is accurate.

Step 4: Call Tracking and CRM Integration to Follow Phone Leads Through the Sales Cycle

At the end of the day, the ultimate judge of phone lead quality is whether the caller converted to a sales opportunity or a customer. That may be something that can happen on the call, but it might also take weeks or months, even years, depending on the products or services being marketed. So marketers wishing to pass final and definitive judgment on phone lead quality from a campaign need a way to follow each call through the sales cycle to revenue.

To get that data you would first need to use unique call tracking numbers in your marketing that can tie calls back to the specific source and channel that generated them. Then you would need to integrate that call tracking data with your CRM system to follow the lead through the sales cycle. While getting final data for campaigns could take time, that data should provide the final word on if a campaign really worked, how it impacted the business, and whether or not it’s worth redoing.