What is lead scoring and how do you implement it? Let us explain.

If you’re engrained in the world of marketing, then you probably know what a lead is. In fact, it’s probably what you consider a crucial aspect of connecting marketing and sales—the thing that ultimately drives your business and creates relationships between your company and your customers.

How do you prioritize those leads though? How do you know which leads to direct attention to and what messages to point their way? Enter lead scoring. Lead scoring is an integral way to categorize and prioritize qualified leads.

So how does it work? Read on for our crash course in lead scoring 101.

The Value of Lead Scoring

In the most basic sense, you can think of lead scoring as a great organizational tool.

In marketing and tech these days, it seems we’re always trying to find those great ‘hacks’ and productivity tools to help us do our jobs better and more efficiently. Lead scoring is like that. The bonus is that lead scoring actually also benefits those prospective customers.

By using lead scoring, not only are you allocating resources and attention to the leads most likely to become customers, but you are making sure the right leads are receiving the right messages that will benefit them in their path to purchase. If you bombard all leads with similar messages, because you have not implemented ways to tell who is qualified or not, you’re wasting your time, and theirs too.

Getting Started

To begin a lead scoring process for your company, you need to evaluate a few things first. If you aren’t generating enough leads, then first focus on creating leads rather than jumping right into categorizing and prioritizing them.

Is there a good system of communication between your sales and marketing departments? If you find a breakdown in these relationships, that’s a big issue you’ll need to solve first.

You need to identify what your ideal buyer personas are, and what a qualified lead for your business looks like. You can also read our other blogs about targeting qualified leads. The idea is that without first understanding who your main prospects are, you’ll run into some trouble with scoring them.

Things you should consider when determining what a qualified lead looks like is industry, role in a company or job title, whether it’s a product or service-based business, location or reach. Determine who best suits your business and who you need to talk to for your ideal partnership.

Lastly, you need to be sure you’re gathering the right data. Lead scoring is based on the information customers and prospective customers are giving you about their quality as a lead, and their interactions with your business. If you’re not sure what kind of data you need, or where to get it, we’ll talk about that later in this post.

Setting Up Lead Scoring

Determining what your qualified lead looks like is so important, because it will help you place real values on who to reach out to and when. These values come in the form of points.

You can create a point scale that suits your needs, but typically using a 1-100 scale is easiest. Consider point assignments for every aspect of a prospective customer. This is where your ideal buyer persona will come in handy.

Use past information to help you make informed decisions about assigning point values. For example, if you find that the leads that are most likely to become a customer come from the sales department of a large company in Nashville, you can place higher point values on sales titles, size of company, and specific locations.

Let’s then say that a title of Sales Manager gets 10 points, while a Customer Service Representative may only get 3 points, because they are less likely to be interested in your business. And a company of 500+ employees also is allotted 10 points, whereas a company of 1-10 employees receives none, because they are not likely to need or want your services.

Additional considerations should be made for the level of interaction a lead has had with your business. If a lead has filled out forms, downloaded content, or visited your website habitually, they should be scored accordingly. A prospect who has only visited your website once, or who has navigated to a landing page through an ad, can receive a different set of points.

Consider from past experience how many pages of your website have been visited before a purchase is made. You can score each page visited as a different amount of points as well, such as giving a higher point value to someone who looks at a services and pricing page, over someone who comes to your website but only looks at your blog.

It’s up to you and your sales team to hash out a comprehensive point system. It’s imperative to leave no stone unturned and make sure you have all variables accounted for. Having an organized system will save time and energy when deciding which leads should be followed up on. By having the scoring in place, all the guesswork will be taken out.

What to Do with Lead Scores

Now that you have a scoring system in place, you need to establish the actions taken dependent on overall scores.

It goes without saying that a lead that scores highest is probably most qualified, and may be well suited to be ready for purchase. Because you know this through scoring, you can be prepared to follow up with a sales call or additional content that has been created for those who have traveled to the bottom of your sales funnel.

Leads who have scored lower, may still be qualified, but need more information, or a little push, to get them to travel farther towards making a purchase. You can then target these leads with appropriate levels of communication, support, and content.

Determine which score is too low to spend any resources on. If a prospect does not reach a certain threshold, whether it’s by not being the right person to contact about a proposal or by not being located in the right region, you should use best judgment on how to proceed. But most likely, if this type of lead hasn’t been fruitful in the past, it may not make economic sense to devote attention to them now.

That being said, one of the best ways to get new and returning customers is by having great customer service. Also consider that if an interested buyer doesn’t fit your profile of a qualified lead, that doesn’t mean they should be completely ignored. If they reach out to you, find out what it is they are looking for. If there’s nothing you can help them with, they still will walk away having a good impression of your business, and they may recommend you to someone who really does fit your ideal buyer profile.

Keeping this in mind, it could be a good idea to use A/B testing. Trying different methodologies for the varying levels of scores for your leads can result in finding the best solutions which have the best results.

Keeping Track of Your Lead Scoring Information

Now I said before we’d talk about the kinds of information you’ll need. Hopefully you are already using methods to keep track of website visitor data, download numbers, email click-throughs and the like. These are the data points that will be crucial in determining lead scores.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all on your own. There are a number of marketing automation programs out there to help your business with lead scoring. One of our favorites is, of course, HubSpot. HubSpot keeps track of valuable data for use in marketing, and so the built in lead scoring tracker is a natural integration for the tool.

Tools such as HubSpot’s lead scoring also help the communication between marketing and sales departments. Once it’s determined that a lead has a high enough score, and you have enough information to reach out to them, funnel that lead to sales and let them do the rest. In a harmonious relationship, marketing sets the lead up, and sales closes the deal.

HubSpot has easy to fill out forms for point allocations, and specifies criteria for actions to be taken. By using a lead scoring tool like HubSpot, you can be set up and ready to score in no time.

In the end, lead scoring will keep your sales team from complaining that they aren’t getting enough qualified leads, and marketing won’t complain that sales isn’t following up on the right leads.

Never again will your leads get lost in the channels between marketing and sales. Lead scoring creates more efficient ways of doing sales and marketing, and allows you to better serve your leads through more targeted content. This benefits you, your business, and the potential customers.

How’s that for a productivity hack?