In the beginning, there was an anonymous browser.
We didn’t know much about him, but we were eager to find out.
We knew exactly what to do.
We had to accumulate some deeper knowledge about this browser before we uncover the perfect way to introduce our help.
We tracked his behaviour, we followed him on his journey religiously after which we stored this information.
Then, suddenly there was another visitor. Very different from the first one.
He was browsing through various pages, interested in completely different content and his behaviour was a bit odd.
We start to wonder – will both of these visitors have the same amount of interest in our product and eventually become loyal customers?
So what should we do next?
How can we get them to click on that purchase button while assuring every step of their journey we show up with the right marketing message or dare we even say – a sales call?
Enter: Lead Scoring.
A method that will help us determine the visitor’s level of interest and buying potential of our product while clearing the path to better alignment between sales and marketing department.
About Lead Scoring
We talked recently about customer journey optimisation and creating a customer journey map as an important step in your marketing strategy.
Lead Scoring takes customer journey methods a step further, focusing on following your leads through the journey and segmenting them based on their actions using the point system.
Then ultimately identifying the best course of action during the different stages of the customer’s journey.
To put it simply, the purpose of Lead Scoring methodology is to arrange leads (visitors or browsers) by their readiness to buy your product.
If done right, lead scoring can provide incredible assistance in your marketing efforts.
It can assure no lead is left behind and increase the efficiency of both the marketing and sales department, which basically results in more revenue.
On top of everything, lead scoring provides clarity for your sales reps, as you may not be interested in having your sales team call a student who is looking for an internship on your website’s career page.
Not to mention a scenario when too many leads are forwarded to sales reps, making them overwhelmed and resulting in a difficult choice of which leads are qualified and which ones should be left alone.
The sales team will end up working on poorly qualified leads while other better opportunities end up lost to competitors.
According to the study done by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP), almost half of B2B sales reps list lead quantity and quality as their top challenge:
In its essence, this method will help you score leads based on their interest in your product, their current place in their customer journey and their fit in regards to your business.
Organisations usually apply scoring methods such as points, or sometimes we see rankings like A, B, C or even use of terms like hot, warm and cold.
When it comes to the data your lead scoring system will capture, it commonly comes up to demographic and firmographic attributes, such as; company size, industry and job title.
Additionally, you should strive to create the behavioural image of a given lead too, such as clicks, keywords and website visits.
This method is created because of the increasingly growing need to emphasise lead quality over lead volume. But not every lead scoring system is a good lead scoring system.
You want to know when your lead is ready to buy, not how much they like your content or are a fan of your business.
This is what we want to talk about today. Our aim is to demystify a sophisticated Lead Scoring system and show the ways of how to achieve yours.
Lead scoring basics
If you never had the opportunity to create a lead scoring system, and if you lack the data to support the system, you may start thinking it’s a guessing game.
But bear with it. You will get the rewards once we set our parameters right.
Before you start building a valuable lead scoring system, you need to know what type of data you need to include in your lead rating.
There are two types of data sets you need to consider:
Implicit and Explicit.
Implicit Scoring is based on the data you collect by observing the lead’s behaviour.
It includes any relevant online behaviour such as completed forms, opened emails or visits to the company blog page.
Additionally, it can include inferred data, such as the collected location of their IP address.
Implicit scoring answers the question:
- How interested is the lead in your product?
While Explicit Scoring is based on the information the lead tells you such as demographic or firmographic attributes.
This information often comes from filled online forms and they may include BANT information (budget, authority, need and timeline).
Explicit scoring answers the question:
- How interested are you in this lead?
By collecting both of the data sets and putting them to work, you will get the full picture of prospect’s value to your business and your value to the prospect.
To go further down the line of observing the correct data we will collect, we need to mention Behavioural, Demographic and Firmographic data.
Behavioural data is the information you gather based on the behaviour of the lead online. It will mostly fall under implicit scoring as mentioned above.
Demographic data is the set of information which includes occupation, age, gender etc. This data often needs to be shared with you, which makes it explicit scoring.
Firmographic data are characteristics that show how likely is the prospect to become a customer such as industry he operates in, role, number of employees etc.
Demographic and Firmographic data are often clustered together, which is a good practice as long as you separate them from behavioural data.
It is highly important to use both implicit and explicit scoring in your lead scoring practice.
No matter how much you can collect via an online form, it will still have its limitations, so make sure you measure the interest as well.
So, let’s get started on building your perfect lead scoring system.
Want to know implement, improve or scale your Marketing Automation Platform?
1. Contemplate your current customer
Start by gathering information about your existing customer with your sales team. Ask the right questions to get more clarity:
- What actions made them your customer?
Include data you may have collected previously: activities, campaigns, online behaviour, interaction with marketing or sales etc.
- What is the minimum criteria a lead must pass to become your customer
It may include budget, authority, need and timeline, or it may include actions they had to take online to get to a sales rep.
- What is my ideal target customer?
Identify all the qualities that make your ideal customer by comparing them to your current customers.
Align both marketing and sales by creating the profile of an ideal customer and defining what constitutes as a sales qualified lead.
Once you deepen your understanding of your customer you are ready for the next step – building a scoring system.
2. Create your Lead Scoring model
It’s a good practice to determine one scoring system and implement it across all of your marketing efforts.
That includes different campaigns and any other activities your marketing team is working on.
The reason why this is crucial is that it makes it simpler for you to, later on, fine-tune or provide clarity to your sales teams.
For instance, if in one campaign 50 points mean a lead has become SQL and in another, it takes a 100 points to be classified as such, it’s going to be hard to keep up, and naturally, mistakes will creep in.
So to determine your scoring criteria it’s helpful to first identify:
What are the critical factors that should affect the lead score?
Provided you did Step 1 as per instructions, you will already be rolling. Divide the factors into the implicit and explicit and tackle them one at the time. Don’t forget to get your sales team to approve the suggestions.
Next question to ask is:
What are the touch points where we can interact with customers?
List all the places where they can leave their information or engage with your business.
Include every single point of possible interaction:
- Online forms
- Free trials
- Phone calls
Consider the different stages of each of these interactions, it is not the same if a prospect simply opens an email without reading, or opens plus clicks on the link within it.
Break down those actions as well.
Now that we determined the critical factor and the way of gathering the beneficial data, it’s time for the next question in our process:
How to distribute points?
It’s helpful to start by marking next to every listed interaction or piece of shared information whether the activity is critical, important or even negative.
To expand to our point from the beginning of the article; if a lead downloads an e-book from your website, and in the form marks down occupation as a student, they may not be the ideal prospect.
This is the perfect example of when you should assign negative points to a lead.
Pull together all the actions and characteristics into one place and decide which one is the most worth to you.
Once you decided on the scores, determine a score threshold that will indicate a sales-ready lead.
At the beginning of this process, you can keep your scoring model simple, but in time you might optimise it to fit your exact qualified lead.
For instance, the next step would be to assign higher points for combined activities.
If in the first 3 days a lead visits the product page, attends a webinar and replies to an email – a score should reflect the context of those activities.
3. Optimise regularly
The prospect’s lead score should be continually changing.
Based on the actions they take the score should shift as the time passes.
Often businesses implement a score degradation rule, which basically correlates with time.
For example, if a lead hasn’t taken further action after signing up for a demo, the chances are they have gone another way.
The lead score should reflect the absence of action as well, especially if months pass by.
The best practice dictates that a regular quarterly review of the current lead scoring system is a must.
Otherwise, you will not be able to identify the missteps in your lead qualification process.
In your review make sure you get the answers to the following questions:
- Were there any low scoring leads that ended up converting?
- Were there any high scoring leads that didn’t convert?
Don’t worry too much about any errors, they will naturally occur, especially if you are doing this for the first time.
Remember, buying behaviour will never be 100% predictable. Every company has a different approach to procuring a new product.
If you’re setting up the lead scoring model within your marketing automation platform, remember to design your automation to make rescoring as easy as possible.
Focus on improving the system by utilising the reviews and analyzing the factors as you move further down this road.
Lead scoring is an integral part of lead management.
When you invest the time to create a lead scoring system you make the most out of every lead in your database, which directly influences the success of your marketing campaigns, increases conversion and grows revenue.
But in order to get there, you’ll need to nurture the leads that are stuck in the middle of your funnel, caught between their first conversion and a sales call.
The time has come to stop guessing how likely your leads are to convert.
A lead scoring plan will help you move to a new era, where you will find that the mutual frustration between marketing and sales teams slowly disappears.
How ViroCyt uses lead scoring to improve their sales efforts
ViroCyt is a life-science start-up that is selling a very focused product to a niche customer base.
For them, lead quality is essential because as a start-up they don’t have resources to go after lead quantity.
Also, they want to go beyond just collecting customer details, which makes lead scoring the best method to improve their sales cycle.
They have executed a lead scoring process by following the steps below:
1. Collecting prospect’s details on the website through forms
2. Looking into the actions they have performed before leaving their details (page visits, content downloads or webinar sign-ups)
3. Scoring the actions. For instance:
- Click on a page = 1 point
- Content download = 10 points
- Sign up for a webinar = 13 points
3. Nurturing leads to a certain score, after which they pass them on to sales as marketing qualified leads.
Greg Krueger, the Vice President of Global Sales at ViroCyt shared in his interview with Life Science Marketing Radio, lead scoring needs our constant attention.
The lead scoring process is never going to be finished and they will always be tweaking it.
However, by publishing specific pieces of content and by including sales emails in the lead nurturing process they are able to zoom into the lead’s behaviour.
We know by now how beneficial re-tweaking can be for improving the lead scoring process.
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