The 7 Steps of Lead Scoring

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All leads are not created equal. Some are almost ready to buy when you find them, but most are in an earlier stage of the buyer’s journey. The beauty of lead scoring is that once you’ve identified the characteristics and behaviors of leads at the various stages of readiness, you can apply a point system to those factors. As leads come into your sales funnel and interact with you, they essentially define where they are and how fast they’re progressing. Lead scoring lets you see that definition, and helps indicate what the next step for that lead should be. Here are seven steps to getting started:

1. Understand lead scoring

Most scoring systems use ranking criteria that fall into two categories:

  • Demographic/firmographic. This may include a lead’s job title and department, as well as their company’s size, revenue and industry focus.
  • Behavioral. What sort of “online body language” does a prospect exhibit? Examples include website visits, responses to email offers, marketing content downloads, and a willingness to complete online registration forms.

There are two ways to gather your data: “Explicit” information is what the contact tells you, such as job title. “Implicit” data is gathered by observation, such as tracking which web pages a contact visits.

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2. Gather your lead scoring team

Create a lead scoring team that includes both sales and marketing stakeholders. Your sales managers and field reps can tell you which traits define their ideal prospect – and which traits suggest a poor one. The marketing team, in turn, can work this real-world feedback into a lead scoring model.

 3. Define your scoring criteria

  • Go back through your historical deal data and existing sales pipeline data. Which traits can you identify that are typically associated with closed deals? Which ones tend to indicate deals that either fall through or take longer to close?
  • Also take a close look at your marketing automation and website analytics. Even a basic analytics system will show you that successful deals often begin with certain types of behavior – pages visited, content downloaded, forms filled out. Keep it simple!

4. Build your lead scoring system

  • Decide what matters: Some scoring criteria are far more important than others. Viewing a product demo, for example, is more important than just visiting your website home page when it comes to identifying a hot sales lead.
  • Decide what doesn’t matter: Do certain scoring criteria tell you that a prospect is less likely to buy? That’s just as important.
  • Set your scoring thresholds: Your lead scoring team should decide how to segment your leads based on their scores. Your process could use letter grades or a point-based system, or it could simply separate leads into groups like “hot,” “warm,” and “cold.”

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5. Create your action plan

  • Define your process for delivering hot leads to sales reps. How quickly should these leads reach a sales rep? Who is responsible for approving and routing leads? How is the actual lead data transferred to the sales pipeline?
  • Decide what to do with warm leads. Lead nurturing is one good answer, and for many companies is one of the biggest long-term benefits of a lead scoring system.
  • Decide what to do with cold leads.

6. Measure your progress

  • Compare your lead scoring models to actual results. Are “hot” prospects leading to a consistently high number of closed deals? Is there a disconnect between what the scoring data tells you and what the sales reps actually see?
  • When your sales reps spot problems with the process, you need to know about them. It’s also important to review the data from your marketing automation, CRM and sales force automation systems, looking for patterns that show whether your current scoring model is delivering the goods.

 7. Refine your process

Your testing and tracking process should constantly identify new ways to refine your lead scoring. If your sales pipeline data suggests that certain “hot” scoring criteria don’t matter, for example, then your next step is to figure out which data points will be more useful for identifying hot prospects.

The most important part of the process is to keep it simple. Experiment with a few factors until you find what works best, and follow the data where it leads you.

For more thorough guidance on lead scoring, read Act-On’s Introduction to Integrated Marketing: Lead Scoring white paper.

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  • Stacy Gentile

    Act-On and Invigra are co-hosting a webinar on June 6th 2013 on Lead Scoring Fundamentals. Follow this link to attend: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/145/73077

  • Lisa L

    When first implementing lead scoring we looked at all these examples of behavioral scoring criteria and Act|On has been an excellent tool to track where our site sees the most engagement. After some refining and revisiting of our initial setup, we have become better at identifying hot leads.

  • Bobby Holt

    I think the most important part of a lead scoring system, is making sure that you’re sales team actually uses it. It can be a great system, but if no one uses it, it’s useless.

  • Joe Goehring

    Lead scoring is an ongoing dialogue between sales and marketing. We’re constantly pinging sales for ways to more accurately provide accurate lead scores to the sales team based on new campaigns and the criteria of our prospects.

  • Thomas Craft

    Great article! We have been using a lead scoring method similar to what is described above and we have noticed an almost 20% increase in success for our nurtured leads.

  • Steve Thielke

    Nice article, we are looking at implementing a nurturing system and these items will certainly help us get the most out of it through Act-On Thanks!

  • Ryan Pratt

    Love the “typical lead scoring” chart! I’m always thinking about the positives but this also includes great examples of bad prospects/negative scoring.

  • bri44any

    I’ve saved these graphics–great reminder quick-reference

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