6 Lead Scoring Lessons for Better Lead Conversion

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Lead scoringLead scoring has changed the game for sales and marketing professionals over the past several years, and we’re starting to see much more widespread adoption of the practice and the marketing automation technology that makes it possible.

Good marketing automation provides a strong platform for marketers to understand the digital engagement prospects have with their brand, which by itself is a significant benefit. Businesses of all sizes can now understand better than ever the effect messaging is having on market segments. Messaging can be analyzed in real time, and campaigns can be adjusted based on strong data and prospects’ behaviors. In short, lead scoring and marketing automation gives marketing a quick-read thermometer they’ve never had before.

The lead scoring caveat

Lead scoring is relatively simple to do, but you won’t fully realize its full impact unless you bring both sales and marketing to the table in an integrated approach leveraging this technology.

We at NuGrowth (www.nugrowth.com) have a unique view on this. We are a fully outsourced sales and marketing partner focusing on driving net new business for our clients. In effect, we provide fully operational branch sales and marketing office for our customers, who range from tiny startups to large public companies. Based on our last 20 years of hands-on experience working across multiple industries and client engagements, we have found it is critical to ensure sales and marketing are connected on the concept and valuations of lead scoring. When they are, results and revenue can truly be multiplied over time. This is because lead scoring is a mechanism that when done correctly helps both sales and marketing meet the prospective buyer at the right time in the buy cycle.

Recently, we had the opportunity to present a webinar detailing six key lessons we’re learned in deploying lead scoring. We believe these lessons are beneficial to all sales and marketing teams leveraging the approach.  They have provided critical results to NuGrowth clients, and we work to make them best practices in our engagements. They are:

 1.       Leadership buy-in to a lead scoring approach is critical.

One recent survey mentioned that 84% of respondents said their primary reason for implementing a lead scoring system was to achieve added revenue (Gleansight Lead Prioritization Report, Gleanster Research).  We would argue that 100% of those firms that implement this approach will fail to realize the full value of lead scoring unless they align their organizations to take advantage of the information.  When done right, a lead scoring approach can change the way an organization operates together, and leaders need to be on board.

2.       Sales & marketing are NOT separate.

Lead scoring is a constantly evolving process.  When done right, it is not a “set-it and forget-it” approach.  Sales teams and marketing teams need to work together to ensure that the leads that are coming in the door are quality leads, and together define the behaviors that can identify what part of the buy cycle a prospect is in.

For example, if a whitepaper written by the marketing team is designed to influence buyers that are late in a buy cycle, but sales is repeatedly finding that it is really having an effect and generating interest much earlier in the cycle, lead scoring algorithms can be adjusted to this change. The teams need a regularly scheduled cadence of meetings to give two-way qualitative feedback. For marketers, it’s critical to have answers to these questions:

  • How does sales give feedback within their CRM on the effectiveness of the lead?
  •  What areas are you asking them to check off, mark down, provide feedback on?
  • For leads deemed unqualified, are you ensuring the WHY of this is documented?

Watch face3.      Prompt delivery of leads, and well-timed follow-up, is crucial.

A lead that is scored as marketing qualified, or “sales ready”, must be delivered quickly to the sales representatives responsible for reaching out. That sales representative should follow up promptly – as your market dictates the definition of the word.   This process must be measured to ensure the leads that are being delivered are actually bringing the sales conversations that are necessary for success.

As for what “prompt” actually means: This varies according to your market; it’s our experience that sooner is not always better. As an example, suppose your marketing automation system shows you that a prospect is, at this very moment, browsing a page that historically converts well. A sales rep might get an alert about this. Whether the rep picks up the phone depends upon whether the prospect would appreciate such a quick response, or whether the prospect would feel uncomfortable with the sensation of being watched. Know your audience and how they will respond, then you and your team can plan and time the appropriate actions.

In addition, there is a difference between an inbound lead requesting a CONTACT ME NOW and a lead qualified by a score who hasn’t explicitly raised their hand for contact. Our own best practices for leads who have “Sales Ready” lead scores are not the same as they are for inbound leads. In many engagements, we have not found that calling a website visitor while they are still browsing through pages to be effective.  However when we get a demo request we call immediately. Be aware of what works and strategize your workflow around it.

 4.      It’s critical to keep sales educated about campaigns.

Gone are the days marketing can devise a campaign and then throw leads over to sales. Because lead scores are impacted in real time, sales should be educated consistently on the campaigns that are being used to drive them. For sales, the context and background of the campaign can help them drive educated and informative conversations with prospects.  This leads to more fulfilling conversations, better relationships, and ultimately more opportunity for revenue.

5.      Duplicates are a killer.

It is imperative that your CRM system be clean. Duplicate data is one of the biggest time wasters that is possible in this process.  Investing the time and resources to have clean data is critical to success.  Sales needs to trust that the leads that are presented can be called in a timely manner without having to do a lot of back research in your system.  Marketing needs to be able to confidently message to leads at the right time and place.  Neither can be executed well if your database is filled with duplicate or incomplete data.

6.      Score the whole sales cycle!

In some ways, the term “lead scoring” is a bit misleading. We can glean great information from a lead score throughout the whole buying cycle.  Do you need to bubble up clients that have interacted with recent whitepapers? Do you need to understand how your immediate sales pipeline is interacting with your content online? Do you need to help your service team understand who is definitely not reading the FAQs they put out?  Lead scoring can be used for all of these.

The technology of lead scoring is a game changer if used correctly. Whether you are a new user of the technology, or have used it for years, taking some time to refine your approach can be critical to a successful implementation, and can drastically impact the success of your program.

Want to learn more? Watch the on-demand webinar, “Lead Scoring: The Science of Sales Conversion,” sponsored by Act-On.

watch the webinar

NuGrowth Solutions is a sales and marketing as a service organization specializing in business development, customer relationship management, and digital marketing. NuGrowth helps B2B companies build world-class sales and marketing organizations using proven, scalable processes for acquiring new clients. Follow Paul Fuller: @nugrowth

Photo, “Clock,” by Earls37a, used under permission of a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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  • Jay McBain

    Great points about sales and marketing alignment – and speed of response is critical.

    • bri44any

      I agree. Our culture is extremely sensitive to timing and speed.

  • bri44any

    As an advocate for the marketing/sales relationship, I urge everyone to at least read #4 in this list. The real-time collaboration, insights and results that can be accomplished when marketing and sales are on the same page about their current efforts and future plans is remarkable.

  • Thomas Craft

    Interesting piece, as a manager I believe that being on board and aligned with your lead scoring approach is often overlooked as well as the wasted time and energy on duplicate data. It has taken us months to come together (sales and marketing) and embrace one approach. I will pass this along to others on our team..

  • Carrie

    The 3 imperative questions in #2 are well stated. We are going through the process now of putting together an exact process so that our sales team are all aware of what needs to happen and when to ensure leads are passed to, and followed up on correctly. I will definitely be making sure we ask those questions!

    • http://www.nugrowth.com Paul Fuller

      Hey Carrie,

      We’ve found that if we define these things up front, and they are understood, it takes A LOT of questions out of the equation and messaging gets much more effective over time.

  • Tim

    Paul, I couldn’t agree more about not all “sales ready” leads are actually sales ready. While lead scoring can be really effective, there is definitely the possibility of a lead being over scored. Good point also about duplicate data. You certainly want to keep your database free of garbage

    • http://www.nugrowth.com Paul Fuller

      Thanks Tim. I’ve found that those are a couple of the biggest time issues that are faced.

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