Lead scoring is an effective model that helps sales and marketing departments identify which prospects are potentially most valuable to the company and its current sales funnel. A lead scoring system only works when it is properly set up and used on a regular basis. Otherwise, it runs the risk of being a waste of marketing and sales’ time and resources.

Here are some important aspects of lead scoring and how they benefit your organization.

 
Watch a one-minute overview to learn how B2B marketing automation by Salesforce can help you increase leads, boost sales, be more productive — and transform your business.

Many lead scoring systems assign point values to different actions a lead or customer can take in the sales funnel. When a lead reaches a specific point total, they are considered a hot prospect. Knowing when to reach out to a lead can help salespeople stay on track, focus their attention on the right group of potential customers, and be more productive.

Sales and marketing teams can better judge how close a prospect or customer is to making a purchase with lead scoring. By looking at where the lead is in the sales funnel, employees can prioritize their time and resources. This allows sales to focus on customers who are about to finalize a sale, which may lead to higher conversion or close rate.

Your customers are generally more open to individualized attention than someone who is checking out your company for the first time. For instance, a consumer in the investigation or research phrase may be put off by a salesperson contacting them. However, if a customer downloaded a price sheet and requested a free quote, this likely indicates they want someone from the company to reach out and ask how they can help.

By focusing on consumers who have already reached a specific step in the sales funnel (such as asking for a free quote), salespeople are more likely to be able to lead the consumer to complete a purchase.

When implemented correctly, lead scoring has the potential to generate more sales for the company. Unfortunately, there are many lead scoring models that aren’t set up properly, which leads to poor conversion rates and sales funnel dropouts, or customers who stop considering your company for the product or service they want to buy. By contacting customers too early in the sales process, you may prevent them from becoming interested enough to hear what your sales team members have to say.

In order to properly score a lead in the sales funnel, you must decide the action that determines their shift from interest to intent. This action shows a lead has moved from the research phase, which includes actions such as watching a webinar or reading a blog post, to the next part of the funnel, where actions include completing a specific form, signing up for a free trial, or asking for a price quote.

When the consumer does something to trigger this particular action, their information can be sent to a sales team member. This is most easily done when your sales and marketing teams use integrated platforms that have a lead scoring system. This automation makes it easier for salespeople to know who to reach out to on any given day, instead of manually combing downloaded reports or contact forms for contact information.

Lead scoring makes it easier for sales to determine their top prospects, but those leads wouldn’t be coming in if it wasn’t for the marketing and advertising departments doing their part to fill the sales funnel with potential prospects. This is why it’s so important for sales and marketing to work together to determine the following:

 

  1. What makes a top prospect?
  2. What type of campaigns or content most drive top prospects into the sales funnel?

 

According to Douglas Burdett in his post “How B2B Marketers Can Use Lead Scoring to Better Arm Sales,” lead scoring can increase closing rates 30%, but this only works if sales and marketing collaborate on what drives leads most effectively. The best way to collaborate is to work in a cycle: Sales can tell marketing which customers, based on their current experience and data, close most often. This helps marketing identify where to focus their efforts. For example, if your sales team finds that after a customer downloads a price sheet, they close at a much higher rate, then marketing can channel their content and campaigns toward getting more downloads for the price sheet.

Sales can also help marketing identify key insights based on the questions or hesitations they hear from prospects. If marketing can create proactive content that answers questions, explains concepts, or clears up confusion before the customer ever gets to the intent stage, it may help sales close customers more often. This information is obviously beneficial to marketing as well: It helps refine their strategy by knowing what to focus on.

Once marketing has honed their focus and created content around what generates the most business, sales can close more leads, thus leading to increased profits and good feedback for all departments.

Once your well-organized lead scoring system is in place, and collaboration between sales and marketing has reached a good stride, it may be time to focus on predictive lead scoring, which is powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is an algorithm-based approach to the lead scoring system. AI will learn patterns based on the purchase and behavioral data of your customers, then predict when a customer will make a purchase.

Traditional lead scoring depends on people in your sales and marketing departments to determine, from data and experience, which customers to focus on. Predictive lead scoring does the research and calculations for them automatically. This technology takes a platform equipped with AI and a lot of data, so most companies that use predictive lead scoring have thousands of customers and therefore enough information to make the algorithm as accurate as possible.

However, if you have enough data and see gaps or inconsistencies with your traditional lead scoring model, it may be time to try predictive lead scoring to see if it is more accurate and can help your sales team improve the conversion rate.

As with any system or technology, lead scoring systems are only as successful as the frequency in which they are used. Sales teams will get the most out of their lead scoring strategy if they rely on it daily to determine which potential customers to focus on. If they don't, and salespeople start contacting leads who are still in the interest or research phase, they likely aren’t going to see as high of a conversion rate. This can, in turn, affect company profits or sales projections.

The same goes for marketing. If they don’t rely on regular communication and feedback from the sales team, especially in regard to how their marketing efforts impact the number of qualified leads that come in, they have little understanding of how well their efforts are working.

By making lead scoring an integral part of sales and marketing, you ensure the effort and resources required to implement this metric and process helps your sales and marketing teams become more efficient.

 
An instructional tool kit for SMB marketers.

Along with regular use, regularly scheduled maintenance and review of the lead scoring system is crucial to its success. Sales and marketing should analyze the following regularly to determine what is still effective:

  • Form Fields

    • Are lead generation forms easy to use?
    • Is there any required information (such as a lead’s phone number or job title) that isn’t used by sales and could be removed to make it easier to complete the form?
       
  • Parts of the Sales Funnel

    • Is the sales funnel still the same as it was when it was last analyzed?
    • Is there a new part, action, or tool, like an online demonstration or free tool, that needs to be added?
       
  • Latest Data

    • Has your data shown any changes in purchasing patterns or funnel path? For instance, if more customers start converting from webinars, sales teams may need to focus more of their time on reaching out to webinar attendees after the event is over.
    • Are you analyzing the right metrics and actions?

Look at your existing lead scoring, sales funnels, and multi-departmental collaboration regularly. With proper analysis and action, you can ensure your sales team gets the most qualified prospects, which will then likely close at a higher rate. Continue to harness new technology (such as AI and predictive lead scoring) when it makes sense, and focus your sales and marketing efforts on what can generate the best possible leads for your organization.

Kelsey Jones has been working in digital marketing since 2007 and journalism since 2004, gaining proficiency in social media, SEO, content marketing, PR, and web design.
 <a href="https://www.salesforce.com/products/marketing-cloud/best-practices/basic-science-behind-lead-scoring" target="_blank"><img src="https://www.salesforce.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/images/marketing-cloud/hub/basic-science-behind-lead-scoring/the-basic-science-behind-lead-scoring-embed.jpg" alt="The Basic Science Behind Lead Scoring"></a> 

Ask about Salesforce products, pricing, implementation, or anything else — our highly trained reps are standing by, ready to help.