Before you call me crazy or bring out sales and marketing professionals worldwide to blow up my twitter feed, let me explain! Lead scoring does not work unless you have a full marketing and technology stack to score lead activities correctly and a tightly aligned sales and marketing team to take action, providing timely feedback on lead interactions and lead quality. Now see, that statement was certainly too long for a blog title, and search engines only allow so many characters to show in titles anyway.
Now that I’ve gotten your attention, let’s dive deeper into a rock-solid lead scoring methodology. As a disclaimer, it’s important to understand that every organization can, and should, have a unique approach to their lead scoring model to ensure it aligns with how they operate and that it reflects the level of information they can access. This customized approach is what earns the trust of the sales team. In statistical terms, we want a lead score with a high confidence interval and statistical significance.
My goal is to give you a basic framework to quickly implement a lead scoring program. The framework is flexible, allowing you to grow and make adjustments to the model as your knowledge increases. Consider the following five steps as the foundation to your lead scoring efforts.
5 Steps to Effective Lead Scoring
- Take inventory and research current customer touch points.
Before developing a lead-scoring model, first, determine what interaction and data variables are available to leverage in the model. The concept is similar to cooking a meal. Before you determine what to cook, you first have to understand the ingredients and cooking tools that are available to you. I recommend starting by documenting all of your marketing channels and reviewing where those channels have impacted closed-won opportunities (customers).
- Score your touch points.
Once you have a good understanding of your touch points, the next stage is to score them. But first, you need to determine the goal of the lead scoring effort. Once your team understands the goal, move to determining the significance of the various touch points by discussing them with current customers and with your sales team. You won’t need to make guesses given the reference data that can be used as a check. If you are a startup, however, you have to base it on guidance from your sales and marketing team and validate as you begin to close customers.
- Implement a sales and marketing technology stack.
While it’s certainly possible to score a lead without the use of technology, it’s not practical to do so at scale. Many key interactions happen within digital environments that are impossible to track without the assistance of technology. I’m making the case that if you are serious about lead scoring (which I know you are if you’re still reading this post), you have to be serious about implementing a sales and marketing technology stack that reflects today’s modern marketing approaches.
You have plenty of options in this area, and honestly, we recommend speaking with a consultant who works with multiple platforms to advise you on the stack that best meets your needs. Too often we see clients who have been sold on a series of tools with great capabilities, but those tools do not meet their needs for a number of reasons. The platforms that make up your marketing technology stack are like a marriage, so give considerable thought before tying the knot. Focus on goals and compatibility, and proceed with caution.
- Score current contacts and refine.
By this fourth stage, you should have a well-defined scoring model and a technology stack capable of collecting key scoring data and tabulating a corresponding score based on a prospect’s interactions. Now, it’s time to run your existing account and contact data through the model and confirm the results.
In our experience, this exercise often reveals the need for additional actions, including a data clean-up effort. Data clean-up is important to ensure you have the most actionable data with high engagement rates. A good place to start is with leads that are scoring low and have significant age compared to the majority of records in your database.
Once you have a sound data set, you should test and validate your scoring model regularly. The frequency of this review depends on the volume of lead flow being managed. We have found that higher lead-flow organizations should review more frequently (approximately every 45 to 60 days), while organizations with lower lead flows may need only a quarterly review. As a rule of thumb, we suggest reviewing new models every 7 to 14 days for the first month.
- Train the sales and marketing team and provide SLAs .
Companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9 percent more sales reps making quota. (Source: CSO Insights) Sales professionals do not have a good handle on how to manage marketing qualified leads that need to be sales qualified. This reality can create a massive hold on your lead management process if not addressed as a part of scoring. It’s imperative that sales teams know how to handle leads and accurately report on lead activities. Sales teams have a significant impact on lead scoring. In some cases, it means verifying the quality of a score, while in other cases it’s documenting lead activities, which drive lead score values in both positive and negative directions. Having some type of Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place between sales and marketing teams will help drive mutual accountability for the shared information how will be used.
Lead scoring is an important element of modern sales and marketing processes. While lead scoring is an intensive exercise, it’s not impossible. It’s worth the time and effort because, when done correctly, it adds tremendous value to the quality of leads passed to your sales team. Take the time to demystify your lead scoring model, and start giving your sales team the best leads, while holding the others for a little more nurturing.