In order to nurture your leads, it’s important to have an idea about where they are in the buyer’s journey. Are they just becoming aware that they have a problem? Are they considering all their options for solving the issue at hand? Or are they actively comparing vendors and looking at pricing? Understanding where your prospects are in the funnel can be as important as understanding who they are, especially when it comes to delivering relevant content that can nurture them along the path to conversion.
Lead scoring is one great way to pinpoint the location of your prospects on their road to purchase. Think of it like a GPS for your leads; it can show an absolute location, as well as a relative one. It provides an objective system that automatically ranks and prioritizes leads according to standards that you set.
A lead scoring system generally assigns points to contacts based on their profile (job title, company size, location, industry, etc.) as well as the actions the lead has taken (or not taken). Each lead accumulates points as they interact with your brand, whether that means opening emails and visiting your website or attending events and downloading content. In fact, the criteria for lead scoring can consist of whatever your marketing team and sales team agree on. One of the best things about lead scoring is that because it relies on benchmarks, standards, and common metrics set in tandem by sales and marketing, it can be a forcing mechanism to align the teams. This information often becomes a critical component of a service level agreement (SLA) that defines when a lead is considered sales-ready and is ready for immediate follow-up.
Need help getting sales and marketing on the same page? Download this SLA template and use it as a guide to create your own service level agreement.
Building a lead scoring program is not difficult, but it’s important that both sales and marketing team members have the opportunity to provide input into what should generate a high lead score. A new Act-On workbook, the 5-Step Guide for Creating a Lead Scoring Program, walks you through the process of setting up a lead scoring program one step at a time. Let’s take a look at each step, and discover some tips for implementing a successful lead scoring program.
Examine your current customer base before you get started. Look for common characteristics shared by your best customers.
- What are their demographics?
- What are the chief attributes of the companies they work for?
- What types of companies usually buy your product? In which industries?
- Which types of people have decision-making authority and budget to purchase your product?
- Which fields does your sales team look at first when they receive a lead, and what profile characteristics make them confident that the lead has potential?
Once you’ve identified the profile features you want to score, make sure you’re collecting that information via forms, on sales calls, or by filling in your profile information with third-party data sources. After all, the scoring model won’t work without data.
The next step is to assign criteria and point values to each profile attribute you selected. Use whatever scale of values works for you. You just need to make sure that the criteria that have more points really do indicate a higher likelihood to buy. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always just make it basic with a simple system, like this:
- 5 points means the lead is somewhat important and a possible buyer or influencer
- 10 points means they’re important and have indicated some buying potential
- 15 points means very important with a high buying potential or authority
So, for example, if your ideal buyer usually works at an organization with fewer than 1,000 employees, you can assign a lead 10 points if they work at a company that meets that condition.
If you provide content like product demos, data sheets, or buyer’s checklists, and you’ve determined that engagement with those types of assets indicate buying intent, you should assign high lead scores to them.
- What content do potential buyers usually view before making a purchase?
- Which events, eBooks, videos, and other assets are you promoting that might indicate high likelihood to buy?
- What types of behaviors indicate willingness to engage with sales?
Ask the sales team about content that they send to potential customers during the sales process. This is often a great way to pinpointing the types of content consumption and behaviors that should get higher scores.
The next step in your lead scoring process is to assign criteria and a point value to each behavior. Give bigger scores to behaviors that require more time commitment or indicate buying intent.
For example, a form submission requesting a personalized product demo would score higher than a click on an email to get entered into a contest.
Once you’ve built your lead scoring model, all you have to do is enter your lead scoring rules into your marketing automation platform. Points will automatically accumulate on each contact record once you’ve added your scoring rules.
You may need to fine-tune your approach as you put the program together. For example, if you find that leads are reaching the sales-ready score but they’re not actually ready to buy, you should probably either raise the score or adjust how many points customers accumulate.
If your marketing automation solution is integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM), you can set up your program so your sales team can see the lead score of each contact. This makes it possible for sales team members to sort, prioritize, and engage with leads.
Download the 5-Step Guide for Creating a Lead Scoring Program to get the full story, and get started with a lead scoring system of your own.