April 8

Lead scoring thoughts to share

Lead Generation


Recently, I’ve been having more conversations with marketers about lead scoring and how they can use it as a part of the overall lead qualification and nurturing process.

The question “what is lead scoring?” also came up during the “Broad Reach + Intelligent Lead Nurturing = Increased Revenue” webinar I participated in yesterday with Scott Mersy of Genius.com, Andrew Gaffney of DemandGen Report, Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions.

So, what is lead scoring anyway?
Here’s how I see it. Lead scoring helps quantify the value of a lead based on: the profile of the prospect, behavior (online and/offline), demographics and the likelihood to buy within a defined time frame. Often there is explicit User-Supplied Data (e.g., Registration Forms) and Implicit User-Tracked Behavior (e.g., what content have they engaged?) included in the scoring as well.

Lead scoring can be helpful, but when you have a complex sale, it’s just only part of what’s needed to qualify sales ready leads. It’s the human touch of conversation that provides the certainty that a lead is sales ready and that comes from the many nuances gleaned from a personal interaction.

I’ve noticed a lot of marketers with a complex sale are using lead scoring as the only means of lead qualification before they route leads to their sales team.

Lead scoring is not a substitute for human touch. Rather, it prioritizes where you need invest the human touch.

Still, the recipe for implementing a lead scoring program remains largely a mystery for most marketers. This subject deserves more attention than I am giving it in this post, but I will explore this in more detail in future posts.

To start, here are the main elements of lead scoring:

  1. Targeting/Messaging/Calls-to-Action (right people, right companies?)
  2. Explicit User-Supplied Data (e.g., Registration Forms)
  3. Implicit User-Tracked Behavior (e.g., what content have they engaged? online and offline)
  4. Phone Qualification & Discovery
  5. Sales Qualification & Discovery

Points 4 and 5 are areas that often get overlooked and may lead to the expectation that leads are sales ready, when they may not be. Lead scoring and automation support a process of lead qualification, but there are more fundamental aspects of lead management that often get overlooked.

Share your thoughts or questions on lead scoring in the comments.

Related post:
Lead Gen Tactics from 4 MarketingSherpa Case Studies

Lead Generation Check list – Part 4: Clear and Universal Lead Definition

Intro to Lead Generation: How to determine if a lead is qualified

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Hi Brian,

    Agree with your 5 elements of lead scoring. In this fast paced environment, marketers have very little time to create a campaign, launch it, generate sales ready leads and measure ROI. With automation, there is a tendency to accelerate the lead qualification process and shortcut the handover of sales ready leads. The issue is also compounded by many vendors who try to present a simplistic picture of lead qualification and how their solution will provide easy nirvana. But your article clearly shows there are no shortcuts. The process had to employ a well crafted strategy of automation and human touch.

  2. Brian,

    I’m starting to believe that many marketing strategies are now becoming over-automated and rely too heavily on scoring. Setting up the automated processes takes up valuable time and effort that, in many scenarios, should be spent elsewhere.

    One example at my firm:

    We had a renewal campaign for our subscription based web application in which we would email, snail mail, and then eventually call clients with upcoming renewal dates.

    Members of the team put a ton of time and human resources into presenting an NPS (net promoter score) survey to be presented to these folks at login a few months before they were to receive their phone call from us. Why? To know how they feel about us before we call them, in order to pre-determine call strategy.

    To me that’s just insane. Why not save all of those man hours and just ask the client, when we call them, and adjust on the fly?

    I enjoyed the article and look forward to reading more. I am a proponent of lead scoring and automation, and just wanted to point out that it tends to be overutilized, in my view.

    – Steve

  3. Hi Brian,

    I had a chance to watch your webinar last week, and thought the group shared a lot of good insight.

    One thing known with certainty is that all leads are not created equal. This makes lead scoring crucial for marketers so they can determine prospect readiness and take appropriate action at the right time. Increasingly, automation is key, since spreadsheets and calculators can no longer handle the volume of leads and their varying sources, interactions and demographics. Marketers don’t have time to track leads and crunch complex numbers while also crafting innovative product campaigns.

    Similarly, metrics used to track and evaluate marketing programs must change. Today, a simple hit on a Web site might mean far less than a combination of hits or other actions by the same prospect over time.

    This isn’t to say that metrics regarding hits on Web sites are unimportant, or that you shouldn’t track email clicks. However, they’re no longer the endpoint; instead they’re just the beginning of real marketing analytics, which determine where each lead is in the buying process, and how to respond.

    Marketers must change how to track and score prospect behavior to determine when a lead is truly ready to be passed to sales. As part of this, marketers must also identify ways to nurture early leads into “sales ready” buyers. What this means is that marketing needs to recognize which leads are ripe and which still need time on the vine — then grow those leads accordingly. Lead scoring helps make an accurate determination of how ripe each lead really is.
    We have a whitepaper on the “ABC’s of Lead Scoring” to all that are interested can find it on our website at http://www.leadlife.com/leadlife_whitepapers.aspx.
    Thank you for all your valuable insight, Brian, and I look forward to reading more of your postings.

    Meredith Smith
    LeadLife Solutions

  4. Hi Brian,

    Great post. I really like the 5 elements of lead scoring.

    However, I think this is barely scratching the surface of lead scoring, how it should be construct and how it should be used in order to really get value out of it.

    There are a lot of tools and companies out there that say that they have lead scoring capabilities, but are limited in what they really offer. Lead scoring must include your 5 elements as well as the user behavior history online and offline. Without incorporating the user behavior and interaction history you will get a misleading lead score that instead of saving you time and truly prioritizing your sales efforts, it will only make you waste time on unqualified leads.
    I would use your 5 elements as a checklist when choosing such tool and make sure any tool I pick can provide these lead scoring capabilities.

    Check out our blog post on lead scoring and how to use it: http://www.optify.net/lead-generation/lead-scoring-qualify-leads-automatically/

    Thanks again for this post.

  5. Also whenever there is a hand off from lead gen team to biz dev or from biz dev to a sales person there is always an increased chance of process breakdown.

  6. Great post Brian. Many people see Lead scoring as this magical tool. Your post puts it in the right perspective: Lead Scoring is very useful when done right, but don’t expect that it’s all automatic.

    I fully agree that points 4 and 5 are very important. If a phone conversation proves that a lead is unqualified, the lead needs to be put back into the email nurturing track. Some companies forget this and create an orphaned lead who never hears from your company anymore.

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