What is Lead Scoring?

by DJ Shirley | Updated Nov 4, 2021

Does your sales team feel overwhelmed by the volume of leads they need to prioritize and review?

Sounds like a good problem to have but when a team gets stretched thin and shifts into survival mode, oversights and shortcuts become commonplace. Not all leads are created equal and as lead volume grows, your sales team must prioritize which leads they follow up with, let simmer, or extract because they are not a fit. 

Remember, at least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. (HubSpot's 2021 Sales Statistics) That can eat up a lot of your team's valuable time.

Rest assured, there are a number of steps you can take to help address this bottleneck and one of our favorite answers is, lead scoring.

Lead scoring is a function to streamline the process of ranking your leads with a value so your team can quickly identify the most promising customers in your pipeline.

Being able to better identify which leads are ready to talk naturally translates to your team's ability to increase their success rate with each prospect.

In this article, you will learn the function of lead scoring along with who lead scoring impacts, who is responsible for maintaining the process, and when an organization should activate lead scoring.

What is Lead Scoring?

According to HubSpot, "Lead scoring is the process of assigning values, often in the form of numerical "points," to each lead you generate for the business…"

A prospect's "lead score" can be based on multiple attributes. Common examples include information the user provides, behaviors across the channels you track, and any additional data sources you can reference. 

The whole point is to make your sales team is as efficient as possible by streamlining the process of identifying which leads are relevant and ready.

Why is Lead Scoring Important?

Every potential customer is important, but being able to organize and quickly identify your ideal prospects so you can fast-track them in your sales pipeline can help ensure you are able to meet your recurring sales targets. Above an improved bottom line, the benefits of lead scoring span to both your customers and internal teams. Lead scoring enables you to:

Streamline your time and impact - by harnessing the power of automation within your CRM and database. Your teams (marketing and sales) can streamline their time and impact the flow of the business's revenue pipeline.

Ensure the right conversation at the right time - Lead scoring helps make sure your team knows when a lead is "raising their hand" and wants to have a conversation about your offering and when they are "still browsing" and need additional nurturing. This helps you avoid having a sales conversation too early or missing the opportunity when it was ready.

Further align marketing and sales - to establish the criteria and behaviors that impact your lead scoring method, you must involve both your sales and marketing team leads. Only through their input and agreement can you begin to outline the framework of how you should prioritize your leads. Additionally, the ongoing maintenance of your lead scoring system will require regular check-ins between the two departments to make sure the criteria generating the desired outcome. If not, new criteria should be agreed upon and added to the system.

A secondary benefit of lead scoring is that it serves as an additional layer of accountability between marketing and sales. Both departments agree upon when a contact meets the criteria to trigger a handoff from one department to the next.

The result of your teams being more efficient with their time and knowledge of when to connect with potential customers creates a better overall experience for your prospects, which yields a more consistent flow of revenue through your pipeline.

4 Important Notes to Keep in Mind About Lead Scoring

When you activate lead scoring, it's beneficial to keep in mind the following practices.

  1. Lead scoring does not replace experience or gut feelings. Both of these factors should take precedence over your automated system. Lead scoring is automated (whether it's based on manually outlined criteria or artificial intelligence), and the purpose is to assist and guide your team, not dictate your team's actions.
    One recommendation is to build a fast-track feature that allows either your marketing or sales team to accelerate a specific contact or prospect through your system if they are a high-value prospect in the eyes of your team.
  2. Lead scoring needs continual maintenance and auditing to ensure relevancy.  Digitopia recommends you conduct quarterly audits. Additionally, marketing and sales should be regularly collaborating to ensure contacts that are meeting the target lead scores meet expectations. Another safeguard is creating a dedicated report that monitors your conversion rates from one lifecycle stage to the next and know that you need to review your lead scoring criteria if those conversion rates go outside your predetermined range.
  3. Think about the negative scoring factors. Lead scoring focuses on the criteria to move a contact forward in your pipeline. When building an initial framework, don't forget to include criteria/actions that subtract from the lead score. Example - Subtract points if the contact has gone dark for 4+ weeks, unsubscribed from your nurturing series, filled out a form on your careers page.
  4. Understand how your CRM platform implements changes to your lead score. For example, in HubSpot, if you change your lead score criteria, those changes happen immediately and are applied to all your contacts. If you make a dramatic change and have workflows that use your lead score as a factor, you could unexpectedly have many changes happening in your database and sale pipeline. Be careful and think about how new changes will impact existing contacts in your database. 

When to Active Lead Scoring

The goal of lead scoring is to help marking and sales track and identify when a lead is ready to connect and have a serious conversation about moving forward with your offering. It can be a powerful tool for both departments, but lead scoring is most valuable when your sales team is becoming overwhelmed by the number of sales opportunities coming into the pipeline.

If you are a B2B organization that receives less than a few leads per day and can close less than 3 deals per month to meet sales goals, lead scoring will not be as valuable to your organization. Once your teams are overwhelmed and need help sifting through the prospects, lead scoring is a process to activate to support your marketing and sales teams.

A Resource to Help You Start Lead Scoring

One of the first steps to activating lead scoring is having a clear overview of the various lifecycle stages that make up our buyer's journey. Furthermore, you need to know the triggers that move a contact from one lifecycle stage to the next. At Digitopia, we employ the Technical Lifecycle Journey Map, a simple resource that clearly outlines lifecycle stage advancement criteria in an easy-to-reference resource for your entire organization.

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