April 17, 2020

What is Lead Scoring?

What is Lead Scoring?

If you are doing inbound marketing well, you’re probably seeing an influx of leads coming into your CRM. That’s great news! But, what do you do with all of those leads once they are in your system? 

When someone submits that “book a meeting with sales” form on your site, it’s clear they should be sent to sales. But, what about the leads that have downloaded three e-books, read over 30 pages on your site and are the exact industry your company serves but haven’t actually said they want a meeting?

That lead is probably sitting in your database right now, and your sales team could begin reaching out to them with a few soft emails — if they know where to look. 

Lead scoring will help your sales team identify and prioritize the right leads, ensuring the best ones don’t slip between the cracks. It will also align your marketing and sales teams around which leads are truly sales ready, ensuring your customers get the best experience possible from start to finish. 

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring is a system you build to measure both fit and interest for a given prospect or website visitor. 

This is built out in your marketing automation platform and assigns a score to each contact in your CRM based on how engaged they have been with your content and how well they fit the type of companies you ideally want to work with. 

Generally speaking, the higher the lead score of a prospect, the higher priority they should be for your sales team. You will be able to use that lead score to inform decisions like qualifying their lifecycle stage, handing the lead off to sales and entering the lead into an email nurture track

“Usually a lead score is a combination of implicit and explicit information,” says Senior Revenue Operations Strategist, Pat Buono. “It can consist of behavioral metrics like number of page visits, number of form submissions or number of downloads as well as explicit information like their company size, firmographics and job title.”

Typically your sales team will prioritize a lead and begin their outreach when they have completed a “hand raiser” action like submitting a bottom-of-the-funnel form on your site. This is usually a “contact us” form or a request to talk to sales directly. 

But, lead scoring gives sales another indicator that a prospect may be ready for outreach, even if they haven’t explicitly said so.

“Maybe a prospect has read 4–7 blogs on your site and is a good fit for your company,” says Pat. “It may be worth sales starting low-touch outreach to them because they are super engaged and it’s clear they know your brand at this point."

Without lead scoring, that prospect may have been overlooked in your CRM simply because there was no way to locate leads that were ready for sales, but had yet to raise their hand.

Download Your Guide to Marketing + Sales Alignment to learn how to bridge the  crucial gap between your marketing and sales teams.

Fit Versus Interest

Before building out your lead scoring system, you need to decide how you’ll balance fit and interest to provide the best insight for your sales team. You can use one score to represent both qualities or separate them into two different scores for each contact.

“We are seeing a lot of our clients use two different scores for each of their prospects in their lead scoring systems,” says Pat. “One to indicate fit and one to indicate interest because interest is strictly based on the actions a prospect is taking but fit is typically based on company-level aspects.”

The fit score is informed by how well firmographic characteristics like company size and industry align with your ideal customer profile

The interest score is based on the amount of interaction a lead has had with your company — how many pages they’ve visited, how many forms they’ve submitted, how many emails they’ve opened or clicked, how many chatbots they’ve engaged with — and the relative value of each interaction.

Giving your sales team one score for fit and one for interest can help them make better decisions and save time in their outreach by eliminating some guesswork, though it’s important for the team to be cognizant of what each score represents. 

“You want to be sure that you aren’t using your fit score to distill information on individual people,” says Pat. 

For instance, if you have a high fit score but a low interest score, the lead is clearly a potential fit on the company level, but that contact probably isn’t ready to receive a phone call yet. 

“Sometimes having one score can be a cleaner experience,” says Pat. “But factoring both interest and fit into the decision for a lead can help you navigate through the potential leads in your system more accurately.” 

If you’re using separate fit and interest scores, you will need to be sure the platform you choose lets you have two separate lead scores. At New Breed, we use HubSpot for our lead scoring system, which allows us to use two scores: one for fit and one for interest.  

Whichever way you decide to set up your lead scoring system, make sure the method you choose is set up correctly and that your sales team is informed and trained on how to use it properly. 

Marketing and Sales Alignment for Lead Scoring

Although lead scoring seems like it primarily benefits sales, both marketing and sales need to have equal input into what goes into the system. 

It is extremely important for both teams to be on the same page regarding what dictates a higher lead score and what is “ideal” in terms of firmographics and actions. 

As with anything involving your customers, their experience needs to be as smooth as possible from the time they first engage with your website, to their first outreach from sales, all the way to their post buying experiences. A smooth handoff from marketing to sales is the key to making that happen. 

“Building out your lead scoring system is a great opportunity to dictate, and execute, marketing and sales alignment,” says Pat. “You can have both teams fill out the same worksheet as to what they feel is important in terms of a qualified lead and then hold a meeting to compare the results.”  

The two teams have to agree on what criteria will be scored highly because more often than not, marketing is responsible for building or helping to build out the scoring system. Those high scores will be the leads that are flagged to sales, and if sales isn’t happy with the quality of leads coming through, they aren’t going to use the system because it doesn’t work for them. 

Final Thoughts 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all framework for lead scoring. It can be a complex process that takes time and input from multiple teams across your company. 

When done correctly though, it can serve as an extremely helpful tool for your sales and marketing teams. It will encourage better handoffs, help with lead evaluation and prioritization and help understand your buyers’ journey.

Download New Breed's guide to marketing and sales alignment.

Tag(s): Sales Marketing

Weslee Clyde

Weslee Clyde is an inbound marketing strategist at New Breed. She is focused on generating results using inbound methods and is driven by the customer experience. When not at the office, you can find her binging a docu-series on true crime or perfecting her gluten-free baking skills.


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