What can Lead Scoring do to improve your sales funnel?

Inbound marketing can be great for generating new leads, but how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Who are the hot prospects to nurture through your sales funnel, and who are just the tyre kickers at the earliest stages of a buyer journey?

This is where an automated lead scoring system can help. It is the process of attaching values to each lead based on their profile data and the actions they take in your email and on your website.

Say you want to rank an account manager who has hit your pricing page higher than an account executive who has logged the same behaviour. You might also want to rank one manager higher than another depending on how much time they’ve spent on your website.

Each action these people take between your EDM and website interactions gives them a score. This score builds their profile to inform you about when they are ready to talk to your sales team.

The more content that a quality lead engages from you, the more informed and ready they become for a sales chat.

Lead scoring takes some understanding of your business processes to initially set up. Once those processes are mapped with, daily running becomes automated.

Here’s how to get started with a lead scoring program to ensure that your business makes the most of the leads generated by your various campaigns.

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring is a system which ranks and scales prospects who interact with your businesses content or assets such as your website, social accounts, forms, etc. This system helps assess their perceived value to your business and their readiness to buy.

It is worthwhile taking a moment for Marketing and Sales to sit down and clarify some definitions around potential customers.

A guide to the difference between a Lead and a Prospect is examined exhaustively by HipB2B, so we’ll be adopting their language for consistency. In short, a lead has had one interaction with your brand;  fills out a call to action box and are at the start of your sales funnel. A prospect has had more than one interaction with your business and is further down the sales funnel.

How Do I Set Up a Lead Scoring System?

Your top priority in establishing a lead scoring system is to identify the most interested prospects. This means that your lead scoring rules will need just enough complexity to filter your best leads using a point system based on behaviours.

What follows is a plan to set up rules for your organisation to use marketing generated leads in a way that is useful for the sales team. These rules will help you establish a numerical score against leads to understanding how to best treat them.

Rule #1: Defining a Fit Lead

Have clear minimum criteria. This minimum criterion establishes whether a lead is fit to become a customer. Think essential criteria rather than desired criteria. Does the customer need to have a specified budget, be in a local area, male or female, 18+ years, company size, influence or direct authority over the budget, access to decision makers?

Rule #2: Typical Traits of Who You Need

List the typical traits of your ideal target market. If you look through your existing customer database you’ll notice some recurring themes common among people buying the same things. These are your common traits rather the essential criteria of Rule #1. The idea is to establish which prospects share the same characteristics as your current customers so you know if they are a fit.

This is a great opportunity for marketing and sales team to collaborate and have mutual buy-in to the lead scoring process. The marketing team will have good data on your target market and the have key messages that resonate with these people. The sales team will have practical input from their daily experience in talking to real life examples of this target market.

Once you’ve identified the traits of the ideal customer, you can assign higher scores to the leads that fit the bill.

Rule #3: Behaviours That Signify a Potential Customer

Once you’ve established the common traits, you can start to look at the typical behaviours of a customer prior to them buying. This rule will help you identify the difference between a lead and a highly engaged prospect.

Start with a list of all the behaviours a lead can take. This is a laundry list of engagement opportunities that you have made available to your audiences. Some things will be more important than others, so give a numerical value to each behaviour.

Examples include:

  • Website visits
  • Web page clicks
  • Lead form opt in or download
  • Subscribed to database
  • Email opens
  • Email link clicks
  • Email forwards
  • Social media shares
  • Webinar attendance
  • Requests to contact

Some of these actions will have more weight than others. A look at your Google Analytics will reveal consistent behaviours taken prior to purchase. These ones should be highlighted as critical when you are assigning a points system to behaviours.

Rule #4: Create Your Scoring System

Again, this is best done as a collaboration between sales and marketing to create a graph for lead scoring.

For example, a lettering system of A,B,C, and D might rank a prospect as being fit to meet your basic needs of a customer as set out in Rule #1. Plot this on a X axis of your graph.

Your Y axis might score a lead using numbers 1,2,3,4 to rate their engagement behaviours from Rule #4.

You can then assign an action plan for each square on the graph. A1 leads – those with a strong fit and high engagement – can go directly to sales as Qualified Prospects. A3 and A4 leads, which are a good fit but lack engagement, should trigger a nurture campaign to spur higher engagement. C1 or D1 leads, which have high engagement but a low fit score, could be worth contacting to ascertain if they’re doing research on behalf of a more senior decision maker. Your lead nurturing program can keep potential buyers educated and engaged as their lead scores change.

Lead Scoring Is active and Ongoing

The lead score of prospect changes with their ongoing activity. This means it’s crucial to keep re-scoring leads automatically with each engagement behaviour. Keep this in mind when assessing any marketing automation software.

The great benefit of lead scoring is to get sales and marketing to agree on the definition of a qualified prospect, and what actionable steps need to be taken to move potential buyers through the sales funnel.

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