Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to shorten your sales cycle with lead scoring

Shoppers are different.

If your grandfather was interested in purchasing a new car he would likely have gone from dealership to dealership gathering information about different makes and models. He would have spent time with sales people as they helped him figure out which vehicle would fit his needs and please his family.

lead scoring B2BConsumers today have a wealth of information about almost any product at their fingertips. Such information didn't exist for any previous generation. Buyers no longer turn to sales people as a primary source of information and may not need a sales person at all depending on the purchase. This is especially true in Business to Business (B2B) sales where, according to a recent Forbes article The Disappearing Sales Process, most B2B buyers have already completed 57 percent of the sales process by the time they talked to a sales representative. 

How does a marketing organization know where to spend its efforts when they don’t know who is shopping for their product? How does a sales organization ensure that it gets in contact with the buyer the minute he or she is ready to talk?

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring is a method used to assign a score to known and unknown web leads based on behaviors (engagement) and demographics (fit). As a lead reaches pre-established thresholds, the marketing organization is able to target them with appropriate content and, when ready, pass the lead to the sales organization for followup and contact.

Lead Scoring allows a business to customize a prospect's experience based on his or her buying stage and greatly improves the quality and "readiness" of leads that are delivered to sales organizations for followup. According to Marketo, a 10 percent increase in lead quality can lead to a 40 percent increase in sales productivity.1


Lead scoring is most commonly done using a Marketing Automation (MA) platform such as Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, or Pardot. These platforms use cookies to track and keep a history of website visitor's activities and then use that data to assign a score to that visitor. Upon conversion, filling out a form for example, your MA platform ties this data to the information given through the form and creates a lead.


The first step is to identify your ideal "buyer persona" in order to define the fit and engagement characteristics of your ideal prospect. Once these characteristics are identified they should be weighed according to their importance. Though it may be challenging, according to Manufacturing Demand, this can be a good time to get marketing and sales organizations in the same room to talk about and agree upon "buyer personas" according to their experience and expertise. You may even include some negative characteristics that will subtract points from a lead's score.2

Lead Scoring Model.

Lead scoring best practices
Marketo Lead Scoring Model
Below are a some lead scoring tips for common fit and engagement characteristics that are used to score leads. Characteristics will vary greatly depending on your business model and sales cycle. To the right is a sample lead scoring template implemented within Marketo.

Fit characteristics:
  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Product interest
  • Company size
  • Works for competitor (negative)
Engagement characteristics:
  • Visited website
  • Opened email
  • Clicked link in email
  • Registered for a webinar
  • Filled out a web form
  • Visited pricing page
  • Visited careers page (negative)


Lead scoring systems must re-evaluated on a regular basis so that they can stay accurate based on changing buyer personas and website updates.3 Follow up with those in the sales organization who are qualifying the leads to get more details on which leads are scored most accurately. Accurate scores can save costly time which is wasted when the sales team calls leads that aren't ready for engagement.

Learn More.

Some of the best places to learn more about lead scoring from the content provided by marketing automation providers such as Marketo, Eloqua, and Hubspot.

Watch out, they will probably start scoring your engagement and fit for their product.

1 http://www.marketo.com/_assets/uploads/Marketo-DefGuideLeadScoring.pdf
2 http://manufacturingdemand.com/
3 http://www.technicallymarketing.com/index.php/2013/04/02/lead-scoring-how-to-get-more-out-of-leads/

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