The Forward Observer

How B2B Marketers Can Use Lead Scoring to Better Arm Sales

B2B marketers who use lead scoring can improve the quality of leads passed to sales, and help increase close rates and revenues.

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Many marketers are still evaluated based on the number of leads provided to sales. Most of the time, the leads are handed off to sales with the expectation that all the leads will be called.

However, after a few lead follow up calls, sales often determines that many of the leads are “junk” (i.e. not ideal prospects who were ready to buy).

That’s when the counter-productive finger pointing starts between marketing and sales. And it puts an enormous strain on sales as they spend a lot of time with bad leads and not enough time with good leads.

Lead scoring is beginning to change all that.

In an Eloqua eBook, lead scoring is defined:

“…an objective ranking of one sales lead against another. This not only helps align the right follow-up to the corresponding inquiry, it also helps marketing and sales professionals identify where each prospect is in the buying process.”

One of the many benefits of lead scoring is that it improves the alignment and collaboration between marketing and sales. For lead scoring to work, both teams must jointly establish an objective definition of a quality lead. Additionally, in lead scoring, sales feedback on the lead quality is systematically provided to marketing so that adjustments can be made on lead acquisition and scoring.

Lead Scoring Works:

  • In an Eloqua study of 10 B2B companies using lead scoring systems, close rates increased by 30%, company revenue increase by 18% and the revenue per deal increased by 17%.
  • According to Aberdeen Research, companies that get lead scoring right have a 192% higher average lead qualification rate than those that do not.

The ascent of lead scoring parallels the evolving way that B2B customers buy. In the past, buyers had to interact with sales early in the product research process. Consequently, sales could exert more influence over a longer portion of the buying cycle.

Now, buyers start their information-gathering long before they first contact the prospective seller. Buyers are turning to the web to download whitepapers and case studies, reading company reviews, and reaching out via social media to gague the opinions and experiences of others. Several studies have indicated that buyers can be two-thirds of the way through their research before they first engage with a seller.

To keep up with the new buying process, lead scoring systems consider two types of data: 1) explicit data like job title, company revenue, industry, etc. and 2) engagement data like how frequently a prospect interacts with your company and what areas of your website they are visiting and what content they are downloading.

To get started, Eloqua suggests a few steps to define lead scores:

  • Determine 4-5 explicit data categories (from a form or business card).
  • Define how important these categories are in relationship to another.

To determine the engagement scores, measure behavioral data or “digital body language”:

  • Website visits or email click-throughs that define a sales-ready stage of qualification
  • Define how important these categories are in relationship to another.
  • Assign values based on recency

Lead scoring best practices:

  • Keep it simple, especially when getting started. Don’t score too many criteria, and get sales and marketing to jointly define criteria and rules (and make adjustments every quarter).
  • Define what will happen with each lead, from lead nurturing to sales hand-off.
  • Determine how lead scoring will impact compensation.
  • Define how quickly leads will be followed up based on the score.
  • Rate and measure impact of lead scoring on sales, including incorporating closed-deal analysis to uncover insights into conversions over time to try and make success repeatable.

Click here to download a copy of “The Grande Guide to Lead Scoring” or view the SlideShare presentation below.

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