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How Defense Contractors Can Strengthen Their Marketing with Lead Scoring

Defense contractors who use lead scoring can improve the quality of leads provided to sales, and help increase close rates and revenues.

 8916931_efb94b355a_z.jpg photo credit: mrflip via photo pin cc


I recently had lunch with a defense contractor who described a common problem: 

A good number of leads come in, primarily from the website, and sales follows up with every lead in chronological order. Many of the leads are not a good fit and can't be filled. Some of the leads, however, represent potentially enormous, profitable contracts. Sales treats every lead the same.

Consequently, the sales team wastes time on "junk" leads when they should be responding most quickly to the best leads.

That's where lead scoring can help. Lead scoring is like sales triage.

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, marketing and sales 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 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 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 gauge 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.

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.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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