In over a decade of working in marketing with many clients who use marketing automation and funnel-based strategy, the most misunderstood tool I’ve heard discussed is lead scoring. There seems to be a prevalent mindset out there that lead scoring is a must-have solution to achieving marketing and sales results.
Yes, lead scoring can be a valuable tool for optimizing marketing and sales outreach and prioritizing qualified leads. It can also be a monstrous waste of time and resources. The most important part of implementing a lead scoring approach is determining if your business even needs it at all. You should start by evaluating a few key aspects of your business to see if you’ll reap benefits from employing lead scoring.
Lead scoring is usually most effective for companies with long or complex sales cycles. Longer sales cycles typically cause sales forces to manage a larger number of concurrent leads and make it harder for sales and marketing teams to deploy timely, relevant outreach to those prospects. The more help marketing and sales have with prioritizing leads that are qualified and sales-ready, the faster those leads can potentially convert with less wasted effort. In contrast, if your products are most often purchased as an impulse buy or are tied to very specific external factors that you cannot influence through marketing (like funeral services), lead scoring may not yield insights, or yield them fast enough, to be worthwhile.
Size of Sales Force
If sales teams don’t have the capacity, resources or bandwidth to effectively follow up with leads, opportunities are missed and profit gets lost. Lead scoring gives sales teams the ability to enhance their lead prioritization process, ranking the most engaged leads in the database and enabling smaller sales teams to invest their outreach efforts in more targeted, impactful ways. However, if your sales approach is high touch—more like a sales engineering process—and you have a large enough sales force to adequately address the opportunities you need to engage, you may not garner much value from scoring leads.
Size and Date of Database
Large or outdated databases slow down the sales process because extra work often goes into identifying and elevating high-value leads. As a result, marketing and sales teams have to devote valuable time to mining databases manually. Numerically ranking leads streamlines the qualification process, enabling marketing and sales to prioritize leads no matter what architecture of their database is. Plus, lead scoring is typically applied to your entire database in near real time—a feat not easily achieved when leads are prioritized and processed only by manually inspection or methods.
Unique Buying Behavior
If your prospective customers exhibit unique and identifiable buying behaviors (like researching pricing or specific product or implementation features) throughout their buying cycle, you can likely gain high value from a lead scoring approach because you’ll have distinct actions to which a score can be applied. Lead scoring, in conjunction with effective marketing automation and content strategies, enables marketing and sales teams to glean valuable information about their prospects’ buying behavior through a composite score as they make their way down the funnel. This can equip sales to accelerate the closing process when the time is right and marketing to develop more targeted, relevant content based on analysis of historical scored buying behaviors.
Paramount to the specifications of your sales cycle, sales force, database and customer buying behavior, your sales and marketing goals should drive your decision to implement lead scoring. The true success measurement of a scoring approach is whether it contributes end goals. So start with your goals in mind and determine if scoring, ranking and prioritizing your leads based on profile attributes and online behavior will help you reach them faster, less expensively, or more frequently.
If you’re interested in learning some strategies and best practices for optimizing a lead scoring approach, register for my upcoming workshop, How to Find Your Best Leads With Lead Scoring.