Part 7 – Lead Scoring is the Key to Sales Productivity

The core element in creating marketing and sales connectivity is the effectiveness of the lead management and lead qualification processes. Organizations cannot establish trust between marketing and sales if the lead hand off process is broken or ineffective. Marketing must have the ability to qualify leads before passing them to sales in order for the sales reps to trust the quality of the leads they are receiving.

To this point, not all leads are created equal – some need to be disqualified, some need to be nurtured and some need to be sent to sales immediately. To effectively adjudicate new and nurtured leads, you need to have a qualification and scoring system in place. A Marketing Automation system like Marketo linked to a CRM system like is a requirement to nurture, score, and feed your sales reps qualified prospects only when they’re ready to be engaged.

For marketers, this requires a highly quantified approach to increasing and decreasing a prospect’s “readiness score” over time and through multiple interactions. While there may be some trial-and-error to the optimal scoring formula, in time Sales will thank you. Sales will close more deals this way because the scored prospects that Marketing triggers for Sales to call in the CRM system will be more ready to consider purchase.

How Do I Create a Lead Scoring Program?

Integrating your CRM and automation platforms is the first step to building your lead scoring operation. There are a few other key points to consider and questions to address when fleshing out lead scoring. You need to define your goals, actions, and wins in order to properly craft and assess any lead scoring attempts. Let’s look at the basics to get started:

  • Define opportunity — When is your lead sales-ready? What characteristics does a lead need to have to help make the hand-off successful? You may have seen better success with leads that downloaded whitepapers, watched webinars, or took website actions. Get your sales and marketing teams together to determine what currently works best for your leads and use this as your guide.
  • Set the stage — Your scale is important because it needs to be a consistent range across all of your metrics. This allows you to weigh leads based on importance and success potential. It also allows you to manage metrics if you learn a new KPI is your top performer. For example, if most metrics are on a 1 to 10 scale but job title is on a 1 to 20 scale, you may be missing opportunities with organizations who leave purchase decisions to project managers.
  • Create immediate-action parameters — Scoring is useful in the long-term, but some leads need to be sent to the sales team immediately. Others may need a separate action or follow-up. Create a perfect lead persona and add it to your scoring program, so this type of lead can be delivered to the sales team right away. Build out another set of personas that might require a timed action. Tradeshow leads, for example, may not be immediately ready for sales, but marketing should touch base quickly to reestablish value and start them on the customer journey.
  • Determine action thresholds — Aside from leads you can immediately identify as a strong candidate, the most important piece of the “how do I create a lead scoring program” question is to decide what points on the scale determine an action. This is based on existing sales data and can be triggered either through cumulative points or points on a certain scale.
    Historically, if your best leads download whitepapers or engage with spec sheets, you could send this lead to the sales team when it scores in the 6+ range. However, if you’ve noticed that retweets rarely turn into purchases, you may want the social-behavior score to reach the 9 to 10 range before passing it on to the sales department if other metrics are low.

3 Pitfalls to Avoid with Lead Scoring

1. Be Careful when Scoring Webpage Visits

The most popular activity in any scoring campaign are webpage visits, but be very careful when scoring the leads who visit your website. I recommended not scoring anybody who visits just any page on your website. You don’t want to pass leads to sales that have visited your investor pages or career pages. Only score webpages that indicate buying interest such as product pages or asset download pages.

2. Treat Your First Lead Scoring Program as a Database Assessment

The first time you set up a lead scoring program, nearly every action and score is based on assumptions. Therefore, your first scoring program is only going to tell you if your assumptions are right or wrong. Don’t expect it to perfectly qualify your leads. You’re never going to get it 100% correct right out of the gate. The first scoring program will tell you where you have gaps in the lead flow process, the quality of your database and where you need to adjust the hand off process – and that’s the point.

3. Don’t Score Assets that Sales should follow up on Immediately

The whole point of the a lead scoring program is to find the collection of actions that indicate a lead is ready to buy, so why the heck would you score a Contact Us form submission. Of course sales should follow up on that immediately, no need to waste precious time scoring that action and then funneling it through your lead management system. Any single action that indicates a lead is ready to purchase should go directly to Sales, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.

Continually Build on Lessons Learned

At this point, you should be ready to answer that burning question: How do I create a lead scoring program that’s right for my company? With this foundation and an understanding of what to avoid as you grow, you can start to take the first steps.

For more lead scoring tips and best practice, download the Essential Guide to Predictive Lead Scoring today!