The Basics of Sales Lead Scoring

B2B lead generation has changed more in the past 18 months than we have seen in the previous 12 years we have been providing outsourced b2b lead generation through sales lead scoring as an outsourced b2b lead generation company.   One of the largest drivers is the simple fact that your buyers are answering the phone 50% less than they did 18 months ago.  Across the board our calls to connect ratio (someone actually picking up the phone) has dropped from 15%-22% to  8%-12%.  With all these changes, it’s critical that you maximize the result of every lead, which requires you do a better job of lead scoring.

This blog is part 1 of a 2 part series.  Part 1 will address the basics of sales lead scoring to improve the performance of your sales and marketing b2b lead generation investment.   Part 2 will introduce a lead scoring best practices framework to make your content marketing easier with a couple simple framework tips and some tool suggestions.

1. What is sales lead scoring?

Sales lead scoring is the ability to figure out where someone is in their buying process. It is a process that combines information gathered by you telemarketers through some basic qualifying questions with the type of content a buyer is consuming and creating a numerical value that ranks the buyers level of interest and their ability to transact with you (are they an influencer or can they sign the agreement?).  Sales lead scoring allows sales and marketing to quickly flag who should go to higher end sales reps and who should not.

best practices in sales lead scoring example

2. What is the first step in lead scoring?
It’s critical that everyone agrees on the “lead” definition. The more complex the sale is, the tougher this can be, especially if your sale requires someone on the buyer side to champion it through the organization or if the technical influencer takes the lead in the early buying process.  The important thing is that there is agreement.  And the most important person to get agreement from is your sales team  There’s no point in your marketing team scoring leads alone because if sales does not agree with marketing on what a quality lead is there will be conflict and you are simply going to end up where you started.

3. Why do I need to score sales leads?
In a word: Money.  Scoring sales leads will lead to more revenue because better leads (buyers ready for sales) will get to your sales team faster.  Scoring leads will also save you money because leads that are not ready to buy can be managed by less expensive inside reps during the early education stages of your buying cycle or even better by your marketing team leveraging digital content in an automated process.

4. What Types of Data Do I Need to Score Leads?

Lead scoring is comprised of two parts: “direct” and “inferred” information; both types of information are important.  Direct is gathered by your inside sales team when they pick up the phone and ask buyers questions and “Engage” them. It’s also gathered by keeping track of the title, business vertical and company size etc. Inferred information is gathered by keeping tracking of the type of content your buyer is consuming.

Direct Data – When your inside rep engages the buyer, he/she figures out if the leads is a fit. Does your your product meet a need? Does the buyer know their need? Can the buyer sign the check? Is the buyer an influencer or not?  Is there a budget for the project or not? Also the rep can cover any gaps in the basic lead info that marketing did not collect like company size, industry segment, job title, and location.

Infered Data – Data gathered from the digital consumption of your content: number of pages visits, specific web pages visited, recency of response, email activity, social media activity, online event registrations or downloads.

Hopefully this blog was helpful in explaining the basics of sales lead scoring.  In part 2 we will discuss what a solid lead scoring best practice process looks like and make some recommendations around how to frame your content and  tools you can use to make your content work harder.

Learn how to build a powerful B2B lead generation system, integrating sales and marketing, by viewing our resource page here.