Lead scoring (Part 2) – How to implement a lead scoring plan

Posted in Lead management and generation.

We have already defined what lead scoring is and the benefits that this system has for your sales team. Here we explore how to implement lead scoring.

When implementing a lead-scoring strategy you must ensure that your sales and marketing departments are working as a cohesive team, and two things need to be discussed right at the outset. First there needs to be agreement on what constitutes the ideal customer. What type of customer does the marketing department have to target with their inbound and outbound marketing campaigns for those to become valuable leads for the sales department? Second, the marketing and sales departments must agree on the meanings of frequently used terms. For example, what constitutes a marketing-qualified lead versus a sales-ready lead?

Once those two issues have been sorted out, you can move on to the actual process of lead scoring.

Lead scoring data

The data you collect need to tell you the following:

*  Is the lead a good FIT for your company? Does this lead embody the characteristics of the target market that you aim to sell your products or services to?

*  How much ENGAGEMENT does the lead have with your company? Do they display behaviours that show they have at least some interest in your company’s products or services?

There are two types of information that you can collect on prospects to discover the above: explicit and implicit information.

Explicit information

This comes from what the prospect tells you or what is public knowledge, and will help you determine if the lead is a good FIT for your company.

Examples of explicit information include:

*  Firmographics: Company size, market share, type of industry, customer size, structure or hierarchy, status in industry, annual revenue, ownership, company location, decision makers, technological advancements, etc.

*  Demographics: Age, job title, company email address, geographical location, years of experience at company, education, etc.

*  BANT: Do they have the budget, authority, need and a timeline?

Implicit information

This is information that is implied but not directly expressed, and helps you to see how much ENGAGEMENT a lead has with your company.

A few examples of implicit data include knowing that the lead has:

*  Visited the pricing page of your website
*  Visited a product or service page related to what you sell
*  Subscribed to your blog or newsletter, or joined your email list
*  Attended a webinar
*  Attended a trade show
*  Followed or liked your company page on social media
*  Searched for your company name
*  Clicked on one or more of your online ads

This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can add data that relate more to your industry or that you feel will give you a better overview of the potential customer. You can start by gathering a lot of information and adding or removing items based on how useful they were in accurately predicting a good lead.

Scoring strategies

There are many different ways of scoring a lead according to the data you have gathered. Your lead- scoring strategy needs to be tailored to your company’s unique needs. Fit and engagement come into play when deciding how to score your leads:

*  First decide on the symbols you will use to rank leads – letters of the alphabet, numbers or even temperature (hot, lukewarm, and cold), as long as everyone involved with the lead-scoring process understands what each means. Below we use the alphabet as well as numbers.

*  Next assign a rank to your lead, based on the explicit information you have on them. This will determine how well they fit with your company’s ideal customer profile. For example, assigning an ‘A’ to a lead would mean that they are an ideal fit, each letter after that denoting more and more reduced fit.

*  Now look at your implicit information to determine each lead’s level of engagement. Assign a different rank than given in the previous step. For example, 1 means they are very engaged with your company or products, while 3 or 4 may indicate that their engagement levels needs a little more work or they are not up to par at all.

*  Add these two separately assigned ranks together to get each lead’s overall readiness. If a lead’s score is ‘A1’, for example, they have ideal fit and maximum engagement. This may be the point at which they are passed on to sales. Other scores may indicate they have ideal fit (A) but very little engagement (4), or vice versa. You can then decide to pass them on to a specific team that nurtures lead engagement or monitors them for change. Those with both a bad fit and little to no engagement are left for review at a later stage or even removed completely.

*  Assign points to each characteristic or action. Each rank must have leads in it that lie within a certain range of points. A lead losing a certain amount of points may then fall into a lower rank, and getting more points can potentially move them up. This way you can see the exact point at which a lead moves from undesirable to desirable – or the other way around. It can also help you see when a lead is stagnant and might need review.

Triggers

Make sure to assign triggers: specific actions that alert sales staff that they must take an appropriate action. For example, if a lead downloads a White Paper or signs up for a monthly newsletter, they get a personal phone call or follow-up email. Using triggers helps you to reach out to leads in real time. Getting them at the exact moment they take appropriate actions means they are hot and at the peak of their interest level – which makes it easier to sell to them.

Additional lead-scoring tips

*  Having a lead-scoring table for each product or service you are selling can increase your chances of success with a lead, because a product may be ideal for one lead but not for another.

*  When you know you will be explicitly asking for information from a lead, do it bit by bit. Long forms to fill in may make them suspicious or lead them to abandon it because it is too much hassle. Slow and steady wins the race.

*  Use current customers to determine the success of leads. Once you have closed a deal, look back at their trajectory. What characteristics do they have that may have been the catalyst for them saying ‘yes’ to your company and not another? What did their engagement look like right before the deal was closed? Compare their characteristics with current leads to see who fits the same profile.

*  Don’t immediately remove a lead when they have both a lack of fit and bad engagement. Have a policy to return to a bad lead at least once to see what has changed in their environment. Something could happen within that period of hibernation to make them suddenly become an extremely good fit. Once you feel that you have spent enough time on this lead and they don’t seem likely to improve, then you can remove them.

*  Attributing scores to leads also needs to be time-sensitive; only score actions that took place within a particular time-frame. If they move from being classified as ‘hot’, this does not invalidate them completely but makes them less likely to be open to selling. This status can change again for the better, depending on their (and your) actions.

If you missed the first part of this lead-scoring series, check it out here. It helps to know the basics and whether you want to pursue this strategy or not before moving on to the next step. Now, go forth and convert those leads!