Lead Scoring Best Practices for More Sales with Less Effort

Not all leads are created equal. That means lead generation in and of itself is not enough. In fact, too much focus on generating leads without any effort to qualify them can lead to a quantity-over-quality mentality that will leave your sales team frustrated and ineffective.  Implementing some lead scoring best practices can make all the difference.

That’s why lead scoring is a crucial component of successful B2B sales. It helps you and your team to focus on sales qualified leads rather than chase after dead ends. However, it’s also seldom used, with only 21% of B2B marketers using an established lead scoring program. And you know what that means: opportunity! Let the other sales teams struggle to sell to bad leads. Your team can choose to focus on those most likely to buy, and see more sales with less effort by doing so.

What is lead scoring?
Lead scoring is a way to rank your leads by quality and value, so you know where and how to spend your time and energy. By using lead scoring best practices, you can determine where someone is in the buying process, whether or not they’re a good fit for your solution, and how likely they are to buy, among other things.

Why lead scoring is important
Using lead scoring best practices makes your sales organization more efficient. It helps to focus your efforts, align marketing to sales, target your messaging, and close more deals.

What happens when you don’t work with sales qualified leads? You’ll likely waste time trying to sell to people who aren’t going to bite—time that could be spent working on more probable deals. For example, you might not put enough effort into a valuable prospect who just needs a little more time to make a decision because you’re too busy pursuing the bad lead who won’t ever buy. The result? You don’t make either sale.

Plus lead scoring can help you to know how to sell to your prospects because you’ll know more about them, their organizations, their needs and their buying processes.

How to improve your lead scoring
To get you started with lead scoring best practices, we offer some criteria to consider as you develop your system. You can find guides to lead scoring online, but this short list should get you thinking about the factors that matter the most to your organization so you can jumpstart the process:

1) Make sure the lead fits the demographic you’re looking for based on your ideal customer.

  • Role/job title–Does this person have buying power? Do they truly know the needs of the company? If they have buying power, they probably do. Just make sure you’re not talking to a new employee, someone in the wrong department or someone less senior than manager-director level.
  • Company size/number of employees–Is the company the right size to be able to properly use your solution? If they’re too small, they might not be able to take full advantage nor be able to afford it. If they’re too big, they might already have an in-house system in place.
  • Company type/industry–Is your product specific to one industry or can it be used in more than one? Would your product work well in their industry?
  • Geographic location–Does location matter for your product? Is there a significant time difference? Will you be able to have a live conversation with this person at a reasonable hour? Scheduling meetings at weird hours is a pain for everyone involved and makes the sale that much more difficult, in addition to ongoing support in the future should you get the sale. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a bona fide lead, but geography might cause the lead to rank lower in priority.

2) Make sure your solution is a good fit.  

  • Do they have needs that your solution can solve?
  • Have they viewed a certain type of product page? By figuring out what they’ve been looking at or downloaded on your website, it’s easier to figure out their needs and where they rank as a lead. Also keep in mind that kind of content they’ve downloaded. For example, if they downloaded a whitepaper, that shows a different degree of interest compared to viewing a pricing page.
  • Have they requested a demo? This shows that they think your product can help them and that they’re interested.

3) Make sure they’re showing a viable interest based on past experiences.

  • After considering the content they’ve downloaded or pages they’ve looked at, how active is this person with your emails and website?
  • Which of your forms tend to lead to the most sales? Pay attention to this metric. History shows the leads that download these forms are worth a little bit more energy because they’re more likely to buy.

Once you’re gathering information like this about leads, assign point values so you can develop a lead scoring system.

  • Determine your most important criteria.
  • Assign points to each criterion.
  • And weigh points based on importance.
  • Then use this information to score leads and use your selling time wisely.

It used to be sales reps relied on a process known as BANT, for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing. That was pre-Internet and Google, however, meaning that was back in the day when people needed sales reps to tell them what they needed to know—and sales reps did a lot of digging for information. Today those same people can do all kinds of research on their own, and they do: 57% are already part way down the decision path when they contact a sales person. That’s not to say the information you can gather with a BANT qualification is no longer useful; it is. But you’re selling in a different world now, and your lead scoring needs to take that into account. Those potential leads are going to know more about your solution than their counterparts of old. On the other hand, you’re going to know more about them as you track their website engagement and behavior, and even their social media activity on sites such as LinkedIn.

Which system of lead scoring best practices you decide to use is therefore not as important as using one. Doing so will help you and your sales team to use your time much more efficiently, to focus the right amount of effort on a lead based on your criteria, and to get a leg up on the competition that’s not using lead scoring—and remember, 79% of B2B marketers aren’t

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