By Brian Hansford, marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing

Lead scoring strategies that succeed require coordinated alignment between marketing and sales. This alignment doesn’t have to be perfect. But unilaterally developed lead scoring programs are doomed to fail without active sales adoption.

When done poorly, lead scoring is just another data point that doesn’t drive action. Done well, lead scoring builds a bridge of collaboration between sales and marketing and leads to pipeline acceleration.

Marketing still needs to execute an effective campaign and nurture strategy to fill the funnel. Lead scores are the exclamation point that leads to effective lead follow up action.

Lead scoring isn’t just about using a marketing automation platform to capture and calculate A1’s or C3’s or B2’s.
Lead scoring only succeeds with follow up action. These steps are the best ways to build a solid lead scoring program that sales will support!

1. Agreed Upon Personas
Love them or loathe them, different personas usually require different scoring models are ranks. Decision makers should be scored differently than an influencer or an end-user. Some companies have multiple personas and scoring models uniquely suited for business units and product lines. Understanding WHO leads to building a better scoring strategy and follow up action.

2. What the Heck is a Qualified Lead?
Marketing and Sales need to agree on the stages of lead qualification. What is a Marketing Qualified Lead? Define the lead score parameters and thresholds BEFORE pulling levers and pushing buttons in your marketing automation platform.

3. Profile Weighting
Only focus on what matters. Profile information is important in building a lead score profile. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. The traditional method of scoring on Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe (BANT) is difficult to capture in a reliable manner using marketing automation. Not everyone openly and honestly provides budget information in an online form. Job titles can be inflated and difficult to score.

Need and timeframe are easier to capture and score. Work with Sales to identify the right profile information to capture and score. Sales must validate and qualify the BANT criteria when initially working with a lead. Marketing can only start building the profile.

4. Engagement Weighting
Identify the patterns of interest. How someone interacts with your company and content is powerful information which fills the score profile. Where, how long and how often did they spend time with your content? What content did they consume? These scores are the secret sauce for a lead scoring program because they show levels of interest.

5. Don’t score what doesn’t matter
Job seekers and competitors can spend a ton of time on sites and consuming content. This behavior can lead to a high engagement scores and pull Sales away from leads they should focus on. Use lead scoring programs to depreciate or suppress these scores altogether. Sales will appreciate it!

6. Define Follow-Up Actions and a Service Level Agreement
Follow up action is critical! Lead scoring will fail without Sales doing their part. Build follow up actions for each level of lead score. The follow up action can include the maximum time required for follow up and the recommended conversation. For example, a perfect lead with an A1 score may require follow up within 4 hours of reaching the CRM follow up queue. The A1 conversation can steer toward activating a product demo.

On the other hand a C3 lead may require follow up within 48 hours and a personal email with links to an informational webinar. Sales must agree to the follow up action on each lead and enforce this with a service level agreement with Marketing.

7. Review Lead Scoring with Sales
Success begins with reviewing the lead scoring model before it’s rolled out. Sales managers can provide critical input to fine tuning a lead score model. This input leads to buy-in and enforcement on follow up actions.

8. Roll-out, Test, Refine
When the lead scoring program is turned on, send leads to Sales with a bigger range of scores. During the initial stage, some organizations may prefer a pilot roll-out with a select Sales team to test scoring accuracy. Sales should provide feedback and disposition tracking in the CRM system that shows lead scoring effectiveness. Fine tuning the filter can helps Marketing send better leads to Sales. The more consistent the follow up action, the better the lead scoring program!

Lead scoring takes work to build, refine and measure. Marketing can drive the process but it only works with a strong partnership with sales.