leadscoringby Brian Hansford, director and marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing

I remember my first two inside sales jobs in the early 1990’s where we used a two dimensional lead scoring matrices based primarily on BANT criteria.  The models worked very well at the time because we could focus our follow up efforts on the best leads.  Of course, that was pre-Web, pre-CRM, and definitely pre-Marketing Automation.

Most of the blogs and guides I see on lead scoring approach the subject almost exclusively from the Marketing side.  Sales managers and their support are critical to lead scoring success.  Without support from Sales and a follow up process, a lead scoring initiative will fail.  Goal #1 of any lead scoring initiative is to help Sales focus on the best opportunities with prescribed follow up actions.

Here are the questions I recommend Sales execs ask their Marketing counterparts on lead scoring.  And for my Marketing friends, be prepared to answer these questions.  The beauty of these questions is they lead to deeper discussion and collaboration.

1. Why do we need lead scoring?

This is a simple question that should have answers based heavily on metrics from both Sales and Marketing.  Just because Marketing has a fantastic shiny new marketing automation platform doesn’t mean there’s a need for lead scoring.  Some follow on questions include: Are there “too many” leads getting into the CRM follow-up queue? Is Sales missing the good leads because there’s too much unqualified riff-raff?  Are leads not consistently contacted? Are Sales not providing structured reasons for disqualification in the CRM platform?

2. How do we work together on this initiative?

Sales should not leave all of the lead scoring work to Marketing.  (And Marketing should not do this in a silo.)  Sales managers need to help define qualified leads, score thresholds, how certain leads will be followed up on and how the disposition will be tracked in CRM. Experienced sales managers understand the theoretical value of lead scoring.

3. How do we measure lead scoring effectiveness?

Marketing and Sales need to take a before and after snapshot of lead queues, # of marketing qualified leads, accepted leads, opportunity pipelines, and time to close. Both the CRM and marketing automation platforms will contain the data points to help build the baseline and track ongoing performance.

4. How do we build the lead scoring model?

Sales and Marketing need to collaborate on building the lead scoring model.  Shame on the sales manager who leaves definition entirely to Marketing.  And shame on Marketing for not involving Sales.

5. How do we establish the lead follow up actions?

Defining lead scores is important but the follow up actions is where it fails or succeeds.  Different leads require different follow up actions.  Some leads require an urgent and rapid response.  Others need a different touch in a different time frame.

6. What happens to leads that aren’t scored high enough for Sales follow up?

Marketing should explain how disqualified leads are nurtured and managed.  For example, unqualified or disqualified leads will go into a nurture queue using marketing automation.  Also Marketing should have a process where previously disqualified leads may come back into the CRM follow up queue if they hit a new score threshold.

 7. Are lead scores static or dynamic?

Marketing automation platforms should continually score leads based on active behaviors, lack of interaction.  Lead scores should reflect the behavior and profiles on the current day, if not in real-time.  Static scores really don’t take advantage of the lead management horsepower that marketing automation can give Sales.

 8. How do we ensure ALL good leads are sent to Sales for follow up?

New lead scoring initiatives should start with a loose filter.  As time progresses the filter should tighten and score threshold should rise to ensure the best leads are getting to Sales.  That means that fewer leads may get through but they should be higher quality.  In order to keep emotions in check, use the data from both the CRM and marketing automation platforms to measure what is going on.  Sales managers need to make sure all reps are using CRM and tracking leads.  Emotionally if fewer leads are in the queue, that’s a concern but keep perspective on the quality.  This all needs to be tracked and if it’s not in the CRM system, it doesn’t exist and it can’t be measured.

 9. When can we train the sales reps on our lead scoring process?

Sales and Marketing should have training on lead scoring.  The training should be simple to show the objectives, how leads will flow and how they should be tracked in the CRM system.  The follow up actions, where leads show in the follow up queue, how to track lead disposition, and how to provide feedback should all be covered.

Ask the Right Questions!

Sales must be involved in the development and operation of lead scoring.  This means both Marketing and Sales need to collaborate and understand how to work together.  The best place to start is asking the right questions.

I am always interested to hear your stories building and using lead scoring.  Leave a comment!