Lead scoring is an essential pre-sales process. It helps your sales team know who, when, and how to communicate best with the leads generated by your B2B marketing activities.

An unwanted communication from a sales rep is a waste of everyone’s time. Lead scoring should help ensure that only target leads who are ‘sharp-set’ for a call or personal email will receive one. Others may receive more generic communications, putting less unwanted pressure on them and requiring less resources from your team.

What is lead scoring?

  • Lead scoring is a process that ranks leads (deanonymized companies where we have proven interest in our services) based on their likeliness to become future clients.
  • The goal of lead scoring is to help a company optimise the work of sales teams and improve close rates.
  • Lead scoring is mostly relevant for companies that produce leads in quantities greater than their sales team can follow up on.
  • Leads are typically segmented into those that have an urgent pain-point/problem and are ripe for a personal approach, from those that perhaps need to be educated more on problems and solutions (nurtured).
Lead scoring

What does a lead score consist of?

There are two principal criteria to a lead score

  • Profile relevance: How close is the lead’s profile to your ideal customer?

The profile relevance score is a measure of how likely your lead is to purchase, based on your research and customer profiling work. There are lots of factors that could feed into this score, but often it will be based on identifying attributes of previous customers and especially of previous high-value customers (lifetime value, not just likelihood of first purchase may also be factored in). It should include measures of how well the lead’s company matches your ideal firmographic data and how well the lead’s job role matches the job roles you want to reach.

  • Indicators of interest: How much is the lead engaging with your content, website, product?

Indicators of interest scores change (usually increase) with time as the lead engages with more content. The score increases with each relevant action taken. For example: downloading an ebook: +4 points, pricing page viewed: +7 points, email opened: +1 point, and so on. Of course, these numbers are just to give an example. You will need to develop your own scoring system, distinct to your own needs. For best results, you might analyse the conversion patterns of previous customers and look for similar behaviours from your new leads. When you see them stepping through a similar content journey, it should be a green light to score them highly.

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Combining these two factors gives you your lead score. If a lead is going to score highly then it needs to show both interest and relevance, otherwise it may still not be worth a lot of attention from your sales team: a lead might be very interested in your product but not be in a position to buy it, or a lead may be an exact match for your target audience but have already bought a competitor product or perhaps be just not interested. Your top leads need to be interested and able to buy. 

What you should get out the other end of this lead scoring process is a list that your sales development rep (SDR) can work through, with the most promising leads at the top!

Developing a company level ‘account score’

In B2B marketing, while you may sell to an individual, it is a company that is buying and, more typically, you will need to sell to multiple decision-makers, influencers and/or end-users within one organisation.

Traditional B2B lead scoring has failed to take account of the complexity of selling to a large organisation. It focused on the individual lead and their engagement with the product and content. Once the individual lead reached a certain threshold of engagement their details were forwarded to the sales team for a follow-up call. This is a fairly blunt instrument that doesn’t encourage sales teams to think of their approach to a whole company or help them prioritise companies.

The more reasonable approach to B2B lead scoring looks at the whole company and develops an account score as well as individual lead scores. This more complex view ranks a target company based on all the interactions of its employees with the product and content. Such information will often be available to you through IP deanonymization (using software such as Leadfeeder) and you may have company-level engagement data in your web analytics (see our previous post ‘How to track ROI per company acquired’). If you see that multiple leads within a company are engaging, it’s a good indicator that the pain your product solves is felt across the company and that therefore the entity is likelier to convert.

Who should the SDR reach out to?

The account score helps your SDR teams decide which companies they should target first. They also have to decide who to call first within that company. There are two basic approaches:

  • Contact the individual with the highest lead score within the company – They are the ones most likely to have brand recognition and most likely to engage with the SDR.
  • Contact the main decision-makers within the company. – This information is not always available (although tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator can make it easier), but is often the preference when possible.

This final decision is up to the SDR team to make. What is important in the pre-sales process, is that a clear ranking of organisations and individual leads is maintained, so the SDR follow-ups are as timely and well-judged as possible.