Lead scoring 101: Lead scoring & why it’s important

Driving sales. It’s the No. 1 goal of any inbound marketing plan.

But it takes more than big budgets, lots of time, great writers or even sheer luck to deliver quality prospects to your sales team. In fact, 80 percent of marketers report their lead-generation efforts are only slightly or somewhat effective (BrightTALK, 2015).

To deliver quality prospects, you must define what a “quality, qualified lead” is. And that begins with understanding and developing a lead scoring system.

What is a lead?

Let’s start with what a lead is not. A lead is not some unknown person that wandered onto your website. Yes, that person may become a lead or customer at some point, but if you don’t know any information about them, they can’t really be considered a “lead.” At that point, that person is merely a visitor contributing to your website traffic.

In its most basic form, a lead is a person that may, or even is likely to, become a customer.

Customers go through lifecycle phases (or down a funnel) before making a purchase. Stages of the customer lifecycle typically include: visitor > contact or subscriber > lead > MQL > SQL > opportunity > customer.

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring assigns points to a person based on their likelihood of buying your product or service. The greater a lead’s score, the farther they are down the funnel or lifecycle. In other words, the higher a lead’s score, the more likely they are to buy.

Why lead scoring is important

Consider this: Would you rather deliver 10,000 “leads” that aren’t qualified (you don’t know anything about them) or 100 that are? Reporting “10,000 leads” sounds impressive. But if you don’t know anything about them, the sales team will have a tough time closing the deal, and they’ll probably spend most of their time figuring out who they’re talking to, what their needs are and if they’re even a fit.

Sales is exponentially more likely to close those 100 qualified and sales-ready leads (SQLs), using far less time and resources to make the deal.

SQLs have the highest lead score, meaning we know the most about them: their actions online and engagement show interest, the challenges they’ve told us about indicate product or service fit, and the form they filled out with their budget or revenue tells us they can afford us.

The more you know

The more information you know about a contact, the better. The data you collect will help qualify a lead, so you can pass along leads that the sales team is more likely to convert to customers. Data also can  tell you which contacts are unqualified (read: not a good fit), meaning marketing and sales shouldn’t spend additional resources trying to close deals with them.

Stay tuned for our next blog post – Lead Scoring 201 – which will explain the three types of data to include in a lead scoring system and how to start developing a system for your business.

(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

Laura Elizabeth Saunders

Laura Elizabeth is a strategic dynamo, especially when it comes to implementing inbound marketing strategies. She also enjoys doing research, writing and media relations works for a variety of B2B clients.

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