Digital Marketing

Tips for Setting Up A Successful Lead Scoring Program

Have you been dreading the “L words”? You know what I’m talking about, the all too familiar words in the digital space that keep you up at night because you just can’t get it right. It eludes most people and creates so much conflict between teams. It really drives everyone crazy because it seems so simple yet you can’t figure it out. Yeah, I knew you would totally understand what I’m getting at – LEAD SCORING!

We know all too well how lead scoring works. It is a systematic approach that takes all your leads (particularly inbound leads) and gives them a number score based on the potential that they will move through your sales process quickly and become an opportunity. 

When looking at these “leads” for lead scoring, you are looking at your demographic/ firmographic data and also the lead’s digital and brand engagement. Utilizing these parameters allows you to have a more robust and advanced lead scoring system. If you simply look at leads based on who they are and not what they do then you are missing out on a lead’s level of interest as part of the equation. This is why looking at the Fit Score (“who they are”) as well as their Engagement Score (“what they are doing with your brand”) is important to really filter through the noise and get to actual, actionable leads for your sales team to work on.

Types of lead scoring criteria

Your Fit Score is comprised of Firmographic and Demographic Criteria. Using this breakdown in your scoring model allows you to build an advanced scoring mechanism. If you only score on “demographic data” (data about the contacts in your database such as title, seniority and buyer journey stage), you miss the opportunity to add accounts and types of businesses you are most likely to succeed in closing a deal that will move through your sales funnel faster. Always consider the business “Firmographic data” (business/industry data including BANT and account categorization) in your Fit Score.

Your Engagement Score is based on your Lead’s digital and brand engagement. Focus on the types of actions that have meaning (show intent) and not the actions that are most common. For example, don’t score on email opens and sends. This doesn’t tell you if there is true intent to purchase. But do score on someone downloading a trial or whitepaper. 

Things to consider are: 

  • Are they visiting your site multiple times? 
  • What pages are they visiting? And for how long?
  • Are they visiting Sales/Product/Demo pages (high-value content pages)? With this information, you can create groupings of your website pages and define the percentage of points someone might get based on how many and what pages they visit. 

Lastly, consider all the various channels your leads can connect with you. Are your leads chatting with you or are they engaging on your social channels? Look at all the possible digital engagements that are trackable and measurable and add those connection channels as percentage points in your lead scoring model. 

Lead scoring has become a staple tool implemented by many marketing organizations. This allows marketers to measure and adjust their strategies. It also quantifies marketing’s contribution to sales. There are many benefits to implementing lead scoring but there are also many concerns that need to be addressed when using this tool.

Things to consider

Do not overcomplicate your lead scoring model – follow the KISS (Keep It Super Simple) method. Note that you will most likely not get lead scoring right the first time and that is OK! Many marketers go through multiple versions of lead scoring programs before they get them to work. Sometimes one program is the answer, while other times, you will have multiple lead programs based on your sales team, business areas, or product types. There is no one system that fits the mold but rather you must be flexible enough to support your sales team with what matters in order to find success.

This leads me to the next thing to consider: interview your sales team – but be aware of biased opinions. Take input with a grain of salt and validate this input against data such as: won/loss revenue performance reports.

  • For example, look at your closed won opportunities for the past year or the previous 2 quarters. What type of customers did you win? Were there any commonalities? Were these leads engaging with specific content/initiatives before becoming known to your environment? What type of buyer persona(s) were involved in the sales process?
  • Equally, if not more important, also look at the majority of leads that were disqualified (and never moved to an opportunity). What type of similar information/characteristics do these disqualified leads have that you can add to your scoring model as exclusions? Many times we focus on success, but understanding what we do not want is more important as it really helps you build a lead scoring program that provides your sales team with actionable leads.
  • Having Sales as a close partner in this process is crucial to the success of the lead scoring program. It is important that lead scoring is not perceived as a “marketing initiative” but rather a combined effort to increase productivity and generate more revenue, faster.

To build a strong lead scoring program, be mindful of the data you have and do not have. While yes, we can look at closed won/lost deals to make decisions on what you want in your lead scoring program, none of it will matter if you are not actually collecting this data already. 

  • You must be realistic and score on the data you have or plan to acquire. The data should mostly be standardized so that you can easily apply percentages to your scoring models based on the selections. 
  • Try to avoid manual text values that would be hard to evaluate.
  • Maximize your data enrichment vendors. Do you have enough coverage for the data you are scoring? If you don’t, make a plan to purchase or use tools to complete your data gaps.
  • Confirm the data fields you are scoring on are data you have high volumes of completeness. It’s hard to score on new data fields as most of your database will have this missing and will therefore not meet the criteria. Unless, back to the above point, you’ve enriched it.

Prepare your organization for launch

When you are ready to deploy your lead scoring model, it is best to run lead scoring simulations and scenarios for your sales team. Create a list of sales reps that will be your spokesperson for the change and fully validate your model with them. Next, begin rolling out your lead scoring in batches. Start with a product, tactic or sales team (individuals) before you launch globally. This will iron out any issues and prepare you for any potential pushback. The last thing you want is for sales to say that these leads don’t mean anything.  

It is extremely important to train your sales teams on what the scores mean and what they should do to disqualify leads so that you can get actionable information to further refine your lead scoring process. Take the time to build a feedback loop process with sales. Who are your champions? How often are you getting feedback? What type of feedback do you need to be actionable? The lead scoring process will only be successful with true participation and collaboration on all sides. You should also include other members of your organization such as RevOps, CSMs, and Account Management – anyone dealing with the sales process and/or leads should be familiar with the process.

The evolution of lead scoring

Now that you’ve launched your lead scoring program, know that it is not a static, “set-it-and-forget-it” type of process. This is mostly an ongoing scientific experiment. It changes based on your company’s vision/strategy, sales focus, or industry changes. 

You should be looking at the effectiveness of your lead scoring programs on a quarterly basis, at a minimum. Are you meeting your MQL to SQL objectives? If you are not, evaluate your disqualification reasons. Look at the sources for which most leads are being disqualified. Are you sending too many or not enough leads over to sales? Survey your sales organization to confirm that the leads being sent are impactful. 

And finally, don’t be afraid to throw it out the window and start from scratch. Sometimes a reset is what you need to really see a path forward. 

Need some help getting started, or re-started? Relationship One is here to help you design and deploy a best-in-class lead scoring model! Contact us today!

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