B2B lead generation is a step-by-step process that aims to increase revenues, and lead scoring is a very important, yet sometimes underestimated step in this process. The better leads are, the greater chance of any B2B company to convert leads into sales. And the key to better leads is lead scoring. Here are lead scoring best practices that not only guide businesses in the process, but also reveal how an efficient scoring can boost sales and income.
Every business needs sales to prosper and the path to sales starts with generating efficient leads. Then new questions emerge: Are the leads accurate and meaningful? Do they have a potential for conversion? Is it worth to spend so many hours and efforts on the leads at hand, or should the sales team concentrate more on certain leads? How many of the leads require further nurturing? The answers to these questions are vital for B2B companies, because, according to Forrester, conversion rate in B2B is less than 1 percent. This means, very few leads turn into sale, because not every lead is the right prospect for your business. It is important to reach the right customer at the right time, which requires an efficient lead scoring process.
1. What is Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring is a method based upon scoring and ranking the potential of leads in terms of conversion into sales. In other words, this process identifies which leads are more likely to move higher in the sales funnel and to generate revenues for the company. Once the scoring is made and leads are ranked according to their scores, sales teams no longer need to waste their precious time on inefficient leads. This is what lead scoring is all about, and best practices offer great guidance in the process.
2. Before Starting the Process
Lead scoring process needs data, hence lead acquisition. Remember that it is best not to put too much pressure in the lead acquisition stage, which is before the leads enter into the sales funnel.
In the acquisition phase, start simply by asking fundamental information such as name, job title, company, etc. Certainly, the more information the better. However, more detailed questions on business volume, areas of operation, revenues, etc. should be in the later phases of the process.
Plus, it is also important to have a marketing automation system so that the data and information gathered gradually can be updated and corrected systematically. Good, accurate and healthy leads generate better sale opportunities.
3. Types of B2B Lead Scoring
Many different data are gathered during and after lead acquisition. While scoring, the data are divided into two main groups, namely “explicit” and “implicit”.
3.1. Data Used in Explicit Lead Scoring
Explicit data includes direct and mostly demographic information such as name, age, gender, job title, name of the company, company size, location, industry, sub-industry, revenue, etc. These data come directly from the lead, mostly via channels such as online forms or registrations at physical or virtual events.
There may be times when the data at hand are not enough to make proper scoring for leads. Then, you may also benefit from trustworthy data providers to support your data and add more accuracy and consistency to the scoring process.
3.2. Data Used in Implicit Lead Scoring
Implicit data is all about the behavioral information gathered through observation and deduction. Visits to your website, clicks on your email offerings, page views are examples of implicit data. Such data are usually gathered through “carrots” such as mailings, newsletters, webinars, website offers, etc. Has the lead opened your email? Clicked on the link in the mailing? Visited your website to see what you offer? Spent more time on certain product/service pages? Attended the webinars? Which ones? There are many points of contact that you can follow the lead’s activities and reach conclusions on the implicit data. And there are also two applications to make implicit data scoring a lot easier:
- B2B Intent Data Analytics can be very beneficial at this stage of lead generation.
- A marketing automation system is highly useful in matching the implicit data with the profile information at hand. This system eliminates manual workload, which may include time-consuming tasks such as internet monitoring or filled form data entries.
It is very important to understand that neither explicit nor implicit data alone are meaningful in lead scoring. You need to include both groups into the scoring system and make an overall evaluation of the lead, because the results of this scoring determine which leads to nurture, which to ignore, and which to take directly to lead assignment.
4. Time to score the leads
Once you have all the data in your hands, now is the time to score them according to well-established criteria. Before scoring, make sure that you already have robust persona(s) at hand and both sales and marketing teams are involved in the process. This cooperation is a must for best practice.
First of all, work on the leads in the light of clues such as purchases in the past, online footprint, previous contact with the sales teams, etc. Plus, clues like business email address, verification of the company stated in the forms, or verification of job title will help to better understand the authenticity of the lead. List these items according to their importance and there you have a checklist. This checklist will make the scoring decisions much easier.
Once all is set, now you know what to look for in the leads, what to expect from them, what items to score the highest, and what your thresholds should be in terms of future steps. Remember that some leads are not worth working on, while some require further nurturing. On the other hand, some leads may be so ready for purchase that they can be directly delivered to the CRM system. Honestly, this is not something we see a lot, but who knows, with some luck, you may have access to perfect leads going up the sales funnel with the speed of light.
After you assign scores to each item in the checklist, you are ready to generate a total lead score for each lead. However, remember that you may need to update your checklists and scores depending on the changes in the market, economy, area of business, and even product ranges. Yes, lead scoring is an ongoing process!
5. Great Effort, Yet Great Benefits
Obviously, lead scoring is not an easy task. It requires a lot of effort, thinking, time, and energy. It is always a great way to outsource the process, so that you can focus more on strategic matters and leave the time-consuming tasks to experts and automation systems. Some businesses may be reluctant to allocate time and energy to lead scoring. Or some may be not very fond of the idea of outsourcing an operational process. Yet, once they learn about the benefits of implementing lead scoring one way or another, they immediately change their minds. Here is why:
With lead scoring,
- Your marketing and sales teams can save their time and energy only on leads that are likely to result in sales
- Marketing and sales teams work in better alignment than ever
- The possibility of reaching the right people at the right time, with the right product/service increases
- Sales cycles are shortened, thus ROI is higher
- Productivity of the sale process is improved
- As a natural result, revenues increase.
6. Best Practices in a Nutshell
Here is a short summary of keys to a best practice in B2B lead scoring:
- Do no push too hard in the lead acquisition stage. Wait for the prospect to enter into the sales funnel through simple questions.
- Use both explicit and implicit data.
- Employ a marketing automation system.
- Remember that different products/services/businesses may need different lead scoring systems.
- Regularly update your scoring system.