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A lead scoring system is an effective way of understanding your target audience and determining their likelihood of making a purchase. Businesses are able to determine which prospects are more likely to engage with their products/services, and devote the appropriate resources towards nurturing those leads. It is, therefore, important to build a lead scoring strategy that is effective at prioritizing opportunities for the sales team.

There are several steps that your business can follow when developing such a strategy. These are outlined below.   

Define the Criteria For a Qualified Lead

The marketing and sales teams need to work work together to clearly define the criteria that makes up a lead that is worth spending the right amount of time getting it to close. With both marketing and sales staff involved, there will be no misunderstandings of what what makes up a good lead and when a lead gets passed to sales for personal follow-up, the sales team will take it seriously and spend the appropriate amount of time on making the sale. In this step, the team should define the as much of data for the niche demographics, firmographics, behavioral characteristics, and online activities that is collected by the available lead intelligence systems and also makes an impact on the purchase decision. If the data doesn't make a difference to the purchase process, it should either be ignored or used as a negative scoring mechanism (see below).  

Collaborate between Departments

As mentioned before, in order for lead scoring to be successful, sales and marketing need to collaborate and agree on the lead scoring system. Both departments will be involved in handling the systems on an intimate level, so they need to be comfortable with it. This cannot be skipped over and minimized, so it deserves it's own section and called out separately.

The teams’ approval needs to be sought in any improvements implemented before the system passes for usage. This way miscommunication can be eliminated from the beginning and teamwork enforced. in addition, there should be a process established for continuous improvement and/or changes over time.

Incorporate Behavioral and Demographic (and Firmographic) Scoring

When building a lead scoring system, it is important to factor into your model a scoring system based on behavior and demographics (and firmographics). The behavioral scores (the lead score) will be based on how the leads are interacting with your products, services, and web presence. These behaviors are based on activities such as website visits, email opens, social media shares, engaging in product demos, or attending webinars or physical events. The behavioral score determines the overall interest a lead has expressed in the products.

The demographic and firmographic score (the grade score) determines if the lead is a good fit for the products that you offer. It is based on factors such as location, job title, company size and income, among others. Through demographic analysis, you can determine if the lead fits your profile and if they are likely to make a purchase.

By incorporating both behaviors and fit into your lead scoring system, you can balance between a lead score (based on behavior) and a lead grade (based on demographics). The sales team will, therefore, encounter two important scenarios; a high score and high grade (which often means they are hot leads ready to make a purchase) and a low score but high grade (which are leads that fit your buyer profile but are showing little interest in your products). Leads with a low score but high grade should be directed to the marketing team for a targeted lead nurturing program in order to boost their interest in your product.

Design Product-Specific Lead Scoring Models

If your business offers a broad range of products that are not related, using a generic scoring model can lead to your scores being skewed. A particular product may be receiving more attention than others, which can erroneously portray a higher interest in all your products. You can rectify this by designing scoring models that are specific to the type of products that you offer.

Each product-specific scoring model can determine lead interest based on the specific criteria that it has been optimized for. Additionally, the sales team can now be more focused and know which products will apply to which leads. Your content marketing strategy for the nurturing of warm and cold leads will also be more effective because you will be able to design the appropriate content that is based on the product that the lead is interested in.

Establish a Minimum Threshold for Scoring

In order to prioritize and provide valuable opportunities for your sales team, your lead scoring should implement a minimum threshold that determines if a lead will actually be assigned a score. There should be a minimum amount of interest and engagement that the lead shows before they are incorporated into the scoring model. This allows for your company to devote resources towards qualified leads, and to only present the sales team with leads that are likely to make a purchase.

Implement Negative Scoring

Your lead scoring system should be able to adjust scores downwards based on certain criteria. For example, leads that spend a lot of time on your careers page may receive a high score due to their engagement on your site, but they are actually not interested in making a purchase. Your lead scoring system should, therefore, be designed to modify a lead score based on such criteria, which allows you to avoid score inflations.

Utilize a Weighted Scoring System

Your scoring system should weight your scores based on actions that are more valuable than others. This can be done by assigning a higher value for activities that demonstrate the higher interest in your products. For example, leads that spend time on pricing and product demo pages should get a higher score than those simply shifting through the home page and pictures (even though they spend an equal amount of time on your website). You can assign a maximum value to each category that you choose so that leads that are spending a lot of time on low-value activities do not get a bloated score.

Design Your Scoring System according to Purchase Size and Time-frame

Your scoring system should incorporate a method of determining the size of purchase a lead is likely to make as well as the time-frame within which the purchase could be made. By collecting information on both behavior and demographics, your lead scoring system should enable you to determine the products that your leads are interested in.

From here you can take your analysis a step further and determine the size of purchase a hot lead is likely to make, and in what time-frame. With such a strategy, you can always ensure that your sales team is going after the hottest and biggest prospects that are likely to make a purchase in the near future.  

Constantly Adjust the Scores

An effective scoring system is one that constantly adjusts its parameters and reacts to lead behavior. Your lead scores should therefore not always be constant, but should be adjusted in response to changing characteristics. For example, leads that fit your customer profile and were spending a lot of time on your product pages probably have a high score. However, if it has been a while since they visited your site, their score should be lowered accordingly because the lead may have gone cold. Constantly adjusting your scores ensures your database is always up to date. It also ensures that leads being pursued by the sales team are always the ones most likely to make a purchase. 

Summing up

An effective lead scoring system prioritizes opportunities for your sales team. It allows your business to devote resources appropriately so that sales efforts are being directed to the most relevant prospects. In addition, it saves your sales team the time of pursuing leads that are not interested in making a purchase. An proper lead scoring system also allows the marketing department to focus on the right leads to nurture over time with the goal of passing them to sales as soon as they are further down the sales funnel. By following the steps that have been provided above, you can get your business on the way towards building an effective lead scoring system.