Generating new business can be hard at the best of times, especially if you’re in quite a competitive industry. Generating new business during a recession? Even harder!
If you, like many other businesses, are finding it difficult to fill your sales pipeline from lost revenue, you’ll probably be looking for a way to get your sales team to sort through their leads quicker so they can focus on prospects which are more likely to turn into profitable business. This is where lead scoring comes in....
Lead scoring is a way to grade and prioritise your inbound leads based on the information you have about them. A simple explanation of lead scoring is this: you assign a value to a prospect's demographic and firmographic information (such as their location, seniority, industry, company size) as well as assigning value to their behavioural activity on your website. You can then sort through your leads based on their value score and decide what the next steps are in terms of nurturing them or deciding that they might not be a great fit. The higher the lead score, the better the fit. The better the fit, the easier it is for your business development team to prioritise the prospects that are truly sales ready.
For example, you might add a value of 40 to a contact's lead score if their annual software budget is over £200k, and add another score of 15 if they have visited your pricing page. These two bits of information show you that they have enough budget to afford your services and that they have a high purchase intent.
You can also assign negative values to activity or information about the contact that indicates they might not be the best fit or a waste of time for your sale's team to pursue. For example, you might assign your prospect -30 if their software budget is below £5k, or -20 if they have visited your ‘work for us’ page. These actions imply they don’t have the kind of money to employ your services and that they might be on your website because they want a job, not because they’re interested in using your services.
Instead of manually assigning various activities a value you can also implement predictive lead scoring. Predictive lead scoring is a HubSpot tool that uses an algorithm to analyse your customers, and the customers of other companies in your industry to determine how likely they are to close. The great thing about predictive lead scoring is that it is powered by machine learning which means it only gets smarter over time. It’s helpful for understanding likelihood to close based on the footprint of similar 'closed' contacts at other companies.
What the predictive lead scoring function looks like in HubSpot.
Predictive lead scoring is useful in that it can remove some of the initial guess work, but HubSpot only uses this information (which might not be that accurate):
As predictive lead scoring requires certain extra tools (in HubSpot it requires Sales Enterprise) the focus of this blog is traditional lead scoring (also some bits are relevant for both!)
You can quickly and easily assign different size leads to the appropriate teams. For example, a lead with a higher score, who might be a director with purchase authority can go straight to senior sales. A lead with a low score can be given to business development for further prospecting.
You can also prioritise those leads based on engagement, so if the lead has been active on your site in the last 30 days you might want to reach out with a call. For those that haven’t been active in the last 6 months, they might be considered a cold lead that will need a bit of prospecting before they’re ready to buy.
Do you find you often have unqualified leads being passed from marketing over to sales? This is a sure sign that your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned. The whole process of setting up and reviewing your lead scoring means you have a joint agreement, between marketing and sales, on what a good fit lead looks like. It's a shared responsibility between sales and marketing to define the lead scoring criteria, routinely review the quality of the scoring and the leads surfaced, and a joint effort in defining when the lead score is high enough that a lead can be handed from marketing to sales.
With proper lead scoring in place it’s easier for you to tell who’s just having a quick look around your website and who’s actually interested in buying. You can then make sure you’re only talking to those prospects who are fit to buy and not waste time talking to someone who’s nowhere near ready to convert.
If you only identify warm leads as those who have shown firm intent (such as those that have filled in a form on your website to say they’re interested in working with you), then you’re potentially missing out on other right fit leads who might be demonstrating their intent through different on-site behaviour. For example, someone who keeps revisiting a key service page on your website several times a week over the course of a month is worth a phone call, no?
Lead scoring allows better KPI reporting on the quality of leads and which leads are most likely to close. You can then identify benchmarks for close rates based on an ideal lead score. For example, you might find that 95% of prospects with a score of 250+ were closed and won. This should allow for better forecasting based on the lead scores you have, enabling you to make more accurately informed business decisions and predict short-term and long-term performance.
By reviewing your lead scoring process and understanding what type of leads are best fit, you’ll also benefit from better insight into which buyer personas are most valuable to your business. Your marketing team can use this to make sure they’re targeting their activity at the right people.
It can be hard to know where to start with lead scoring, so let’s first have a look at the different types of information and activities you can (and should!) be scoring on:
Before you can target a prospect, you need to know who you’re dealing with. You’ll want to assign scores based on the person's job title, what department they’re in, and the industry they work in too.
While demographic information relates to the individual you are targeting, you’ll also want to set up lead scoring based on the information about the company. Think number of employees, location, and annual revenue to figure out if they can afford the service you offer.
One of the best ways of knowing if a company is the right fit is through learning their marketing/sales/IT budget (whichever is most relevant to your business). You can gather this information through forms that show high intent to purchase (such as a 'contact us' page), or by using progressive form fields to ask for more information when somebody has filled in your form previously.
What pages on your website has your lead viewed? Which forms have they filled in and what resources have they downloaded? For blog pages and resource downloads, your contact is probably still in the research/awareness phase of the buyer's journey. For service pages and case study downloads, your prospect is probably a bit further in their journey to purchase and more likely ready to buy. Not all actions are equal so you can score them according to significance.
There are certain activities that your contact will engage in that suggest they aren’t a good fit or they’re just not interested. This could be someone who’s unsubscribed from marketing emails or someone who’s used a personal email rather than a business email to download something from your website.
Open rates and click-through rates are a great way to measure how interested someone is in your business. It’s one thing for them to be subscribed to your newsletter, but if they’re opening and clicking links in every email in a lead nurture workflow it suggests that they want what you’re selling.
Events are such a great way to give your business a face and some personality! Someone who’s been to one of your events is either interested in your business or the industry your business operates in so you’ll probably want to assign event attendance pretty favourably in your lead scoring.
First things first you’ll want to write a list of all the potential activities and prospect data you want to report on. Get people from both sales and marketing to contribute so that you’ve got all bases covered. You’ll then want to set a range for the values you give each individual activity, for example you could use -100 to 100 as your range of values.
Next you need to assign a rough grade to each action or bit of information. You’ll want to assign activities with high intent a high value to match, and vice versa.
While 100 might be the threshold for the highest score you’d give an activity, you need to understand the minimum and maximum values that can be attained by a lead. For example, when reviewing your numbers you might find that 500 is probably the highest score a lead can get and -300 the lowest.
Once those numbers have been decided you need to decide on actions for each band, it might look a little something like this:
300-500 = hot lead. Pass to senior sales
100-300 = warm lead. Pass to sales
0-100 = needs some lead nurturing. Pass to business development.
As you’re setting up your criteria for lead scoring you’ll probably be using excel or google sheets to document everything. Once you’ve finished setting your criteria and values for scores, you’ll need to follow these steps to get that information into HubSpot.
Now to reap the benefits of lead scoring that are mentioned above, you’ll want to set up some automation in HubSpot to make sure leads are assigned properly and that tasks are sent to the relevant sales rep. You can use the workflows tool to assign leads to the relevant sales team or person based on their lead score (this property is called HubSpot score in HubSpot). You can use more than one rule to do your assignment, for example you might have a rule that if the lead score is 500+ AND the location of the company is Bristol, that you make the contact owner of that lead someone in the South West Senior Sales team.
You can also use the same workflow to assign tasks - so for example, the next step after assigning a contact owner might be to create a task for the contact owner to call the lead. The member of your sales team will get a notification that they have a task assigned to them and a due date to get it completed by.
A lot of businesses don’t use lead scoring, and instead waste precious time and money chasing leads that just aren’t the right fit for their business. Lead scoring isn’t hard to set up, and if you’re using a tool like HubSpot, it’s made even easier. With improved clarity for your marketing team, saved time for your sales team, and increased ROI for your business there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be rushing off to start lead scoring as you finish reading this sentence...
Featured image credit to: Welcomia - www.freepik.com
Claire Blacker is Junior Digital Marketing Executive at Noisy Little Monkey.
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