Lead Scoring is hot right now.  As technology continues to advance, powerful new software is emerging to assist Inside Sales teams with their lead management.  Lead scoring can take on many forms.  Some are automated, while others allow a sales person to score based on their interaction with a prospect or customer.  One thing is sure; we have moved well beyond yesterday’s standard scoring of cold, warm, hot and sold. 

Lead scoring takes place on several fronts.  The primary focus of this post will be human lead scoring through lead management software, including best practices and a common sense approach.  Before we move into human lead scoring let’s have a quick chat about the very hot topic of lead scoring prospects through technology that visit your company website.  Unless you have been under a rock, marketing’s hot topics are demand generation, lead nurturing and engagement marketing.

These three topics focus on the fact that today, many buyers shop on-line while in stealth mode.  This presents a challenge for marketers because often your company does not have any knowledge that potential customers are shopping you.  Many prospects visit you company on-line several times without you knowing it.  Some make decisions to buy your competitor’s product without you ever having the chance to engage with them.

These new scoring tools help you monitor traffic that comes to your site, engage that traffic at the optimal point and keep prospects engaged through drip campaigns, offers and remarketing.  If you drive a lot of traffic to your site, I encourage you to check out some of the offerings in the marketplace. Solutions range from simple (who is on my site?) to complex (who is on my site, what is their history, what have they read and what is the best way for me to engage them?).  As always, do your homework and avoid over-kill in terms of functionality.

So, we know a little about technology scoring and how it can help your business engage, but what about all of the companies that have inside sales people cranking out a large amount of contacts by phone?  Can lead scoring be an asset for them?  Is it easy?  Can it make a difference?  Lead Scoring, like most tools, can be very simple and elegant or you can make it complex.  Think of lead scoring as putting a mark on a record in your database that gives some meaning.  It may put the record into a group like “dead” or “likely to close in 30 days” or place a numeric value on it so it can be ranked for some type of follow-up or action.  Scoring is only limited by your imagination and your reps ability to gain value out of the scoring.  If value is not gained and sales lift does not occur, then you are scoring leads for the sake of the practice, which is futile.

Who should implement Lead Scoring?

Lead Scoring, where the scoring is done by sales reps, should be implemented when a clear value proposition is at hand.  Having all of the leads in your database and pipeline scored but lacking a plan to act upon those scores seems a bit of a wasted effort.  I have seen several sales organizations with complex lead status and lead scoring practices.  The ones that always prove to be interesting and perhaps a bit entertaining are the ones where the scores recorded do not alter behavior or provide any additional insight for management.  Sure, they may get a cooler picture of their sales funnel, but no subsequent up-tic in ROI.

On the other hand, I have seem brilliant utilization of Lead Scoring that delivers a measurable up-tic in ROI, enhances the sales department’s ability to focus on the best opportunities, and keeps the sales pipeline lean and clean.   Organizations that realize a benefit have defined a clear and predictable value proposition associated with scoring their leads, and act upon those scores with purpose.  In other words, it changes some behavior within the sales process.  To dig a little deeper, let’s take a look at some common lead scoring practices.

Lead Scoring – examples and practices

Within our lead management platform, Lead Scoring can be turned on allowing the sales person that is on the phone with a prospect or customer to collect data.  There can be one data point that results in a score, or several data points that collectively make up a score.  Here is a simple example that would apply to a company that sells automobile insurance.

You call a prospect or one calls you.  Through the course of the call it is determined that the prospect is 21 years of age, owns a car and is in college.  Let’s say for our example this leads to a score of 35.  Another  person, 45 years old, who owns two cars and has been employed for 20 years, may have a score of 75.  The second example can be enriched if through conversation you find that they are unsatisfied with their car insurance.  That score may be 90 and if their insurance is set to renew in 3 months or less it may push the score to 95.

Scoring can be done on any call with unlimited input fields.  If you have great Lead Management software with Lead Scoring you simply set up the fields that will be part of the scoring process, add a value to each of those fields (they can be collected through conversation with on-board scripting or may already be part of the record from other data sources), create a total score field and apply the math that produces the final score.  So big deal – now you have a ton of records with scores on them.  What next?

This goes back to my earlier point.  If you score for scoring’s sake without a value proposition as to how it will benefit your efforts, you are wasting valuable time.  However, if you thought through the process and have a game plan, scoring can lead to key insights and the ability to focus on your most valuable leads at the right time.

Benefits of Lead Scoring

Lead Scoring takes a sales organization well beyond simple lead status of cold, warm and hot.

It can take into account multiple factors and input fields to calculate a total score.

Scoring prospects in a complex sales cycle can lead to actionable routing, ensuring the highest value leads are worked at the right time by the right team or salesperson.

Lead Scoring provides management with valuable insight into the health of their universe of prospects, and will lead to a more predictable sales funnel.

In summary, if you have a straight forward inside sales operation with a short cycle and you are not crushed under the weight of too many prospects, then lead scoring may not provide you any measurable ROI.  If you have a more complex selling environment with a rich database, factors to score, and tight human resources, then lead scoring may be well worth the effort.  Lastly, if you simply want additional tools to ensure that prospects and your database are worked in the most efficient manner possible, then Lead Scoring is for you.