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How to Create a Lead Scoring Model for Your Business

Steve Surdez

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet once lamented, “Words, words, words …” As a business owner, sales manager, or marketing director staring at your
CRM data, you might have a new twist on Hamlet’s famous line that goes like this: “Leads, leads, leads …”

Now, if parroting Hamlet is caused by a lack of leads flowing into your CRM, that’s a major problem, for sure. But most businesses — particularly those equipped with sales and marketing teams — have some success with lead generation. Problems typically tend to arise when identifying lead quality and where a lead is in the buying process — enter MacBeth’s witches, shouting, “Double, double toil and trouble.”

Okay, no more Shakespeare — I promise.

Seriously, though, developing a lead scoring model for your business is mission critical to closing sales and generating more revenue. If your sales and marketing teams are operating with different lead definitions, or if leads get passed from marketing to sales too soon, strong leads will not get the right attention and weaker leads will devour valuable time and effort.

Let’s first define lead scoring and then talk about how you can develop your own model for qualifying leads for optimal marketing and sales performance.

What Is Lead Scoring?

First, let’s address something obvious: A lead is a person. This person has a complex set of motivations and behaviors that need to be understood and acted upon by your sales and marketing team. To nurture this lead properly — i.e., to deliver the right customer experience and the appropriate content at just the right time — a rubric needs to be applied so that this complexity (the human being you’re communicating with) can be handled properly.

As a business owner, marketing lead, or sales manager, action based on subjective perceptions is your mortal enemy; there’s too much room for error. Lead scoring corrals the subjective and seeks to assign it a quantifiable value. This value creates an objective assessment of a lead that translates across the organization and has a set of actions and approaches attached to it.

That’s a mouthful, I know. Basically, lead scoring transforms a highly subjective, complex unknown into an objective value that determines its path through your sales funnel.

So, how does your lead “Bob” become the number 77? Well, that’s the hard part.

First, Analyze Your Lead History

Look to the past as a first step to developing your lead scoring model. How leads get qualified and quantified is unique to every business and every industry, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

You need to go back into your CRM and do a deep dive into leads that eventually became customers and leads that came into the funnel but did not choose your service or product. If you have a robust CRM, you should also be able to track what actions these leads took before “buying” or becoming a non-lead. Build out a profile for the closed lead and the lost lead and get ready for the next step.

Quantify to Build Your Lead Scoring Model

Now, this is where building your lead scoring model can get tricky. It’s also very important to remember the first lead scoring model you build shouldn't be set in stone forever: Lead scoring model improvement is a never-ending process that must evolve alongside your customers and business.

Most lead scoring models operate on a 0–100 scale: 0 being a lead you know very little or nothing about and that has taken no action, 80+ being a lead you know a great deal about and some action steps have been taken on your website, social media, or via telephone.

Okay, now you need to quantify two critical areas to start:

  1. Demographics
  2. Behaviors

On the demographic side, you’re looking to assign values to lead characteristics. If you’re a B2C company, you might look at age, income, gender, and geographic location; if you’re B2B, demographics could include position within an organization (are they a decision-maker) and the size and industry focus of a company. Once you have nailed down what’s most important, assign that trait a number:

  • Within 10 miles of your location: 5 points
  • Company revenue of $1M+: 20 points
  • Senior manager or higher position: 10 points

You get the picture, and this is the basic approach. Determining the number value for each characteristic is highly individualized to your specific company.

Lead Action or Behavior Scoring

It’s not just about who a lead is, it’s also about what a lead does when they engage your company. You might score actions in the following manner:

  • “About Us” page visit: 2 points
  • Blog read: 5 points
  • Download eBook with form fill: 10 points
  • Email contact: 20 points

For example, Sarah is the president of a company right in your organization’s sweet spot: She is a decision-maker, the company has a high-revenue score, and is geographically in the heart of your market. So, her demographic score is likely going to be off the charts. However, Sarah has only visited your website once, spent very little time on a few pages, and has taken no further action at this point.

Kim, on the other hand, is a marketing director at a smaller revenue company in the right industry but that’s a bit farther geographically from your market area. However, Kim has read five or six of your blogs, completed a form to download an eBook, and has provided her email address and phone number to your marketing team.

Who has the higher lead score? Well, that depends on your company and what’s most valuable to it, but more than likely Kim would have the higher score due to the better balance of generally positive demographics and stronger behavior/actions taken.

Blending demographic and action-driven scoring provides the most complete lead score. Once you have your lead scoring model solidified, tie number ranges to steps in your customer’s decision journey to get the full picture.

There are other methods to consider, and some even suggest having a separate demographic “grade” and a lead “score” in addition to a blended score combining both. If you’re just getting started, however, deploying a simpler approach might work best.

Remember, the lead scoring model you use first should not stay that way forever. Start simple and build on it from there.

What Are the Benefits of Lead Scoring?

If you’re ready to reshape your approach to lead qualification, we can help you get there. Illumine8 Marketing & PR has helped organizations of all sizes create, maintain, and improve their lead scoring platforms to maximize lead quality, increase repeat business, and amplify their conversion rates. Reach out to us today — we’d love to discuss your vision and how you see your company getting there.

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