How your company can employ lead scoring

What if you could have a better idea of a lead’s fit for your organization as soon as he or she entered the revenue funnel? Does this seem like a far-off possibility? Using an online marketing system, your company can score prospects as soon as their information is captured. This increased visibility can refine how your sales team approaches prospects, making this department more effective overall.

For B2B firms that maintain separate sales and marketing departments, it’s essential to have alignment between these two teams, according to a white paper from Eloqua. In many organizations, sales and marketing are at odds with each other, and this can severely impact Internet lead generation efforts. Much of this disparity is the result of the lack of agreement on the definition of a qualified lead. Marketers may be attracting leads that aren’t relevant to what sales representatives need to convert prospects into customers. This means salespeople will either waste their time following up with uninterested prospects or ignoring the leads altogether, much to the frustration of the marketing team. In addition, the hand-off from marketing to sales may be a major cause of issues. Marketers may enter leads’ contact information into a sales database and expect results.

Once sales and marketing have a shared definition of the attributes of a qualified lead, implementing lead scoring practices can significantly improve the sales process and how many deals your employees are able to close. As the B2B sales cycle gets longer and more complex, having a better idea of the perceived value a prospect could have to your organization could redefine how sales professionals handle this situation.

With this in mind, why should you use lead scoring?

Despite the long sales cycle, leads can get cold fast

Data can decay quickly, rendering many of the contacts in your database useless before your sales reps even get the chance to react, Janelle Johnson wrote for Marketing Action Blog. In addition, studies have indicated that leads are most likely to select the vendor that responds to their inquiries first, which means you could be losing prospects by not getting back to them quickly enough. If you’re investing a lot in lead generation, you may not be seeing the desired return on investment if you continue to lose leads in this way. Marketing automation improves lead scoring efforts, but it also ensures clear signals like this aren’t missed.

Even though buyers are spending more time researching different product options, you don’t want to let data decay or lose prospects to competitors. Lead scoring allows you to respond faster because it can generate a higher score for prospects who are more ready to buy.

Establish unique criteria for your potential clients

Each B2B firm is different, which means the same lead scoring criteria won’t be applicable. After determining the shared characteristics of the most qualified leads, you can create the metrics in your marketing automation platform. In fact, lead scoring is one of the fastest ways to start seeing results with a new marketing automation solution, according to an article for Demand Generation written by Bill Cozadd. For example, if you cater to different customer segments, the company type can be one of your metrics. You can also rank prospects based on their job titles and locations. Scores can be partially based on behavior, such as white paper downloads or visits to product pages. It also may be beneficial to set up negative rankings for certain behaviors, such as long periods of inactivity, unsubscribing from an email list or if the person’s job title doesn’t hold any decision-making power.

Having these metrics in place helps your sales team react more quickly when prospects give indications that they are ready to make a decision. This raises your overall effectiveness and prevents you from losing deals at the last minute.

Lead scoring helps you keep up with the evolving purchase cycle

B2B buyers are more technologically savvy than ever before. Implementing practices like lead scoring allows your company to stay on the same page with buyers, Eloqua said. In the past, companies used manual lead scoring processes, but sophisticated technology like marketing automation can significantly improve the accuracy of these efforts. Most of the buyer’s journey takes place behind the scenes and online. Digital behavior provides a great deal of information about prospects’ level of interest in your products or services. This informs your employees’ approach. Some leads may need more nurturing before they convert to being a customer. Others may take less time before they’re ready to buy. Lead scoring provides a much more transparent indication of this readiness.

While marketing automation has a number of other benefits, lead scoring is one of the easiest to implement when it comes to seeing quick results.