Utilize lead scoring for an improved sales cycle

Internet lead generation and sales prospecting are complicated enough, and sales organizations need tools to streamline these processes. Individuals may be a great fit for your product or service, but they aren’t looking to make a purchase in the near future. On the other hand, some leads are eager to buy, but they don’t match your ideal customer profile. Lead scoring can help you rate prospects on their fit for your organization as they enter the revenue funnel and determine the kinds of nurturing they need to convert into a client.

Lead scoring can inform many of your sales team’s strategies when conducted through an online marketing system. For example, if leads aren’t ready to buy, it isn’t a worthwhile use of your sales representatives’ time to follow up with them over the phone. Prospects may need more information before they commit to a decision. Ranking leads on their fit as they enter the sales cycle can allow salespeople to determine what types of materials they need to send to contacts. This approach also ensures that sales-ready prospects aren’t overlooked.

Lead scoring needs to go beyond the numbers

While lead scoring is highly beneficial for B2B sales organizations, reps still need to account for the full customer journey, according to an article for CMSWire written by Christine Crandell. It can be difficult to score leads accurately, especially when you add more dimensions into your rankings. It’s even more challenging for organizations to apply predictive lead scoring models.

These models work by blending attributes from prospects, previous clients and lost leads and then attempt to outline a customer journey with this information. The goal is for marketers and sales reps to optimize customer segments and send the right communications at certain times in the funnel. However, this approach doesn’t function well unless you have a complete picture of past and current clients. Many organizations try to define the buyer’s journey with incomplete data, which leads to flawed marketing efforts. You need to have a complete picture of buyers’ motivations, emotions and goals to effectively reach these customers.

How to score leads to improve win rates

Because of the challenges associated with lead scoring, some companies ignore this feature of their marketing automation software. However, they may be missing out on significant benefits, Ellen Valentine wrote for ClickZ. Here are some tips to make the most out of lead scoring:

1. Begin with the basics

Demographics are a good place to start with lead scoring, but your model needs to go farther. Job titles, geography, industry, company size and revenue are good start points to assign value within your database.

2. Incorporate behavioral elements into rankings

Demographics alone are not the definitive measure of a potential customer’s fit for your organization. You need to beyond these factors and account for behavior. This makes scoring more dynamic, Valentine suggested. For example, if leads open a sales email and click through to your website, your marketing automation platform can trigger a higher ranking. You can assign different values based on the most important behaviors in the sales cycle. However, you may also want to consider the impact of repetition from these actions. If a prospect uses a feature on your website several times, should he or she be given the same score as someone who visits the page once? It may be beneficial to give more points the first time a lead takes the action and give smaller additions for each subsequent time.

3. Ask previous buyers

Because predictive models are so challenging to implement without the full picture of a lead, it may be worthwhile to survey previous clients. In addition, most B2B companies have multiple paths to purchase, which means you need to account for all of them, Crandell wrote. This helps ensure your future lead scoring efforts are more accurate. The article points out that a customer-centric approach to lead scoring and nurturing can lead to better results in the long term.

4. Create separate standards for different paths to purchase

Most B2B organizations know that prospects don’t arrive at their products or services in the exact same manner. Flat lead scoring models don’t account for this, which can be a major reason why marketers don’t see the desired results. For instance, you can create separate rankings for previous clients and new prospects because these two groups probably won’t interact with your sales team and marketing communications in the same way, according to Valentine. In addition, Crandell pointed out that a model based on the sales tends to be most effective. These factors can be incorporated into your company’s marketing automation platform so your reps don’t miss any prime opportunities. Having access to more client behavior data can streamline your reps’ approaches to selling, helping you win more contracts.