What is Lead Scoring and How to Score Leads in 4 Easy Steps

Kris Rivera

You know this scenario. You’re sitting in a meeting with executives and they’re questioning why leads aren’t converting quickly enough. You need more leads, better sales alignment, and more conversions to make this happen. 

You’re already pouring hours into optimizing your website, perfecting your strategy, and developing impactful campaigns. The problem isn’t the number of leads — it’s the quality. 

When you first build a B2B inbound marketing strategy, your focus is most likely getting leads into your sales pipeline. After putting a lot of effort into capturing your audience’s attention and acquiring more leads, it’s important to evaluate the quality of your prospects and how quickly they will convert. You need to know who is just shopping for the best deal, is interested in your products, or is ready to make a purchase. 

How do you more efficiently target leads in each stage of the sales funnel? While there are numerous lead qualification strategies available, you can build a lead scoring process that tells you who is ready to convert or needs more warming up from sales. 

Ready to dive into lead scoring? Let’s look at what lead scoring is and a few best practices to boost your bottom line.

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring is the method of assessing the prospect’s overall quality through quantitative ‘points’ to generate more business. Every potential customer that connects with your brand is not the same. Each prospect has challenges, needs, and desires that drive future purchase decisions. You can assess your leads based on different attributes:

  • Implicit data: Based on the information you already have
  • Explicit data: Factual information that your lead confirmed from a form or phone call
  • Behavior data: Data based on the actions the lead has taken like submitting a form or downloading a whitepaper
  • Demographic data: Includes information such as company size, industry, geographic location, etc.

The lead scoring process helps your marketing and sales teams become more efficient by prioritizing which prospects to target. In turn, you have the potential to increase conversion rates and close deals more quickly. 

What is Predictive Lead Scoring?

Ninety-one percent of marketers agree that automation is a critical component to success. A lead scoring model helps increase your productivity and conversions, but it can take a lot of testing and feedback to develop a system that works for your business. For the most part, lead scoring is a manual task that you will need to continuously update to ensure it remains accurate and drives results. 

If you’re looking for a “set-it-and-forget-it” strategy, predictive lead scoring utilizes machine learning and data points to determine the best potential customers — taking the manual work out of your hands. Predictive lead scoring will ingest what your customers and recycled accounts have in common to create a formula that prioritizes your leads. In turn, your sales team can reach out to prospects that are closer to making a purchase decision.

If you’re looking for a “set-it-and-forget-it” strategy, predictive lead scoring utilizes machine learning to determine the best potential customers.

Is Lead Scoring Important?

Striking prospects with the right message, at the right time, is critical to close the deal. It allows your business to generate more relevant engagement to every prospect and speed up the sales cycle. While lead scoring can be time-intensive, it can deliver precision to your team. 

However, it’s crucial to remember that just because a lead engages with your content, it doesn’t mean they have any buyer’s intent at that moment. For example, someone visiting your pricing page and downloading a whitepaper could just be doing research on your company or looking for a new job. 

Instead, you may need to shift your strategy outside of the traditional scoring method so you can engage in the platforms where your target audience hangs out. Think about channels like Slack, podcasts, direct messages and more that don’t fit neatly in your lead scoring system.

Focus your strategy on providing valuable education to prospects who haven’t entered the buying stage yet, so when they do enter, they’ve warmed themselves up to your brand and are ready to convert. While you might be used to aligning performance metrics on MQLs and TOFU, you can base success from how many meetings were held or closed revenue. In turn, your sales team can focus on leads who are more likely to convert based on intent signals instead of inflated user actions on your website.

Now, that’s not saying that lead scoring isn’t an effective method to evaluate prospects. However, it notes that the way people interact with businesses continues to change, and brands must keep up in order to scale. 

Different Lead Scoring Models 

Lead scoring models verify the values that you assign to each prospect are compatible with your actual product and are likely to convert. While many lead scoring systems include a point range up to 100, each model supports a particular attribute that you assign to your customers.

Let’s look at a few different models you can develop based on customer data:

Demographic and Company Data

Do you only sell to customers located in the United States? Are your customers mostly men in their 40s? If you have specific demographics for your customer audience, you’ll want to create a model based on those attributes to exclude any outliers.  

For example, if you only sell products to particular locations, anyone who submits information outside of that zip code, state, or country would be assigned a negative score to ensure your sales team doesn’t focus on them. Since B2B companies are typically interested in targeting organizations instead of the individual lead, you can also assign negative points to those who fall out of your parameters.

On your landing page forms, include demographic questions like zip code or phone number to help decipher whether the lead fits into your target audience. You can also ask leading questions around the industry, company size, and annual revenue for more information.

Email and Social Engagement

With an expected 361 million emails sent by the end of 2024, someone subscribing to your company emails is no longer enough to gauge their interest. Instead, pay close attention to your open and click-through rates and provide that data to your sales team. For example, someone who opens and clicks on a demo email could have a higher point value than a contact who opened a newsletter. Since a prospect wanting to schedule a demo is closer to making a purchasing decision, a sales representative should respond to them as soon as possible. 

Similarly, how active a prospective customer is on social networks is a great indicator of their potential interest in your brand. In fact, 62% of B2B marketers who use LinkedIn for lead generation say it drives two times more leads than other networks. Are they following any of your channels? Do they engage with your content by liking or sharing it? How many followers do they have? If your target audience regularly engages on social media, you could assign them a higher score based on their individual activity or interactions with your company.

Sixty-two percent of B2B marketers who use LinkedIn for lead generation say it drives two times more leads than other networks.

Website User Behavior

Your website is one of the biggest indicators to determine how close a prospect is to making a purchase decision. Here are a few ways you can positively or negatively score your leads based on their website activity:

  • Did they download any materials? If so, how many?
  • How many pages did they visit? How long did they stay on each?
  • Did they visit high-value pages like a pricing or demo page?
  • Did they fill out a form? Did they fill out every form field?
  • Has a lead stopped visiting your website? How long has it been?

With each of these assessments, you can assign points to better categorize their sales funnel stage. For example, someone who filled out a form or downloaded a demo is more interested in your brand than a lead who left after only viewing a few pages without an action.

Detect Spam Contacts

No one likes spam — especially your sales team. Lead scoring also helps you detect any contacts who indicated that they were spam when filling out a form or engaging with your business on other channels. For example, did they use a bogus name like “Bugs Bunny” and not include an email address? Do they use a Gmail address when you’re targeting a company? It’s important to score any spam individuals negatively so sales doesn’t waste resources trying to complete outreach.

How to Score Leads in 4 Steps

You might have already gone down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out how to calculate a lead score. And let’s face it, it can be confusing with so many different attributes and models to choose from. If you’re not ready to invest in a predictive lead scoring tool just yet, you can still develop a manual calculation to empower cross-functional teams. Look at this simple formula to get started:

1. Calculate the Conversion Rate for All Leads

You’ll want to use the conversion rate as your baseline for the lead scoring calculation. The lead-to-customer conversion rate is equal to the number of new customers divided by the number of leads your team generates. For example, if you acquire 50 customers out of 350 leads, your conversion rate is 14%. 

2. Build Attributes from High-Quality Converted Customers

Taking your implicit and explicit data sets, you can start developing attributes based on your current customer’s behavior or demographics. These could range anywhere from customers who work in the tech industry, employ 200+ employees, attended your webinar, or downloaded a whitepaper. 

You’ll want to select your attributes based on customer data, analytics, or who your sales team believes is the ideal target audience. While it’s critical to use data to create attributes, it might take a bit of testing before you nail the exact characteristics that drive high-quality conversions. Be prepared to optimize this process over time. 

3. Calculate the Scoring for Each Attribute

Sixty-eight percent of marketers use a mix of behavioral and demographic scoring because each attribute or action a lead takes will dictate what your internal team does next. To calculate the scoring of each attribute, you’ll want to determine how many qualified leads become customers based on their demographics or behavior. 

Sixty-eight percent of marketers use a mix of behavioral and demographic scoring.

The more likely the action or attribute leads to a conversion, the higher the point value should be. You can rank these values by analyzing your website and marketing metrics or run an attribution report to determine how these actions affect the sales funnel. For example, a lead who attends a webinar might be worth more points than someone who downloads content from the website. Your sales team can also provide insight into what collateral pieces have a higher impact for a conversion.

4. Compare Values and Assign Points

Once you calculate the score for each attribution and action, you’ll want to compare the values to your actual conversion rates. If you notice certain attributes have higher rates than your baseline, you know those characteristics should be included in your lead scoring formula.

For example, if leads who fill out a website form have a 25% close rate, and your baseline conversion rate is 1%, you could award 25 points to anyone who fills out a form. You’ll want to complete this exercise for each attribute or action to ensure your values reflect the actual lead quality. However, since this is a manual process and not predictive, you’ll need to continuously analyze your formula over time.

Lead Scoring Best Practices

At the end of the day, how you calculate lead scores and optimize your formula will vary depending on your company’s needs. While your point combinations will be unique, you still want to make sure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your system. Here are four best practices you don’t want to miss out on:

Don’t Forget About Negative Scoring

Your scoring system may become inflated over time. Someone who views your website and downloads multiple resources might be prepping for an interview with your company, instead of about to make a purchase. You also might have customers who continue to rack up points and skew your active prospect points. Instead, create a scoring reduction model to avoid any sort of bias. 

As a start, you’ll want to put negative scores in place for leads who have been inactive over time. For example, leads who stop engaging with your website after a designated period (30, 60, 90 days, etc.) should be scored negatively as their interest in your products has decreased.

Use Different Lead Scoring Models for Unique Products

Since B2B companies often have multiple product lines with unique audiences, you’ll want to set up different scoring systems for each. With a unique formula, you can better assign attributes based on the customer’s characteristics. If all prospects are scored under a generic formula, it’s more likely that leads who may only be interested in one product, instead of all, won’t get the right interest from sales.

Create Lead Scoring Threshold Alerts for Sales

Forty-six percent of B2B marketers don’t have a lead scoring threshold alert that automatically routes to sales. With an automation tool, you can assign your sales team only when a lead reaches a certain qualification threshold, such as 60/100 points. A threshold makes it easy for your sales team to prioritize qualified leads instead of trying to guess who to contact next.

Forty-six percent of B2B marketers don’t have a lead scoring threshold alert that automatically routes to sales.

Talk to Both Your Sales Team and Customers

If you haven’t guessed yet, sales and marketing alignment is crucial for your lead scoring system to drive results. Your sales team have boots on the ground and are communicating directly with your leads, so they should understand what drives conversions. However, you also want to gather feedback from your customers to understand their thought process around choosing to purchase from your business. Don’t be afraid to ask them what influenced their decision to buy from you! 

Drive High-Quality Conversions with Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is an effective process that not only determines the quality of your leads, but saves your business time, money, and resources. With the right model and process in place, you can align marketing and sales teams to target the right leads, at the right time, with the right message to drive faster conversions. While it can be a long process to optimize the formula, it can boost your bottom line and create more long-term business.

Interested in an advanced scheduling tool to convert more leads? Request a demo from Chili Piper today.

About the author
Kris Rivera

Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), On-Page SEO, Link Building, Content Strategy, and Keyword Research.

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