While lead scoring is an essential component of your sales and marketing processes, without an action plan on what you will do with those qualified leads, the whole thing can be thrown in the trash. It’s important to go one step beyond lead scoring to ensure that your marketing and sales are aligned with what your prospects need.

Start with the Scoring

I don’t mean to belittle the importance of lead scoring; on the contrary, it’s essential to not only qualify the lead but also determine what type of lead it is and where it is in the buyer’s cycle.

Start by determining your lead criteria. What do you require for a lead to even make it on your radar? If you sell in the B2B space, for example, one criteria should be that a lead represents a company, or works in a particular industry. Assign a numeric value to each criteria. This helps you rank the leads. Next, create ranges for each lead type. A dead-end lead might have a score of 5 or less, while a sales-ready lead might rank at 80 or above.

Some leads are “better” than others. What makes an ideal lead for you? You won’t discard the rest, but you do want to segment them into different buckets, so factor this into your scoring process. Also look at behavior. For every action a lead takes, add points to his score. If the lead visits your website numerous times, downloads a whitepaper, or signs up for your emails, these are all actions that move him higher up on your leads list.

Don’t Ignore the Low-Scoring Leads

As I said, you don’t want to get rid of leads that don’t meet your ‘Perfect Customer’ list, but you’ll need to nurture them in different ways. Marketing automation is perfect for this. Then, as they rank higher and higher over time, you can add more high-touch activities to nudge them toward a sale.

Decide What Happens to Each Bucket

As you refine your lead scoring process, you’ll see that some leads need to go straight to sales, others need to be kept in marketing to further nurture, and still others go into the dead pile. Above all, make sure each bucket has an associated action, otherwise it withers on the vine.

It’s really important to make sure what you do with each group of leads is appropriate to their needs. For example, subscribers want nothing more than your content at this point. They’re learning and soaking up the information you offer. If, however, some download a whitepaper you advertise via email one day, you might move those to the lead bucket. If some take further action showing their interest, such as requesting a demo, you can move them to the marketing qualified lead bucket, and so on.

Your buckets may not be the same as what they are at other companies, so quantify (and qualify) what each bucket looks like for your business.

It’s imperative that your lead scoring ties back to specific sales and marketing processes, otherwise it’s wasted effort. Consider your sales and marketing as a map, and your process to making a sale the route you take. If your lead wants to navigate from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point Sales,’ you’ve got to guide them with those processes. Otherwise they’re wandering aimlessly in the desert, with no direction!

Brenda S. Stoltz
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Lindsey Sherman