Online lead generation is full of promise. But generating leads only generates sales to the extent to which those leads are good ones. There are solid leads, marginal leads, and useless leads. There are shoppers ready to buy yesterday and those who don't want to buy for a couple of months.
How can you focus your efforts to take care of the first group, assist the second group along the buying process, and weed out the time and effort you're wasting on unqualified leads? Your solution is lead scoring. Here's what that is and how to do it right.
What Lead Scoring Means
As the name implies, lead scoring is the process of identifying the qualities that define good leads versus okay leads versus poor leads, and then assigning an appropriate score to each lead you generate. You can name those lead scores how you like, and each business will have to determine their own qualifications for falling into a particular category. Typically, marketers score leads based on when they expect them to buy. For example, the "A" group might be buyers who are ready to purchase now. "B" could mean those who intend to buy within the next quarter. "C" might indicate those six months away from a purchase decision.
So, how do you determine which customers fall into what group?
Scoring According to Demographic Groups
For B2B marketers, there are several demographic factors that might determine the quality of a lead. This will vary, of course, according to what industry you're in and the industries which you serve. For example, if you sell office supplies, your top customers might be lower-level managers or even secretaries and assistants. If you sell enterprise-level security software, your best customers might be IT department managers or C-level executives.
The information you need to collect to correctly score your leads could include:
- The industry the lead is in
- The industries the lead's company serves
- The lead's title and responsibilities within their company
- The size of their company
- The annual revenue of their company
- The types of products and/or services they offer to their customers
- Who their competitors are, as well as what corporate partnerships they have
- What areas of the country or world they serve
Your data will direct you to what demographic groups most closely match your ideal customer profile, as well as which groups are least likely to buy (or most likely to waste your time and resources).
Scoring According to Behaviors
The demographics, however, is just part of the scoring process. You also have to factor in how these leads behave, both online and offline. Here are some behavioral indicators that will help you score your leads accurately:
- Where was the lead generated? If they just happened to click on your website in a random search, they're likely less motivated or ready to buy than someone who took the time to visit your website purposefully. Likewise, someone who wanders by your booth at a trade show could be less of a quality lead than one who deliberately attended your seminar or conference.
- Did the lead view a bunch of pages on your website within a short time, absorbing as much information as possible? Did they come back later to view on their mobile device? If so, this is probably a much more promising lead than one who pops by every few weeks and checks out an article or two.
- What online communities are they engaged in? Do they post to forum groups relative to your industry or products? Does their LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed indicate they are motivated buyers or random passers-by?
- Do they actively attend events like industry-related conferences and trade shows? If so, this could indicate they're in the market for new products and services. A lead who rarely goes shopping around might rank as a lower-scoring lead.
Learning to Apply Negative Scoring
That's how to score those "Eureka!" leads and the "Maybe Someday" leads, but you also need a way to indicate "Never Gonna Happen" leads. This is where negative lead scoring comes in. Some visitors to your website might be simply researching your company prior to applying or interviewing for a job there. Others might be writers or bloggers doing research for an article on your industry or products. There are also the idly curious viewers. Collect enough data to identify and eliminate these "leads" because they aren't really leads at all. Use negative scoring so your sales team isn't wasting their time.
ReachForce helps marketers increase revenue contribution by solving some of their toughest data management problems. We understand the challenges of results-driven marketers and provide solutions to make initiatives like marketing automation, personalization and predictive marketing better. Whether you have an acute pain to solve today or prefer to grow your capabilities over time, ReachForce can unify, clean and enrich prospect and customer lifecycle data in your business, and do it at your own pace.
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