This is the 22nd post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.
When we first start building an inbound marketing and demand generation program, every lead feels like a huge success. When I first started, I had every MQL emailed to me, and I would click through their source detail to see the exact journey they took from target > lead > MQL. That is awesome when we have just a few leads.
As we successfully build a pipeline of qualified leads, we’ll quickly find that (A) we don’t want an email alert for every one and (B) not every lead is created equally. A real lead pipeline mandates that we begin sorting and scoring our leads, only delivering the most qualified to our sales team. Lead scoring is simply identifying which leads are the best leads, and delivering them to the sales team first.
We should start lead scoring when:
- We generate more leads than the sales team can handle
- We are getting feedback about “bad leads” from the sales team
- We narrow down our target buyer persona
Let’s breakdown simply how we can start lead scoring from scratch:
1. Define criteria for qualification
Every business is different when it comes to the reasons why a lead is good. In some cases, it might be based on persona. To identify this criteria, we should consider:
- What leads move through the sales process quickly?
- What leads have BANT (budget, authority, needs, timeline)?
- What leads are likely to close at the highest price?
For example, my team sells to gym operators. So if a gym owner or general manager is requesting a demo, that is a much stronger lead than a personal trainer.
2. Use fields within the contact form
Among the greatest assets for determining the quality of a lead is the data that we collect in the demo request form. We must include fields that a lead is willing to provide and help us determine lead quality.
On my team, we look at the number of club locations (thus determining the size and monetary value of the deal) and billing system (we have strong partnerships with providers) as major qualification variables. We collect this data in our demo request form:
3. Use hidden data about the contact’s behavior
In addition to data we collect in form fields, we also have access to a myriad of data being tracked by our marketing automation system. This data is based on closed loop marketing, and all of the tracking that happens between a target entering our system as a lead and being nurtured into an MQL. This data includes:
- Website pages visited
- Emails opened or clicked
- Content downloaded
This data gives us a tremendous amount of context. If we determine that a lead that visits our pricing page at least twice, opens our weekly marketing email and downloads our Official Guide to Mobile Apps ebook has all the characteristics of a contact that is most likely to convert to customer, we want to score them high and send them right to sales.
4. Assign points to each variable we identified as scorable
Now that we’ve identified data points that we can score, the next step is assigning values to each of them. What makes a better lead: visiting our website or having a specific field value in the demo request form? To organize this, make a spreadsheet with all of our data points in column A and a point value in Column B.
The number of points is irrelevant as long as it’s proportional. In other words, if visiting the website is worth double what a specific field value in the demo request form is, website visit = 2 points and field value = 1 point. This can all be configured in our marketing automation system, like Hubspot:
5. Configure workflows to route leads based on score
Finally, we’ve now sorted our leads based on qualification and can easily make a list of our highest scored leads. We can use workflows in the marketing automation system for automatic routing of the best leads to sales. This might manifest itself in:
- Assigning the largest deals to more senior sales reps
- Sending automatic emails to less qualified leads to get more information
- Offering specific content to further nurture less qualified leads
Having enough leads to need to score is a great problem to have for a B2B startup. Be sure to dedicate the time to assemble your lead scoring in a way that keeps your marketing team focused and your sales team busy selling.
This post is part of a 50 article series on startup marketing
Greg Skloot is a technology entrepreneur and marketer. He is currently VP Growth at Netpulse, the #1 provider of mobile apps for health clubs and a $40M VC backed software company in San Francisco. At Netpulse, he leads marketing, operations and strategic growth. Previously, Greg was CEO and Co-Founder of Attend.com, where he built the initial product, raised $3M and hired a team of 30. Contact Greg at skloot.org/contact.