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Despite our best intentions to personalize every communication and direct it at the needs of a specific individual, marketing is still basically about communicating to the masses. Its purpose is to educate, excite and appeal to a broad demographic with the hopes that a certain percentage of individuals in that group will somehow identify themselves as having interest in your product or service. New technologies (e-mail, websites, social networks, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) have further expanded this process by exponentially increasing the size of those targeted audiences. This has made it even more difficult to identify sales ready opportunities from within the collective group. As a result, methods of Lead Scoring have been developed to better measure and profile potential prospects to determine which candidates are best qualified to move forward through the sales process.

The concept behind lead scoring is simple. Points are given for every action a prospect takes. For example: Open an e-mail, add 5 points. Click on a link in that email, add 10 points. Search through your website, add 10 points. Fill out a form and download a white paper, add 30 points. You then evaluate your prospect funnel and prioritize contacts based on their point total. Theoretically, individuals with the most points will be the most qualified. You then determine the score that is required to consider a prospect qualified based on the actions taken.

The benefits of lead scoring are also very compelling. Not only does it streamline your lead qualification process and better pinpoint active buyers; it also allows you to improve the quality of those leads. And that translates into improved sales and higher profits. A report published by Marketo indicates that a 10% increase in lead quality can translate into a 40% increase in sales productivity.

Improving your lead quality with lead scoring is accomplished by weighting each potential activity based on its potential to translate into a sale. For example: A click-thru on an e-mail may be worth only 5 points. Once on the site, that person may receive another point for each page on your site they visit. If however, they visit the pricing page or add product to a shopping cart (even without purchasing), they could receive 30 points or more. The same could be true for completing a form or requesting more information via e-mail.

Clearly, the efficiencies of utilizing lead scoring to evaluate and identify potential sales opportunities are enormous. It does however require that you have a clear grasp of your qualification process as well as a well tuned marketing organization to support the measurement and tracking of prospect behavior. Most Marketing Automation systems provide this functionality and some vendors (such as ResponsePoint) can help you understand the benefits and help you get started.