This is post #8 in a 10-part series on the New B2B Marketing Paradigm.
In our last post, we discussed how to strategically nurture your leads. In this post, we’ll talk about how to score those leads in order to determine the right moment to hand them over to sales.
Now that we’ve explored the importance of great content, how to distribute that content in order to generate awareness, and how to deploy paid advertising to create a strong pool of leads, the question remains: When do you get sales involved?
Under the old model, … only a fraction of the leads sent to sales have a budget and need that make them worth pursuing.
The Old Model Isn’t Working
Under the old model for marketing and sales—the one focused on quantity—the typical lead-to-opportunity ratio is 5-10%. That means only a fraction of the leads sent to sales have a budget and need that make them worth pursuing.
As we keep reiterating here, the new goal is not quantity of leads in sales’ hands but quality leads in sales’ hands. Therefore, we don’t want to pass a lead to sales until we’ve determined there is an interest or intent to purchase.
By adjusting your lead-scoring strategy, you can push your lead-to-opportunity ratio as high as 50%. Imagine how happy your sales team would be if half of the leads you sent to them turned into qualified opportunities.
Of course, this is no easy task, and you won’t be perfect at it right away. Rather, it can be helpful to think of lead scoring as an ongoing experiment in which you’re continually tweaking your algorithm towards the best path.
Below, we’ll explore eight different lead scoring criteria to help you get started.
Imagine how happy your sales team would be if half of the leads you sent to them turned into qualified opportunities.
The New Model: Eight Factors to Consider
Before you pass a lead to sales, filter them through the eight lead-scoring criteria below. We’ve categorized these factors into two groups: 1) strategic fit, and 2) intent. These categories will sound familiar if you’ve been reading this series, because they’re based on the audience segmentation model from post five.
Lead Scoring Factors
1. Vertical Market – Does the prospect operate in a vertical market where you have experience and expertise? Score leads more highly when they come from verticals where you have clear evidence (case studies, customer references, etc.) that you can perform.
2. Title – Does this person’s title indicate that they are a buyer, an influencer, or simply someone educating themselves? The closer the title is to one you know to have buying powers, the higher score you will give them. We have seen some scoring models where VPs and above immediately go to sales. But it’s not uncommon for someone to outrank a buying decision, or they may not be a strong lead if they’re in the wrong department for your product.
3. Lead Source – Where did the lead come from? Was it a highly targeted ad placement with someone who had visited your site previously? Or was it a mass market media buy on local television? The latter will require much more nurturing than the former, and your score should reflect that.
4. Email Engagement – How often does the lead open and react to your emails? The more they’ve engaged with your brand, the higher their score should be.
5. Content Management – The more of your content that someone has consumed, the more likely they are to be “in market.”
6. Type of Content Management – Someone downloading your company’s case studies and customer stories is more likely to be looking to make a purchase than a lead who is browsing more generalized content.
7. Form Fill – Anyone willing to give you their information should receive a higher score than someone who prefers to remain anonymous. (But keep in mind that not everyone who fills out a contact form intends to buy, so this factor alone should not be enough to send someone to sales.)
8. External Content Consumption – Third-party content can also be a strong indicator of someone’s willingness to purchase. There are several companies out there that can provide you with matched data to reveal what your prospects are consuming outside of your site. If you have the budget, seek out these partnerships (or we can help source them for you), and incorporate them into your lead scoring.
Not everyone who fills out a contact form intends to buy, so this factor alone should not be enough to send someone to sales.
Trial and Error Is Your Friend
The list above is not meant to be final and comprehensive, but rather to give you a starting point to work from as you build out your strategy. Depending on your company, vertical, and business model, you may choose to add or remove criteria, and to prioritize some while deemphasizing others.
Whatever combination you choose to deploy for your scoring model, be prepared to experiment with it. Don’t be afraid to start simple and gain complexity as you learn. Perhaps you start off deciding that a lead must have four of the eight above boxes checked in order to move down the pipeline to sales. Then a few months from now, you realize you need to weigh lead source more heavily than title. Or you decide you’re not going to send anyone to sales who doesn’t fall into one of your vertical markets.
The key metric to keep coming back to is your lead-to-opportunity ratio. That is, what percentage of the leads you send to sales end up qualifying as opportunities? Your goal is to keep increasing that ratio until you hit the quality metric you are seeking. 100% is too high, because you may be missing out on situations where sales can create an opportunity with a good discovery. Conversely, 10% is too low, because of the quality/quantity issue we discussed earlier. A solid ratio will fall between 30% and 50%. Once you reach that threshold, you can turn your attention back to creating more volume in the funnel.
If you find you could use more detailed advice as you build out this strategy, feel free to reach out: