16 July 2023

Lead Scoring: The Ultimate Guide to B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment

This blog demystifies lead scoring, offering comprehensive insights for optimizing B2B sales and marketing alignment. Discover how to enhance lead prioritization, streamline sales processes, and boost revenue growth.

marketing and sales lead scoring meeting | Filament

If you’re in B2B sales or marketing, you know how hard it can be to get your teams on the same page. Sales and marketing alignment ensures that both teams have the same goals. In addition, when the teams align, they can work together better and faster.

However, how do you get your sales and marketing teams aligned? The secret is lead scoring.

Lead scoring ranks and sorts your leads based on how well they match your ideal customer profile, how much and in what ways they have engaged with your content and whether they have indicated some form of interest or intent in your products or services. It helps sales and marketing teams determine which prospects are ready and which need more attention.

This guide will discuss lead scoring, why you need it, how to do it, and how to improve it.

What Is Lead Scoring? 

Lead scoring is a strategy used by marketing and sales teams to find out if their leads are showing form of interest or intent, and whether they are ready to have a direct conversation.

A lead’s “score” is made up of points sales and marketers assign to information collected about them in relation to how well they fit your buyer persona or Ideal Customer Profile, as well different actions they might take such as engaging with content. 

The idea is that as a lead’s score increases, it helps marketing and sales teams understand where prospects are in the sales funnel. 

What are the Benefits of Lead Scoring for B2B?

There are several benefits that B2B companies can get from lead scoring, including:

Market and sales team alignment

With agreed upon and tightly defined lead scoring, both sales and marketing teams understand who qualifies as a prospect. After that, collaboration gets better and lowers disagreements.

Boost productivity and sales

Accessing right-fit prospects who have shown interest and intent are the main focus of the sales team. Lead scoring can help boost productivity. 

Shorter sales cycles

With lead scoring, the sales and marketing teams can deliver customized or personalized content which provides value and helps to shorten sales cycles.

What are the Components of an Effective Lead Scoring Model?

There are two main elements of a lead scoring framework:

1. Explicit Scoring Criteria

Think of explicit scoring criteria as the measure of data a prospect provides, such as where they live or their designated job. The benefit of this measure is that you can work out if the prospect suits your buyer persona.

For example, if you sell a SaaS product to startups, you can allocate extra points to prospects who fit these criteria.

2. Implicit Scoring Criteria or Behavioral Scoring Criteria

Implicit scoring criteria measure the data you collect from your prospects regarding their online activities like browser in use or IP address. Behavioral scoring criteria measures the actions that prospects take, like the number of emails they have or pages they open on your site. The benefit of this measure is that you find out how attached a prospect is to your business.

An example is if a prospect requests a trial period for a product, you can award them extra points than a lead who only checks your homepage.

You can set up an accurate and in-depth lead scoring model by working with explicit, implicit, and behavioral elements in your business. Hubspot or Salesforce are some of the tools you can leverage to optimize and automate the whole process.

How to Create a Lead Scoring System

There are many ways you can use to identify the ideal lead, but nothing comes close to lead scoring. Let’s look at how you can accomplish that in six easy steps.

1. Set an Ideal Customer Profile

Begin by creating a customer profile with traits matching your brand and its offerings. Think of it as a prospect’s characteristics that they must have to qualify as a buyer. 

An example is your business profile, where you can describe your customer, maybe in a specific region or demographic.

2. Outline a Customer Journey

The next step is planning the buyer journey through your funnel. You can create a lead magnet that prompts prospects to sign up for a newsletter. Next, you can request them to attend an event or webinar after signing up. If they attend, you know they’re engaged with your brand, and chances are they can request a product trial or demo. After which, they can buy the offerings from your business.

Understanding this buyer journey is crucial because you can find out how close a prospect is to purchasing your offerings. From there, this data can help you allocate points to the prospect at each funnel stage.

3. Award Points to Each Action

After mapping out and clarifying the buyer journey, you can allocate points to your prospects depending on their actions. Award a high score to lead actions that show high interest and intent to make a purchase.

4. Set a Threshold for Qualification

Here set the bare minimum points a prospect needs to qualify for a sale. You can use the steps outlined in step two to calculate a lead’s score points.

5. Use a Tool to Automate Lead Scoring

There are tools that can help to automate the lead scoring process since tracking it manually can be complex. For example, you can use a CRM like Hubspot or check if the tools you use can help capture lead action scores.

6. Evaluate and Improve Your Scores

Customer behavior changes all the time, so it’s essential that you tweak your lead scoring methods to match these changes. Try to check your system regularly and optimize it as you see fit.

How to Use Lead Scoring to Align Sales and Marketing

You need to determine if a prospect is ready for contact from the sales rep. The lead qualification measure helps to filter prospects and weed out the ones with low potential. So, how do you do it?

Developing a lead scoring framework needs you to establish lead qualification criteria. Lead qualification criteria are the standards that determine whether a lead is ready for contact by a sales rep or not. They help you filter out unqualified or uninterested leads and focus on the ones with the highest potential.

1. Defining Lead Qualification Stages

Outlining the stages a prospect needs to undergo to qualify is crucial because you can validate the lead qualification criteria. These stages are the “ milestones” a prospect goes through in the sales funnel from bottom to top, and they are:

  • Prospect: It is someone showing interest in your brand and they have provided their info through a lead magnet.
  • Lead: It is a potential client expressing commitment to your business where they take action, such as opening weekly emails.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): They’re leads displaying readiness to accept marketing reports from your business. They qualify either because of their behavior, location, or demography.
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): They are an MQL with extra qualifications showing readiness to get contact from the sales reps. They qualify either because of their urgency, interest level, or budget.
  • Ecosystem Qualified Lead (EQL): EQLs are new leads and potential customers that have been identified through an ecosystem marketing strategy and come from ecosystem partners.

2. Determining Criteria for Each Stage

The next step is establishing the criteria for each lead qualification stage. Here you can allot scores to your leads depending on their customer profile and their level of interest in your products and business.

Some of the common ways you can achieve that are through:

  • Sales funnel: It can help you map out the customer journey, what stage they are in, and their behavior.
  • Buyer persona: It can help you spot a prospect’s traits that align with your target customer.
  • Historical data: Analyze your collected data and determine which behaviors have a high chance of conversion.

Implementing Lead Scoring Techniques

Implementing lead scoring techniques is not a one-time activity but a varied process. So, what approaches can you take?

Integration With Automation Platforms and CRM

Integrating an automation platform or CRM with your lead scoring is crucial, and here is why. A CRM system works by managing and storing data about your customer and leads. 

On the other hand, a marketing automation platform works by automating all your marketing strategies. Not only that, but these systems also oversee and keep a record of all the interactions your prospects make with your offers and content.

Here are some benefits of integrating your marketing automation platforms and CRM with your lead scoring:

  • You can target leads depending on their points and then segment them
  • You can create workflows that have triggers that depend on a lead score, such as notifications or alerts
  • You can update or allot points depending on lead actions

Aligning Marketing and Sales Teams

Aligning your sales and marketing teams with your lead scoring strategy is another crucial step. It ensures your sales and marketing teams have a fundamental understanding of the processes and objectives of the strategy.

There are several benefits to aligning your teams, including:

  • Effective lead conversion and management.
  • Better collaboration and strategy execution
  • Creation of fundamental criteria and description of a lead
  • Efficient insight and feedback communication on lead quality and execution

Defining Lead Handoff and Nurturing Processes

Describing your lead handoff and nurturing processes is the last crucial step, and here is why. First, depending on lead points, lead handoff moves them from marketing to sales. On the other hand, lead nurturing works by using offers and content to engage leads to make a purchase.

The benefits of defining a lead handoff and the nurturing process are:

  • You boost your rate of conversion and sales
  • You provide custom content and experiences consistently to your leads
  • Your teams contact the right prospect at the right time in their buyer journey

Best Practices and Challenges for Successful Lead Scoring

When you think about it, lead scoring is an effective strategy to categorize and rank leads that match your customer profile. However, many obstacles can impact lead scoring and render it ineffective. On the other hand, there are some practices you can adopt to improve your lead scoring strategy. 

Common Challenges

Marketing and sales team go through many obstacles when implementing a lead scoring strategy, and they are:

1. Poor Data Quality

It can impact your lead scoring strategy accuracy and it’s trustworthiness. For example, an error in a lead score or inconsistency in the data entered. So, how can you avoid poor data quality issues that can impact your lead conversion?

  • Get your data from your automation system or CRM because they are accurate and dependable.
  • Keep updating your data and correcting inaccurate entries
  • Use third-party tools to enrich your data with new data

2. Lack of Structure Between Your Teams

The last thing you want your teams to have is a lack of structure. It creates confusion and leads to missed opportunities. So, here is how you can create a structure for your teams:

  • Keep track and manage your strategies using a shared platform
  • Set fundamental principles that guide both teams on lead scoring objectives
  • Create a system that shares insights and feedback on goals met

Best Practices for Lead Scoring

There are some practices that your teams can employ to achieve success in lead scoring. Here are the best ones:

1. Better Collaboration Between the Teams

It is one essential practice that can help your teams achieve success. The marketing and sales team must develop a model that describes their lead qualification strategy. For example, they can both create and define a customer profile. Some of the ways you can promote team collaboration are through:

  • Creation and management of lead scoring strategy using a shared tool
  • Plan and execute your strategies while involving the marketing and sales team
  • Organize meetings that help assess the effective strategies and improve on those that aren’t performing

2. Regular Evaluation and Adjustment of Scoring Models

Regular evaluation and adjustment of lead scoring models are necessary to keep your model up-to-date and relevant. As your market conditions, customer preferences, or business goals change, you may need to update your lead-scoring model accordingly. 

You may also need to fine-tune or optimize your lead scoring model based on the feedback or results you get from your leads. To conduct regular evaluation and adjustment of your lead scoring models, you need to:

  • Define and track metrics such as lead volume, lead quality, conversion rates, revenue, customer lifetime value
  • Test and refine your lead scoring models based on data and feedback
  • Use automation or AI tools to simplify or enhance your lead-scoring process

A lead scoring system is valuable and can help you improve your sales and marketing performance.

Real-World Examples of Successful Lead Scoring Implementations

There are several examples of successful lead scoring implementations from varied industries, including:

1. Hubspot

Hubspot is a SaaS company that provides tools for inbound marketing, among other things. They faced the challenge of scaling their lead generation and qualification process across different regions, languages, and products. 

They also wanted to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty by delivering value-added content and services. They used their own CRM and marketing automation platform to implement lead scoring. 

They assigned lead scores based on their explicit data (such as industry and company size) and implicit data (such as resource downloads and demo requests). They also used machine learning algorithms to automate and optimize their lead-scoring process based on feedback and results.

As a result of lead scoring, they could increase their lead volume by 50%, boost their conversion rate by 30%, and grow their revenue by 40%. They also improved customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing tailored content and services based on their scores.

2. Wistia

Wistia is a software company that provides video hosting and marketing solutions for businesses. They faced the challenge of generating and qualifying leads from their large and diverse audience of website visitors. They also wanted to increase their free trial conversions and reduce their churn rate.

They used HubSpot’s CRM and marketing automation platform to implement lead scoring. They assigned score leads based on their detailed data (such as industry and role) and implicit data (such as website visits and video views). They also used negative scoring to deduct points from low-interest or qualified leads (such as unsubscribing from emails or visiting competitor pages).

As a result of lead scoring, they increased their free trial conversions by 15%, reduced their churn rate by 10%, and grew their revenue by 20%. They also improved customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing relevant and helpful content and support based on their scores.

3. Zapier

Zapier is a SaaS company that offers connection and automation of different web apps. They faced the challenge of scaling their lead generation and qualification process across thousands of integrations and millions of users. 

They also wanted to improve user retention and engagement by delivering personalized, timely messages and offers. To implement lead scoring, they used their platform in combination with Intercom’s CRM and messaging system. 

They assigned a lead score based on their detailed data (such as industry and job title) and implicit data (such as app usage). They also used predictive lead scoring to identify patterns and trends in their data and to assign scores based on the likelihood of retention.

As a result of scoring leads, they increased their user retention by 25%, improved user engagement by 30%, and grew revenue by 40%. They also enhanced their user experience and satisfaction by providing customized and relevant messages and offers based on their data points.

Ready to discover how lead scoring can align your sales and marketing efforts?

Lead scoring is a powerful technique to rank and prioritize leads based on their fit and interest. It helps sales and marketing teams to collaborate effectively and efficiently on lead management and conversion. 

You can achieve your sales and marketing goals by integrating lead scoring with your CRM and marketing automation platforms and aligning your sales and marketing teams. Start implementing lead scoring today and see the results for yourself.

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