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6 min read

What is lead scoring and how can it help you identify high-value leads?

Lead generation

Anyone working in or with sales knows that prospecting is tough work.

It can be incredibly demoralizing for a sales rep to contact lead after lead and discover that no one is interested in engaging.

Or if they do engage, some basic discovery questions reveal that the lead isn’t a match for your organization.

Is there a solution to this problem?

While prospecting is inherently a difficult part of the sales process, there are ways to increase your success rate. One of those ways is to incorporate a lead scoring system into your prospecting process.

In this article, we’re going to explore:

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is a practice used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads sales teams will engage with, in order of priority.

While an organization’s lead scoring scale or model may be unique in how it values certain qualities in a prospect, the end result is the same: A score that summarizes which leads are most interested in your company and allows your sales teams to approach prospecting tactically.

Attributes a lead may be “scored” on include demographic details, company industry, and number of interactions with your content, unsubscribe rate on your emails, and much more. These details are likely to dictate your approach when prospecting.

You might score a lead highly because they engaged with multiple emails, their company is in a sector you’re targeting, and they interact with your organization online.

It makes sense to prioritize this highly-rated lead compared to one that’s perhaps only engaged with one piece of your content and isn’t an exact demographic match.

If you’re not lead scoring, however, it becomes much more difficult to discern these attributes. It’s quicker and easier for a rep to have that score available at a glance.

It means there’s more time for selling, after all.

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While lead scoring is used by many sales organizations, it’s by no means a universal tactic. 

Research shows that over two-thirds (68.3%) of sales teams use lead scoring at least some of the time. This number shows that while lead scoring is an important part of prospecting for many, more than 3 in 10 organizations don’t use it at all.

Is lead scoring popular?

Not only that, data shows that, when dividing the information based on revenue band, high-revenue organizations were more likely to use lead scoring consistently when compared to organizations in the low-revenue band.

Does your organization use lead scoring?

Organizations that are aspiring to sell like the highest-revenue companies would do well to embrace lead scoring to try and achieve those lofty goals.

Prioritizing the right accounts can be really difficult, so adopting lead scoring can help steer sales reps in the right direction.

What are the key benefits of lead scoring?

Lead scoring is a game-changer for revenue teams looking to focus their efforts on the leads most likely to convert. 

By automatically scoring leads based on key factors, you gain powerful insights to identify your highest-value prospects. But the benefits go far beyond simple lead prioritization. 

Let’s get into the key advantages lead scoring provides.

Lead scoring prioritizes your hottest prospects

Lead scoring lets you quickly identify the leads that are most interested and likely to convert. Instead of wasting time chasing every single lead, you can focus your energy on the hottest prospects first. 

That means more efficient use of your sales team's time and higher conversion rates from your marketing efforts. You'll be able to separate the window shoppers from the serious buyers.

Lead scoring aligns marketing and sales 

With lead scoring, marketing and sales are on the same page about what makes a high-value lead. You agree on the criteria upfront, so there's no more subjective judgments or random guesswork about which leads are primed for sales outreach.

The handoff is smooth because you've already pre-qualified leads before passing them to sales. This tight alignment means less feuding between departments over lead quality.

marketing and sales alignment playbook

Lead scoring helps you nurture “undercooked” leads

Some leads just aren't quite ready to buy yet. With lead scoring, you can identify these "undercooked" leads that need more nurturing from marketing before a sales pursuit. 

You can enroll them in automated nurture campaigns to feed them more relevant content over time based on their specific interests and behaviors. This allows you to stay in touch and continue warming them up cost-effectively.

Lead scoring helps you optimize campaign targeting and content

When you analyze the attributes and digital body language of your highest-scoring leads, you gain valuable insights to optimize your marketing strategy

You can better target your campaigns and create content that resonates with your ideal buyer profiles. This data-driven approach ensures your efforts are attracting more of your best-fit prospective customers.

Lead scoring measures marketing’s impact

Perhaps the biggest benefit is being able to definitively measure marketing's contribution to pipeline and revenue

With lead scoring, you're not relying on flimsy estimates or anecdotal feedback – you can calculate tangible values based on closed/won business from the different lead score segments. This quantifiable impact data allows you to justify your budget and prove your team's ROI.

Lead scoring is one of the most powerful strategies for focusing your sales and marketing efforts on the leads and prospects that truly matter. 

It automatically assigns values to leads based on their attributes, activities, and digital behaviors, enabling you to gain laser-focused visibility into your funnel. This allows you to precisely identify your best prospects and prioritize resources accordingly.

How to implement lead scoring

When it comes to implementing lead scoring, many major customer relationship management (CRM) systems include tools that allow you to lead score. Additionally, there are third-party tools and plug-ins that can help you lead score if you opt to not use one native to your CRM.

These tools help track your leads’ activity, assigning it a score. In addition to assigning scores, they often allow you to create your own scale for ranking, and offer analysis on the leads available to the tool.

Does lead scoring work?

Lead scoring is, in essence, a form of segmentation.

It lets you view your leads in order of potential, which then means you can segment these leads into well-defined tiers such as high-, medium-, and low-priority.

The better the lead, the higher the priority, and the higher the tier it’s categorized in.

Research by SEC found that when leaders were asked to rank their teams' ability to prioritize the right leads when prospecting, those who don’t segment their account lists (and by extension, don’t lead score) were significantly more likely to be viewed as bad at prioritizing the right accounts to prospect.

On the other hand, lead scoring and segmentation are strongly linked to good and very good ability to prioritize the right accounts.

How good is your sales team at prioritizing the right leads?

39% of sales leaders who use well-defined tiers to segment account lists believe their sales teams to be good or very good in this aspect, compared to only 11.5% of those who don’t segment.

Similarly, just 4.5% of teams who use segmentation rated their ability as bad or very bad, compared to 23.5% of those whose teams don’t segment.

So, does lead scoring work?

The data indicates that the answer is yes.

High-revenue organizations are more likely to use lead scoring in the first place, and sales teams that use lead scoring and other segmentation tactics are better at prioritizing the right accounts when prospecting.

Wrapping up

At the beginning of this article, we asked if there was a solution to the eternal sales problem – wasting time with unqualified, low-quality leads.

While lead scoring is by no means a silver bullet, it can absolutely help bring your sales team’s prospecting abilities to the next level.

That’s in addition to bringing you more in line with the behaviors of high-revenue companies.

Thinking about implementing lead scoring? The data looks like it’s on your side.

Written by:

Daniel O'Dowd

Daniel O'Dowd

Copywriter / Content @ SEC

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What is lead scoring and how can it help you identify high-value leads?