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March 4, 2014

How to Develop a Lead Scoring System in 4 Simple Steps

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80614975I hate clothes shopping, but was recently strong-armed into a trip to the department store when my wife learned most of my pants predate our six-year relationship.

Shopping with a retail savant such as my wife opens one's eyes to the complexity of what should be a very straightforward chore. The process she went through to select the right pair of pants for me was mesmerizing.

She:
  • Classified: Walked to the men’s dress pants section.
  • Qualified: Started pulling pants by size, cut, color, cuff, brand, etc.
  • Prioritized: Ranked qualified pairs by fit, sale price and pocket count (my request).

I left that shopping excursion with two new revelations:

  1. Pants are needlessly overcomplicated.
  2. Pants shopping is a lot like lead scoring.

As with pants, there is no one-size-fits-all method to score and prioritize leads. Different buyer personas are going to say and do different things that ultimately tell you how qualified and engaged they are. For this reason, using the same scoring system for all leads may limit its potential impact.

If your business has strong lead volume and well-defined personas, but struggles to qualify and prioritize leads through scoring, I’d like to offer a new way of thinking.

To help demonstrate how to set up this scoring system, let’s use a hypothetical pants manufacturer called Really Uncomplicated Man Pants (RUMP). RUMP’s inbound marketing campaign targets both small boutiques and national retail chains.

1) Classification

What one thing can a lead do on your site or tell you in a lead form that will definitively classify them as a specific buyer persona?

In RUMP’s case, to distinguish leads as either national chains or small boutiques, it includes the question, “Are you a national chain?” in all its forms.

Limit this classification trigger to one per persona. We’ll get into why in the scoring stage.

2) Qualification

For each buyer persona, what are the absolute essential qualities they must have to work with you? Please don’t confuse this with what you’d like them to have; we’ll get to that next.

Focus only on the characteristics a company or individual must possess to be a fit for your product or service.

In RUMP’s case, leads that identify themselves as small boutiques must be located within 100 miles of a distribution center and generate north of $500,000 in annual revenue. If not, history has told RUMP the partnership will be unprofitable. At the same time, national chains spell big opportunity, so location and revenue are irrelevant.

Try to keep qualification factors to as few as possible, and use no more than nine.

3) Prioritization

From here, what actions can each buyer persona take to show how engaged and sales-ready they are?

Look at things such as repeat visits, content downloads, demo requests, specific page visits (i.e. your pricing page), social interactions, etc.

RUMP received two national chain leads this morning, and while both are high value opportunities, only one viewed the Hidden Pocket Cargos product page and downloaded its online catalog; Hidden Pocket Cargos is RUMP’s most profitable line.

Priority triggers, in aggregate, will help to distinguish engaged, educated leads from others.

4) Assigning a Score

It’s time to assign point values to each of the triggers associated with Steps 1-3.

Note: I typically use HubSpot’s lead scoring tool, but this approach could be modified for other lead scoring technologies.

Here’s how it should work:

Classification = 1,000 points

Assign a different 1,000s point value (i.e. 1,000; 2,000; 3,000) to each buyer persona trigger. For example, RUMP may assign small boutiques 1,000 points and national chains 2,000.

As alluded to in step 1, the reason for assigning only one trigger to each buyer persona is we want to put each on a completely different scoring plane from the other. This way, qualification and prioritization points can mean different things to different personas even if the values are the same.

Qualification = 100 points

Assign 100 points to each of your sales-qualified triggers. This score, plus the buyer persona score creates the threshold a lead must pass before they are deemed sales worthy.

For example, to be considered a sales-qualified lead, RUMP’s small boutique leads (1,000 pts.) also need to be located 100 miles from Button Fly, Ohio (+100 pts.) and answer “greater than $500,000” in annual revenue (+100 pts.). This contact’s lead score of 1,200 would put them on the sales team’s immediate follow-up list

Prioritization = 1-99 points

Assign a single or double-digit point value to different priority triggers, and weight each trigger by importance. For example, RUMP may give more points for downloading the Hidden Pocket Cargos catalog than viewing the product page because the lead shows more engagement.

In essence, the last two digits of the lead’s score becomes a priority grade; the higher the grade, the more engaged and sales-ready the lead may be. Just make sure the combination of these points does not exceed 100.

This scoring system can be easily set up and automated in HubSpot, and then refined as needed. By categorizing, qualifying and prioritizing leads this way, you can:

  1. Better assign leads to the most appropriate sales rep.
  2. Prioritize follow-ups so the leads with the greatest conversion potential are contacted first.
  3. Set up lead nurturing to target specific, non-sales qualified buyer personas and educate them about your own version of the Hidden Pocket Cargo pants.

How are you scoring your leads, and what are the results?

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Topics: Lead Management Lead Generation

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