Knowing which of your sales leads have the highest potential to buy is key to effectively allocating your resources and optimizing your sales & marketing spend. We’ve touched on the idea of how to approach lead scoring, but this post will elaborate on defining a lead scoring criteria that fits your business’ needs, and more importantly, your target audience.
Essentially, lead scoring can help you determine the quality of your leads by ranking them according to their sales potential. The leads who show more interest in your product/service offering and those who fit your ideal buyer persona will end up getting the highest scores.
Businesses that have implemented lead scoring attest to it driving higher rates for the following:
- Sales productivity – helping your sales team personalize their sales pitch to customers
- Conversions – as you learn to prioritize quality leads over cold leads in your marketing activities
- Alignment of marketing and sales – as both departments are given the opportunity to make well-informed decisions based on gathered data
To develop a good lead scoring campaign, you first need to determine the criteria for assigning values that will gauge the quality of your leads. The criteria you set will ultimately guide you in tracking and following up on your prospects, helping you filter out those that are more or less likely to convert.
You can use the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) model as your set of criteria for ranking your leads. Under this model, you’ll need to assess your prospects in terms of:
The budget may pertain to the actual spending allotment that companies set. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. Your criteria should cover the measurable gains for individuals or organizations as they stand to benefit from your products or services, whether it be in the form of decreased costs or increased efficiency in their processes.
The same principle applies to identifying which prospects in a company qualify when it comes to having the authority to make purchasing decisions. You should not only be targeting those with defined purchasing powers but also those who are capable of promoting your brand to their peers (influencers) and those who act as “information gatekeepers” to the rest of the organization.
The idea here is that you’re offering something valuable that customers can use to solve their problems. You don’t want to target audiences that aren’t relevant. For example, if your business sells office supplies, you’ll probably want to avoid targeting home-businesses, as they’re unlikely to make large office supply purchases on a regular basis.
Here, you must factor in the entire buying cycle of your customers. Some customers have a predetermined timeline for making purchases, but be careful not to disregard those who might not necessarily be in-market to buy. Use that window of opportunity to educate your prospects about your products and services until they define their need and are ready to place an order with you.
Notice, though, that in the BANT methodology, marketers almost always have to contend with both direct and indirect factors when defining the criteria in each category. This has prompted a number of marketing professionals and experts to recommend qualifying sales leads according to:
Your buyer personas should be your main reference point in qualifying your prospects, assuming that you have identified who or what they are based on market research and customer data. This may be the most reliable way to qualify a lead as a well-conceived buyer persona represents the perfect fit for your brand.
Demographics and Firmographics
These two terms are essentially the same: they are data points that reveal the attributes of individuals and firms that marketers use to define their target market. B2B marketers should be looking at all basic data such as the nature of business, the number of employees, and profit, as well as IAO (interests, attitudes, and opinions) variables.
Customers’ online and offline activities are great indicators of their interest in your brand and their readiness to buy. Things that you can look at include behavior on your website, email engagement, eBooks downloaded, and forms submitted. You can talk to your customers and your sales teams to determine which of these metrics matter most.
Input from Sales and Customer Service
Your sales and customer service departments are your company’s front lines. By having direct interactions and communication with customers, they can become a valuable source of insights into what your customers think of or expect from your brand, helping you to develop more effective strategies in the future.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Lead Scoring
Lead scoring for B2B businesses doesn’t have to be a complicated process. For best results, follow these simple steps as you establish your lead scoring criteria:
- Identify the criteria you should use. This includes listing the minimum qualifications that you want your leads to possess. Other criteria or data you need to consider may be explicit (those that have a defined face value), implicit (these are your analysis-driven data), and negative (they are your data equalizers providing the checks-and-balances for your lead scoring matrix).
- Define your target market. Here, you should be able to identify common qualities of your target audience. You can use a combination of buyer personas and your existing customer base to determine the fit of your leads.
- Determine your ideal lead. Identifying the qualities of your perfect customer helps decide which leads are scored higher. You could ask your sales or customer service teams about the characteristics of your best customers, which segment brings in the most revenue or which customers are most receptive to renewals.
- Track your customer behavior. This entails listing all possible behaviors you can leverage to initiate engagement among your leads—from online clicks to download, signups, and just about any online imprint they leave. Make sure that you have the appropriate analytics tools to collect relevant data. At a bare minimum, you should be using Google Analytics for simple tracking.
In summary, knowing your prospects is the first B2B rule you should live by. Once you have all of your criteria figured out, you can determine the best scoring system and point distribution for your company.
Now that you know the steps, you should be able to start answering the million dollar question:
What are the most important metrics to gauge buyer intent for my business?