Lead scoring isn’t magic, it’s real and it works.
As we sat at a project closure meeting last week. I was delighted to hear the words “It works!” in reference to the lead scoring and lead management process that we helped put in place at a customer. Even more interesting was that the smiley face came from a pre-sales person, tasked with the first qualification of leads coming out of their marketing automation system.
His enthusiasm came mainly from having seen how a lead that otherwise would have probably been left behind, was captured by the lead scoring model and actioned. Which resulted in a quick sale that could potentially bring additional business in an industry they had never contemplated at a local level.
Yes, Lead scoring works! I have seen it work myself and I have seen it at our customers. However in some scenarios it will not deliver the right results or will not work immediately. So, it is important to be prepared for that. When you think about implementing lead scoring within your organization.
One consideration to have is that automation (in this case automation of the scoring of leads based on engagement and profile criteria) can magnify inefficiencies (*)
- If you are using data which is incorrect, incomplete or not standard, this is going to affect your score.
- Working without a proper naming convention or foldering structure, would also make it be very difficult to group activities for engagement. Creating an unnecessarily complex model.
Sometimes less is more.
Designing a model with too many criteria to score on will reduce the amount of leads you obtain. One customer of ours wanted to use about 8 categories of profile data to make sure that leads obtained fit their current business structure. It was a hard job to work with them to understand what their offering was and how they REALLY were defining if someone was a hot lead or not for the whole organization – aside from country, or other criteria that could easily be included in routing rather than in the actual model.
Sales have lots to say!
You want sales to come to you and say “It works!”, don’t you? Make sure to involve them in determining what is a hot lead for them, and why. Sometimes it feels that the process is going to be too long if you sit too many people at the table. But the effort is worth it so that your MQLs do not go rejected all the time.
Make sure to ask all the right questions:
- How are they determining right now what a hot lead is?
- What would make a hot lead be less hot?
- What happens now if not all the “boxes are ticked” / criteria are met. Is that the right process or should that change?
- Are there any exceptions when they would take a lead that does not meet all the criteria? (e.g. if it is a CEO, if the industry is X, if they filled in some specific form)
Make sure to monitor the model and its results at a high frequency (daily, weekly) to start with. This is because it is extremely difficult to get it right the first time around. Monitoring closely will allow you to see what the system is delivering. To confirm it is the right level of leads, but also understand what is happening with those leads that do not reach certain score levels. Accordingly, you might need to tweak your weights, revise your criteria and values. Based on your actual personas and their influencers, group pages with same content using tags, make edits to forms to capture some information previously not available, … The feedback from sales is extremely valuable in this period. To understand better their requirements and be able to deliver the right leads to them.
“Don’t rush me, sonny.”
Finally, remember that building a lead scoring model should not be a rushed decision. It takes time to perfect and it takes time to see results – research says that you should allow at least 2-3 months for a lead management program to deliver results (**). The more thought that it is put into building the model, the less adjustments it is likely to require.
PS: Final note – score decay.
Engagement is a very important element of a lead’s score. And it defines their readiness to learn more about your products/services or hopefully, buy them. Over time, this interest is reduced as they consume information or make a decision. Therefore it does not need to be a negative thing. It can be a very relevant condition for leads to reach the sales desk on time and “hot enough”. But the right timeframe is difficult to set. I recently asked the questions myself. Especially for B2B customers with longer sales cycles for whom the “standard” activity in the last 5, 7 and 15 days does not really seem to fit. At Engagement Factory we consider good practice to use activity in the last 15 days, 30 days and 45 days. As we believe that no one showing inactivity for longer is truly engaged with your brand.
(*) The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. Bill Gates