How should I think of lead scoring strategy?

So I was at this client and we were in the thick of creating their scoring model.

It was the early afternoon on day 1 of a client onsite.

In the previous session we blew the client away with lead lifecycle. This morning the client did not know what lead lifecycle was and now we had a specification for their lead lifecycle!

As you may know building the scoring model is pretty straightforward. It consists of deciding what we will score on and what the values should be.

We were half way through this process and I was taken aback. The client was stuck on a particular point value and was asking for best practice on what value to place for “attending an event.”

At that moment I was saved by a member of the client team who said “let’s just build the best worst model, get started, and we can make changes any time.”

He was absolutely correct.

And this made me realize that despite the fact that building a scoring model is straightforward, there are plenty of strategic points to consider related to scoring.

Here are some!

The purpose of scoring

First I like to get on the same page in terms of the purpose of scoring. Let’s take a step back. The purpose of scoring is to prioritize leads that will be sent to sales reps. What we are saying here is I have this huge database and which are the 100 (or whatever #) leads that should get to sales reps this week. Scoring is a way to look at many variables to determine the leads most likely to be interested at this time, and fit with our criteria.

Overall strategy – the journey

Scoring is a journey of its own. Creating your model is just one step in this journey. This slide captures the journey well:

lead scoring strategy image

In the above client scenario, we were in the “Define” zone. Drive is where the wheels hit the road.

Threshold selection – select well and prosper!

Threshold means the scoring value that will trigger a lead to be sent to sales. Threshold selection is often a process. One client set their scoring threshold at 50 and a few months later when I came back they realized that very few leads were passing to sales. When we inspected leads with 20 points the client believed these leads were ready for sales – so we lowered the threshold to 20.

Variable threshold

By the way this reminds me that the threshold is something that can change. If there is a slow month, theoretically you can lower the threshold, and then you can raise it later. We typically architect in the marketing automation platform to allow for a flexible threshold.

Keep the low bar strategy – no shock to the system

I have had clients that prior to my arrival were passing leads to sales based on individual actions like:

  • All form submissions
  • All event attendees
  • All email clicks

And these clients were worried about sending vastly fewer leads to sales if they used a score threshold that was too high.

For clients like this I recommend using a score threshold that is close to the actions they are used to sending. For example if they were sending every form submission to sales and a form submission is 10 points then make the threshold 10 points. This way all the same leads will pass initially.

Then you can gradually increase the threshold and thereby increase quality over time. Since you are introducing change gradually there is no shock to the system.

Process in place to verify “threshold product quality”

You are running a factory here. Your product is qualified leads that you are sending to sales.

How is the quality of the leads you are sending?

You will need a systematic way to verify the quality of your leads. This means marketing sitting down with sales – weekly initially!

Then you will be able to meet less frequently as the situation stabilizes. Say monthly or quarterly.

Tradeoff between quantity and quality

Everything else being equal – there is always a tradeoff between lead quantity and quality. The more leads you send over the lower the quality will be and the less leads you send over the higher quality they will be. Your job is to work with sales to figure out where this balance should lie.

What can be out of whack?

If you think about all the elements of your scoring model that can be out of whack – here is what you need to monitor:

  • As discussed above the score threshold can be set too low or too high
  • Individual values can be too low or too high
  • The mix between behavioral and demographic score can be wrong

Mix between behavioral and demographic score

I once had a client that selected a threshold of 20. The issue was that the demographic score could potentially get you to 20 without any behavioral scoring at all. This was not recommended because leads that were passed 100% based on demographic had not shown any interest at all.

So what we did in this case was say the threshold score would be 20, however, there needed to be at least 5 points of behavioral as well.

Get complicated with threshold

If you want to get even more sophisticated with the above issue you can. You can create a “threshold matrix” that defines the mix of behavioral and demographic scores  that would pass a lead. Here is an example of such a matrix:

lead scoring strategy image 2

In the above example you need a behavior score of 120 if demographic score is very low.

With a matrix like this you can fine-tune the behavioral / demographic mix on a more granular level.

Increase your portfolio

So if we go back to a more high-level strategic perspective, how can you increase the value of scoring?

You can increase your portfolio.

The more items you are scoring the more value you can get out of scoring (as long as you are adding valuable items)

So your goal should be to score on as many key behaviors as possible. You should not ignore any demographic variables that might set a lead above another lead. You should make sure that activities that are already happening are being captured. Maybe you are capturing all email activity because your marketing platform tracks that. But maybe there is an opportunity to capture and score activities that are happening in sales (for example sales emails or inbound calls).

When it all comes together

So when it all comes together this is how it looks. Your scoring model is built and turned on. You are passing leads to sales based on score. The quality of the leads you pass is being reviewed and it is good. Both sales and marketing agree. And you are actively looking for ways to expand your scoring portfolio.

Your scoring journey is well on its way!


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