Tough Talks Made Easy | Lead Scoring: What Sales Needs to Know
Written by Trent Cross
For the many observations about historical tensions between Sales and Marketing, both teams serve the common cause of growth. Where Marketing’s out to boost the brand and spark interest, Sales wants to bring deals over the line and break targets. The efforts of both teams keep the dollars coming in, but to operate like a well-oiled revenue machine, Sales and Marketing need a clear, mutual understanding of how to interpret and act on their lead data.
This is where lead scoring comes in. If your Sales team isn’t collaborating with Marketing to define the value of leads, or the process is struggling to get off the ground, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. We’ll cover how to explain the value and reality of lead scoring to Sales—what it is and is not, what it offers and requires—so you can incentivize Sales to work together with Marketing, with realistic expectations, on a project that’s vital for both teams to grow the business.
Methods and data points
Lead scoring is the process of evaluating the interest of a prospect and their readiness to engage with the sales process. Companies can score leads in a variety of ways, whether by ascribing numeric values, letter rankings, or descriptive terms like “warm” and “cold”. However you choose to score leads, there are several key data points that should factor into the analysis:
- Demographics (relevant individual characteristics, e.g. job title)
- Firmographics (organization profile, e.g. industry, vertical, size, location, annual revenue)
- Behavior (how the lead engages with your brand, e.g. visiting the webpage, interacting on social, requesting a demo)
- BANT qualification (the lead’s budget, authority, need, and timeline)
- Completeness of the data you have for each lead.
There’s no objectively superior method of scoring leads and accrediting weight to different data types; instead, your Sales team needs to work with Marketing to define the scoring methodology and establish what a “qualified” lead looks like. An accurate view of lead quality helps Sales to focus on engaging only with the most receptive and valuable prospects; neither team can make a complete assessment of this without ideas, data, and feedback from the other.
Qualify or nurture
It’s natural that some leads will, through repeated or particular marketing engagements, show a higher propensity to buy than others. The task for Marketing and Sales, as one unit, is to determine how to identify and treat leads that fall into one of two groups: those that show an optimal level of interest for Sales to act, or require further nurturing by Marketing.
For this process to yield results, Sales needs to agree with Marketing on the benchmark for qualification. Sales might expect the leads they receive from Marketing to be ready to sign, but there’s only so much your Marketing team can do in advance. As long as Marketing can unearth opportunities with a high likelihood of closure, it’s on Sales to identify where in the process to step in and how to approach each lead.
On the other hand, Sales shouldn’t encourage Marketing to pass leads over who show just enough of a pulse to open an email or click a link. Qualifying leads this way undermines the evaluative power of Marketing’s nurture process; Sales might get a couple of lucky bites, but it won’t translate to sustainable success.
Marketing’s nurture programs build insightful lead profiles through rich data collection, which allows Sales to approach the highest quality leads in the most engaging ways, showing awareness of their interests and the situational context. Without that basis, Sales risks burning effort on premature leads and failing to hit targets.
The point to make is that lead scoring best allows Sales to identify and win business from the highest value leads when two things are in place: clearly defined and realistic models for scoring and qualification, and the time for Marketing to nurture developed engagement data from their campaigns.
Fuel your growth machine
To get started with lead scoring, Sales needs a good grasp of their past successes. Your reps should dig into historic data about past deals and lead journeys until they can answer a few key questions: What makes a person qualified enough? What behaviors and traits did the leads we managed to close with show?
From there, lead scoring stands or falls based on the quality of your collaboration. Sales and Marketing should participate in healthy, ongoing discussions until you agree on a scoring methodology and handover process that both teams can comfortably deliver. With that agreement in place, you stand the highest chance of seeing the benefits of lead scoring—the ability for Sales to prioritize quality leads, better insight for Marketing into the most valuable lead characteristics, and increased alignment and revenue that both halves of your growth machine can enjoy.
For any guidance you need on lead scoring, Revenue Pulse is here to help.
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