Seems like the marketing topic du jour is lead scoring. What lead scoring does it assign a point value to who prospects are, how they interact with your company and what their need is for your product, the assumption being that the higher their score, the further they are along in the buy process.
Lead scoring works. Let's take the example of a car dealership. Perhaps a prospect walking in off the street and poking their head in the window earns them a score of 10 points. Maybe he opens the door and sits in the driver's seat, imagining how it would feel to be on the road with the vehicle. Perhaps that's 25 points. Maybe they take it out for a test drive. 50 points. Etc.
Obviously, the more interest they indicate, the deeper they are moving towards making a purchase decision.
With marketing automation software, you can start scoring your leads according to online and offline activity. Say someone visits your web site. Perhaps that's only one point. They return to the site and look over your products. Ten points. Let's say they hit your job postings and look for a position in their area. Perhaps that's minus 25 points (not because they're bad people, just because this is an indicator that they may not be a potential customer). Maybe they'll sign up for a Webcast. Then they'll attend. More points.
Then you sent them e-mail. Every open is worth a certain amount of points but every response is worth more.
Over time, your contact database will have a key field appended to it -- your prospect's lead score. This is a strong indicator of interest and can help your team prioritize which leads to pass to the sales team and which to hold back.
If you're just getting started with lead scoring, here are five tips to get you on your way:
1. The actual score doesn't matter. Like scores on a pinball machine, it doesn't matter if an activity is equal to 50 points or 500 points. Many people have asked me how many points they should assign to a person who signed up for a seminar, but didn't attend. The important thing is that the point value is relative to other activities so in the end, the higher the score, the more actionable the lead is.
2. Lead scores should REPLACE your old ranking system of A,B or C leads in your CRM system. If you begin to score on a relative scale, it becomes less of a psychological issue to categorize leads as A, versus B versus C. So many sales people reject working with C leads because of the bad reputation they have as being too cold to develop efficiently. With a relative lead scoring system, you always know who rates more highly and you don't have to inculcate a culture of "bad" leads at your organization through a grading system.
and as a follow on to that...
3. Don't assume that a low score is equivalent to a low value lead. Studies have shown that up to 70% of the bona fide leads that come through the door of a B2B demand creation organization end up buying a product from someone (though it may not be you). Low lead scores indicate either a person is early on in their buying process, their need is not fully developed yet, they don't trust you enough to share their information with you, or a whole host of other reasons. Don't assume because a contact has a low score that they won't develop over time.
4. Start simple. 'Nuff said.
5. All successful processes are ongoing in nature. Tweak your programs, tweak your scores, change the metrics you look at to analyze the scores of your leads. Be open and flexible when you get started and you'll find you have a program that your whole team, marketing and sales, buy into.
If you're a Salesforce.com customer, you can get some good tips on lead scoring on the SuccessForce blog.
The Lead Dogs has a short article on lead scoring with a bit more information.