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November 2007


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Great post. Lead scoring is crucial to marketing and sales, it is important to do it often since you never know if a lead has moved from one group into another

Tim Wilson

I would extend your 5th question, as well as Dominic's comment, and say that a lead score should really be two-dimensional (three-dimensional, actually...but let's not complicate things too much here). The lead's profile -- job title, company size, department, BANT, etc. -- is one dimension of the lead score. Most of this information is going to have to be collected explicitly -- either through a form submission, through previous form submissions, or through matching to external data sources. Theoretically, a lead's activity can provide clues on this as well...but that adds a lot of complexity. The profile-based lead score is a measure of, "the type of person Sales would like to talk to." Buy the donuts. Conduct the interview. Build your score.

The second dimension, though, is a measure of "how likely the person is to take your call and want to talk to you." Call that the "engagement score." This score has both implicit/activity-driven components, as well as explicit components. An example of an explicit component is if the lead request to be contacted or submits an RFQ/RFI. In these cases, the "engagement score" should automatically be set to whatever the threshold for "high" is. The more interesting measures on this dimension, though, are of silent engagement -- a combination of recency and frequency of visits to your web site, downloading of certain types of content, etc.

So, now, rather than thinking of A, B, C, and D leads, think of a 2x2 matrix. the x-axis is the engagement score, and the y-axis is the profile/BANT score. The top right quadrant is what we call "the buying zone." Those are the leads who you'd like to talk to AND who have indicated they would like to talk to you. Your top left quadrant are people who you would like to talk to, but who haven't really shown a whole lot of interest in you yet. the bottom right quadrant are people who would love to talk to you...but who don't appear to have any real purchase authority. Marketing should nurture these two groups very differently -- in one case, special offers to drive increased engagement are in order. In the other case, you're really looking to use the lead to get to someone with a more favorable profile.

I mentioned a third axis. I believe this exists, and it's a measure of where the lead is in his buying cycle -- is he early on just trying to educate himself...or is he looking to sign a check in the next month? We haven't cracked that nut quite yet. The reality is that a savvy salesperson is happy to talk to someone who is early in the buying cycle but isn't going to purchase this quarter -- locking in a relationship early on. And, adding in a third dimension definitely complicates things.

Two dimensions is manageable, though, and I claim that it's critical when it comes to truly qualifying leads effectively.

Thanks, Dominic. You bring up a good point -- falling into the trap of assigning a score based on one criteron (whether implicit like web activity or explicit like declared information) can be dangerous. You want to look a number of factors -- but not too many!

What methods are you testing now on your site?



Your lead scoring technique is very interesting. Measuring web activity has always been a good method to evaluate leads to a degree. Naturally, if a prospect submits an RFQ/RFI he or she would be considered a quality prospect, but that's not always the case. Right now we're still testing some lead scoring methods for our industrial supply auction site. I learned some good tips when you first wrote about it in your 2006 article at http://theinnovativemarketer.blogs.com/ideas/2006/04/how_to_get_star.html. Anyway, thanks for the info.

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  • Steve Gershik has been a VP of Marketing and demand generation leader for over 18 years. He frequently writes and speaks about marketing automation, brand management, demand generation and Internet marketing.

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