8 MIN READ
8 Lead Scoring and Lead Qualification Best Practices
Written by Chris Crosby
Published on January 12, 2021
Lead scoring refers to the process of ranking leads. The leads are usually assigned points based on the value that they each bring to the organization. The total score is what your company will then use to prioritize lead engagement.
On the other hand, lead qualification is the process of determining whether leads have met the requirements that make them ideal buyers. So, sales prospects are those leads that scored highly and thus warranted engagement from your sales team.
A 2018 HubSpot Report shows that sales reps consider prospecting to be one of the most challenging selling stages. And that is a problem since prospecting is the foundation of every sales process. If it’s not done right, everything else will fall apart.
And that is why you should have a good lead scoring and qualification framework. Both lead scoring and qualification are essential elements of prospecting. A useful framework will enable you to have more sales prospects, raising your sales team’s chance of closing more deals.
So, how should you go about scoring and qualifying leads?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Start Simple and Build Your Framework from That
Do not make the mistake of overcomplicating things when creating a lead scoring and qualification framework. Start with what you know concerning your ideal buyer. Use those details to beginning the process of building your lead scoring and qualification framework.
Some of the necessary information that you should have include:
- Company information
- Job position/title
- Website activity
- Email engagement
- Social media engagement
If the leads coming to your sales team don’t align with what your ideal buyer looks like, then there is no point in wasting time pursuing them. Your sales reps are less likely to close deals when dealing with such leads. They are just not good sales prospects.
2. Create Different Lead Scoring and Qualification Frameworks for Each Product Line
If your company sells ten different products, you should have ten different lead scoring and qualification frameworks. It doesn’t matter whether all the products that you sell are related. What drives customers to one product is unlikely to be the same thing that motivates other kinds of customers.
Only 21% of companies have some kind of lead scoring framework. So, it may seem like overkill for you to have multiple lead scoring frameworks for each product line. But you should have them nonetheless. Having a framework for each of your company products enables you to target sales prospects better. And that raises your chances of closing deals.
3. Ensure Your Sales Team Is Involved In the Creating Of a Lead Scoring and Qualification Framework
Although sales reps do the bulk of the work engaging with potential customers, their input is often ignored. This is a mistake that can prove to be quite costly to companies.
Studies show that about 90% of companies that align the marketing and sales lead generation activities will experience a significant increase in the number of leads that turn into opportunities.
Therefore, you must ensure that your sales team is involved right from the start of your company’s lead generation efforts. Sales reps engage the sales leads and prospects regularly, which means they know them inside out.
Those discovery calls that they make are useful and should not be underestimated. They can provide deeper insights into what makes one person an ideal buyer. And that helps structure the lead scoring and qualification framework because everyone will know what to look for.
Some of those details that sales reps will be able to help determine include:
- The budget
- The authority
- The pain points that motivate customers to buy faster
- The actions that ideal buyers are likely to take until they finally buy
- The time frame ideal customers operate within
- The level of understanding that ideal buyers tend to have about the solution your company sells
4. Factor In Lead Score Reduction over Time
Negative scoring should also be part of your lead scoring and qualification framework. That’s because, over time, you may have customers who rack up too many points and end up exceeding the maximum that you have set for determining sales prospects. So, you need a strategy to counter that.
You could choose to deduct points for customers who continue to engage your sales reps for something other than the need to repurchase your products. For example, if they contact the company for customer care services, they need help with what they have already bought. They may not be interested in purchasing additional products.
Negative scoring can also be used to deduct points for leads that stop engaging with your company for a prolonged period, even after showing initial interest. You can also reduce points if your leads don’t have the right job title or authority that goes along with it, the right budget, or if their buying time frames are much longer than those of your ideal buyers.
5. Define Lead Score Thresholds
Did you know that 67% of lost sales are because sales reps don’t correctly qualify their potential customers before taking them through the full sales process? So you need to ask yourself this question: at what point are your leads ready for a sales conversion?
Everyone needs to know the answer to this. If they don’t, your salespeople will keep on receiving the wrong leads that will end up not being qualified at all.
Your lead scoring and qualification framework should have several thresholds. You need to have definite scores that indicate that your leads are now ready to be passed on from one stage to the other. The actual number will depend on how you have assigned numerical values when scoring your leads.
6. Assign More Points to Actions That Show the Likelihood of Buying and Incorporate Automatic Qualifications
When a lead shows a propensity to buy, you should have a way of assigning more points for such high-value actions. These may include checking out the price comparison web pages for the different product packages you offer.
You should also determine at what point your leads should be automatically qualified as sales prospects. This happens more than you think. Research shows that about 20% of buyers will only reach out when they have already reached the decision stage and have determined which product they will buy.
For example, if you have a lead that reaches out to ask for a product demonstration or presentation, that warrants an automatic qualification. It indicates that your lead is quite ready to buy and just wants to know how the product works. Such leads have already gone through several buying stages without your input. You cannot force them to go back several steps. So, your lead qualification framework must account for that.
7. Embrace Automation Where Possible
Consider the following statistics:
- Marketing automation is capable of improving sales productivity by as much as 14.5%.
- Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects will experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
- Nurtured leads experience a 23% shorter sales cycle compared to non-nurtured-leads.
- 84% of companies believe that a CRM system is instrumental in determining the quality of leads
Therefore, technology can be a helpful tool if you let it. You should embrace automation where possible. It will be instrumental in helping you to accurately score and qualify leads faster and make sure to integrate your systems. This will provide easy access to all departments that play a role in helping to generate sales and keep customers happy.
8. Test your lead scoring and qualification models and adjust where necessary
Less than 20% of companies that use lead scoring programs consider their initiatives as being highly effective. The truth is that it will take time to ensure your lead scoring and qualification framework is the best that it can be. Everyone has to work hard to ensure that it becomes so.
So, take an active interest in the creation of your lead scoring and qualification framework. Let your sales reps provide feedback often when they have new details to add. Then work hard to refine the models for each product line, test it again, and analyze the latest results.
An effective lead scoring and qualification framework is one that produces as many sales opportunities as possible. There is always room for improvement. But your sales team has to work together with other departments to achieve this improvement. Always seek to implement the above best practices and refine the models with time.