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Rules of B2B Lead Scoring – Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Lead scoring has become very important in today’s B2B marketing. Especially now since industrial and technical buyers are relying more and more on online resources for their decision making process. Marketing’s role in interacting with prospects has expanded and goes further into the buy cycle than before. This has resulted in fewer direct interactions with sales reps from vendors.

Lead scoring, a key component of lead nurturing and management, is an effective tool for aligning sales and marketing. In developing a lead scoring system, marketing has to make certain assumptions to classify prospects as hot or not. Are they sales qualified leads (SQLs) ready to be passed on to sales or do they require further nurturing because their score qualifies them as marketing qualified leads (MQLs)?

Sales uses its front-line experience and expertise to validate marketing’s lead scoring assumptions. This builds a foundation for an effective closed-loop lead management program and keeps both sales and marketing playing together on the same team.

Using Excel spreadsheets may suffice at the very basic level of lead scoring but they prove to be very inadequate as the volume of leads and the number of channels or campaigns increase. Without the right tools and a good understanding of lead scoring, there may be a tendency to assign a score to every interaction, which can lead to more confusion and very little progress made on prioritizing your leads.

Read this blog post by Lisa Cramer of LeadLife for a good high-level overview for preparing a lead scoring checklist.

Lead scoring increases sales productivity and drives revenues

Lead scoring is much more than a management tool to bring together sales and marketing. It plays an important role in increasing the productivity of your sales team and driving bottom-line revenues for your company.

By scoring and prioritizing your leads, sales can focus more on SQLs and winning more closes instead of wasting their time on nurturing MQLs. Sure, the volume of leads passed on to sales will go down but I don’t think management will have any complaints when they see revenues going up.

According to Marketo, a 10% increase in lead quality = 40% increase in sales productivity.

To demonstrate lead scoring’s ROI, Eloqua conducted a study they looked at ten companies for six months before and after implementing lead scoring. The chart below shows the average improvement in key marketing metrics:

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I also found an archived webinar from Eloqua that goes into greater details about lead scoring.

Webinar: What Online Dating & Lead Prioritization have in Common

There is no doubt in my mind that lead scoring does produce measurable benefits. However, B2B marketers must work closely with sales in developing an effective scoring system, agree on a unified definition of SQLs, measure the right metrics, refine scoring parameters based on actual experience and harness the real power of marketing automation and sales force automation tools.

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