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B2B Lead Generation Sales Team Performance

How to implement B2B sales lead scoring

Once you’ve got a reliable B2B sales lead pipeline, your focus shifts from getting those leads to identifying, nurturing, and closing them in order to make sales. But not all sales leads are created equal. You shouldn’t spend the same amount of time on every one that comes across your doorstep. Many companies have great website traffic, visitor engagement and repeat visitors that could all be considered warm leads. Developing specific scoring criteria on what is and isn’t a lead can be the difference between salespeople wasting their time and investing it against real prospects.

So how do you determine which ones are ready to commit to a purchase, which ones are lukewarm and need nurturing, and which are just kicking tires and not worth spending any time on?

Many advantages of a B2B sales lead scoring system

The way to answer those questions is to create a B2B sales lead scoring system. Lead scoring gives each one of those sales leads a ranking based on their activities – whether that’s on your website or through any of your content marketing devices, e.g. newsletters, social media posts or ads. The lead scorecard for each company will differ but not having one means there is no benchmark for determining what you classify as a sales-ready lead.

The power of scoring leads goes beyond simply boosting sales. You will find that it gives both sales and marketing a common language that helps to align them. Marketing will have a numerical value for each lead and can alter inbound marketing to target specific factors to generate more leads that meet specific criteria. It also allows marketing to better refine its messaging for top leads, testing approaches that might not work for less interested leads. For instance, you might be able to contact these leads more often or be more aggressive with your calls to action (CTAs). It also allows you to identify those highly satisfied customers who can act as champions for your company, especially when given encouragement through a targeted campaign.

How to keep B2B sales score

Setting up a scorecard can be relatively simple, by identifying the most important factors and giving them more weight than the “nice-to-haves.” First you need to establish the minimum criteria by which a customer is defined. These are qualifying characteristics, like: Must be in a specific service area, or Must be 21 years of age or older.  Then, identify the qualities that your targets usually possess. These are common but not necessarily essential, like the table stakes criteria we just discussed. The marketing department should be able to provide data here as they’ve likely done extensive research into who your typical customer is. Third step is to identify your ideal customer, those who the sales team would regard as having the most potential. What makes one prospect better than another? Someone in control of a certain size budget? A short timeframe in which to make a purchase?

Now that the characteristics have been listed it’s time to assess the behaviour of leads, the kinds of activities that suggest their level of interest and readiness to purchase. These activities are what moves them up or down the rankings, depending on the kind of activities they’ve engaged in and how frequently they’ve interacted.

Make a list of behaviours

Begin by listing all possible behaviour sales leads can engage in. While some behaviours are more important than others, it can be helpful to assign a point value to all behaviour (even if it is a very small value). So, don’t leave anything out just because it seems unimportant. Your scorecard should include site visits, fill forms, download requests, webinar participation and more. Here are some of the lead’s activities that earn points in the lead scoring model:

  • Visited a webpage
  • Number of website sessions
  • Participated in a webinar
  • Looked at pricing
  • Started a free trial
  • Filled out a contact form
  • Downloaded a lead magnet, like a white paper
  • Opened an email
  • Clicked on a link in a newsletter
  • Replied or forwarded an email
  • Shared content on social media

Some of these behaviors will be “critical conversion behaviours” (activities that most of your leads do prior to becoming customers). These might be things like signing up for a free trial or requesting a sales demo. A thorough analysis of your Google Analytics data should make these defining behaviours obvious.  Mark your critical conversion behaviours with a star so you can give them appropriate emphasis when it’s time to assign points to rules.

Assigning points

For most companies a straightforward 1-to-100-point model will be enough. For B2B lead generation, a company might want to use a thousand-digit ranking, giving small, medium and large businesses a 1, 2 and 3 first digit. So, a lead with a score of 3062 would be a large company with a 62-point score. Another technique is to define the three (or more) minimum criteria – “table stakes” – to be considered eligible as a lead. If you assign 100 points to each of these, and decide they need to have at least three of these essential characteristics to qualify, then a lead with a score of 435 would go into the pool, but one with a score of 282 would not. This ensures that a bad lead never makes its way to the sales team, no matter how many of the behaviours rules they trigger.

Reassess lead scoring criteria regularly

Setting up a sales lead scoring system can be as simple, or as complicated, as you can get, given your marketing data. You’ll have to tweak it as you use it and check it against conversions regularly to ensure you have set up a system that works. Remember: no matter how qualified a lead is, some will never convert. So be prepared to see some inconsistencies when reviewing results.

We know all about lead scoring because we’ve implemented it for dozens of our B2B clients in all kinds of industries. Learn more about how 360 Leads can help you put together a winning lead scoring system, by contacting us.

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Insights and Ideas

Questions to ask a lead generation company

Whatever your sales and marketing funnel looks like, if you don’t get enough qualified sales leads, things will dry up and revenue will fall flat. If you are in this position, it might be time to consider hiring a lead generation company who will help combine sales lead generation and marketing strategy to help you sell more, acquire new customers and optimize your sales force Before signing on to a contract, here’s what to ask before hiring a lead generation company.

Does your company specialize in small or large businesses? B2B or B2C?

Ask this at the outset, so you get an idea in general terms of whether they are experienced in the kind of lead generation you need. If you’re a large B2B company with major accounts you likely have a sophisticated process of handling leads. The lead generation company you hire should have a higher level of expertise, precision and support to handle these high value sales leads. Typically, they will be talking to C-suite, upper-level decision makers, with a solution-oriented selling style focused on ROI for a long and complex business cycle.  If you are targeting smaller purchases of a commodity type with a shorter or non-existent sales cycle, you need a company that is well-versed at these sorts of leads. Additionally, there are major differences between B2B and B2C leads, so the company you’re considering should have experience dealing with these kinds of leads. Discuss expectations of how much of the sales funnel will be handled by this company. Many lead generation companies have a hand in lead nurturing as well, so it’s important to find out how they will work with your in-house sales team.

How do you define a “qualified lead”?

The more narrowly you define a qualified lead, the better, and their definition of a good prospect should align with your own. This is key to getting a smooth partnership going, and expectations will be based on a solid footing.

What types of lead generation company services do you provide?

Many lead generation companies have different approaches and methods. Think of the approaches you take and compare them with the strategies at play in a company you are considering hiring. One major decision is how much effort is to be spent on inbound versus outbound lead generation. Outbound is old school but can pay dividends. Inbound typically requires more digital marketing savvy. Some companies will provide tracking, reporting and support services. How much of this you will need is worth debating with colleagues.

Here is a list of typical services a lead generation company might offer:

  • SEO
  • social media
  • blogging
  • web page optimization
  • paid search
  • email marketing
  • outbound techniques like cold calling and pay-per-click
  • event promotion, content creation, B2B appointment setting

What is your costing structure?

You should already have a sense of your own cost per lead (CPL) or at least a ballpark figure. Lead generation companies should offer CPL estimates based on industry standards, and they should be similar or lower than your own. After all, they are experts at this, and their processes should be refined enough that they get efficient results without excessive overhead costs. Conversion rates and how far they are going to take your leads can matter as much as the quantity of leads. That’s why it’s important to understand their processes before you sign a contract.

What type of technology do you work with?

A lead generation company should have a full set of digital tools at the ready to automate, manage, and track all aspects of their services. Look for up-to-date technology and find out whether it can be easily integrated with your own, particularly your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Ultimately, the main thing in asking questions is to find a company with transparency about their operations. If you find you’re getting vague answers to basic queries about their process, it’s best to say goodbye. If you are interested in partnering with 360 Leads to see if we might be the perfect fit, contact us today.