What is lead scoring? (and why you should do account scoring, too)

What is lead scoring? (and why you should do account scoring, too)

Every company wants to implement a successful lead scoring strategy. But few have stakeholder alignment on what it’s supposed to achieve. So what is lead scoring, and how do you do it?

At its simplest, there are two types of lead scoring: demographic and behavioral.

  • Demographic scoring focuses on the attributes of the individual lead. What role do they have? Where are they located? How big a team do they work with? And, beyond that, what type of company are they from? What’s their size, industry, and location?
  • Behavior scoring, also called activity scoring, looks at how that person interacts with your brand. Do they go to your website, download content, attend your events, and read or click into your emails?

Demographic scoring determines if you’re interested in the lead (because it matches your ICP), and behavior scoring determines if the lead is interested in your company and products.

Second, scoring is primarily used to rank leads so that marketing and sales know who to follow up with and in which priority. If your company receives so many leads that you need to sift the likely from the unlikely, scoring will help you draw that line and know who to talk to first. On the other hand, if you need them to know a certain amount about your offerings before you have a conversation, scoring can help you examine when each individual has matured enough in their knowledge of your business to warrant a conversation. That is, do they know enough to have a sophisticated enough conversation to get to the next stage in their buying process? For example, you can have prospects with more product knowledge work with a more senior representative, and those in need of more education work with a top-of-funnel SDR.

Ideally, marketing and sales work together to determine how much knowledge is enough and the sales team’s capacity to reach out to the right number of leads per day, week, or quarter to hit the desired conversion rates. Often, marketing throttles leads so they have to attain a certain score before they’re handed off, or even visible, to sales.

How much lead scoring is enough?

The problems with scoring often derive from a lack of transparency or patience between teams, where:

  • Determining the boundary between leads that are ready vs not ready is not an exact science, and may seem arbitrary.
  • Sales thinks they’re getting too many or too few or not good enough leads.
  • Marketing thinks sales is too demanding, too picky, or not paying attention.

Either way, it breeds a lack of trust that ultimately ends in marketing working on scoring, sales disregarding it, and both teams being unhappy. Another obstacle to understanding comes with knowing what score is “good.” What’s the difference between 67 and 75? Does it matter? Has the boundary changed because of a different set of actions by leads? Or have the business’s objectives or targets changed? This type of scoring needs constant updates and vigilance or it falls into disuse. The obstacles keep coming when you consider the timeframe of the activity that earned the score. Does attending a webinar within the last 10 days have the same “value” as attending a webinar months ago?

Making lead scoring as easy as A, B, C

At Openprise, we’ve flipped that on its head. We actually don’t throttle leads at all, are fully transparent between marketing and sales, and let sales determine how deep into the prospect pool they want to go.

Instead of using numbers, we grade all the leads. A, B, C, or D. This is based on the demographic information and their suitability as a prospect for us. If there’s also recent or surge engagement, they get a plus (A+, B+, etc.). Then we decay activity over time, so that four weeks after an activity, that activity is no longer part of the scoring formula. If we haven’t been able to follow up on that engagement within a month of the activity, we determine that the lead wasn’t really that engaged after all and they don’t get their +.

That’s it. Sales can focus only on their A leads or decide they have the bandwidth to reach into the Bs.

But wait, there’s more! That’s not the only place to think about scoring. While leads are important, because sales happen between people, account scoring is also important. Only companies with products that only require a quick “buy now” have a single person as the buying team. The purchase of most B2B products requires a team to consider the purchase or, at the very least, going through procurement. For this reason, it’s important to assess (and categorize or calculate a score for) not just the individuals, but the entire account.

Openprise also grades accounts the way we grade companies: A, B, C, D, based on how they fit our ideal customer profile (ICP). If they’re a fit and they have activity across the organization, they also can get a +. So an A+ lead at an A+ company gets an immediate follow-up and an A+ lead at a B+ company less so. Even an A+ lead at a B company is of less interest because while it represents one engaged person at a company that might be a prospect, the lower account grade lowers the overall score.

Once again, the most important things to focus on are the prospect company’s:

  • Suitability for your products (grade).
  • Overall activity level (+) (because you’ll need to convince more than one person at the account to purchase your product).

Lead scoring through engagement and activity

We’ve talked about lead scoring using a company’s ICP and individual activity, but what about company activity? Activity scoring can include things like direct activities (like website engagement, form fills, or event attendance), but also you can consider more anonymized information, like surge scoring, which signals intent by measuring the intensity of a company’s web activity on particular topics. Companies like Bombora and G2 deliver this type of research that’s associated with a company, not an individual. Incorporating intent scoring into your account scoring as part of your overall lead scoring model helps give you a more holistic score. You can even go a step further and consider product usage for trial or freemium products as a key indicator as well! As you can see, if you’ve got the data there’s no shortage of indicators you can use to build your scoring models.

Interested in hearing more about how we do lead and account grading at Openprise? Download our white paper, The comprehensive survival guide on lead scoring

Or contact us to learn more.


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