How Lead Scoring Can Supercharge Your Pipeline

By Kim Allen

Published on 3 Jul, 2024

In today’s complex sales climate, with tighter budgets, longer sales cycles, and a deeper need for expertise, prioritizing the right leads is crucial. Lead scoring done right, has the power to truly empower revenue teams to identify the hottest prospects and deals, maximizing revenue.

Remember the early days of marketing automation? Back then, sporting my very purple Marketo sweatshirt, I built basic scoring models using demographics and behavior. While these methods are still valuable, lead scoring has come a long way (and so has that Marketo color palette!).

With a wide variety of scoring methods available, it can be overwhelming for marketers to choose the right one. This article dives into various scoring methodologies to consider as your prospects and customers navigate your funnel and sales opportunities.

Prospect Scoring

Prospect scoring can look drastically different based on your business’ needs but generally starts when a new name enters the database, and scores until the person, or account is ready to be passed to sales.

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Choose a scoring model, or models, based on your business:
Lead management: How do you get leads? How is your sales team organized (individual or account-based)? Are there multiple lifecycles?
Buying committees: How many people typically decide on purchases?
Product complexity: Do you have one product or many with different features?

Basic Lead Scoring

This is one of the most common approaches. Here is a play by play of how this really works.
1. Marketing generates leads
2.The lead is then assigned a score based on a blend of:
a. Demographic Data (ie: industry, title, company size, etc.) Think about the data points that align       best  with your targeted segments, Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or buyer personas.
b. Behavior Data (ie: filled out a form, visited key pages, clicked through an email) The actions a    projected buyer might take that would lead the model to assume they have an intent or interest to learn more about your service or products.
3. Then once a certain score threshold is met, marketing passes qualified leads to sales.

While this model tends to be a good base level scoring, it lacks the complexity many businesses need, misses the mark on certain go-to-market models such as Account-Based Sales (ABM or ABS) and is challenging to utilize when there is a diverse set of products within an organization’s portfolio.

   When to choose this model: This is a good model to start with, as it’s simpler to set up. A good choice if you go to market in a traditional motion and don’t have much product complexity.

   Benefits: This model allows marketers to personalize outreach based on a lead’s score, maximizing ROI on marketing efforts. Sales teams also benefit from increased efficiency, as they can prioritize hot leads most likely to convert, leading to faster deal closures.

Account-Based Scoring

“The average enterprise B2B buying group consists of five to 11 stakeholders, who represent an average of five distinct business functions.” Traditional scoring misses the mark with complex buying committees. Account-Based Scoring (ABS) looks well beyond individuals and focuses on understanding account-based buying signals to identify sales-ready Opportunities and Accounts. Similar to lead scoring, ABS considers:

  • Fit: Aligns with your ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Engagement: Shows account-level interest

The difference here is how it’s implemented across an Account. Additionally, traditional lead scoring models typically utilize marketing automation solutions to score ‘qualified’ leads and prospects, while ABS may be implemented in a variety of interconnected ways. 

We see some of the most effective uses of ABS when you also pair CRM and MAP with an ABM specific platform that brings in key data points such as intent, technographic data and beyond. A great example of this is 6Sense. Here are two additional considerations to ponder around the ABS scoring model to determine the best way to implement it for your business:

  • Combined Model: This is where you prioritize decision-makers, influencers and other key buying committee roles within Accounts (weighting ABS and Person Score).
  • Individual Scores: Use ABS and Person Score separately for a holistic view, especially if decision-makers are unclear

When to choose this model: If you are targeting high-value Accounts (may be named and/or have a tiered approach) or if you have large, complex buying committees.

Benefits: Achieves targeted marketing, sales efficiencies, and larger deals by segmenting the Accounts that allow you to tailor your approach for maximum impact.

Product Scoring

Product Scoring helps businesses with large product lines or tiered features. Beyond qualification, Product Scoring can be used to guide product development and innovation, drive budgeting decisions, and uncover upsell/cross-sell trend opportunities.

Implementation may look like one of the following, usually in a MAP such as Marketo:

  • Separate Models: Maintain your existing lead scoring model while adding a product-specific layer for deeper insights
  • Combined Models: Replaces generic lead scores with product-specific scores to optimize sales motions and personalize outreach

When to choose this model: If your business has complex product offerings, or multiple sales cycles.

Benefits: Product scoring empowers sellers to understand interests in specific features or products, making more impactful conversations and leading to more new deals and upsells. It also provides valuable insights to guide development decisions.

Opportunity Scoring

CRM-based Opportunity Scoring, such as with SFDC’s Einstein, helps AEs prioritize deals. Starting at Opportunity creation and lasting until the deal closes, it predicts win likelihood using data like budget, contact roles and sales stage.

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Beyond prioritization, Opportunity Scores empower sales leadership to coach struggling deals and to make informed forecasts. The model continuously improves by incorporating data from closed deals, like “Closed Lost Reason,” for future accuracy.

When to choose this model: This model is more for the sales team – to help enable Opportunity prioritization.

Benefits: Sharpens sellers’ focus and improves the accuracy of forecasting.

The “Winner”

There’s no one-size-fits-all scoring model. Start by analyzing your core business processes and GTM strategy. Then, begin with a basic model and iterate as you gather data and refine your understanding.

Equally important, are established procedures for when score thresholds are reached. Even the most perfect model could fail if established acceptance and feedback processes aren’t in place, to name a few.

Scoring evolves continuously, with exciting new tools and AI advancements on the horizon! We’re here to assist you in getting started and to stay tuned to emerging trends for continued growth. If you need support with your lead scoring strategy, talk to SH/FT Paradigm today! 

Written By Kim Allen

Kim Allen started in Marketo as a bleed-purple Marketo Champion and now focuses primarily on helping businesses in the operations strategy space. She likes tapping into the right and left brain equally, combining data and analytics with art and creative to deliver business impact. Located in Jacksonville, Florida, Kim enjoys spending as much time as possible in the sunshine with her family!
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