Sales Lead Scoring Is a Winning Formula
“They wanted to improve the sales lead generation results of their front-line people who were taking hundreds of calls per day,” Rothstein says. “By using a predictive lead scoring system, the company was able to slim down a set of 100 raw calls to the top 10 calls. The end result was a sharp improvement in sales conversion rates. By measuring sales conversions, the company also found a good metric to measure its results with.”
An effective metric, according to Rothstein, is the number of leads per salesperson per week. “You can take your most effective salespeople, see how many leads they get and how many sales conversions they make, and then use this as a bar that you set for your other salespeople.”
Effective lead scoring metrics can also help companies break down the elements in their lead-to-conversion processes to identify potential trouble spots. They can, for instance, see whether a problem is rooted in ineffective lead qualification or in ineffective selling.
HOW LEAD SCORING WORKS
Lead scoring today is a key element in many marketing automation systems, including ones from Demandbase, Everstring, Infer, Salesforce.com, Marketo, HubSpot, Act-On, and many other vendors. Essentially, all of these systems do three things: They pull in data, they process the data, and they issue output from the data. The goal of any such system is, quite frankly, to automatically score leads based on implicit buying signals, such as website visits, form submissions, page views, whitepaper downloads, or email opens and clicks; and explicit data provided by or about the prospect, such as company size, industry segment, job title, or geographic location, to evaluate their level of interest before assigning them to a salesperson.
Infer’s systems, for example, can take data from many disparate systems, including some that are managed by its customers, and then enrich that data with other third-party data to help inform the sales lead qualification process, according to Zinsmeister. The system then normalizes the data so that it can be combined and queried by artificial intelligence and analytics algorithms based on business rules that define the prospects that are most likely to buy particular products.
“We build query models to run against the data, and the end result is a list of highly qualified leads that are most likely to convert into sales,” he says.
For these lead scoring systems to work effectively, they also need to be aligned with business and workflow processes.
Many midsize technology companies in the San Francisco area are using sales lead scoring quite effectively, according to Rothstein. “They look at various factors, such as what their best customers look like. Then they try to find companies that are similar to these customers, and those comparisons get factored into their lead scoring systems. They then break down elements about these customers to refine their lead scoring even further. By finding common patterns, they begin to develop a profile of the best leads so they can pass these leads to the sales team.”
In the process, companies must make sure that their marketing and sales teams and senior management support the lead scoring technology.
“Effecting the right culture change within the company is important, so any lead scoring system initiative has to be fully endorsed by the C-level of the organization,” Zinsmeister maintains.
Lead scoring systems can dramatically improve the quality of leads and help companies convert leads into sales—but they won’t do much good if management and the marketing and sales teams aren’t behind them.
This is the first step for companies considering a move to automated sales lead scoring.
“You will need someone to take charge of the system and to ensure that it integrates well with your marketing and sales processes,” Rothstein cautions.
Zinsmeister agrees. “There undoubtedly will need to be workflow adjustments in the company to integrate the new system, so companies might want to introduce the system incrementally.”
Zinsmeister recommends running pilot groups first with any new system. “You can take 10 salespersons, with five manually qualifying leads and five using the new system. If you benchmark the results and the sales force can see significant improvements in sales conversions, they’re going to want to embrace the technology.
“The key to effective lead scoring in many organizations is culture change,” he continues “If a company makes a decision to use a lead scoring system, it should also ask itself how it is going to educate its workforce and how it is going to integrate the system with its marketing and sales workflows.”