An effective lead scoring program can literally double a sales rep’s productivity.  An ineffective program, at best, is ignored by the sales team and, at worst, can send reps down the wrong path, pursuing bad prospects. When done correctly, lead scoring helps reps identify the biggest opportunities that are most likely to close. Fear not! In this post we explain exactly how to build a lead scoring system that works.

When it comes to lead scoring, the biggest mistake I’ve seen is when Marketing builds the system in isolation without deeply involving Sales. Unfortunately this is more often the rule than the exception. According to a recent study of 1,000 sales and marketing professionals conducted by InsideView, 63% of the time Sales is not consulted when Marketing is building their lead scoring system. This is a bit ironic, because Marketing is supposed to be customer-centric and Sales is Marketing’s customer in this case.  Without question, Sales is the primary beneficiary of lead scoring.


Here’s an approach that I’ve employed with my clients to great success. It helps ensure that lead scoring is done right. As a by-product, Sales & Marketing teams emerge much more aligned:

  • Bring together your sales team and members of your marketing team responsible for demand generation. If you have a large sales team, select your best reps – the ones that consistently blow through their quota.
  • Employ best practices from the world of ideation & facilitation.  Create an environment where everyone feels free to speak their mind. Now, get the team to contribute their insights into effective prospecting and qualification.
    1. Ask people to describe when they know they have a great lead…and an awful one.
    2. Capture their criteria when they first receive the lead.
    3. Capture their criteria when they are later speaking with the prospect on the phone.

Through this process you want to think about what differentiates a great lead from a poor one. Make sure you distinguish between a lead’s “Likelihood to Buy” vs. the “Buyer’s Profile”.

  • Likelihood to Buy:  A prospect’s buying intentions can be inferred by observing the actions that they take online. This is commonly referred to as “digital body language”. For instance, a prospect that spends a lot of time on a ‘terms and conditions’ page or product documentation is probably a more likely to buy than one that spends the majority of their time on a website’s career pages.
  • Buyer Profile: Some customers have deeper pockets than others and have the potential to buy more. The buyer profile combines demographic information such as the prospect’s title with firmagraphic information about the financial resources of the company such as number of employees or annual revenues (want to automatically capture this info from prospects? shoot me an email and I’ll show you how). Armed with this information, a rep can ascertain the potential deal size…and determine if the prospect is worth the time investment.

It is the combination of these factors, buyer profile vs. purchase intention, that ultimately define the attractiveness of a lead.



The information that feeds the two scores above, “Likelihood to Buy” and “Buyer Profile”, is captured one of two ways: Explicitly or Implicitly.

  • Explicit Capture: This is data that the prospect provides like title or number of employees. It is commonly captured via a registration form. Other forms of explicit information can be captured from one’s IP address such as company (if they are not using an ISP) and location.
  • Implicit Capture: This is data that is gathered in the background as your marketing automation system tracks the actions that the prospect takes. Examples include webpages visited, whitepapers downloaded and emails opened.

Next, you’ll want to assess the relative importance of the different criterion. This can be derived through a series of ideation techniques. Participants typically find this to be a fun, engaging exercise that has the side benefit of honing everyone’s prospecting skills – by getting very clear on what matters most in assessing a potential opportunity.

With the workshop completed, you’re now ready to codify these criteria, using digital proxies. Make sure to incorporate industry best practices in lead scoring (e.g. reducing points for people camping out on your jobs pages, differentiated points based on type of content consumed, etc.).

Next comes the art of assigning weights to each scoring factor. Using the output from your workshop you’ll want to craft these weights so that the best leads pop to the top. Beware! I frequently see clients destroy their lead scoring by not carefully allocating weights. Remember weights are only valuable in a relative sense. If you give disproportionate weight to one factor, check to see if you have to rebalance the others. Once these weights are coded and tested in your marketing automation system, you’re now ready to launch it.

It is very important, that you train the salesforce on how to interpret and use lead scoring. Be transparent about the underlying calculations and then closely monitor and adjust weights based on their feedback. It is critical to take an iterative, “lather, rinse, repeat”, approach here. Not only will your lead scoring get better, but the customers of lead scoring, the sales team, will buy-into the approach…AND USE IT! With an effective program in place and Sales buy-in, stand back and watch the team blow through their quotas!

Want to make sure you get it done right the first time? Let’s talk!