Our recent benchmark report revealed that 62% of marketers think their sales teams’ definition of a qualified lead is too vague. And how far can you really get if sales and marketing teams can’t agree on what a qualified lead is? To generate leads and convert them into customers, your sales and marketing teams can work together to build a collaborative lead scoring model.  

What is a lead scoring model? 

A lead scoring model is a systematic way to measure how “sales ready” your generated leads truly are and automate the way they are handled in your marketing and sales pipeline. It works by assigning a numerical value to each lead based on various criteria, which indicates how likely they are to make a purchase. 

Take two almost-identical leads, for example. Both leads align closely with your ICP and download the same piece of content. At this point, both leads enter your CRM with the same score. But if one of the leads goes on to download another piece of content and attends one of your webinars, their score will eventually increase. This is because their additional actions indicate greater intent, making them more likely to purchase from you in the future.  

Why sales and marketing need to agree on lead scoring 

When used correctly, lead scoring models help sales and marketing teams determine which leads to prioritize over all existing prospects and allows them to be served and prioritized automatically among the entire revenue team.  

Generate the right leads from the start 

To generate the right leads, marketing is going to start with the specific characteristics that make a great lead, and that definition needs to be collaborative from the start. Details like ideal company size, industry, title, location, or technology help everybody stay on track. 

Move leads through the process more efficiently 

To move leads more efficiently between marketing and sales, it all boils down to a meaningful lead score. That’s why it’s important to establish a shared understanding of what constitutes a sales-ready lead between sales and marketing teams right from the start. As you build the specifics of your lead scoring model, get into the details of how many points to give to individual actions and how those add up to sales readiness.  

Clear up scoring conflicts 

When it comes to building the details of your lead score, there can sometimes be conflicting meanings for a score. This can end up in leads being passed to sales too soon, or mis-matched messaging creating a negative customer experience.  
 
Let’s say for example the marketing side sets a scoring system for engagements with a variety of content, like advertising, social, and product pages, with additional value given to specific interactions and website URLs, like a pricing page. If a contact interacts with enough of the right content, they might score up to the same level as a hot sales-ready lead who has just filled out a contact us form on a specific product. There are solutions to scoring conflicts like this, including alignment on the value of certain actions as well as even an alphanumeric score to highlight the ideal customer profile or characteristics with the sales readiness score.  

How to build a successful lead scoring model in four steps 

For a truly aligned approach to lead generation, the entire revenue team must work together on the following four actions for a collaborative lead score: 

  • Establish shared goals, KPIs, and ICP 

Our benchmark survey discovered most marketers (75%) think their department is useless if they fail to agree with sales on a clear ICP. Therefore, defining your ICP should be the very first step in creating an effective lead scoring process. Once both teams flesh out a detailed ideal customer profile, they can then get to work developing strategic goals to help drive high-quality, sales-ready leads.  

  • Identify scoring criteria

The best way to define your scoring criteria is to review past data. Look at your most successful customers—what are their common attributes, and what actions do they take before making a purchase? To define common attributes, look at profiling data such as demographics, firmographics, and technographics. And don’t forget to factor in behavior signals, like when a prospect downloads a case study or requests a free trial. These indicate some level of purchase intent and should always be considered in the overall scoring process.  

Also, think about information you can gather directly to help refine your scoring rubric. For example, you can add questions to your forms to coincide with your scoring criteria, like this: 

  • What problem are you trying to solve? 
  • What goals do you want to achieve? 
  • What’s your implementation timeline? 
  • What’s your current budget? 

These questions provide further insight into your prospect’s motivations, and allow you to score based on different areas of interest. As an advanced tip: use drop down select as your answer type, and pre-populate your predicted answers. Your data will be a lot easier to work with if it’s uniform.  

Once you have a full list of common lead attributes and actions, give them each a numerical value, assigning more weight to those that indicate a higher likelihood of purchase. 

  • Agree on what “qualified” looks like 

Once you have a clear ICP, shared goals, and a systematic method to score your leads, you next need to define what lead score will determine a lead as qualified. This step is crucial to ensure that marketing only passes leads to sales when they’re truly sales-ready, increasing their chances of converting that lead into a full-fledged customer.  

Our tip? Look at your most successful customers again and review their customer journey. Calculate what their score would have been at the moment they spoke to your sales team, as well as the moment they converted. This enables you to create an average qualification score based on your past customer data.  

  • Keep testing, refining, and talking

Don’t set and forget your lead scoring model! Continually test it and make revisions when necessary–as a team. To do this effectively, it’s important to keep sales and marketing talking. Schedule regular check-ins dedicated to discussing the lead scoring process and try to find opportunities for individual conversations too. Building rapport between members of both teams will improve alignment and only serve to strengthen your lead scoring model. 

Generate better leads with an aligned lead scoring model 

When sales and marketing align and work from the same cooperative lead scoring model, it’s easy for the entire revenue team to agree on what a good lead looks like for your business. Marketing can then generate the type of leads that sales needs, or nurture them further before passing them along. Sales can then continue telling the story that marketing started, further educating leads on what your company has to offer and ensuring a consistent customer journey that’s more likely to end in conversion. 

To get more insights into the latest data on B2B lead quality, along with recommendations to solve common lead generation challenges like lead scoring, check out our latest original benchmark report Solving Quality Lead Gen in 2023.