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What is lead scoring?

Jack Harris
Written by: Jack Harris
Length: 5 min read
Date: 30 Apr 2024

Lead scoring helps sales and marketing teams identify valuable prospects, so they can focus resources and deliver higher quality sales more efficiently. Rather than sales teams wasting time trying to qualify and close prospects who aren’t ready, lead scoring helps unearth those that are.

As you can imagine, there are many benefits to deploying a lead scoring strategy, not least increasing sales and marketing efficiency, ensuring sales and marketing are more closely aligned, and helping to increase revenue.

It’s probably not a huge surprise that there are many different things to consider when it comes to building a lead scoring strategy that works. 

So, to help you get the most out of lead scoring either in HubSpot or another marketing software, here are six steps to get started with valuable lead scoring.


1) Start with Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP)

Ideal Customer Profiling is probably one of the most fundamental aspects of a good Lead Scoring strategy. Like other elements, it’s all about highlighting specific attributes that have been identified as valuable, based on either previous customers or future business goals. 

The key difference between ICP and other parts of a lead scoring strategy is that attributes are considered at a company level, so include data points like Industry, Company location, Employee size, and Annual revenue. This makes it a great fit for companies using account-based marketing, not just because company names can be used as a scoring attribute, but also because it allows you to highlight “lookalike” companies.


2) Use your sales gut 

When we’re talking about automated lead scoring and using data to surface high-quality leads, it might surprise you to hear that one of the most powerful attributes is instinct – specifically the instinct of your sales team.

Of course, the whole point is to automate and make the lead selection process more efficient, so what this means is finding out what your sales team looks for in an easy lead.

Chances are they have a good idea of a lead that would be easy to win. They are the experts and prioritise leads every day. Figuring out those criteria with them will make your lead scoring process infinitely more valuable for them.


3) Dig into the data… no really dig into the data!

Nothing says “this is what works” quite like, well, what works! Previous deals – particularly deals that were easier to win – can offer you a winning blueprint for your scoring system.

Take a look at your recent won deals to find the ones that were either the quickest and easiest to close, or look into deals similar to those of your ideal customer. But don’t just look at the data, really analyse what made those deals better for your team.

Obviously, not everything will be quantifiable. Sometimes closing a deal relies on a healthy dose of serendipity. But more often than not, I’ll bet there are at least a couple of commonalities. Maybe it’s the number of times contacts visit your website. Maybe it’s a specific page being visited, or a combination of form submissions, the number of interactions, and other attributes.

Whatever the winning formula, add score weighting linked to how important they are, based on how many times they showed up. If a common attribute shows up on every deal, score it highly. If it’s a rarity, score it low.


4) Consider implicit AND explicit data

When it comes to the lead scoring data, it’s useful to think of attributes as falling into two main categories: explicit and implicit. 

Explicit data includes any data your prospect willingly provides, including data collected from form submissions, chat, and in-person discussions. Essentially, if it comes directly from the prospect, it is explicit data.

Implicit data is more behaviour focused and includes tracked actions and recorded activity such as website page views, email engagement, and ad clicks.

As a general rule of thumb, you can think of explicit data as what your prospect is telling you, while implicit data is what your prospect is showing you. The digital equivalent of verbal and non-verbal communication. 

It’s easy to only focus on the explicit data, but it’s important to note that neither is more important than the other. While you might think that what your prospect tells you should take precedence, the truth is sometimes actions speak louder. For example, a contact might tell you they are interested in one product, but if they are constantly revisiting a different product page, perhaps they are still considering their options.


5) Embrace the negatives

Lead scoring works by assigning point values to specific behaviours and data points. As long as the system you have in place accurately looks for actions that signal intent, the theory stacks up, because the higher the lead score, the higher the intent to purchase, and the more valuable the prospect is to your sales team.

But what about the red flags? The instant turn-offs that suggest your highly-scored lead is something else. Maybe it’s a competitor, or someone researching for a job interview? Or maybe they have outright indicated that they are not interested in your products and services?

That’s where negative scoring comes in. Negative scoring does exactly what it says on the tin, and gives you a way to bring a lead’s score down by deducting points from the overall lead score. 

In many cases, negative scoring can be as important as positive scoring, as it can stop your sales team from wasting time and resources when the data shows the lead will never convert.


6) Review and refresh your scoring system

Your lead scoring system will never be something you can set once and leave to run, and there are a few reasons for this. 

First, if you’re using a tool like HubSpot, you will have access to more and more customer data. More data means more evidence of how prospects behave, and what actions can be linked to buying intent.

Then you have your business and sales goals to consider. If your business goals or target customer changes, your lead scoring will likely need an overhaul.

Finally, let’s not forget the most important reason for updating your lead scoring system: to make sure it is doing the job you need it to do, making your sales team's lives a whole lot easier.


For more advice about getting started with lead scoring, get in touch with FINALLY today.

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