At my most recent talk at MarketingNation, I asked the audience how many people used lead scoring. Nearly the entire audience raised their hand. Then I asked how many people allowed sales to set the scores, just a few hands shot up. This was surprising since marketers that don’t allow sales to set scoring are missing a key method of aligning the two organizations. Here is why.
Scoring is an objective way to declare that a lead is reading for a human (sales) to attempt contact with it. There are two main elements to lead scoring – the total score of a lead, and the number of points each particular response gets. For example, you might arbitrarily decide that 100 points is the level at which leads pass to sales. If you decide on 100, then you should start looking at the various activities that someone does that would appear to qualify someone to get passed to sales. If someone fills out a contact me form asking for a sales rep to call, for example, that is probably worth 100 points. If someone reads a product web page, that is probably worth just a few points.
The challenge in setting scores comes with all the little activities in between that are neither dramatic enough to warrant passing to sales, yet still seem significant. For example, a prospect who looks at several product pages, including pricing, then attends a webinar for the entire time and asks questions might ready for sales to engage. The key to scoring then becomes how to make sure these smaller activities add up to your pass to sales threshold score in a meaningful way.
Here is where sales comes into the picture. Sales teams want to talk to people who are at a particular point in the buyers journey. There are two levers to determine this point in the journey. The first is the number of points given to each activity. The second is the threshold score where items are passed to sales. Lowering the threshold score and reps receive leads earlier in the journey. Changing the scoring of individual items and reps receive leads with a different activity make up. The key is that the sales team has to agree with your recommendations on both the threshold and the score composition.
Why? If sales isn’t following up on your leads it is because they have determined they can make their quota easier by some other method. Hence they don’t bother with marketing leads since they just want to hit quota and your leads, well, effectively stink in their mind. This might not be true, and in fact probably isn’t. With each rep getting a small amount of leads from a particular program they lack the bigger picture analysis of whether a program is generating 1% lead to opportunity conversion or 20%. But it doesn’t matter, since your leads now stink in their mind. You can implement all the SLAs, MQLS, SALs criteria you want, it won’t matter and these types of policies just makes the relationship with sales acrimonious.
Now bring sales into the scoring discussion and you change the game. You are now letting sales determine what they should follow up on and help them be part of the solution which is making sure the optimal leads get to them. If you let them set scores, there is no “those leads stink” conversations since the sales team asked for the leads. Instead, the conversation turns to “how did those leads convert and should we adjust scores?”. This is exactly where you want to be. Sales doesn’t want to waste time on junk and you don’t want to waste time providing leads that go nowhere. Sales and marketing goals are actually 100% aligned provided the marketing team can think like a sales person and use mutually agreed up criteria for makes sense to follow up on. By starting this way, you also provide a baseline of conversion rates that allow you to experiment in the future by changing scoring levels with sales agreement and watching the results. Lead scoring is the friend of any marketer when you let the sales team set the numbers.