5 Ways to Optimize Your Sales Funnel with Lead Scoring

According to SiriusDecisions, around 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now digital. What does that mean for your sales team? Well, by the time your sales rep speaks with a prospect that prospect is already familiar with your competitors, your product, has heard a few sales pitches, and is quite close to making a purchase decision. Yet, MarketingSherpa has found, lead quality is an issue around 73 percent of the time.

This is why it is imperative to properly score leads in order to ensure your sales team is closing deals. But, what is a lead scoring anyway?

Essentially, lead scoring is used to qualify leads based on who they are and how they engage with your brand. A point system is used to assign scores based on things like demographics, email clickthroughs, webinar attendance, content downloads, website visits and form completions. Points accumulate over a period of time making up the lead score. A good lead scoring strategy can help sales and marketing prioritize which leads need attention now and which should continue to be nurtured by marketing.

68 percent of marketers employ both behavioral and demographic scoring, according to a 2015 study by Spear Marketing (Tweet this stat!). An encouraging stat but the study also reveals that not all marketers are getting the most out of their lead scoring model.

Get the most out of your model so that you send only the most qualified leads down the sales funnel. Here are five ways that help.
sales funnel

1 – Collaborate on design.

Lead scores won’t make much difference if they are not relevant to the people whose objective it is to reach revenue targets—your sales and marketing leaders. Alignment between sales and marketing is important for establishing a threshold that marks when a lead is ready to enter the sales funnel.

Collaboration on what successful profiling and scoring looks like across design, testing, deployment, and rollout sets your sales team up for success. It nurtures and tracks lead engagement until they are ready to buy—at which point the lead advances to the sales funnel.

2 – Use negative scoring.

To ensure your scoring model is effective, it is important to consider activity that might skew lead score. Build negative scoring into your model to offset biases from factors like time or the type of action taken.

For example, someone who has downloaded several of your whitepapers could be tallying more points when they are really just trying to learn more about your company in order to get a job. Or if you have a longer buying cycle, leads might accumulate points over time that skew the score. Negative scoring can help keep your scores more realistic by reducing points for the amount of time that passes between activities.

3 – Diversify points by engagement.

The points assigned to different assets and actions should be based on how your buyers buy. Are some assets more likely to drive conversion than others? Tracking your leads’ content journey with tools like Curata can help identify which assets contribute more to closed deals. Consider giving more weight to these assets for better scoring.

In addition to what content leads are engaging with, consider how they are engaging. Email opens should not be weighted in the same way clicks or downloads are weighted.

4 – Consider scoring by product.

Many companies, including small businesses, have different product lines. In this situation, marketing and sales would benefit if a separate scoring model was created for each product line. This way you can dig deeper in terms of defining scores assigned to each lead.

Say you sell used cars. Prospect A might be interested in a mini-van, while Prospect B wants a sports car. Would it make sense to score those two prospects the same way? If a generic scoring model is used, it may not reflect a high interest level from either party. Then, they may not get the attention they need and expect. It is important to understand how your buyers buy each product when determining lead scoring systems.

5 – Get automated!

There are so many moving pieces with lead scoring. It can be difficult to monitor every single process. Not to mention, there are only so many sales reps on your team, hours per day, and resources per department. To make the most of your leads, and your time, deploy marketing and sales automation solutions to help manage lead scoring.

Automation saves time and makes the process more effective by sending alerts when certain thresholds are met. It allows teams to automate their nurture paths while decreasing the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks—for both marketing and sales. Now, sales can focus more time on driving leads to the end of the sales funnel, while marketing focuses on attracting leads into the marketing funnel.

Additionally, dashboards can be automated to provide insight into what content leads are engaging with so reps can improve the quality of interaction via email and sales calls. These contextual conversations help keep leads interested and moving through the sales funnel—ultimately shortening the cycle.

There are many ways to configure lead scoring to better qualify leads before moving them to the sales funnel. What types of lead scoring practices have you deployed at your company? We’d love to hear your comments.


sales funnel Katrina Manning is a content marketing specialist who has penned thousands of articles on business, tech, lifestyle and digital marketing for a wide variety of global B2B clients. She is also the author of three books and is currently working on her fourth. In her free time, she enjoys fundraising for charitable causes, playing with her cat and baking.

  • Lead quality certainly is an issue, but there are ways to assess how good the leads are before they move into the sales funnel. The higher quality the leads, the more likely they are to become paying customers.

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