What is Lead Scoring? And Why It's Important to Sales Success

Mackenzie | July 14, 2020 | Digital Marketing

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring is the process of assigning value to each lead you generate. Most companies function on a point system — the better the fit and interest of the lead, the greater the score of that lead. Lead scoring helps marketing and sales align their efforts so that everyone is always putting the most effort towards the leads most likely to close. 


Why is Lead Scoring Important?


The thing about inbound marketing is that it brings leads in. When your inbound marketing strategy starts to hit its stride, you'll have leads, most of which are qualified, flowing into your website and inbox. 


What's your sales team to do with all of those leads?





Not all leads are the same, and your sales team only has so much time in a day to work to close them. Lead scoring helps give your marketing and sales team a common valuation system they can use to determine which of those leads to spend their time on. 

If you want to avoid sales team burnout, and help them close the most deals for their time, lead scoring is the way to go. 


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What Does Lead Scoring Look Like?


Most lead scoring models work on a point system. Essentially, you assign a point value to each attribute or quality a lead has. 



Points can be both positive and negative. (My Harry Potter fans get it, right?)

Let's take a look at an example. 


Say you're a home builder that builds custom homes for families in the Grand Rapids area. 


For the sake of this example, you'd likely assign positive points to lead with qualities or attributes like:


  • The lead is looking to build a home
  • The lead is a parent of two kids in elementary through high school
  • The lead is interested in Grand Rapids neighborhoods
  • The lead's budget lines up with the average budget of your projects
  • The lead has looked at your gallery of projects
  • The lead has downloaded a content offer 
  • The lead regularly interacts with your monthly newsletters and email marketing campaigns


You might assign negative points if:


  • The lead wants to build outside of your service area (that's probably -10 points)
  • The lead has a budget far below the projects you prefer to build
  • The lead hasn't interacted with your website


As points come together for each lead, those with a higher score are going to be the most qualified leads. 


Two Things to Remember When Developing a Lead Scoring Model


Lead scoring will differ from company to company, depending on your product, the industries you work in, and more. There's a lot that goes into developing a solid lead scoring model, so we'll put together another blog that goes into detail on lead scoring models.

For now, there are two major categories that help you define the quality of any lead: fit and interest. 


Scoring a Lead's Fit


A lead's fit means how well they fit your product or service. If they're in your service area, they work in the right industry, and they have the right job title or role at their company, then they probably fit your buyer persona. It's likely that they're a good fit for your product or service. 


You'd think that'd make them an excellent lead, and that they should have a high lead score, right?


Not exactly. 


This is where interest comes in.


Scoring a Lead's Interest


Even if a lead is a perfect fit, they're not a great lead unless they have some interest in your company, your product, or your services.


It's important to account for a lead's fit and interest when you're scoring leads. 


Has that lead engaged with your website? How often? Are they interacting with key content offers, and have they looked at your pricing page a few times? 


These are signs that lead has an interest in your product or service. 


How to Handle Different Levels of Fit & Interest When Scoring Leads


Okay, so every lead is going to have different levels of fit and interest.

What do you do if one has more interest, but isn't a great fit? Or if a lead is a great fit, but doesn't seem engaged with your brand?

Here's a quick look:


  • If a lead has great interest and great fit, they're a high priority lead and should receive a high score. This is the lead your sales team should work first. 


  • If a lead seems like a great fit, but they haven't interacted much with your marketing team or website, they could still be a great lead, but they should be lower on your sales team's priority list. This is a lead that marketing should work with to nurture a bit more before they hand them off to sales. 


  • If a lead has a great interest in your product or service, but aren't a great fit — maybe they're not a decision-maker, or maybe they're in an industry that doesn't tend to do well with your product or service, they're probably a great candidate for some automated marketing and sales activities.


How Do You Keep Track of Lead Scores?


So you've figured out what lead attributes are valuable, which aren't, and have a basic idea of how you plan to start your lead scoring model.

How will you keep track of your lead scoring model and the scores of each of your leads?

This is a ton of information, both to figure out and to keep track of. 




Your two greatest options are to 1) invest in a CRM that can keep track of all that information for you or 2) start manual lead scoring. 


Software or CRM Like HubSpot


The easiest way to keep track of your lead scoring model is to use a CRM that helps you manage and organize each of those leads based on their score. HubSpot offers manual lead scoring for Marketing and Sales Professional, and predictive lead scoring for Marketing and Sales Enterprise. 


Both options are great. When you have manual lead scoring all set up, it's easy for sales and marketing to see which leads are the highest priority.

You can check out how that works in this handy video from HubSpot:



With predictive lead scoring, HubSpot takes all that data you've been collecting and helps rank leads for you according to who has the best fit, the most interest, and a historical likelihood to close. 


Manual Lead Scoring


If your company isn't in a place to invest in software tools like HubSpot, manual lead scoring is your best bet. I'd recommend creating a shared document that everyone on the marketing and sales team has contributed to and approved. Then, you'll need to set up a process for scoring each lead. 


  • Should each sales team member score a lead as they come in?
  • Or maybe the marketing team should be the ones scoring leads. That way, they know which leads to send to sales, and which to keep nurturing.


No matter how you do it, it's important to have a set, repeatable process that everyone understands. 


It might seem like a lot of work, and a lot to keep track of at first, but once you have a lead scoring model in place, it will eventually become second nature to marketing and sales to score those leads. 


If you're relying primarily on manual lead scoring, it's most important to ensure you're keeping sales and marketing teams aligned. Great lead scoring is only effective if both marketing and sales have the same shared understanding of what makes a good lead. 


Remember that as your business grows and changes, you'll start to pull in new leads for different products and services. 


Your lead scoring model will need to adapt to that. 


Make sure marketing and sales have the time set aside to work together and make sure your lead scoring model is always working to clearly define the most qualified leads. 


Why Lead Scoring is Important to Sales Success


So there you have it — what lead scoring is, and a general idea of how to start developing and implementing your own lead scoring model. But why is it important to sales?




Lead scoring makes it easy to see which incoming leads are most likely to close. That means your sales team spends less time nurturing leads, and more time closing. 


When they're able to see at a glance the top qualified leads, and reach out and interact with those leads first, they're spending their time in the way that will deliver the greatest impact to your bottom line. 


Lead scoring is a helpful tool for any company looking to allocate their team's time to the activities that will deliver the greatest ROI.

While there's a lot of upfront effort that goes into developing a lead scoring model that works for your company, the payoff is that your marketing and sales teams are:


  1. Aligned on which leads are the most valuable to your team, and
  2. Spending the majority of their time on the leads that are likely to deliver the greatest return. 


Have more questions about lead scoring, or about setting up lead scoring in your HubSpot portal? We're here to help.

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