Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Lead, Score, Scoring

You may already know that about 80% of the leads that your organization invests thousands of dollars to generate are never worked by your sales team.  But do you know why?  It’s because 98% of the leads you generate … stink.

And your sales team has no way of knowing which 2% of the leads are worth following up.  So it’s easier for them to work on the deals that are already in the pipeline and work with their networking contacts to generate referrals that are almost always more qualified than those danged marketing leads.

So how do you help your sales team find the gold nuggets buried in that mountain of leads?

Why Score Sales Leads?

Lead Scoring is a method that allows you to listen to your prospects by having the right data about them, and understand which ones are most likely to be in the market for your products or services by scoring them.  You assign each of them a unique numerical score.  Higher scores are assigned to those who are more likely to buy.  Lower scores are assigned to the leads that … stink.  You then sort your leads from highest to lowest and, if your sales team can only work 10% of the leads, they’ll be much more likely to connect with the leads that convert into customers.  You will know if it worked by tracking the conversion rate on the leads.  It’s like a dream come true!

Listen, Understand, Connect and Know … LUCK!  Creating great relationships has nothing to do with luck.  But it has everything to do with LUCK – so let’s get to it!

About This Series

This is the first of a four part series.  In this episode, we will look together at the data you need for Lead Scoring – the listen part.

In the next part, we will look together at the options for scoring – the understand part.

The third part will focus on how to help your sales team connect with those leads so that you will know that it is working.

In the fourth and final part, we will discuss other ways to use scoring in your business. 

Oh, and by the way, there really is no such thing as leads that suck. We’ll talk about what to do with all of those other leads in a separate entry someday.

The Right Data…

You say you have a list of contacts with just company name, contact name and a phone number?  STOP.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  That’s just not going to work.  The nature of lead scoring is that it tries to do the thinking for you in order to come up with the best leads to follow up.  But it can only think about the data that it sees – just like you.  So you’re going to need to go back to the drawing board and get some good data on those leads before you can move on to the different options for lead scoring.  Here are some different types of data and ideas for where to go to get it.

Firmographics and Demographics

Firmographics are like demographics, but for business. 

Firmographics include information about the business like: industry, number of employees and total revenue.  You can usually get this from a third party source such as Hoover’s or Dun & Bradstreet.  Some sources have incredibly rich data such as Capital IQ financial data or the listing of construction projects.  If you’re lucky enough to have a state of the art CRM system, then get yourself a copy of which will give you great firmographic data and a whole lot more. 

By the way, if you’re dealing with a list of consumers, you can look into demographics (age, income, number of children, and so on) – most of our clients are in the business-to-business space, so I’ll mostly focus on that for now.

Web Site Visitor Stats

Did your leads come from your website?  Or, is part of your business e-commerce based?  Then I certainly hope that you’re using a web tool that captures which pages that they visited, when they last visited, and how much time that they spent on each page.  There are some great tools that integrate with various different CRM systems for just this purpose (some of them can even score your leads for you!)  This day in age, only wee-tiny little companies are excused from capturing web visitor data.  Do you want people to say that you’re a wee-tiny little company?  I didn’t think so!  Go out and start capturing those web visitor stats today.

Just Ask

Your lead gen programs should, ideally, include asking a few questions of your prospects. And this doesn’t have to be rocket science.  If you’re using webinars as part of your lead gen efforts, almost all of them allow you to include questions on the registration form, and most also allow you to capture information in a post-webinar survey too.  If you’re allowing them to download a white paper, then ask a few qualifying questions (not too many, or they won’t bother with the download).  And if you’re collecting business cards at a tradeshow booth, you can often get the full attendee list, along with some firmographics, from the event organizer (worst case, you can at least capture which event and on which date).  You can also directly survey your leads (expect a 50% response if you give them a free automobile for responding, closer to 1% if you promise them a free copy of the survey results).  Or you can get your sales team to ask them some questions (see my opening paragraphs to give yourself a sense of how likely this will be to succeed). In all seriousness, in the lifetime of collecting leads, you should aim to capture more than just a name and an address.  Even the event where you got the lead can be helpful.

Past Purchase History

This is the mother lode of the data mine.  Your leads, of course, won’t have a past purchase history.  But your other customer records will have this information and, as you’ll see in part 2, it can be a major advantage in lead scoring.  The good news?  You almost certainly already have a list of customers with their past purchase history.  The bad news?  It’s probably not so easy to sync with your lead list.

Once you do have past purchase history, you can make this richer by calculating RFM with it. 

  • R is for recency – how recently did they last purchase something? 
  • F is for frequency – how often have they made a purchase?
  • M is for monetary value – how much have they spent over their lifetime with you?

If you want to learn more about RFM, Arthur Hughes has a lot to say about it.

Customer Events

This is similar to web site stats.  If you have any other customer events that you can capture, these can also be helpful.  Some examples: did they call your support number, have they been to a store/ATM/etc recently, did they receive an email from you, have they opened an email lately, did they attend and event or webinar recently, what text messages have they sent lately (oops, the NSA isn’t selling that data to marketers … yet).  Depending on the business that you’re in, the way you do your marketing, and the source you got the lead from, you may have a lot of different options here.

…On Enough Records

One other thing to consider before you jump to part 2 is this: make sure you have enough of this information on enough records to make a difference.  For example, we worked with a client who had gone to great time and expense to append psychographic data (i.e. interests, such as golf, fishing, etc) onto their database of consumers.  But this type of information isn’t known about many consumers so, in the end, only about 5% of their database had any new information appended to it.  They ended up only being able to score 5% of the records on their database.

Ideally, you’ll want to try to have consistent fields populated for as many records as possible.  This is one of the reasons why firmographics are so popular – you can get them for almost all businesses except for the newest and smallest privately held companies (you know, the ones that don’t track web site visitor stats).


There’s your homework.  Go and get your prospect and customer records enriched with a lot of data.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready for part 2.

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