Lead scoring is a methodology to rank and prioritize potential customers or leads based on their perceived value to a company. The purpose of lead scoring is to identify and focus on the leads that are more likely to become customers.
Moran HaLevi is the Head of Marketing at Superwise, a machine-learning observation platform. Over the years, Moran has taken lead scoring to new levels, adding layers of sophistication that improve the system and help optimize sales teams. You can watch the complete HubSpot Hacks episode on Advanced Lead Scoring and read the summary below.
What is scoring?
Lead scoring is a crucial aspect of reaching out effectively to potential customers within your database. This can be achieved through various approaches, such as sales processes and sequences or engagement with events. The primary objective is to identify the right individuals at the opportune moment to prompt a meaningful action.
However, it's vital to wield lead scoring as a tool with prudence. Striking a balance between marketing and sales teams is paramount. If not used correctly, lead scoring can flood the sales team with unqualified leads, causing them to invest time in prospects who are not ready, essentially wasting valuable resources. On the other hand, when used judiciously, scoring becomes a valuable justification for engaging with a particular lead, ensuring a better allocation of time and effort.
Remember: Just because someone engages with you or shows interest doesn't make them a qualified lead.
There is a common misconception when it comes to scoring. Some people make the mistake of thinking that scoring is a set-it-and-forget-it kind of system. It's not.
You should be checking your scoring mechanism at least once every few (3-4) months for necessary tweaks. The environment is dynamic and always changing. So people who were irrelevant three months ago might be relevant now, or vice versa. Even small things like new job titles can throw off your mechanism. It's something you have to stay on top of.
Different Sales Cycles Depending on Your Business
B2C (Business to Consumer): Individual consumers make purchase decisions for personal use, so the B2C cycle is typically quick. Customers may take a few days to move from awareness to checkout, with multiple items or just one.
B2B (Business to Business): The B2B (Business to Business) sales cycle can take months as it typically involves larger budgets. It begins with initiating contact with potential clients, cultivating interest and building relationships, often facilitating product demos or evaluations, and securing approvals from multiple decision-makers before closing a deal. In inbound marketing, a website visitor who reads a blog will not receive the same score as a subscriber who actually reads your monthly newsletter.
B2D (Business to Developer): B2D, or "Business to Developer," is a business model where companies sell products or services directly to software developers as their primary customers. B2D sales cycles vary, with some products having shorter cycles (days to weeks) due to high demand and simple integration, while others may have longer cycles (weeks to months or longer) because of complexity and niche targeting. When you're selling SaaS, the journey model will be similar to B2B and should be customized from the start.
A customer showing interest in licensing with an annual contract worth twenty thousand dollars, for instance, will receive a high score.
These all affect how you score your leads.
In B2C, you have to take factors like age and gender into account. While in B2B and B2D, you have to build trust with your leads, as they will have multiple touchpoints along their journey. You need to look past engagements and understand the person you're dealing with.
Pro Tip: It's a good idea to separate the ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and the engagement score.
Separating the ICP and the engagement score allows you to control who gets pushed into the sales cycle, unlike the out-of-the-box option in HubSpot that doesn't differentiate and pushes everything together. This is an important point because:
Not all ICPs want your products, and not all engagements are from quality leads.
A competitor wants to do research on your firm, so they download all of your content. If you don't separate the ICP from the engagement score, they'll get put into the sales cycle because their overall score will be very high. However, If you separate the ICP from the Engagement score, you'll be able to see that they aren't actually interested in your products or services, and you will not waste your sales team’s time trying to sell to your competitor.
HubSpot is an excellent tool for a lot of things. Unfortunately, it still has a ways to go when it comes to scoring, especially for B2B companies.
HubSpot’s lead scoring is great for B2C because it bases its scoring on personas, not ICPs.
B2B and B2D companies should be customizing their scoring right away because off-the-shelf options can be a total black box and quite confusing.
Best practices for B2B lead scoring:
Before building anything, ask yourself this question: Who is my ICP?
(You need to be able to model that out yourself before going into a system.)
All forms are not created equal. A demo request and a newsletter subscription form can’t be weighed the same.
How do you build out your components?
There are four main components:
- Contact Categories
- Company Categories
- Maturity Categories
Lifetime engagement. This number always increases throughout their lifetime.
Decay is how we quantify depreciated engagement over time. We use decay to differentiate between two seemingly similar leads:
- Engagement: 500 decay: 10
- Engagement: 500 decay: 300
While these two leads might have the same engagement score, their decay metric tells us a lot about their journey. Person A engaged with us on a more consistent basis. On the other hand, Person B most likely engaged with us a lot all at once, then only re-engaged with us after a few years. We want people with high engagement and low decay.
Enrichment is a component that isn't always relevant. It really depends on your industry and personas. In general, enrichment tools are a good investment.
Pro tip: Use the tool to enrich, not for cold calls or prospecting.
When it comes to actually grading, use a letter scale, not numbers. It's hard to distinguish between an 84 and an 86, but a B+ is clearly better than a B.
And keep an eye out for those leads on the borders (B-, C+). Ask yourself: What about them left them on the outside, or What just tipped them over the edge?
The answer could surprise you. It could be something as small as an incorrect job title that stopped an otherwise completely qualified lead from being pushed through. This process should stay manual. The only way to catch the marginal grades is by actually going through them one by one.
When the leads go through to the sales team, there shouldn't be a grade. Grades are irrelevant to them and can lead to unnecessary confusion. For the sales team, use an absolute scale: ICP / Not an ICP.
Integrating Scoring in HubSpot
The best way to use HubSpot for scoring is to use the HubSpot Grade Score. Create a grade score with different weights and then a workflow that says when you score a 75 you get a B. If you get above a B you become an ICP. That process should be automated. What should not be automated is what happens after becoming an ICP.
A best practice is to be able to control who from the list of ICPs becomes an MQL. This way, the sales team is never overloaded with vast inflows of new MQLs all at once.
Understand your ICPs, your personas, and your customers' journeys, and don't be afraid to start scoring. You might have to readjust, and that's okay, but take a stab at scoring. It will make the connection between your marketing team and sales team that much more meaningful.
Keep the different elements of scoring separated. Have custom scoring, where you can keep, for example, your ICP and engagement separate. You’ll have all of your components working together but retain the ability to override the system and determine the most qualified leads.
Scoring is all about finding the right person at the right time and engaging with them in the most meaningful way.
by Noah Frisch on July 27, 2023
When Noah is not helping clients or volunteering in underprivileged schools overseas, he's racking up HubSpot certifications.