What’s more important than a B2B buyer’s lead score?
Columnist Jeffrey L. Cohen explains why success depends on not just your lead scoring, but also on your marketing automation system and its methodology for calculating that score.
Sometimes I think about changing famous movie quotes to include marketing terms. I will admit that I may need to get out more, but these can be instructive in drawing some analogies to the topic at hand. Since this post is about leads, here are a few:
- May the leads be with you.
- Show me the leads.
- You can’t handle the leads.
B2B marketing is often all about generating leads for sales. And in our demand-driven culture, where marketing is held accountable for having an impact on revenue, it has become even more prevalent.
There are many ways to generate leads, and the process definitely influences the quality of leads that come in. If you approach the process with the scrappy mindset of a ragtag bunch of rebels who are trying to save the universe, your leads will reflect that.
If you are in constant battles with sales, especially concerning their low opinion of your lead quality, that doesn’t serve anyone well. And they will never follow up with those leads.
If you spent your whole marketing budget on those leads, and sales ignores them, then that relationship continues to fray even further.
Marketing automation by itself doesn’t help you get better leads. That is still up to your creativity and strategy designing campaigns that attract prospects to your business.
Bad marketing will still attract the wrong crowd. But marketing automation — and specifically lead scoring — can help improve the quality of your leads that get passed on to the sales team.
That’s because no matter how many questionable leads you have generated with your crayon-drawn stick figures on neighborhood telephone poles — or whatever is the current digital equivalent of that — only the best ones get sent to sales when you have properly set up your lead scoring.
You don’t get the benefit of lead scoring just by setting it up and checking the box. It has to be done correctly. Companies that focus on lead scoring have a 192 percent higher average lead qualification rate than those that don’t, according to Aberdeen Research.
Lead scoring can create alignment between sales and marketing, shorten the sales cycle and create a higher velocity of deals in the funnel because the definition of a qualified lead is developed together.
And what’s more important than a B2B buyer’s lead score? How that lead score is calculated. It isn’t just based on your configuration of the system, but on how your marketing automation operates.
Digital body language and beyond
Digital body language is an array of online activities used to determine interests, behavior and preferences. It’s an indication of how your prospects are interacting with your brand online.
Prospects who are actively in the market looking for a new product or service are doing lots of things online, including responding to campaigns and interacting on social media. All of this activity creates data about the buyer. When it is combined with other factors such as title, company revenue and industry, it demonstrates both a good fit and true buying interest.
Marketers need to be able to capture, score and measure information on leads continually to be effective. This needs to be done without ongoing IT support. Having access to the right data is required to truly understand what a prospect’s behavior tells you about their intent.
Lead score by profile and engagement
A prospect’s lead score is constantly monitored and updated based upon the entirety of their interactions. Make sure your marketing automation platform does not tie lead score to a single campaign. When that happens, all bets are off on the accuracy of a lead score, which can result in a significant loss of opportunities.
For example, say you have a hot lead you’ve identified because they have downloaded several pieces of content from one campaign. But they do not seem to be interested in the latest webinar. The lead score from the webinar campaign will overwrite the score from the previous campaign, thus reducing a hot lead to mediocre. The inaccuracy of this type of lead scoring can be devastating to sales opportunities and revenue.
An ideal system creates a lead score that is dependent on the profile, not the campaign. And when it uses explicit data describing who they are and implicit data tracking what they are doing, across all campaigns and activities, this reflects the buying intent of a prospect. It even allows marketers to build different scoring models with different criteria, running concurrently.
Quality gets qualified
Marketing has a responsibility to sales to provide not just an appropriate number of leads, but also those that exhibit a high enough quality to be qualified, justified and bona fide. Marketing automation, with the right kind of lead scoring tools set up correctly, handles this process for marketers. It also helps them do their jobs.
And when marketing shows those quality leads to sales, they can definitely handle it.