When you're working to sell a high value product or service, whether it costs $30,000 or $1 million, there's one principle that is pretty much universally true: you're not likely to close a sale the first time you interact with a lead. Which begs the question, how should you decide which leads deserve an investment of your valuable time? I’m glad you asked!...
Inbound marketing is perfect for these types of sales. Inbound allows you to build awareness with blog posts, capture emails in return for valuable content like an eBook, and cultivate those leads with automated email. This process allows you to build trust with prospects before they ever talk to your sales team.
But, the problem is, not all of the leads you generate will be the right fit for your business. That's why we use a methodology called lead scoring to determine whether a lead is worth 1-on-1 attention.
Here's how it works. Each lead receives positive or negative scores for the actions they take on the website, the demographic or company info they share, and their interactions with marketing efforts. Once their score reaches a pre-defined level we score them as "marketing qualified" and pass them to the sales team.
This is a powerful methodology, as long as your sales and marketing teams are working together. We've found that this isn't as common as you would assume. Most marketing teams just assume they know what type of lead sales want, without taking the time to ask them.
This is a costly assumption to make. If the leads a marketing team produces are of no use to sales, then marketing isn't contributing towards the bottom line revenue goals of the organization. Worse, they're probably causing resentment with the sales team as that team spends hours churning through bad lead after bad lead.
Luckily, this isn't how it has to be. The key to effective lead scoring is collaboration between marketing and sales. Here's the process we've found effective.
Step 1: Work On Your Personas With Sales
The beginning of any inbound marketing process should be personas. They are a great way to come to a common understanding of your audience. Usually marketing takes the lead on building these out based on research with actual customers. They neglect the fact that sales is also a good source of intelligence about the "ideal" lead.
We like to interview the sales team while building personas with a client. Then, once we've completed the personas, we'll share the personas with sales to see if they see any holes or places where we've missed the mark. These two steps are easy. They go a long way towards building trust between the two teams.
Step 2: Collaborate On Lead Scoring Criteria
Once you're ready to launch your inbound program it's time to collaborate again. Schedule a meeting to explain how lead scoring works within whatever software you use (we use Hubspot). Then work together to determine what specific actions (downloads, specific page views, etc.) and attributes (job title, type of company, etc.) should receive positive or negative scores. By creating a list together everyone is owning the method by which a lead is handed from marketing to sales.
Step 3: Check In Often To Refine
It's tempting to set your lead scoring and forget about it. Don't do it. We're about three months into our inbound marketing execution with one client and we've just scheduled a quick 15-minute check-in each month between marketing and sales to discuss the leads passed to sales in the previous month. Together we'll explore why certain leads were disqualified and why others became sales qualified.
We'll take the learnings from these short meetings to refine our lead scoring method and improve our targeting in digital media. By having these meetings every month we can guarantee that we are consistently improving the quality of the leads we are qualifying, not just the quantity.
Step 4: Celebrate Progress Over Time
Celebration of progress is the final step. When you're making constant incremental tweaks it's hard to see progress in the moment. Look back every few months to see your progress. You'll see the massive positive steps you've made together, simply by collaborating. Sounds like a good excuse to skip out of work early for happy hour.