Lead Scoring Step by Step


Lead scoring has been on everyone’s lips for the last couple of years. If done right, it can help maximize your sales team efficiency as they will only focus on leads that are ready to purchase from your company. But do we really know how to score our contacts and get what we need out of lead scoring? Plenty of you may answer: “Yeah sure, we just need to define the scoring criteria, assign them with a value, and results will come right after.”
But unfortunately, lead scoring isn’t just something you set up in five minutes and can then let live its own life. It requires some research, collaboration between teams, and, of course, time.

The following 6-step guide should help you define your leads, identify scoring criteria, and run a successful scoring system.


Prerequisite: Sales and Marketing Need to Work Together

It is important to understand that lead scoring is not something that should be managed by marketing teams only. You hear many sales people complaining about their marketing team not generating enough qualified leads. But this is what happens when marketing and sales do not cooperate closely to define, run, evaluate, and improve lead scoring processes. Here, communication is key.


1.   Do Your Research, Define Your Ideal Lead and Their Behavior

To set up a good scoring process, you need to have a clear idea of who your website visitors really are. Do you know what your ideal buyer profile looks like? Are you aware of what your customers have in common and what made them convert from leads?


To get all that information, dig deeper into your website analytics and learn about who your website visitors are and what they do on your website before converting into customers. Ask your sales team. They may tell you that the person they mostly deal with on their sales demos belongs to a certain job role. Maybe they will help you identify valuable content on your website that gets people crazy about your company and helps them convert sales-ready leads into customers.
And if you still feel like you need more information, ask you current customers what made you make the final decision to buy from you.

Your Ideal Lead

Once you have gathered enough data, you can put all the information together. What does your ideal buyer does look like? Is it a freelancer or a company? How big is that company? Are they from a specific area/country? What about the industry they come from, is that something that you find important?
List all the characteristics that you are looking for in a lead. The definition of your ideal lead could then look like this:

  • Age: 30+
  • Role: C-level
  • Size of the company: Over 25 employees
  • Industry: Construction
  • Location: The US market is the most important but can be from other countries as well
Behavioral Information

Your initial research will also allow you to learn about all the actions people took on your website before they turned into customers. Which online activities helped them make the final decision to go with your company? What are the actions that show leads are interested in spending money with your company?
The list can look like this:

  • Has been on our website three times
  • Visited the terms and conditions page
  • Visited the pricing page
  • Added a product into their shopping cart
  • Read article XYZ
  • Registered for a webinar
  • Subscribed to a newsletter

The length of the list depends on your business. It can contain 10 or 100 activities based on what products and services you offer, the size of your website, etc. We have identified over 50 different activities that allow us to classify our website visitors according to how likely they are to become our customers.


2. Determine Your Scoring Criteria


By now, you should have a clearer idea of who your leads are, what they do on your website, and what helped them make the final decision to buy from you.

You can now use this information to define your scoring system. One way to go is to divide your scoring criteria into three categories:

Profile Criteria

These types of rules will help you understand how well a visitor fits your business and what type of person you are looking at. List all demographics that are relevant to your organization. Take advantage of the description of your ideal buyer when working on this exercise.

Individual Organization
Role in the company Revenue
Department Industry
Location Location
Purchasing authority Website traffic


Behavioral Criteria

This is exactly what you were working on when defining the activities of your ideal lead, so half of your work is done. Now, take that list and review it once more to see whether these are the activities you are looking for in a hot lead. You may also divide them by categories, as presented in the table below.

Webinars Web pages Emails Other actions
Registered for a webinar Viewed a specific page Subscribed to a newsletter Completed a form
Attended a webinar Viewed any page under a category Opened a marketing email Downloaded a whitepaper
Viewed a video recording Landed on a page Clicked links in an email Signed up for a sales demo


Keep in mind that the number of times the visitors took the action on your site can be quite important as well. It can tell you a lot about how engaged they are with your company and how close they are to becoming your customer. Here are a couple of examples:

Behavior – Level of engagement
Visited the website multiple times within the last X days
Viewed multiple pages
Completed X number of forms
Opened X number of emails
Signed up for X number of webinars

Negative Criteria

There may be some characteristics or behavior that will make your leads less or not at all desirable. These negative rules can completely change your scoring results and the way you look at individual leads, so don’t leave this part out.

Here are some examples:

Demographics Activities
Is a student/intern Has not visited the website for the last X days
Is from a specific country, e.g., a country we don’t want to do business with Unsubscribed from all marketing emails
Is of a certain age, e.g., under 18 Submitted an “apply for a job” form


After determining your scoring criteria, it is now time to assign points to each of these rules. The scale you will typically work with is a scale from 0 – 10 or 0 – 100. No matter what scale you go with, it is essential to understand what each number on the scale means.


3. Distribute Points


To distribute points accurately, you need to establish the importance of your criteria in relation to each other. I will show you three ways to distribute points among your rules and help you decide which of them best fits your business.

Assign points to categories of rules and then distribute those points further within those categories.

This approach will help you prioritize your criteria. Maybe the industry is more important for you than the size of the company? What more does this tell you about the visitor’s engagement? When does a lead engage with your webinars or interact with your emails? Once you have distributed points amongst the main categories, you can start redistributing those points further down to individual rules.

Assign an equal number of points to the categories of Profile and Behavior criteria and redistribute them further within those categories

This way, you will ensure that the lead needs to reach points in both rule categories to be considered a lead.

Distribute points based on the conversion rates of each of your rules

Keep in mind that this approach is a little more complicated than the previous two but will help you make sure that you assign points according to what role each criterion plays in converting your leads into customers.

First, you will need to calculate your overall lead-to-customer conversion rate. (Note that we are speaking about MQLs). Next, you will calculate how successful each of your rules have been when it comes to closing a deal. You can then compare the conversion rate of individual rules to your overall conversion rate. So, let’s say your overall conversion rate is 1%. What you may discover is that those that sign up for your trial version will convert in 25% of cases (25x your overall conversion rate), but those that register for your webinars in only 5%. In this case, you may assign 25 points to those that signed up for the trial version, but only five points to those that registered for your webinars.


4. Establish a threshold for sales-ready leads


The next step is to determine which score makes your leads ready to be contacted by your sales team. Since it is very unlikely that anyone will be able to reach the maximum score, there is no point in adding up points for all the rules you’ve defined.

Instead, you can return to your initial research and have a look at the path that some of your customers took on your website before they were ready to speak to your sales team.

You could also list a couple of scenarios of desirable interactions with your website. Adding up points for each of these scenarios will give you an idea of how high the baseline for sales-ready leads should be. Note that your threshold doesn’t need to be final and is likely to evolve in accordance with your sales team.


5. Launch your scoring system


Now that you have defined the scoring rules and decided on the score threshold, you can use your lead scoring tool to set it up for your website.


6. Re-validate your scoring system


Don’t rest on your laurels. Your scoring system will most likely not be perfect and you will need to adjust it a couple of times based on its results. Talk to your sales team about the quality of the leads they got from you.

Questions to ask yourself

You will want to learn about the leads you classified as sales-ready. Did those leads convert in the end? If not, how come they scored so highly? Is there anything those leads have in common that can help us adjust the rules and/or point distribution?

It is also recommended to have a look at low-scoring leads that did convert in the end. Are there any new rules that you should take into consideration? Should you maybe increase point assignment for any existing rules?

Possible Findings

You may find out that you have classified two leads with the exact same profile and web behavior as sales-ready, but only one of them converted. At a closer look, you realize that one of the leads has done all those activities on your website within the past week whereas the other one over the past three months. This may help you re-think your rules in the light of the time factor.

We have also seen cases of university students writing a thesis on a subject related to company business. These students scored very high, as their job was to do very thorough research of a company by downloading various reports, whitepapers, or by signing up for webinars. This can be avoided by adding new negative criteria.

Frequency of Re-validating

You should pay very close attention to your scoring results right after the launch. It is the time when you may find out that nobody is classified as sales-ready because the threshold baseline was set too high. After your initial adjustments, the frequency you may want to look at your scoring highly depends on the length of your sales cycle.  A reasonable frequency seems to be every month or quarter.

Don’t Forget to Document It

Now that your lead scoring system is launched, it should be in your interest to document it. It is especially useful for new team members that will want to understand the way you distributed the points, why you used a certain scale, how you determined the score threshold, and how often you validate all of it.

This article was originally published on the Kentico Blog.

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