The Uncomplicated Guide to Lead Scoring

lead scoring, what is lead scoring, guide to lead scoring

A step-by-step manual to generating growth and value by understanding your customers and guiding them along their buying journey

The Uncomplicated Guide to Lead Scoring

If you ask any marketing team at a B2B company what their take on lead scoring is, you are most likely to get one of these three responses: a) It is working great for us b) We do not have a lead scoring system in place c) We tried lead scoring in the past but it didn’t work for us.

Unfortunately, the majority of the respondents choose b or c. This is because quite often lead generation is seen as a highly complex system to implement. 

This guide provides step-by-step instructions for developing a lead scoring methodology that works for your business.

In other words, it is a common metric for the marketing and sales team to find how valuable a particular lead is to your company and automatically identify when they are sales-ready.

What lead scoring is not


It is definitely prone to errors. A lead might be receptive to all your messages, open emails, download whitepapers, and even check out your pricing page but never buy the product. Conversely, a prospect might have never interacted with you but could end up buying an annual subscription on the very first website visit.

One-off exercise

Lead scoring is a continuous process that involves learning over multiple iterations. The accuracy gets better over a period of time provided you spend time analyzing, understanding, and improving the scoring mechanism.

Do I even need lead scoring?

If your lead volume is low and your company is in the early stages, you might want to reach out to every lead and understand their requirements better. At this stage, you can postpone lead scoring for now. 

However, it is time for you to implement lead scoring if:

  • You have more than 5-7 sales representatives
  • Your inbound lead volume is more than your sales rep can handle
  • You are lacking visibility into the sales cycle
  • You have a CRM in place
benefits of lead scoring

What will I get out of lead scoring?

To better understand the benefits of lead scoring, 

Let’s assume you work at a bank and you sell credit cards. 

Qualify your leads 

Not every lead is a qualified lead and you do not want to waste your time pursuing every single lead.

In this case, you want your leads to be eligible to own a credit card such as:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Have a bank account
  • Have a stable income
  • Decent credit score

Create more opportunities

Not all MQLs explicitly ask for a demo or express their intent to buy. It does not mean the opportunity to sell does not exist.

Say, for example, you have managed to generate contacts/leads of college students who recently turned 18. One of your leads has downloaded the ebook titled “How to get your first credit card.” This could be a very good indicator of the intent and you might want to call the lead, provide they meet the basic eligibility criteria.

Similarly, by assigning value to every action, you will be able to identify the leads that take actions denoting high intent.

Pass on better quality leads to sales

You don’t want your reps dealing with unqualified leads or calling leads that are not sales-ready. Moreover, not every lead deserves the personal attention of a sales rep. Improve the productivity of your sales teams by passing on high-quality, sales-ready, and high-value accounts.

Lead scoring funny

Lead scoring allows you to automatically pass such leads to the sales team. All you have to do is set a trigger with in-mail notification in your CRM to pass the lead to the respective sales rep once a lead crosses a particular score. 

Identify best-performing channels, assets 

Initially, when you start out, your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) might be pretty broad. In the case of the above-mentioned example, anyone over 18 years old and with a decent credit history appears to be your target audience.

However, when you look at the entire sales funnel, you might find a particular group of leads (based on age, income, location, or occupation) that are more profitable than others.

Ideally, you want a source and channel that gives you:

  • Higher conversion
  • Lower cost acquisition cost (CAC) 
  • Higher Lifetime Value (LTV)
  • Faster conversion (Lead Velocity)

Once you have sufficient data, you can revisit your ICP and fine-tune it. Based on the newfound understanding, you, in turn, can revisit your demand generation channels.

Lead scoring methodology: Free trial

Let’s start with a scale of 100; 0 being the worst and 100 being the best fit. 

lead scoring methodology, who the leads are, what is lead scoring

Who the leads are

The first variable in the equation is a combination of explicit and implicit data. It is based on the data given by the lead and the openly available data or the data enriched using your CRM or tools such as Clearbit.

Firmographic data

  • Industry
  • Company Size
  • Annual Revenue
  • Location

Contact Information

  • Name
  • Job Title
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address 
  • Linkedin Profile
  • Address (Highly useful for direct mail campaigns)

The objective here is to find out if the lead matches your ideal customer profile. So having your ICP ready is a prerequisite. 

If you do not have ICP ready, here is a worksheet that will help you build your ICP. 

Tip: To be developed based on the best customer you have. Hence pick the customers with NPS scores of 9 or 10

Customer profile worksheet, Ideal customer profile, customer profile scoring

Now that you have your ICP ready, you can start assigning value to the first variable of the equation. 

Here is an example.

who are the leads, description for lead scoring, lead scoring graph

Note: Remember to add negative scores as it will help you filter out spam. Here are a few elements that you want to assign a negative score to

lead scoring, how to give lead score

It is important to remember that a lot of times you will not be able to get the data for all companies, especially very small companies. Being a product-driven company with a free trial, you want to keep your lead generation forms as small as possible only asking for the minimum required information. 

Your goal is to get the lead to sign-up for your product and start using it. In such cases, you can integrate tools such as Clearbit or Zoominfo with your CRM to enrich your lead data. 

What the leads do

The second variable of the equation helps you to determine the level of interest in your product based on the actions taken by the leads.

Lead scoring, what the leads do, how does lead scoring works

Interaction with your company

First list all the possible ways the lead can interact with your company that indicate interest in your product or service.

  1. Web-pages relevant to the prospect
  2. Resources based on the customer journey relevant to the prospect
  3. Email communications sent to the prospect
  4. Offline events your company attends or hosts
content marketing sales funnel, sales funnel, content marketing funnel

Here is an example of scoring based on leads interaction

Lead scoring, funnel lead scoring, lead scoring model, top of the funnel, middle of the funnel

Product usage during free trial

This is a critical component if your company offers a free trial for the product. The product usage scoring will vary based on the type of product. As mentioned earlier, the aim is to get the prospect to use the product as much as possible especially explore the key features of the product.

In order to determine the key actions, you will first need to determine the milestones you want the user to complete during the free trial. 

Here is an illustration of the user’s journey after signing up for the free trial and the key milestones.

How does free trial works, lead scoring for free trial

In this guide let’s look at only the journey of a visitor from sign-up and to get to become an activated user. 

Let’s take Linkedin as an example and try to guess what it might take become an activated user on Linkedin

Lead scoring, product usage milestones, lead scoring guide

Once a user completes these 11 milestones, Linkedin could recommend and promote ‘paid premium plans’ to the user

Similarly, you need to look at your product and break down every step that would take a lead who just signed up for your product to become an activated user within the given trial period.

To summarize, if you are you have a product which offers a free trial, your lead score will be a combination of:

Lead scoring, lead scoring methodology, how to calculate lead scoring

Lead scoring methodology: No free trial 

If your product does not have a free trial and only a free demo then product usage score will not be a part of your lead scoring mechanism while the rest of the variables in the above-mentioned equation do.

A few things to remember

  • The implementation varies based on the CRM you use
  • Decide the third-party tools you want to use and check if it can be integrated with your CRM
  • Regularly check for the quality of data you get from third-party tools
  • Ensure to disqualify dead and irrelevant leads
  • It is important that sales and marketing work together and share a common CRM/platform
  • Set-up internal notification emails when a lead crosses an important milestone so that it can be manually verified during the testing phase
  • At times a few leads can go above the upper limit score of 100, in which case, examine the activity, adjust the scores, or the scale
  • Experiment with various parameters as your model will evolve as you get a better understanding of your customers
  • Periodically examine the entire sales cycle from lead generation to purchase and how accurate was your scoring model in predicting them
  • Lead scoring further can be expanded even after the purchase as it will help you identify opportunities to upsell and cross-sell

Lead scoring is not a complex mathematical system to magically sort through leads. It is a logical process to help you better understand your customer and gradually move them along the buying journey. 

All you need is to do is ask yourself:

  1. What does a specific action taken by a lead could mean?
  2. What can I do to move the lead to the next step towards their buying journey?