4 Keys to Successful B2B Lead Scoring

Use these tips to align sales and marketing and connect with prospects at the right time.

B2B lead scoring models are primarily based on two types of attributes — explicit and implicit. Each can play a key role in industrial marketing and the successful handoff of leads from marketing to the sales team. 

Explicit B2B lead scoring is based on demographics and firmographics, such as job titles, industry, company size and revenue, and maybe geography. Marketing personas are a good starting point for lead scoring in the industrial sector as you already have an idea of the role they play at various stages of the elongated and frequently non-linear B2B buying cycle.

Implicit B2B lead scoring is action based or behavior based. The more relevant the action in the buying process, the higher score you should establish for that action. For example, an email open may not be as valuable as a click-thru, and not all web page visits will receive the same scores. A visit to a product page may indicate interest, but a visit to a pricing page or that results in an RFQ being filled out is much more likely to indicate intent and should be scored accordingly. Implicit lead scoring is very heavily based on identifying intent within your contacts.

In the most recent episode of the Industrial Marketer podcast, Joey and Nels discuss how to get started with B2B lead scoring. Here are four keys to keep in mind when implementing lead scoring within the industrial sector.

1. Create Ideal Customer Profiles

The foundation for providing your sales team with better leads begins with knowing who your best customers are and how those people interact with your company prior to purchase. Prospects from similar companies that you do business with could be scored higher, for example, as well as people from the ideal client profile companies identified in the business development process. 

This likely is the intersection of firmographics (size of company, industry, maybe geography) and marketing personas, which play such a key role in industrial marketing. Ideal customer profiles and marketing personas are not the same thing, but they are closely linked. Be sure to include the sales team when creating your ideal customer profiles.

Knowing which assets and touch points are valuable to which buying personas at specific stages in the purchase process is a critical element in marketing and sales automations. An important first step is to make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned on the important prospect types, questions and stages. 

2. Align with Sales to Set B2B Lead Scoring Goals

This is where implicit lead scoring comes into play. The sales team will have insights from actions and behaviors at the bottom of the sales funnel. This includes how prospects transition from a warm lead to a red-hot lead and the hurdles the sales team faces in getting a lead to move beyond the consideration phase through a purchase.

Key factors for B2B lead scoring also might not be an action but a threshold. For example, you might find that every prospect who reaches 60 points is at the intent stage and is worthy of a sales call. Identifying at what level casual prospects turn into “warm” leads for the sales team is a reason why keeping the communication lines between teams open is a necessity.

3. Use Negative Scoring for Efficiency

This tactic within B2B lead scoring is undervalued in the industrial sector, perhaps because the universe of SQLs can be so small that marketers are hesitant to disqualify any lead. But not all leads are good ones, and identifying unqualified leads does help your efficiency in identifying the best leads. Why keep someone in the funnel who will never be a customer?

The elongated and non-linear nature of most industrial buying cycles also supports the case for using negative scoring. The most obvious examples of when to employ negative scoring include:

  • Internal staff members 
  • Competitors
  • People from an unrelated industry
  • People with educational or personal email addresses

You can also use attributes from a firmographics perspective, such as:

  • Company size/annual revenue
  • Geography outside your service area 
  • Positions unlikely to be key influencers or decision makers

4. Monitor Scores and Update Your Scoring System

While B2B lead scoring helps turn data and actions into insights, it is more art than science. Markets and economies change, as do products and services. You might have added a calculator to your website or a new white paper, which could mean changing the scores for people downloading older material. 

Ideally, lead scoring is something you review with the sales team on a regular basis. It will never be perfect, but it can be a powerful tool that helps you engage with potential buyers at the right time with the right campaign or sales tactic.

Listen to the Podcast for More on B2B Lead Scoring

For more insights into how to implement B2B lead scoring successfully, tune into Episode 23 of the Industrial Marketer podcast.

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