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What is Lead Scoring, How Does It Work and Why Do I Need It?



Before I dive right into what is going to be a very detailed and complex topic, let me first set the scene.

You are over a year into the inbound campaign you’ve been running through your marketing automation software. Traffic is up, leads are coming in and your nurturing workflows are in place but something is still wrong. While all things “marketing” seem to be running smoothly, your sales team is still struggling to find their rhythm with the leads coming to them from the website. While the occasional lead requests to speak directly to a sales person, a majority of the time it seems that the leads marketing believes are ready for some sort of introductory conversation with sales are either unqualified or not ready. What should you do?

Many mature inbound marketing campaigns face this exact problem often. With so much time being spent creating assets, setting up nurturing campaigns and promoting content to attract leads, very little time is spent preparing the marketing automation system to help both the marketing and sales teams better track and understand where their leads are within the buyer’s journey.

This is where lead scoring comes into play.

What is Lead Scoring?

Lead scoring is the automated process within a marketing automation system that uses rules and scores established by the user to track and report how qualified and engaged leads are. These scores are then used to benchmark if a lead is or is not ready for contact by sales and can be used to automatically trigger internal announcements to the necessary team member so that they aren’t wasting time within the system hunting for “warm” leads.

Now that you know what lead scoring is, it’s pretty hard not to admit that it can be a very good thing for your campaign, let alone your sanity. Not only does a properly set up lead scoring system help you and your sales team save time and energy sorting through leads and their web activity, but it also ensures timely and relevant responses to the most highly engaged leads.

How Can I Set Lead Scoring Up?

At Revenue River, we like to use a 3 part lead scoring strategy that ultimately leads to a 4 digit lead score. Before we dive too deep into that though, let’s first start at the beginning of the lead scoring process; the interview.

Step 1: The Interview

Before you ever touch your marketing automation’s lead scoring tool, you will first need to get all of the information about what a “qualified lead” looks like. To do this, you should interview someone within your organization that has an extensive knowledge on this subject – most likely a sales person. Sit this person down and ask them probing questions like:

  • What information tells you right away that a lead is qualified?

o   Is it their job title?

o   Is it their company size?

o   Is it the industry they’re a part of?

  • What actions on the website would tell you that they are truly engaged with our content and are ready to buy?

o   Could it be specific page visits like the “Contact Us” page or “Services” pages?

o   Could it be social engagement?

o   Could it be repeat visits over a period of time?

  • What, if anything, automatically tells you that a lead is unqualified?

o   Is it the company they work for?

  • Are they a competitor or vendor?
  • Are they too small or too big?

o   Is it their job title?

o   Are they outside of your company’s geographical target area? (Is it an international lead when your company only does business domestically?)

  • What actions on the website would tell you that they are no longer engaged or overly engaged with your site?

o   Have they unsubscribed from your marketing communications?

o   Have they filled out every form possible on your site within a matter of minutes?

Once you’ve collected all of the information you need to be able to fully understand exactly what a qualified and unqualified lead looks like, it’s time to quantify these traits and actions.

Step 2: Quantify

As stated above, we like to use a 3 part system for lead scoring that assigns specific scores for different qualifiers and actions. These parts include Identifiers, Qualifiers and Prioritizers. Each one is described below, along with their scores.

Identifiers (1,000’s)

Often times, a website attracts a number of different types of leads that are bucketed into personas to help the marketers better understand who these people are, what challenges they face and what goals they have. The first part of our lead scoring system is meant to help us identify each persona with a number. Take all of your personas and order them from least important to most important in the eyes of sales (who is the biggest fish?). Give the least important persona the score of 1,000 and the following personas the next increment of 1,000 until your largest and most important persona has the largest increment of 1,000. If you have any negative personas meant to help you weed out pesky leads, be sure to give those personas a negative number.


  •          Competitor= -1,000
  •          Small Business Owner= 1,000
  •          Medium Sized Business Marketing Manager= 2,000
  •          Large Business Marketing Director= 3,000

With these Identifiers in place, your trained sales people will be able to quickly look at these scores and understand what persona the lead is without ever needing to look at their individual contact profile. From there, they will look at the second digit in the sequence, the Qualifier.

Qualifiers (100’s)

The second part of our lead scoring sequence helps us to establish a list of attributes that show us whether or not a person is qualified to talk to sales and ultimately work with your company. These scores are kept within the 100’s to help us easily track how qualified a lead is just by looking at the second digit within the overall score. It is because of this that we must keep the amount of qualifiers that we track to a minimum and to no more than 9 so that we never have a situation where a lead has a qualifier score that adds up to over 1,000. Take the information gathered from your sales interview and find the most important qualifiers from it. Assign each qualifier exactly 100 points, don’t give more points to higher importance qualifiers but instead be sure to limit the number of qualifiers to only include the important ones. Don’t forget to include disqualifiers as well by giving them a negative score.


  •          Company size is greater than 50 employees= 100
  •          Company revenue is greater than $1M= 100
  •          Company or lead is international= -100

Now that you have your qualifiers in place, you will be able to set a baseline for what triggers a lead to be “qualified” enough to speak with sales. If you have the list above, you may say that any lead who has at least 100 qualifier points is qualified in our sales team’s eyes and may be ready to speak with someone. From there, you will look towards the final 2 digits of the 4 digit lead score to see how engaged the lead is with the website in order to help your sales team prioritize who to talk to first.

Prioritizers (1-99)

The final part of our lead scoring sequence helps us prioritize leads based on their engagement with the company, its website and the content on it. We keep the scores for these actions between one and two digits so that we can easily look at the final two digits of the four digit lead score to understand just how engaged the lead is. It is because of that reason that we also must make sure that all of the positive prioritizers can never add up to more than 99 points. This way a lead can never show so much engagement that is goes beyond 100 points, making it look like they may have met another qualifier instead. List out every action you pulled from your initial interview that shows positive and negative engagement and start prioritizing them based on what shows more positive, sales ready engagement. Give the higher priority actions larger scores, the lower actions smaller ones and the negative actions negative points.


  •          Bottom of the Funnel Form Submission (Talk to Sales, Contact Us, etc.)= 40 points
  •          Email clicks= 5 points
  •          Pricing Page visit= 10 points
  •          Unsubscribed from Marketing Communication= -25 points

Once you’ve mapped out every positive and negative action, look at the prioritized points and their scores to set a baseline score to let you know when you believe someone has shown the minimum amount of engagement required to be contacted by sales.

Step 3: Automate

Now that you’ve quantified your lead scoring system and have set up the rules in your marketing automation system, you will want to establish a few automated internal alerts based of these scores.

Utilize a workflow within your marketing automation system to monitor lead scores and trigger an internal alert to your sales team once a specific score range is met or exceeded. You may want to alert your sales team whenever a lead shows that they are qualified through their qualifier score or you may want to wait until that qualified lead has shown enough engagement to prove to the sales team that they are ready to talk.


You create a workflow that states that when a lead shows that they have met at least one of your qualifier criteria and has shown to be at least partially engaged with the site, an internal note will be sent to a sales representative giving them the lead’s score and telling them to start the sales process with them. The workflow rules might look something like this:


Step 4: Monitor, Tweak, Perfect

While lead scoring is a great tool, it must be customized to fit the specific needs of the company and its sales team. This may mean a few variations of the system above will be needed in order to nail down a score that correctly shows the right amount of engagement to meets your sales team’s standards. Spend the next few weeks and even months closely monitoring the leads that are and aren’t triggering the automation set up in step 3 and ask for feedback from sales on the quality of the leads being sent over. If sales isn’t receiving enough leads, you may want to make sure that you haven’t missed any qualifiers or prioritizers that would make it so that good leads fell through the cracks. If sales is receiving too many leads who aren’t ready for contact, you may want to consider increasing your trigger number to either require more qualifiers or a greater amount of engagement.

Lead scoring is a very complex process that requires a large amount of time on the front end to create a detailed and accurate scoring system but if set up correctly, it can help save your organization time and energy while creating greater efficiencies for both the marketing and sales sides. If you are interested in how lead scoring can help you or just about the process I listed out above, be sure to leave a comment below and we can dig even deeper into this fascinating topic!

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