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Lead Scoring: The Common Cause That Unites Sales and Marketing

by: Drew Prante (@prante)
15 October 2013

Most people would agree that sales and marketing teams have common goals. Sales wants to acquire new logos, retain and upsell existing customers … and, ultimately, drive revenue. Marketing wants to create awareness and demand, generate high-quality lead flow for the sales organization … and, ultimately, drive revenue.

With such similar missions between these groups, it’s hard to believe that sales and marketing teams are still operating in silos at such staggering rates. A recent survey of sales and marketing professionals found that just 16 percent believe that their teams' activities are fully aligned, and one in 10 respondents say they are not aligned at all. 

The business case for sales and marketing alignment becomes even more compelling when you consider that organizations with good alignment between these teams have historically seen a 20 percent annual revenue growth rate. In contrast, those with a poor alignment have seen a decrease of 4 percent in revenue.

For organizations that are struggling to align sales and marketing efforts, or have been looking for the right project to unite the two groups, the creation and ongoing maintenance of a lead scoring model is the perfect device for bringing them together.

First MoveSomeone Has to Make the First Move

If you’re a marketer and you haven’t done so already, connect with your sales leadership team and talk through your understanding of their messaging, challenges and objectives. Is your assessment correct?

Be thoughtful about the conversation and prepare questions in advance. Here are a few talking points that will get you started:

  • What is your value message to prospects and customers?
  • How do you prioritize inbound leads?
  • Who is your ideal buyer?

You’ll almost certainly come up with other questions based on your particular business or industry, but the more that you understand about your sales organization’s approach, message and findings, the more effective you’ll be in crafting a scoring model that makes sense.

Having this conversation is your first step toward developing a deeper understanding of your sales organization’s challenges and will be an important step in creating a 1.0 lead scoring model. Also, this exercise in and of itself is a great first step toward better alignment between sales and marketing.

What If I Already Have a Scoring Model in Place?

Hats off to you if you’re already utilizing lead scoring – most companies still aren’t there yet. In fact, according to Lattice Engines, only 21 percent of companies practice and utilize lead scoring. That’s shocking when you consider that CMOs see 138 percent lead gen ROI after implementing lead scoring, according to MarketingSherpa.

If you already have your model in place, do a temperature check with your sales organization:

  • Did you get the model right in your first iteration?
  • Were the profile and behavioral attributes that you initially thought were indicators of fit and intent accurate?
  • Has the market shifted?
  • What needs to be adjusted?

ChessMake It a Regular Meeting

As you may know, lead scoring isn’t a “set it and forget it” project – as I mentioned in my last blog post, you probably won’t get it exactly right with your first attempt. That’s OK, though, as the key is to get started and adjust later.

Meet quarterly with your sales organization to review the scoring model and key conversion metrics. Then, discuss adjustments that might need to be considered.

Think of it as an internal quarterly business review that you’d have with an external customer or your company’s board of directors, and treat it with the same level of importance.

What About the Technology Behind Scoring?

There’s no way to sugarcoat it – investing in a more sophisticated digital marketing platform will enable you to build more accurate scoring models that take demographic, BANT and behavioral information into account. That said, there are several studies and statistics in addition to the few that I’ve cited here that will help you to justify the investment.

In addition to enabling you to score based on a wide range of cross-channel behaviors, some technologies will also allow you to factor the recency and frequency of a prospect’s actions into your scoring model, providing an even stronger indication of a prospect’s interest. Bottom line? With the right technology, you’ll be better positioned to create (and fine-tune) a scoring system that ensures qualified leads are flowing to sales and helps strengthen alignment in the process.

Don’t Wait

The numbers don’t lie – companies that have strong alignment between sales and marketing outperform companies that don’t, and adding lead scoring to that formula is a multiplier of success.  

If you’re not absolutely sure that you’re aligned, make the first move.

Related Resources:

1) White Paper: “Know the Score: The Ultimate Guide to Scoring Customers and Prospects

2) Video: “How Scoring Helps You Connect on an Individual Level

3) Blog: “5 Creative Ways to Use Scoring


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