What is Lead Scoring and why should I care?

Prioritized Lead Scoring list

EExecutive Summary.

Lead Scoring is the practice of ranking your leads based on the value and attractiveness they represent to your organization.

The main idea is this: the more interest the lead shows, or the better the fit of his profile for your solution, the higher the score that lead scoring will attribute.

Lead Scoring software can be used by sales, marketing or recruiting teams to effectively prioritize their commercial actions. We distinguish between Lead Profiling, which ranks sales prospects based on their characteristics, and Lead Scoring, which ranks them based on their behavior.

Various CRM tools offer Lead Scoring features, or, in the case Salesforce, useful predictive lead scoring add-ons. They differ mostly in their level of customization of the scoring criteria, and the range of features linked to lead scoring.

Choosing the right software will depend on your company’s needs and your philosophy on how modern software should support your sales efforts.


Your Key Take-aways.

  • What is Lead Scoring?
  • Why is Lead Scoring powerful?
  • Lead Scoring for Marketing vs. Sales
  • What does a Lead Score take into consideration?
  • Choosing your Lead Scoring tool: Software Recommendations



What is the goal of a lead scoring system?

One of my first sales jobs, long before launching SalesWings, was with a company that was beginning to struggle financially. As pressure mounted on the sales team, we would desperately and randomly call prospects to sell.

It was like throwing darts in the dark.

We cursed the low-quality leads that we received from marketing. To make matters worse, we were unable to prioritize our sales calls, as the required sales enablement tools were not yet in place.

I ended up losing that job.


Now imagine I’d give you one sales call to close some business. You close the deal, you get a bonus. You don’t, well, I’ll fire you.

Now: Who do you call?

Think for a minute.


If the answer isn’t all that clear, then you might be one of many salespeople who struggle to manage and prioritize their pipeline.


Lead Scoring uses technology to answer to that very important question: “Where is my time as a sales manager best invested?” The higher the score, the more likely there is a commercial fit at this point in time.


It’s both logical, and effective.


What is Lead Scoring, precisely?

To give my own definition:

“Lead Scoring is a lead prioritization and qualification tool for sales and marketing managers that, based on (A) the profile of a contact and/or (B) their activity, gives a salesperson a list of his prospects that are sorted by the highest score, thereby indicating where valuable time is best invested.”


If you or your sales manager are not yet familiar with lead scoring, you’re missing out on a modern and time efficient sales tool that can give you a truly unfair advantage over your competitors.


We distinguish between two separate Lead Scoring methodologies:

  • Lead Scoring will measure any activity related to a commercial interest of the lead or prospect, such as website visits or email openings. We call such data input explicit data. (this article focuses on Lead Scoring)


  • Lead Profiling will compare the leads to your perfect customers’ characteristics (also called your persona), making sure you address those prospects who are actually concerned by your offering.


What's the difference between lead scoring and lead profiling


While Lead Scoring technology used to be reserved for large corporations willing to pay $10,000 U.S. or more a year, the software is now becoming more affordable.

Here at SalesWings, we think a leaner, simplified approach to Lead Scoring can make the software affordable and effective for companies of any size.


Measuring interest for Lead Scoring

This article focuses on the actual “Lead Scoring”, which aims to measure and rank the current commercial interest of your leads.

According to Gartner (2015), the average B2B customer conducts 70% of his buying research online, facilitating the job for lead scoring solutions today.


How are scores compiled?


To understand Lead Scoring better, think of key interactions that would factor into shaping a Lead Score. What actions taken by a lead would indicate they are deserving of your attention?

  • Visits your website repeatedly
  • Visits pricing page
  • Does not visit jobs page every time he comes (unless lead scoring is used by HR department)
  • Looks at a slide deck
  • Downloads documents
  • Clicks on links in your emails
  • Visits contact page

Lead scoring add-on for Mailchimp


Lead Scoring software detect and monitor some or many of these interactions, as they are a reflection of the lead’s purchasing interest.

Not only does Lead Scoring indicate which customers you should be speaking to, but also the leads who are a waste of your time.


Image: Example of a Lead Scoring list of SalesWings within Salesforce CRM



Lead Scoring for Marketing

The goal of your marketing department is to attract interest from the market, and pass on qualified leads to your sales team, right?

A Lead Scoring software will give the highest scores to the most interested leads, making it simple for marketing to pass on only the most relevant leads to sales.

Lead Scoring systems will also help a marketing department segment their contacts into categories, which are filled by the Lead Scoring system thanks to the automated application of lead scores and profiles.


Benefits for Marketing Managers:

  • Qualitative segmentation of large contact databases
  • Better qualification of leads before information transfer to sales
  • Timely communication to most active leads


Due to the novelty and complexity of Lead Scoring approaches, only about 15% of major corporations used the systems in 2012.



Lead Scoring for Sales Management

Take a sale rep who needs to reach their quota in order to “feed” their company and colleagues, and reach his beloved bonus.

Inside sales managers are often responsible for hundreds of Sales Prospects at once. Staying on top of such a vast sales pipeline is no easy task. Traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems will help you get organized, but they won’t necessarily tell you where to focus on – unless you tell them.

Benefits for Sales Managers:

  • Higher deal closing rate by reaching out to low hanging fruit
  • Higher productivity thanks to efficient prioritization
  • Less lost opportunities thanks to “hot lead” alerts [I think the “hot lead” feature is useful and should be highlighted more]

Lead Scoring software

There is a small number of web applications, who actually provide proper lead scoring solutions. As with many software applications, it is often a matter of taste what approach you prefer: the more simple and lean, or the more complex and sophisticated.

Implementing a Lead Scoring system brings benefits, but may take weeks of your team’s time to implement if it is too complex – typically the problem of many systems.


Benefits of complex Lead Scoring Systems:

  • High level of customization
  • May take into consideration a large number of data, if available
  • Include data libraries, for instance market data
  • Often come with linked features such as marketing campaign management or landing pages


Downside of adopting a complex Lead Scoring System:

  • High cost-of-ownership
  • Thorough training required for every new hired manager
  • Persona and key interactions may change, requiring regular changes to system rules you input
  • Increasing number of data points are increasing the chance to include erroneous data (crap-in-crap-out principle)


I personally favor technology that takes a more simplified approach, which is essentially why we’re building our Lead Scoring software SalesWings.

Simple Lead Scoring systems will take rules which are universally considered relevant and then apply these rules automatically to your pipeline, in order to speed up the implementation.


Benefits of simple Lead Scoring Systems:

  • Takes into consideration most reliable, proven data points only (such as website interactions)
  • Requires only minimal change management of sales and marketing processes
  • Affordable
  • Allow for a very quick implementation (quick win)
  • Use minimal resources of both marketing and sales team
  • Allow for a solid qualification of pipeline


Downside of adopting a simple Lead Scoring System:

  • Typically do not offer Lead Profiling (is applied by sales and marketing person when looking at contact lists)
  • Limited personalization and customization capabilities
  • Absence of marketing automation (will work through external integration)
  • Focusing on key data only


Personally I believe that a Lead Score is only one additional piece of information to the sales prioritization of an organisation, and while powerful, not the solution to all of your problems.

When looking at getting started with lead scoring, and now’s the right time, think about this:

  • Where can I get the biggest win in my sales process today?
  • What’s my budget in terms of time and money?
  • Am I happy with my existing systems? Should I go for an add-on, or an all-in-one suite?
  • Are we dealing with a huge number of leads?
  • How big is my sales and marketing team, do I have the resources to manage a complex solution?


Recommended Software

The author is a defender of using a simple approach to Lead Scoring, whenever possible.

A simple approach will mean as little human input as possible, Software and Applications that will be largely automated.

I believe that the actual human input is extremely complex, and cannot be respected answering even 100 questions. It will be naturally applied by your sales manager when going through the scored lead list.


Some systems that I can recommend:

SalesWings Lead Scoring Add-on

  • Lean and integrated: SalesWings is a powerful lead scoring add-on for Salesforce, and a lead scoring plugin for Pipedrive and Salesforce, marketing automation, email and newsletter tools. It allows companies to upgrade their existing sales and marketing technology setup with powerful lead scoring capabilities and focuses on usability.
    • Starting at 199 US$ per user per month
    • Predictive lead scoring
    • Point based lead scoring
    • Real-time segmentation
    • Sales lead intent insights (activity history and summary)
    • Good for various industries and team sizes
    • Adopted in minutes, fully automated
    • Integrates with Salesforce, Pipedrive, marketing automation platforms, email and newsletter tools
    • Take a tour here

Lead scoring add-on for Mailchimp



salesforce pardot logo

  • Powerful and customisable: Pardot (Marketing Automation Suite by Salesforce). In my prior company we used Salesforce’ Pardot, which is a very powerful, complete marketing automation suite, allowing for a very customized lead scoring and profiling. It ties right into Salesforce, taking and analyzing data from the CRM, as well as external data libraries you can hook it up to.
    • 1000+ US$ per month (Nov. 2015)
    • Perfect integration with Salesforce
    • Powerful customization
    • Full marketing automation suite
    • Includes campaigns, landing pages, forms, and more
    • Good for medium-sized companies and enterprise
    • Pardot Website



  • All-in-one: Infusionsoft. If you’re ready to go all in and replace your CRM and approach to your sales organisation, have a look at Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft (Infusionsoft) is a solid all-in-one marketing and sales suite at a reasonable price point, including many features such as forms, drip mailing, or e-commerce tools. Lead scores are visualized as a temperature. If you are looking to replace an important part of your sales and marketing software stack, you might find a good fit here.
    • 199+ US$ per month (Nov. 2015)
    • Great all-in-one sales and marketing software
    • Best for small companies
    • Includes E-commerce suite
    • Infusionsoft Website



Our Focus Question for our discussion below (feel free to leave other comments too!):

  • How do you prioritize your sales calls today?

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