Larry Bird once said, “It doesn’t matter who scores the points, it’s who can get the ball to the scorer.” You could probably say the same about most marketing and sales teams. We marketers work tirelessly; creating countless campaigns to generate leads and pass them on to our sales superstars for what we hope will become a slam dunk close.

Only, it doesn’t always work that way. Any salesperson will tell you that not all leads are created equal. There are hot leads and cold leads, new leads and old leads, and lots of lukewarm, middle-aged contenders in between. In fact, if your marketing campaigns deliver too many kinds leads, your sales team may not know where to begin. Or, in what equates to the flagrant foul of lead generation, they may refuse to play ball at all.

This is where lead scoring comes in. Lead scoring helps companies prioritize prospects or potential buyers by ranking them throughout the buying process. By assigning values to leads based on whether or not they meet specific sets of criteria, you can make sure that only those who are most qualified get passed to sales.

While most marketing automation platforms can accommodate lead scores, it’s important to get the basics right first. So, before you implement your lead scoring program, you should consider the following criteria:

Fit or Implicit Scoring

Finding the right fit can make or break a sale. You should have a good understanding of the kind of person or company who typically purchases your product and score leads accordingly. For B2C, you may want to consider annual income or zip code to understand whether a buyer is a good match for your brand. If you’re in B2B, information like job title, company size, and annual revenue may tell you a lot about whether your offerings suit the prospect in question.

Behavior or Explicit Scoring

Behavior is also a great way to gauge whether or not someone is an ideal lead. Is the prospect spending a lot of time on your website? Has she downloaded a resource or subscribed to your blog? Opened your last three emails? Attended a webinar in recent weeks? When it comes to lead scoring, actions speak louder than words. Leads who act often are more likely to buy than those who don’t act at all.


Then again, some people are just looky loos – leads who linger on your website, download your content and even comment on your blog, yet for reasons unbeknownst to the common marketer, will never purchase your product. Lurking looky loos are one reason it’s important to track where a lead is in the buying process. Use forms with fields that question when a prospect intends to buy. Or request that your sales team track buying timeframes for every discovery call. You can even gather clues based on the type of content a lead has engaged in. All else being equal, a person who downloads a product comparison is more likely to purchase than someone who likes a team photo on Facebook.

Once you’ve determined which criteria you want to incorporate into your lead scoring methodology, use a spreadsheet to document and assign points for each of the attributes you’ve identified. Be sure to assign negative values to any “undesirable” qualities or behaviors. For example, you may want to deduct points from anyone who has unsubscribed from your email list or doesn’t have the budget to make a purchase.

Also, if you’re working with a sales team, be sure to vet your lead scoring methodology with them. Better yet, work with them throughout the process to bullet-proof your lead scoring efforts and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Finally, leverage marketing automation or customer relationship management (CRM) software to implement your new methodology. You are well on your way to a four-point play.