Grading Your Prospects? How Lead Scoring Helps Small Businesses Prioritize Sales and Marketing / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Giving your prospects a “score” when it comes to their potential to make a purchase is a smart way to improve the value of your efforts.

For any company, regardless of size and category, an integral part of the sales cycle is the ability to understand where your prospects are in their buying journey – that is, how likely they are to making a purchase.

One effective method for ranking your prospects based on likelihood to purchase is “lead scoring.” Lead scoring is likely something you’re already doing, at least informally, without even knowing it. How do you prioritize which leads to respond to first? Which to follow up with? Which get a certain promotion or message? At the fundamental level, the factors you consider behind these decisions are the same attributes you would include in your lead scoring model.

Like many marketing processes today, lead scoring can be automated to make your sales and marketing efforts more efficient and better performing. Automated lead scoring is the process of assigning a numerical score to each prospect based on their various actions, such as visiting your website, opening an email, downloading an eBook or completing a form.

With online technology tools today, marketers can now categorize and segment leads in their CRM systems by this score and use this assessment in building out marketing campaigns and messages to nurture them through the decision-making process.

The Benefits for Small Business

For small businesses, in particular, lead scoring helps preserve valuable internal resources. It allows entrepreneurs and sales teams to become more efficient and focus their time and efforts on prospects most likely to end in a sale. Your best sales people are freed up to have in-depth conversations with leads who are ready to buy, and the less ready prospects can be engaged through automated, educational email and content. This strategy is proven effective – companies who focused on lead scores increased close rates by 30 percent and increased deal sizes by 17 percent in a recent survey conducted by Oracle.

Lead scoring offers actionable analysis. For example, if you’re investing time and resources into a lead generation program or to boost your sales with Google Advertising and social media promotions, lead scoring is an excellent way to measure the resulting engagement your campaigns are generating throughout the sales cycle.

By taking the time to analyze your efforts through a lead score lens, it will become easier to identify which channels and specific content are referring the best quality leads. This analysis lens also can help you test detailed marketing tactics such as images, content, and web or email copy, further helping improve performance over time. 

The Two Methods to Score

Lead scoring can be executed within your CRM and marketing automation system and works best when combined with automated marketing workflows. You’ll need to create rules in your system, so that when a user takes an action, such as interaction with an email, form or your website content, their score will automatically be updated in your database. While there are variances in scoring proficiencies customizations available depending on your specific CRM and marketing automation solutions, at a high level, there are two ways to score:

  • BASIC Works. The first step to any lead scoring efforts involves building your default scores. The standard lead scoring attributes include website visits, website page views, email opens, email link clicks and form submissions. You’ll want to set up these lead scores in your system so that contacts’ scores are updated each time they take one of these actions.
  • But you can CUSTOMIZE. You also have the option to take lead scoring power even further with your own methodology tailored to what you already know about your business. You likely already have a good idea of which prospect demographics and marketing channels are most valuable for your business. Take this insight and add greater scoring weights to those actions and characteristics you know are most likely to lead to a customer by increasing the scoring increments for the criteria you are confident will convert to a sale. Also, consider the actions that make the most sense. Is a prospect filling out your form showing more interest than one who clicks on a Twitter ad? Likely. Weighing out these scores appropriately will ensure that the best-qualified leads get the attention they need. 

My Leads Are Scored and Segmented. Now What?

Lead scoring works best in tandem with marketing automation workflows and campaigns. In addition to tracking a score, prospects’ relevant actions can also trigger an automation so they’ll receive a prompt response. The automation can be anything from a pop-up message to a timed email or a note to your sales rep to make a call. For contacts who are early in the sales cycle, consider setting up an email nurture series so that, over the course of several weeks, they’ll receive content and personal messages from their sales rep to cultivate the relationship until they are much closer to making a purchase.

Giving your prospects a “score” when it comes to their potential to make a purchase is a smart way to improve the value and performance of your sales and marketing efforts. Lead scoring is a must for any small business considering hiring more sales people, spending advertising dollars or investing time into building personalized marketing campaigns. By further aligning sales and marketing, any small business owner can rest assured that their resources are allocated to the most promising sales opportunities.



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