Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus – Vol. II– Lead Scoring

A growing trend in B2B marketing today is in the realms of “lead nurturing” and “lead scoring.”

I have often found the best way to impress the sales team is to feed them a stream of high-quality leads. Events, webinars, account-based marketing, trade events and speaking engagements all offer opportunities to find and feed some leads (usually the hottest ones) to the sales team. But what happens to those that are not so hot? Typically they hit the cutting room floor or are left to die on the vine in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

As part of my ongoing series discussing sales-marketing alignment with our friends at Marketo, a B2B marketing software provider, in this interview Jon Miller and I look at why B2B marketers should care about lead scoring and how they can get started qualifying and prioritizing leads. Check it out …

Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus – Vol. II – Lead Scoring

About Jon Miller
VP Marketing, Marketo

Jon has the unique challenge of leading Marketing for Marketo, a company whose mission is helping other B2B marketers drive revenue and improve accountability. Jon explores best practices in demand generation, lead management, and online marketing in his popular blog, Modern B2B Marketing, and is a frequent columnist and speaker at industry events. Before co-founding Marketo, Jon was a vice president at Epiphany, a CRM strategist at Exchange Partners, and a strategic consultant for Gemini Consulting. Jon graduated Magna Cum Laude in Physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

7 comments to Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus – Vol. II– Lead Scoring

  • Anonymous

    Paul, good Podcast with Jon Miller of Marketo! I particularly liked the idea of demographic qualification (Attributes and Position) meshing with action analytics (Need and Readiness).

    One word of caution on B2B lead scoring: We need to be super careful about using terms like “A-lead” or “hot lead” in our scoring methodologies. Reason: To the B2B marketing team, a “hot lead” means it scores high on likelihood of being qualified and with a high propensity to engauge with sales. On the other hand, to the sales team, a “hot lead” often means a high likelihood of closing the business in a short timeframe. BIG disconnect.

    For instance, the lead could be a senior decision maker with a “librarian” personality, downloading lots of whitepapers, case studies and podcasts – but have no initiative to buy the widgets. This lead could mistakenly be scored as a “hot lead” and passed on to sales, only to ignore their overtures and increase sales mistrust of marketing. Conversely, the lead could be the same decision maker but with a minimalist personality, simply responding to one marketing touch yet with an active, fully funded initiative to procure widgets. In this later case, the lead might not score enough to be considered “hot” and never receive contact by the widget sales team.

    That’s why I like the APNR grading system I eluded to above. It takes into account how marketers work, how sales people think and how decision makers buy: It’s a “sales-ready” lead if they have both demographic Attributes and Position (like Jon says “we’re interested in them”) plus they have Need and Readiness (they are interested in us). It’s a “nuture lead” if I only have A&P or AP&R.

    This way, marketing is doing a good job seperating qualified from unqualified leads, then passing only “sales-ready” leads on to the most expensive resource. And sales knows the leads they are getting fit the criteria of follow-up worthiness, without unrealistic expectations.

    Bill Herr

  • Jon Miller

    Bill — Very well said! I like how you point out that it’s possible to confuse an “engaged” lead with a “ready to buy” lead. Using APNR can help, as you point out. Another thing I’ve played with is weighting behaviors differently that imply readiness to buy differently. Things like visiting the pricing page, downloading ROI figures, or even better downloading implementation notes all are much more suggestive of a ready-to-buy lead than downloading whitepapers.

  • Will Schnabel, Vtrenz


    Great podcast on lead scoring. There is no question that leading marketing departments are taking full advantage of scoring technologies to drive their demand generation process.

    Another way to look at the various scoring attibutes is how SiriusDecisions defines Demographic and BANT (explicit information)versus actions (implicit information). A robust scoring engine will weight both these type of factors in determining an overall score.

    In terms of the implicit scores, or actions, I believe it is more important to look at Recency and Frequency of activities to give an indication of readiness to buy rather than just specific actions. Managing a scoring model that is constantly changing based on new offers, webinars, whitepapers, etc. is an overly time-consuming process. A more robust model takes into account overall activities, such as total web-page visits or total # of recent interactions, and scores accordingly. This score, weighted against other demographic attributes can give a good indication of a lead’s qualification as well as readiness.

    But, what is probably even more important than just the score is the actions that the score drives. For example, just passing a lead to sales after they reach a set threshold only solves part of the problem. A systematic approach is required to designate the lead as “Marketing Qualified”, and then tracking whether sales accepts the lead, or “Sales Accepted”, whether it becomes “Sales Qualified”, and whether it becomes a new sale.

    Having this view into the outcome of the lead score allows us to adjust the scoring attributes and weighting factors in order to optimize the lead flow and subsequent sales opportunities.

  • Dale Underwood

    Thanks for producing and sharing your podcasts. I have enjoyed several of your podcasts with Jon and always pick up good advice.

    What I find striking is that in virtually every conversation about lead scoring and nurturing the topic of accessing the “pricing” page comes up as an indicator of high-interest. The tough part is how to capture that interest without violating the sales-free trust with the prospect.

    Thanks again.

  • Jon Miller, Marketo

    Will – I’m glad both our firms can have a meaningful discussion about lead scoring, since we both believe in the value of lead scoring. I think we can agree that regardless of HOW exactly companies score their leads, doing ANY lead scoring is better than doing none. That said, I think aggregate values (such as total recent web visits) can co-exist nicely with specific activities (such as visiting a particular high value web page) to come up with the best view of lead readiness.

    Dale — On the topic of the pricing page specifically, I’m not proposing sending a triggered email to the prospect saying “thanks for visiting our pricing page”. Instead, it is just one factor among many that indicate where the prospect is in the buying cycle. In fact, I believe it is better NOT to contact someone who hasn’t expressed any buying readiness, which is an even better way to build “sales-free” trust.

  • Douglas Karr

    I did a ‘firmagraphic’ scoring of B2B data here for the Chamber of Commerce that they loved using. It incorporated, by SIC, all available data by D&B. We utilized the current customer list as our base and then scored all prospects against it.

    It solved a very unique problem – they only had enough staff to touch one-tenth of all businesses, so we were able to provide them with the best ‘tenth’.

    We would never rule out others from the list of prospects, but we applied our most expensive resources at the ones who profiled best.

    Good stuff!

  • SBL – Video tagging

    Nice post on lead scoring.
    Thanks for posting this very useful information…
    SBL – Video tagging

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