Anyone working in sales, or in sales enablement, knows that prospecting is tough work.

It can be incredibly demoralizing for a sales rep to contact lead after lead and discover that no one is interested in engaging.

Or if they do engage, some basic discovery questions reveal that the lead isn’t a match for your organization.

Is there a solution to this problem?

While prospecting is inherently a difficult part of the sales process, there are ways to increase your success rate. One of those ways is to incorporate a lead scoring system into your prospecting process.

In this article, we’re going to explore:

If you’re looking for more insights into the world of prospecting, download SEC’s Gold Standard Prospecting report for a peek behind the curtains of top sales organizations. It includes stats and figures on account prioritization, how sales teams collaborate, and more!

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is a practice used to rank prospects against a scale which represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. The resulting score is used to determine which leads sales teams will engage with, in order of priority.

While an organization’s lead scoring scale or model may be unique in how it values certain qualities in a prospect, the end result is the same: a score which summarizes which leads are most interested in your company and allows your sales teams to approach prospecting tactically.

Attributes a lead may be ‘scored’ on include demographic details, company industry, and number of interactions with your content, unsubscribe rate on your emails, and much more. As you can see, these details are likely to dictate your approach when prospecting.

You might score a lead highly because they engaged with multiple emails, their company is in a sector you’re targeting, and they interact with your organization online.

It makes sense to prioritize this highly-rated lead compared to one that’s perhaps only engaged with one piece of your content and isn’t an exact demographic match.

If you’re not lead scoring, however, it becomes much more difficult to discern these attributes. It’s quicker and easier for a rep to have that score available at a glance.

It means there’s more time for selling, after all.

While lead scoring is used by many sales organizations, it’s by no means a universal tactic. As part of our Gold Standard Prospecting Report, we asked our survey respondents whether their organizations used lead scoring or not.

A graph with results for the question: does your organization use lead scoring? The answers are "yes" 48.8%, "sometimes" 19.5% and "no" 31.7%

Our results showed that over two-thirds (68.3%) of our respondents’ organizations use lead scoring at least some of the time. This number shows that while lead scoring is an important part of prospecting for many, more than 3 in 10 organizations don’t use it at all.

When we divided our report’s results by revenue band, we found that high-revenue organizations were more likely to use lead scoring consistently when compared to organizations in our low revenue band.

A graph with the results for the question: does your organization use lead scoring (divided by revenue). For the "less than $10m" category, the answers are "yes" 43%, "sometimes" 21.5%, "no" 35.5%. For the "$10m to $1bn" category, the results are "yes" 50%, "sometimes" 22.3%, and "no" 27.7%. For the "more than $1bn" category, "yes" 57.5%, "sometimes" 12.5%, "no" 30.5%

Organizations which are aspiring to sell like the highest-revenue companies would do well to embrace lead scoring to try and achieve those lofty goals.

Prioritizing the right accounts can be really difficult, so adopting lead scoring can help steer sales reps in the right direction.

Implementing lead scoring

When it comes to implementing lead scoring, many major customer relationship management (CRM) systems include tools which allow you to lead score. Additionally, there are third-party tools and plug-ins which can help you lead score if you opt to not use one native to your CRM.

These tools help track your leads’ activity, assigning it a score. In addition to assigning scores, they often allow you to create your own scale for ranking, and offer analysis on the leads available to the tool.

Does lead scoring work?

Lead scoring is, in essence, a form of segmentation.

It lets you view your leads in order of potential, which then means you can segment these leads into well-defined tiers such as high-, medium-, and low-priority.

The better the lead, the higher the priority, and the higher a tier it’s categorized in.

In our Gold Standard Prospecting Report, we asked sales and enablement leaders to rank their teams ability to prioritize the right leads when prospecting on a scale from 1 to 5 - with 1 being very bad, and 5 being very good.

Two graphs. The first is for the results of the question: How good is your sales team at prioritizing the right accounts to prospect? (use well-defined tiers to segment account lists). The results: very bad 0%, bad 4.5%, average 56.5%, good 26%, very good 13%. The second graph is for the question: how good is your sales team at prioritizing the right accounts to prospect? (don't use well-defined tiers to segment account lists). The results: very bad 6%, bad 17.5%, average 64.5%, good 11.5%, very good 0%.

We separated the data into two groups - those who’s sales teams did use well-defined tiers to segment their account lists, and those who didn't.

The results were eye-opening.

As you can see from the chart, sales teams who didn’t segment their account lists (and by extension, don’t lead score) were significantly more likely to be viewed as bad at prioritizing the right accounts to prospect.

On the other hand, our results show lead scoring and segmentation is strongly linked to good and very good ability to prioritize the right accounts.

39% of our survey respondents who use well-defined tiers to segment account lists believe their sales teams to be good or very good in this aspect, compared to only 11.5% of those who don’t segment.

Similarly, just 4.5% of respondents who use segmentation rated their ability as bad or very bad, compared to 23.5% of those whose teams don’t segment.

So, does lead scoring work?

The results from our report indicate that the answer is yes.

High-revenue organizations are more likely to use lead scoring in the first place, and sales teams that use lead scoring and other segmentation tactics are better at prioritizing the right accounts when prospecting.

Wrapping up

At the beginning of this article we asked if there was a solution to the eternal sales problem - wasting time with unqualified, low-quality leads.

While lead scoring is by no means a silver bullet, it can absolutely help bring your sales team’s prospecting abilities to the next level.

That’s in addition to bringing you more in line with the behaviors of high-revenue companies.

Thinking about implementing lead scoring? The data looks like it’s on your side.

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