How to score leads without “waterboarding” your business developers

It sounds obvious: digital marketing is all about keeping score and scoring big with measurable results and metrics you can track. Yet, very often, I find that many corporate marketers of the most sophisticated companies treat all inbound leads alike. This leads to a series of thought and organizational fallacies that give marketers a false senses of security, and inhibit their ability to accurately project their sales pipeline. Pouring any and every lead that comes in the funnel is basically waterboarding for BD. It make business developers work harder, not smarter. There is a better way. It’s called Intelligent Lead Scoring. No, I didn’t invent it. I just added the word “Intelligent” to make you stop and think before you automate!  

Intelligent Lead Scoring is a management concept by which you follow a series of sequential steps that empowers your marketing and business development organization to sort out the haymakers from the spam fakers, and the diamonds in the rough from the rough crowds. It enables you to assign a measurable IQ to your organizational decision making and business development process.

The six steps to creating an Intelligent Lead Scoring approach are:

1. Visualize Success:

Does it take a village to identify a real lead? No, unless you want to be the village idiot. A successful Intelligent Lead Scoring process begins by visualizing what high-impact inbound leads look like. Work backwards from the best and biggest wins that your company experienced from inbound leads to identify the time, frequency, specific interests, demographics, and velocity of interest in the content that made the “perfect lead” become a transactional sale.

2. Select the Right Marketing Automation Platform for you:

Not all marketing automation platforms are suitable for your company’s BD culture. In some companies, Business Development doesn’t like sharing information with their marketing compadres because they feel territorial about their contacts. This should NOT preclude marketing automation altogether. Instead, you should select a platform that allows BD to keep their “private information” private, while also allowing you as the CMO to still get the metrics that you need to manage the process.

3. Don’t Waterboard Your Business Development Team:

What could be more torturous than waterboarding your BD team? Giving them crappy leads. In fact, most of them might opt for water-boarding instead of following up with the cold leads you send them. Unless you have invested the time to understand, quantify and measure the “expression of interest” or “intent” by using numerical values, before sending the lead data to your BD team, you’d be better off just sending them to GTMO. At least, I hear, they’ve got a basketball court over there.

4. “Rendition” for Your Big Data: 

Marketing automation platforms now give marketers the opportunity to analyze every piece of data, big or small. The single most important thread is that too much data often equates to not enough meaningful and actionable information. Determine the top three impact data points that your CEO, CFO and CMO agree and align with, are worth the company’s time. Remember, Big Data can endure rendition and torture, and it won’t complain. But if you flood your management reports with meaningless metrics of “apparent success,” you’ll be the subject of the next corporate waterboarding.

5. Stay Agile & Pragmatic:

Every marketing automation platform is based on the premise that “sticking with it” empowers the team to have a universal set of KPIs and Big Data that are predictable and measureable. I find that many marketers tend to say “give it time” without truly creating test points to ensure that the picture that emerges is actually supporting the Business Development objectives set forth by the company. Yes, it hurts our professional pride when we have to admit defeat or change course midway, but it’s for the good of the program. In other words, start the program with the explicit intent to measure mid-way, be prepared to admit what didn’t work, and be positioned to change it. Remaining flexible and pragmatic allows you to gain the respect of your peers as an enlightened marketer.

Bottom line: marketing automation and big data are empowering you to automate and use lead scoring as means of making your business developers happier and more productive. However, remember they are template-driven and MUST BE ALIGNED with your company’s culture and you are the sole marketing leader that can make the difference between automating the problem or automating a meaningful solution.

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