The complete guide to lead scoring

Category: Marketing
January 24, 2023

 All that effort poured into lead generation and nurturing feels hardly rewarding when you only manage to gain a few customers as a result. Salesforce uncovered that out of all leads, only 13% will become sales opportunities, and only a further 6% will actually convert into closed deals. 

But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this. Generating high-quality leads is a challenge for 61% of marketers. And no wonder – with hundreds of people flooding to websites each day, sifting through these visitors to find a select few worthwhile leads can seem like a dreary, endless burden.

However, there are solutions out there to make the process a little less draining. It is possible maximise your efforts in a way that will ensure you are targeting and nurturing qualified leads who are more likely to convert. 

This is where lead scoring comes into play. 

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is the process of assigning numerical values or points to each lead in order for your sales team to know who to prioritise based on their potential willingness to buy. Through implementing this scoring system, your sales and marketing teams will understand who to prioritise, how to respond to them, and in turn improve conversion rates. 

Leads are scored based on a criteria made up of characteristics such as the ways in which they have engaged with your brand online and any professional information they have provided you with. It is an effective method for filtering through that high volume of website visitors to pick out the most qualified leads who you can dedicate more of your efforts to. 

So kiss goodbye to the days of unfruitful and unrewarding sales attempts, and say hello to your new efficient, organised and high-yielding approach to lead generation!

Do I need a lead scoring model?

Drowning in so many leads that it is impossible for you to allocate the same same amount of resources to everyone? This is a typical situation where you would benefit from a lead scoring model, as it will help you to determine what leads are the most appropriate to nurture.

If you feel like your sales team is managing their volume of leads well enough, then chances are that a lead scoring model won’t be necessary. Rather, you could turn your focus towards sales and lead generation tools like our Deal Navigator which allows you to organise and optimise your sales process. Find out more.

If at some point you feel you have generated more leads than you can handle, then you should consider implementing a scoring model. 

How does lead scoring work?

Although automation software often plays a big role in lead scoring, marketing and sales teams must work together to establish the criteria on which you will score your leads. Essentially, you need to come up with the common characteristics you find lead to your closed sales. There are three criteria on which leads should be scored: explicit, implicit and negative.

Explicit scoring

This is the information the lead has knowingly provided you with from either direct conversations or from data such as online forms. Explicit factors can include the following:

  • Industry
  • Location
  • Budget
  • Number of employees/company size
  • Job title/role

Implicit scoring 

These are the assumptions you can make on a prospect, usually based off of (but not limited to) their online activity. These may include:

  • Revisiting a product page
  • Downloading product manuals
  • Clicking through to your website via an email link
  • Attending webinars

Negative scoring 

This consists of information that will balance your scoring and record any inaccuracies in your data or decrease of lead interest over time. By including negative criteria, you will be able to identify less qualified leads so you know what ones to ignore. Negative criteria can involve: 

  • Low response rate to marketing communications
  • Unsubscribing or opting-out of communications
  • A long period of low activity
  • Low levels of authority (not in a decision-making position)
  • Visits to certain web pages that indicate they are not looking to buy from you (e.g. if they visit your careers page they are likely looking for a job and not to buy your product)

How do I implement a lead scoring model?

There is a certain process involved when scoring leads to assist your teams in developing the scoring criteria. Here are our top six steps for reaching a well-rounded and accurate scoring criteria so you can prioritise those leads with the highest converting potential!

1. Create an Ideal Customer Profile

Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a fictitious company which embodies all the important characteristics of your most successful customers, and represents the customers who are most fitting for your brand and products. 

This can be done through collecting existing data on your current customers and narrowing down the traits and attributes of your top customers. Then, you must group together the most frequent characteristics (the most common challenges, goals, industries, budgets, buying behaviour, and so on) and compile this data to create your ICP. 

2. Identify Criteria and Build Lists

Once you have established your ICP, your marketing and sales teams must align themselves to split up the profile into the explicit, implicit and negative criteria and build lists for each category. Then, run your lists by different stakeholders and get them to check off the data points that they would deem as appropriate in lead scoring as well as reviewing the criterion based on how essential, influential or negative they think it is. 

3. Collate the Lists and Assign Values

It’s likely that each person in your team’s lists will differ slightly. Iron out any inconsistent bumps and come to a broad agreement on what criteria should be included. If there is any disagreement regarding what criteria members feel is the most relevant, allow them to explain themselves and their justification for their choices. 

Once your teams have sat down and agreed on an overall and detailed list, it should be distributed back out to team members for scoring. At this point we recommend you also come up with a lead evaluation methodology. It’s worth, at this point, making use of marketing automation software (if you have one) or if your CRM already has one built-in. You could score leads in many different ways such as using points, letters or a spectrum of terms like hot/cold. 

4. Determine Scores and Establish a Threshold

Like you did when you built your list of criteria, your teams now must reach an agreement on scoring. Again, not everyone will have given the exact same scores, so you will need to talk it out and establish the best course of action. Once everyone has agreed on the scores for each criteria, a decision will need to be made on the threshold at which potential leads should be considered as sales-ready. This should not directly indicate your ideal customer, but rather set a standard for potential leads to meet. 

Disclaimer: at this point, demographic criteria should account for less than half of the score, as these factors do not necessarily suggest readiness to buy. Behavioural criteria is far more indicative and therefore should be prioritised. 

5. Pre-deployment testing 

It’s all fine and well taking the time to carefully develop an effective lead scoring model, but before you fully implement it, you should always test your theory. This will eliminate the risk of your criteria not being suitable enough to match with people who are the most ready to purchase. 

You already have a database full of prospects and their buying behaviours at your disposal, so leverage this information to trial your system. Start by taking a random sample of leads who are currently in your pipeline with any open, closed and lost opportunities based on your CRM records. 

Use your scoring system to score each record and investigate what percentage of the sample qualifies as a decent sales lead. If the result seems questionable, for example if leads in your sample scored low but you know they have resulted in closed deals in real life, then you may need to reconsider your model. But don’t panic, there is plenty of time to do this at the next stage.

6. Post-deployment testing 

You may indeed discover that the model you have created works perfectly, and yields top-class results first time round, which is a great feeling – but unfortunately, lead scoring is not just a one-time thing. 

Even if you identified a high percentage of quality leads using your new scoring system, that doesn’t necessarily mean to say that this is you set for life. As new leads and data become available to you, you need to consistently review your model to make sure that all your criteria remains relevant and up-to-date. Also, over time, your ICP may be subject to change. So ensure you are reviewing this on a regular basis too to help inform any changes to your scoring model. 

Your marketing and sales teams should meet on a regular basis to reassess and update the model to ensure the highest scores still indicate high quality leads. 


In the long-haul, lead scoring is going to save you a whole load of time and reduce your workload so you can allocate your resources to nurturing leads with a higher likelihood of purchasing your product. Stop wasting energy on trying to force leads down the sales funnel who aren’t a good fit for your product or company. 

If you’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed at the concept of sprucing up your lead generation with lead scoring, then we are happy to take some of that pressure away. Outbase can help you build your audience with over 230 million B2B contacts at your finger tips, optimise your sales process with the Deal Navigator and you can even integrate your CRM. Make lead scoring easy with Outbase.

See how Outbase can skyrocket your sales.

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