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Today, leads flow to Marketing from ever-increasing online sources—email campaigns, the company Web site, Google AdWords and Google searches, webinars, online advertising, blogs, and virtual trade shows—as well as from traditional marketing activities such as print ads, direct mail, tradeshows, and networking.

The sheer volume of leads, or "suspects," can be overwhelming. How does Marketing prioritize all these suspects and determine which ones to...

  • Send immediately to Sales
  • Move to telemarketing for qualification and appointment setting
  • Keep and nurture with e-newsletters, surveys, and other marketing activities
  • Set aside for another day


Spreadsheets and calculators simply will not do. Marketers do not have time to crunch numbers as well as craft innovative campaigns with compelling messages and eye-catching images.

A robust database and campaign-management application helps Marketing score every interaction by every lead, online, and offline, and prioritize leads automatically for appropriate next steps.

Scoring Guides Marketing Action

Lead prioritization is a different discipline from the traditional A-B-C Sales categorization. It's more attuned to Marketing action and comprises a set of levels for suspects, leads, and Sales-ready leads.

Of course, the final action is moving a lead to Sales when a lead has attained an appropriate score threshold. Your company's specific scoring scheme will vary depending on your needs and processes. A very basic scoring scheme might look like this:

Of course, there's setup work to determine the overall scoring scheme and what score and process is appropriate for each action. Those interactions would include the following:

  • Clicks from email campaigns, pages visited, time spent on each page
  • Clicks and page-viewing from online ads
  • E-newsletter and survey responses
  • Downloads from your Web site (whitepapers, case studies, etc.)
  • Blog entries
  • Telemarketing responses
  • Tradeshow visits
  • Direct-mail responses
  • Webinar attendance


Next, determine how each interaction should be evaluated and what weight it deserves in the overall scheme.

For instance, compare the scores below for someone who clicks a link from an outbound email, views your landing page for 12 seconds and downloads a whitepaper, versus someone who clicks the link, views the landing page for 20 seconds, views three product pages then two case studies, downloads a whitepaper, and remains on your Web site for 5 minutes.

Leads move to Sales only when they reach your Sales-ready threshold. Leads in the lower scoring ranges are continuously engaged through e-newsletters and other Marketing activities to nurture them toward the Sales-ready threshold.

Be Flexible and Adjust Based on Results

Success in lead generation does not end with lead volume. The metric that matters, for both Marketing and Sales, is results. It's about sales, not just the number of leads passed on to Sales.

Lead scoring and prioritization is the key for moving the right leads to right stage at the right time, resulting in more efficient processes and, ultimately, more sales.

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Lisa Cramer is president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of an on-demand lead-management solution.