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How To Track Changes In The Lead Score And Highlight Priority Prospects

Tracking how a prospect’s lead score changes over time means you can quickly get in touch with potential customers at the right time.

We call the change in lead score value over time the lead score velocity. You can also refer to it as the lead score cadence.

In other words, often, it’s not the total lead score that’s critical. Instead, it’s the recent change in the lead score.

For example, which of these two leads should you call first?

Let’s say you have two leads created ten weeks ago. And both now have a score of 100 points.

The first Lead reached 100 points by acquiring ten points per week. The person gained these points by visiting your website once each week.

Compare the lead score velocity for two prospects.
Compare the lead score velocity for two prospects.

The second Lead gained 10 points in the first week, but then nothing for seven weeks. However, over the last two weeks, the person acquired 45 points each week.

Both leads have the same number of points.

However, like you, most salespeople will opt for the second Lead. That’s because this prospect shows a sudden sense of urgency. It’s more likely the person has a compelling need to solve a problem right now.

That makes the lead a hotter prospect. For guidance on the best way to pass leads from Marketing to Sales, use this blog post: How To Know When To Transfer Leads From Marketing To Sales

However, to get this insight, you need to track lead score velocity. In other words, you need to measure the change in lead score over time. Unfortunately, that’s not something that marketing tools such as Pardot or Marketo do naturally.

Nevertheless, in this article, I’ll explain EXACTLY how to track lead scores over time.

I’ll also tell you how to make the lead score velocity visible to salespeople so that they can act quickly on the most compelling prospects.

How Lead Scores Work

Marketing tools such as Pardot and Marketo let you assign scores based on lead behavior.

For example, Pardot uses these values to generate lead scores for everyday activities:

  • Click links in an email: 3 points.
  • Fills in a web form (e.g., eBook download): 50 points.
  • Visits web page: 1 point.

You can customize these values to suit your business. For example, a visit to the product pricing page may be worth 5 points. Visiting the job vacancies page may be worth zero.

For more detailed information about lead scoring and grading, use this blog post: Why Lead Scoring And Grading Is Important.

There are likely lots of marketing activities you do that will produce higher scores. For example, we send an email to all our leads every Thursday with a link to a blog post that explains how to get more benefits from Salesforce and Pardot. Clicking the link and viewing the blog post increases the lead score velocity for these people.

Incidentally, it’s important to remember that scoring works equally well for contacts as leads. However, we often talk about scores in the context of leads, so we’ll stick with that for now.

Why Lead Scores Are Important

Ideally, every week you look carefully at your leads’ behavior and decide which ones to prioritize.

By prioritize, we often mean, for example, the lead transfers to a salesperson or Business Development Rep (BDR) for an outbound sales activity. Frequently, this will be a phone call to the Lead.

However, here’s the problem:

It’s not practical to scrutinize all the data. Instead, we need a surrogate that helps us make practical use of the marketing tool’s information that passes to Salesforce.

The surrogate is the lead score.

By looking at the scores across all leads, we can identify the people likely to be receptive to sales activity. These are the people most likely to convert to a successful opportunity.

After all, if you only have enough time left in the day left to phone one Lead, which will it be? The Lead with 100 points or another with 50 points?

Based on this information alone, you phone the Lead with 100 points.

This example highlights the essential purpose of lead scores. That is, to prioritize leads and contacts for sales activity.

Lead Score Thresholds

In many companies, there is a lead score threshold. This threshold marks the point at which leads transfer from Marketing to Sales.

Here’s how this often works.

Let’s say the threshold is 100 points. The status changes to a ‘Marketing Qualified Lead’ (MQL) when the lead passes this threshold. At the same time, ownership of the Lead passes to a salesperson or BDR.

The salesperson reviews the Lead and validates the information. If she likes what she sees, she updates the status to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL).

Your lead process may not be as formal. However, you can read more about the lead process, including how MQLs and SALs work here: How To Fix A Broken Lead Process In Salesforce.

Degrading Lead Scores Over Time

You can make the lead score degrade over time.

Here’s why you might do this:

Let’s take our first example of a lead created ten weeks ago. For nine weeks, the Lead gains an additional 10 points per week. That’s close to our 100 point threshold.

However, things then go quiet. Let’s say this person does nothing to increase the score for ten weeks.

Does the person still have a high priority, just below the threshold for passing to Sales? What if she looks at one web page after nine weeks and reaches the limit?

However, the fact this person has not consumed any content for over two months probably means she’s slipped down the overall priority list. This reduction in priority may be especially true if you have other leads on an upward curve.

Lead degradation is about solving this problem. The score downgrades by, for example, 5 points every week the Lead does nothing.

Consequently, in our example, by the time the Lead visits your web page, her score has dropped to 40 points. This reduction puts her well below the threshold for transfer to Sales, even after looking at one more web page.

Lead score degradation means that we avoid transferring prospects to Sales that are not actively and regularly engaging with our content.

Nevertheless, here the critical point about lead score degradation:

It tells you which leads are on a downward curve. However, it means nothing about leads on an upward cycle.

Why You Should Track Changes In The Lead Score

Tracking lead scores over time helps you assign the highest priority prospects to Sales.

That’s because the lead score velocity highlights leads that are currently consuming your content intensively.

Here are four ways to display lead score velocity in Salesforce to make it a powerful, practical metric.

 

Lead and Contact Report Charts

This example shows how the lead score velocity has changed over time for this person.

We can see there’s a recent, sudden acceleration in the lead score.

This chart shows the week-by-week net change in the lead score.

We can see the net increase and decrease in the lead score compared to the week before.

These charts make it easy for everyone to understand the lead score velocity for individual prospects quickly.

 

Lead and Contact List Views

List views are predefined database queries. In this example, the List View filters on all Leads where the score has increased by 20 points this week.

Consequently, salespeople can prioritize prospects taking a keener interest in your content.

 

Einstein Search Lists

Einstein Search allows you to create ‘natural language’ lists of leads and contacts. For example, the lead score trend change from two weeks is greater than 30.

Using Einstein Search is a dynamic way to create shortlists of potential customers.

 

Reports and dashboard charts

It’s straightforward to create reports and dashboard charts that focus attention on high-priority leads.

For example, this report shows the week-on-week changes in lead score velocity.

Report shows the week on week changes in lead score velocity.

The report shows how the lead score velocity has changed each week for leads in the EMEA region. Use this information to help BDRs and salespeople focus on prospects ready to engage in the sales process.

Measure Content Engagement Trends

Here’s another critical way to use lead score velocity.

Tracking the change in lead score over time across all leads and contacts means you have a powerful way to measure trends your content’s overall engagement.

Here’s an example from one of our customers. The dashboard chart summarizes the change in lead scores over time for all leads and contacts.

We can see the level of engagement dipped in March and April but then steadily increased. This trend coincides with a revamp by the customer of the blog post and other content on their website.

Likewise, this chart shows the four weeks moving average for the lead score velocity.

In this case, we excluded leads created more than four weeks ago to avoid skewing the metric.

In summary, these reports and charts that measure the change in lead score over time deliver actionable insight and metrics that you can use to improve marketing performance continually.

The Problem with Marketing Automation Tools

Marketing Automation Tools such as Pardot, Marketo, and HubSpot are great at tracking Lead Score changes on a per-action basis.

When an individual completes an action, such as clicking a link or submitting a form, your marketing automation system can quickly increase or decrease the score based on the rules you’ve previously configured.

However, as previously mentioned, these tools are less capable of tracking the lead score change over time – week by week, for example.

If we take a look at this Pardot Automation Rule, the only options we have surrounding the Score rule are:

  1. Is Greater Than
  2. Is Less Than
  3. Is Between

You’ll immediately notice the lack of ‘has increased by’ or ‘has decreased by.’ Not only that, but there is also no option to control the date range.

As you can imagine, without this functionality, it’s practically impossible to begin tracking the change in the lead score over time.

Pardot, in particular, has an excellent feature called ‘Lifecycle,’ which gives you a clear understanding of how a Prospect’s Pardot Score has changed over time.

However, with that said:

  1. There’s no way to use the values here in an automated Lead Process.
  2. We cannot pull this visual directly into Salesforce.

Tracking and visualizing the change in Lead Score directly inside Salesforce on a per record basis means different solution.

Let’s look at that now.

How To Track Changes In The Lead Score Metrics

You might be thinking:

I want to track the change over time in leads scores. However, do I implement the lead score velocity metric?

You have two options:

  1. Build the functionality I’m describing next.
  2. Buy it pre-built from us. We’ll do the work and get it up and running in your Salesforce environment.

Reckon on one day of chargeable effort if you want to go with option 2. Here’s how you get in touch with us.

 

How To Build The Lead Score Velocity Metric

Here is what you do.

  1. Create a custom object. Call it Lead Score Trend.
  2. Add fields to record the lead or contact name and company.
  3. Create two lookup fields. One to the Lead, the other to the Contact.
  4. Build a report that includes the Lead Score for all leads. Create a similar report for Contacts.
  5. Create two reporting snapshots. These snapshots push the Lead Score for each lead or contact into a record of the custom object.
  6. Finally, build reports, dashboards, list views, and inline charts to display the data and make it available to Sales and Marketing users.

Optionally, create a batch job that automatically populates the Lead and Contact lookup fields. (You can’t do this using the reporting snapshot). However, it means that lead score velocity records are available on the Lead and Contact page layouts.

If all that sounds a bit daunting, remember you can buy everything ready-to-go from us. Here’s how you get in touch.

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Why Lead Scoring and Lead Grading Are Important

Why Lead Scoring and Lead Grading Are Important

Lead scoring and lead grading are vital if you want to boost the productivity of your sales teams.

Why?

Because when you push lead scores and grades from Pardot or Marketo into Salesforce, you deliver a superb way for salespeople to prioritize early-stage prospects.

That means they can focus on the most viable prospects.

Unfortunately, though, many people think this topic is a black art.

That’s not the case.

Nevertheless, using there are some critical elements to understand and get right if you want to use these metrics successfully.

In this article, I’ll explain step-by-step the exact differences between Lead Scoring and Lead Grading and why they are important. Whatsmore, I give you ten best practice tips for getting both of these essential metrics right.

Let’s start.

 

Why Lead Scoring and Grading Is Important

If you only have time to phone one person, who should it be? The prospect with 100 points and an A+ grade? Or the candidate with 10 points and a B- grade?

It’s a no brainer.

You phone the person with the highest lead score and best grade.

That highlights the crucial benefits of lead scoring and grading. Most salespeople (including SDRs and BDRs) have more potential people they could phone than they can manage in a day or a week.

So how do they prioritize?

Lead scoring and grading enable sales teams to prioritize business development activity. They do this by ranking prospects so that salespeople can focus their time and effort on the most viable candidates.

Usually, a marketing automation tool determines the lead scores and grades. This data passes to the CRM system so that salespeople can use the information to decide the best people to contact.

 

The Difference Between Lead Scoring And Lead Grading

It’s behavior by customers and prospects that drives lead scores.

This behavior includes web page views, form completions, attending webinars, and downloading eBooks. In other words, the person must DO something to increase their lead score.

On the other hand, lead grading needs no input from the customer or prospect. Instead, the personal and company data you already hold determines each grade. This data can include location, industry, job title, and other information that helps you qualify and rank prospects.

Consequently, lead scores build up over a relatively long period. This means you might also want to track lead score velocity. In contrast, the lead grade is an immediate measure, although it can also change over time as you gather extra data.

However, which should you pay more attention to? Lead scoring or lead grading?

 

Both Are Equally Valuable

Remember, not all high-grade prospects will have a high score.

The lead grade tells you how closely the prospect fits your ideal customer profile. However, it says nothing about whether the person engages with your marketing activities.

In contrast, the lead score measures a person’s behavior and activity. For example, whether she clicks on the links in your emails; how often she visits your website.

However, can you see how these two methods of prioritizing prospects work hand in hand? Both play an essential role in identifying the best people for sales teams to contact.

Either one is valuable. However, use lead scoring and lead grading together, and you get synergistic benefits that will increase your lead conversion performance.

Let’s talk about how marketing automation tools like Pardot and Marketo calculate lead scores and grades.

 

How Lead Scores Are Calculated

When scoring your prospects, you first decide on the score values for each type of action a potential customer can do.

However, how do you decide on those scores?

Here’s the critical thing:

Worry less about the score value, and more about how the scores compare with each other. In other words, it’s essential to work through how the scores relate to each other.

Let’s say a prospect clicks a link in an email to visit a blog post you’ve written. Let’s also assume that on this blog post, there’s a Call-To-Action to download an eBook.

It doesn’t matter whether you allocate 3 points for clicking the link in the email or 30, provided scores for all other activities are relative.

For example, if you allocate 3 points for clicking the link in the email, you might decide to increase the lead score by another 10 points for an eBook download. That’s assuming, of course, you believe the downloading action is ‘worth’ three times more than clicking the link in the email.

 

Pardot Lead Scoring Example

If you’re feeling daunted, don’t be.

Most marketing tools (including Pardot and Marketo) have predefined values for everyday prospect actions. I find in many companies they fit the bill pretty well.

Here’s an example of how these standard rules work in Pardot.

How Lead Grades Are Calculated

Lead grades automatically adjust based on the data you hold about a prospect.

This data can be about the person, for example, job title. However, the data can also be about the company – industry, the number of employees, and location are frequently used criteria in lead grading.

In contract to lead scores (which are numeric), grades are text (A+, A, A- etc.).

 

Pardot Lead Grade Example

Let’s understand this in more detail by using an example of how the lead grading works in Pardot.

When a lead grade value changes in Pardot, it does this in one of three ways:

1. by a whole letter (D > C)

2. by 2/3 of a letter (D > C-)

3. by 1/3 or a letter (D > D+)

It’s important to note that the initial grade for a prospect in Pardot is always D.

The starting point for setting this up is to edit your Prospect profile. Make sure you add any criteria into your Profile that you’re planning to grade your prospects on.

In the example below, we’ve set up the profile to allow prospects to be graded on the country field.

Notice we have three categories of country (Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary). 

By creating three different criteria categories, we can increase the grade of our prospects in different increments based on the value of the country field.

Add different criteria to your Profile to adjust Pardot Grade in different increments

Let’s say you want to increase the grade by a whole letter (D > C) if the prospect Country = USA.

In the screenshot below, we are checking the field for a specific value, i.e., USA.

We might also want to create rules for the United States, America, etc.

If the prospect Country matches this value, we automatically set the ‘Primary Country’ criteria to match, which sets the grade to increase by a whole letter.

Like this, we can create fine-tune rules for identifying prospects and potential customers that meet our ideal target profile.

 

Lead Scoring And Grading Best Practice Tips

  1. Keep things simple. Simplicity is particularly vital at the outset. It’s a lot easier to add sophistication later than remove complexity. Salespeople need to understand quickly why a prospect has reached a particular score or been given a specific grade. That’s difficult if you have a jumble of lead scoring rules.
  2. Define your target audience. Doing this is essential for accurate grading. Often, I find companies have a blurry or incomplete picture of their ideal prospects. That’s setting yourself up for failure when it comes to lead grading.
  3. Only use the data you collect. There’s no point using Job Title as a grading factor if you don’t receive that data anywhere.
  4. Improve your data over time. Because you don’t currently have a data item, it doesn’t mean you can’t acquire it. For example, use progressive profiling on forms to fill in the blanks about your customers and prospects.
  5. Treat lead scores as a long-term project. How quickly lead scores notch up depends on how much marketing content you share; and how often your prospects engage with it. However, it’s always going to take time for lead scores to grow to a point where the candidate is ready to pass from marketing to sales. Grading, on the other hand, is a quick-win opportunity.
  6. Customize to your company. For example, many companies have specific web pages that indicate positive buying intent (the pricing page, for instance). If you are using the standard Pardot or Marketo lead scores, define the pages that matter most and give visitors more points than other web pages.
  7. Make it easy for salespeople to find high scoring, high-grade prospects. In other words, pass lead scores and grades to Salesforce. Create reports and List Views in Salesforce that help salespeople prioritize calls and other activities.
  8. Display score and grade fields in Salesforce. Both Pardot and Marketo have out-of-the-box features for this. These make it easy to display the scores and grades on Leads, Contacts, and Accounts.
  9. Create threshold email notifications. These emails, for example, alert salespeople when prospects they own reach a score threshold or achieve a particular grade.
  10. Reduce scores over time. This best practice applies to scores rather than grades (unless your target customer profile changes). If prospects don’t consistently engage with your contact, start to reduce their lead score (there are tools in Pardot and Marketo to do this). Cutting the points avoids having prospects at the top of a priority list but who have no recent relevant activity.

 

Marketo even has a great feature that helps salespeople understand how recently a prospect took meaningful action.

It’s called ‘Last Interesting Moment.’ Examples are visited more than five web pages in a day, visited the pricing page, clicked a link in an email, downloaded an eBook. You can also create custom Interesting Moments if need be.

If you’ve installed the Marketo Sales Insight App for your integrated CRM system, you’ll be able to see these Interesting Moments directly on the Lead or Contact.

Use this feature to help salespeople fine-tune their sales activities.

 

Sales And Marketing Alignment

In many companies, there’s only limited sales and marketing alignment.

The result?

The number of sales-ready opportunities passed from marketing to sales is lower than it should be. Consequently, the pipeline is smaller, and revenue is less than might otherwise be achieved.

Why not talk to us about how to get more benefit from Pardot or Marketo in your business? Ask for a free consultation in which we’ll talk-through the key issues facing your company.

Here’s how to get in touch.

Related Blog Posts

Why Lead Scoring and Lead Grading Are Important

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Lead scoring and lead grading are vital if you want to boost the productivity of your sales teams. Why? Because when you push lead scores and grades from Pardot or Marketo into Salesforce, you deliver a superb way for salespeople to prioritize early-stage prospects....

The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

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The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

The Mini Dictionary of Marketing Automation Terms

Getting the sales team to cold call an unqualified list of leads is like giving up smoking or going on a diet.

There’s always something that gets in the way. Tomorrow is always a better time to start than today.

And in any case, it often turns out to be an unfruitful waste of valuable time.

But how do you increase the flow of sales-ready leads and opportunities to the sales team?

The answer, increasingly, is marketing automation. Thousands of B2B organisations – and quite a few B2C ones – are investing heavily in marketing automation systems from vendors such as Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo. These systems provide scalable and automated marketing processes that boost the number of warm leads and drive opportunity conversion rates.

So what exactly is marketing automation? And what are the essential marketing automation terms that matter in any discussion on lead generation? Terms such as content marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, sales qualified lead and marketing qualified lead.

(more…)