Lead Scoring vs Lead Grading and Why They Are Important
Just when you thought there was no more marketing or sales terminology to learn, here we have two terms that may (and probably will) confuse you: lead scoring and lead grading. These terms have mystified marketers, archeologists, shamans and Buzzfeed writers for millennia. However, over at Momentum Data, we’ve intrepidly taken the foray into trying to differentiate between these two terms as well as show why you need to be thinking about them if you’re a marketer.
All these terms involve dealing with leads currently in your CRM database, whatever that is that you may be using.
Lead scoring involves providing a numeric value corresponding to a prospect’s interest level based on their online activity and regulating these values across all leads, This could, for example, involve form completions, page visits, webinar/event registrations, email interactions or other custom data. Each of these activities would be scored in different ways, for example completing a form for a demo request would potentially score higher than a white paper form. The higher the score, the higher the perceived interest level of the prospect and therefore the easier the conversion. Other examples involve visiting the pricing page versus the careers one, registering for an event or actually attending, and opening an email versus clicking through. This type of grading is typically done through numerical values. Points can also be removed for behaviours such as inactivity or lack of interaction. In many CRM systems, when a lead reaches a high enough number value, it becomes a “marketing or sales qualified lead”.
Lead grading is focused on whether the lead in question fits the buyer personas that typically purchase your product or service, regulating by demographic information rather than numerically across all leads. Essentially, letter grades are given to prospects based on how closely they fit with your ideal customer profile. For example, this could include company, geography, or industry level factors, as well as micro factors such as job title, function or seniority level. Lead grading is therefore very important from the perspective of the company to define which prospects will be profitable leads for sales and marketing to pursue.
Lead Scoring vs Lead Grading
When taking into account the above definitions of what is lead scoring and lead grading, overall lead scoring is concerned with prospect behaviour while lead grading is concerned with prospect characteristics. In other words, lead scoring is focused on the interest from the customer’s point of view, while lead grading is about the potential interest from the company side. In this section, we will talk about how different grades and scores interact with each other and what that means for your marketing and sales departments.
High score and high grade
This is the sweet spot, oh yeah, nice baby. This somewhat speaks for itself, however, if a prospect has a high score, that means they are most likely quite interested, and a high grade means they would be a great target for you to pursue.
How to handle these leads: assign them to sales as quickly as possible, and prioritise them! It’s important to act upon leads that are interested in the moment, as that interest may fade quickly or they might find another solution to solve their need.
High score and low grade
These are leads that are very interested or have shown a significant degree of intent as indicated by the high score. However, due to the lower grade, it means they may not be a great fit for your product or that they may be interacting with your content and website for another reason, such as for example job seeking.
How to handle these leads: in many of these cases, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pass them on to sales for additional follow-up. However, if a leads score is extremely high, it may be worth taking a manual look at whether it could possibly be worth reaching out at some point.
Low score and high grade
The high grade of these leads means that they are a very good fit for your product or service but that that they not shown very much interest. There could be a number of reasons for this, including but not limited to: they aren’t in a purchasing position, they are very busy with other things, they aren’t aware of the solution you are offering or the problem they are facing, or they just have a less interactive buying behaviour.
How to handle these leads: In this case, it can make sense to nurture the leads more thoroughly before handing them off to sales. This type of nurturing can involve very targeted and personalised content that can raise awareness and help “educate” the prospect on their need. This nurturing can also be a good excuse for your salesperson to reach out as soon as they interact with something, or with the pretext of “following up”.
Low score and low grade
These leads are neither interested nor a particularly ideal fit for your product. They have not shown considerable interest and they do not fit your usual target account archetype.
How to handle these leads: this is where it may make sense deleting these leads from your database and disqualifying them. This is something that can be done vastly more efficiently through CRM data cleanup tools and automation.