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How Do Your Sales Leads Measure Up?

Here are a few ways to check the effectiveness of online business generation by developing a lead-scoring model.
June 21, 2011
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219805

Your online marketing efforts may be helping you rack up a lot of leads--but how do you know if all that work is bringing in the right kind of potential customers?

For that, you need a lead-scoring model. Lead scoring ranks leads generated from your website according to their purchase readiness. The exercise helps you move purchase-ready visitors to the front of the line and resource-wasting window shoppers to the back.

A lead-scoring model is a set of weighted criteria--characteristics of a purchase-ready website visitor are weighted according to how important each characteristic is. The idea is to use the characteristics of your best customers to find more customers like them.

First, identify your best customers. They typically buy products that are profitable for you (rather than buying only loss leaders), respond positively to your calls to action, make larger purchases, are repeat customers, drive referrals to your site, provide constructive feedback and do not waste your time.

Score It
Today's online customer relationship management solutions let businesses of any size streamline marketing and sales efforts with lead scoring. Here are some of the best tools

Optify: Lets you qualify and score your web leads in real time.

Genius: So easy to incorporate into your website that you can do it yourself.

Marketo: Includes modules for sales and marketing and integrates with Salesforce.com.

Eloqua: Feature set includes lead nurturing using direct mail, voice mail and text messaging.
 

Next, list the characteristics of your best customers (you will be measuring these as you score your leads).

Demographic: For a business-to-business website, the demographic may be the industry, the company's size, its location and the buyer's job title and function. For a business-to-consumer site, consider factors like location, age, gender, income and interests.

Interest interactions: Actions that convey interest include clicking an ad, reading and rating a product review, registering for an e-newsletter or downloading a whitepaper. The more time that has passed since the behavior occurred, the lower the interest score.

Purchase readiness: Qualities that determine purchase readiness include whether the prospect is currently facing a problem one of your products can solve, has a budget to cover the cost, has a limited timeframe to decide and has purchased from you before.

Now assign a score to each characteristic. Finally, define lead-scoring thresholds to route prospective customers accordingly. A score of 75 to 100 may earn a call from a top-tier salesperson, whereas a score below 50 adds the person to an automated e-mail campaign for nurturing prospects.

Setting up a lead-scoring system doesn't need to be difficult. Once yours is in place, you'll be amazed at what a difference it makes in filling your sales pipeline with qualified leads.