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How to Prioritize Your Prospects Attracting leads is only half the battle. Here's how to turn leads into customers.

By Mikal E. Belicove

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ask many fledgling entrepreneurs to describe their target demographic and you're more likely to hear a generalized response like: "Every business can use our product," rather than, "My demographic is IT managers with an annual budget of $5 million or more who are actively searching for a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard solution."

Rarely is everyone in the market seeking your product or service. Given that, it's incumbent on you to score your leads.

Lead scoring is the process of ranking your leads according to their likeliness to purchase your product or service, which can be helpful for prioritizing your sales efforts. Let's say you've figured out that prospects who register for your webinar are more likely to become paying clients or customers than those who download a whitepaper from your website or sign up to receive e-newsletters, then you might ply more of your resources toward making a dynamite webinar and marketing it than you would otherwise.

You can also derive more explicit lead scoring information by asking a prospect for a name, email address, company name and phone number in connection to a giveaway, offer or request for information. But don't stop there. If you can, collect data related to at least some of the following: professional role/title (if acting in a professional capacity), person's ability to impact or directly make the buying decision, budget, time to purchase, company size, geographical location and industry segmentation, to name a few.

Once you have this level of data, it's even easier to rank prospects against one another and focus your sales efforts first and foremost on those leads that naturally rise to the top.

Here's an example: You sell granite counters out of a retail storefront and online. A new homeowner walks in off the street with a sketch of her dream kitchen remodel. After collecting her name and contact info, asking about her project and showing her around the store, she leaves without making a purchase. Don't think for a second that your job is done.

While the interaction is fresh in your mind, enter her data into your customer relationship management program and score the visit. Walking in the door might be worth one point, while asking for price quote might be worth five. Maybe she keeps returning to the store to pine over that big slab of shiny black/green Uba Tuba granite. That's another five points. The more interest she displays, the closer she is moving toward a purchase.

Similarly, if someone visits your online granite store and creates an account, you might give him or her one point. If they open the email you send, that's more points. If they respond to a call-to-action, that's even more points. Say they return to your site and subscribe to your home improvement tips e-newsletter. Again, add on more points.

Add up the points and you get a strong indicator of interest, which can help you and your sales team prioritize which leads to pursue first and which ones to hold off on or spend more time cultivating. It boils down to concentrating on the customers who are most likely to pull the trigger on a purchase.

Have you used any of these lead scoring strategies in your business? Leave a comment and let us know how it's working for you.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. 

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