Master the Art of Lead Scoring with These Proven Best Practices for Optimal Sales Results

July 13, 2023

July 28, 2023




Revenue Growth

Lead scoring is a powerful tool that can help you to prioritize your marketing and sales efforts. By scoring leads based on a variety of factors, you can identify the leads that are most likely to convert. Impartner uses lead scoring to great effect, and they are seeing success as a result.

The world of SaaS economics is complex and constantly evolving, with a multitude of variables and metrics to consider. This is why it is crucial for companies to have a clear understanding of their priorities and strategies when it comes to Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) payback and best practices for lead scoring. 

Javier Rojas, Founder and Managing Partner of Savant Growth, spoke with Impartner’s Chief Marketing Officer Dave Taylor, about how to master the art of lead scoring and how his team organizes their priorities and targets potential customers.

In this interview, Dave and Javier offer valuable advice and guidance for companies looking to optimize their CAC payback and succeed in the world of SaaS


Javier: How do you organize your team's priorities when leads come in and prioritize who to target?

Dave: One of the biggest challenges in our space is the lack of clearly defined job titles. The role gets called so many different things that building out our ideal customer profile (ICP) list is always challenging. 

We tend to overbuild our ICP lists and let people unsubscribe to whittle themselves out. But the day-to-day tasks are fairly common to everybody running an indirect go-to-market program. It's not as easy as jumping into Sales Savant or ZoomInfo and looking for people with the title "Channel Chief" because the title varies so much.

Javier: What else goes into your formulation when building an ICP list, apart from the job titles?

Dave: We overbuild our ICP lists and let people self-select out of the process. Out of a list of 20,000 names, we'll end up with 2,000 to 3,000 that are perfectly targeted.

Javier: How do you divide companies, by size or vertical? 

Dave: We're somewhat late to the game on verticals, and I think that's because our messaging doesn't differ significantly from one vertical to another. We're just realizing that verticals differ more than we initially thought. 

We've added vertical navigation to our website and written vertical drift playbooks. When people land on our website from a company we know, we force navigation to their vertical. 

We have a responsive asset library that we can tailor to show content specific to the customer. If we don't know their company, we take them to the asset library, which is laced with case studies and ROI analyses in their space. We use the Flip tool to manage our asset library.

Javier: Do you categorize prospects by their web address and vertical definition, or by how they self-describe?

Dave: Do you know how difficult it is with everybody working from home to resolve IP addresses in companies? We do it right when we can, but really, what it comes down to is that if we've looked at them before, it's so much easier. 

I think 70–80% of it is them selecting from the menu. “I'm in financial services” or “I'm in healthcare,” and then when we take them into the library, the first five case studies will all be in healthcare, FinTech, and stuff like that.

Javier: Do you focus on five to seven areas or verticals? Or is it more than that?

Dave: We have five verticals, but one of them is "other," so there are four real ones and another. One of the reasons for that is that we loaded up our customer base so heavily early on with security companies. 

Around 60% of our customers come from that security space. And if they're not security, they're another cloud-based product. So, we're doing a research project right now to understand why we're not expanding into other verticals. 

A firm will help us with messaging and case studies as we build out a more effective vertical marketing strategy for verticals we're not currently in. So yes, we're working on enriching that, but we’re taking it in baby steps.

Javier: So you are saying that for a few verticals, you navigate the prospect to specific content and custom messaging. Then, how do you evaluate demographics, size, or behavior in your lead scoring? 

Dave: From a sales follow-up perspective, we divide them into three categories; from an initial marketing engagement perspective, we don't. We send the same email campaign to a list of a 20-employee company as we do to a list of a 200-employee company and a 2000-employee company. 

But once they raise their hand, you triage them into different categories. So the first thing we do is split the geos. And for everyone outside the U.S. geo, we only have one or two resources in those BDR or SDR spaces. 

If the company has 5,000 employees or more, I've got a team that gets that. Anything below that gets round-robin across my BDR team. So I have a team that specializes in below 200, another for 200 to 5,000, and another for 5,000 and above. But all that is just in the US. Outside of the US, they get everything.

Javier: How about behavioral? Tell us about your secret sauce for that.

Dave: I'm excited about how it's looking so far. We're only three weeks into this, but I'm feeling confident about it. On our grid, we have one demographic access point. And then we have another access system based only on activity scores—somebody who comes in on a tiered demographic or firmographic basis and has generated a lot of scored stuff, that's it. 

With an A-one lead, we handle those with kid gloves. We've established a 20-minute response SLA with the BDR team on that, and we typically say to the BDR team that anyone who fills out a demo request is their highest priority because they're asking you to show them what you've got. 

If you run out of form fills, I've got a whole pool of people starting with a D or an A-one and sliding down to a D-four. So, the activities we score on are email opens, email clicks, email forwards, time on the website, and frequency of visits to the website. 

We score intent triggers from G2 and Gartner properties, GetApp, and software advice. We take some Bombora intent that flows out of Syxsense, and we score on that type of intent. Still, we find Bombora and Syxsense are sometimes different intent databases.

Javier: How about TechData? Do you have a TechTrack or something similar?

Dave: I don't use TechTrack right now. I did it at my last company, and I'm interested in using it again. TechData, yes. We score pretty well on all those things, but our threshold is pretty high. 

So, it doesn't matter what you score—you can give one point or a thousand points. The only thing that matters is what your threshold is for that to pass through as a lead to follow-up. We give it 125 points, making it tier two, and when they get 250 points, we call it tier one, and we assign points as it goes.

I'm not telling other marketing teams anything they did not learn in elementary school. This is pretty basic stuff, but we feel pretty satisfied with the sophistication of the scoring model and the methodology we have right now.

So, to summarize,  if you fill out a form, a BDR will call you and ask if you are interested in a demo. If you did not fill out a form, then it depends on how high you score based on the criteria you mentioned, and then you skim the top of that group. 

Javier: When BDR picks up the form, do you qualify the prospect or try to get them right into the demo?

Dave: As this demand comes through, they use our built-in outreach sequences. Tier one goes into a certain outreach, and Tier two moves into a different outreach. 

Whenever the form filler says, “I'd like to see a demo," it’s basically asking, "When are you available?" but the sequence for someone who has been to our website and Google-searched for us is different. That's when a BDR pitches, engages, and hooks them into a demo. 

Demos used to be difficult to get from our company because we qualified you before the demo. Now we will give you a demo and qualify you on the spot. In the first half-hour call, we spend five minutes introducing ourselves and asking about the client. Then, we show our product for ten minutes, followed by another five or ten minutes of asking about what interests them. 

The last five minutes are spent scheduling a follow-up. We don't grill them with questions about their program, how many partners they have, etc., during the demo. 

We move that over to the first sales call after we have an SQL, and then the sales guy can start with, "Tell us about where it hurts." Our demand is increasing right now, and I think we will probably get to a point where we can be a little more selective, but we have BDRs with time on their hands.

Javier: If you had a magic wand and it was working as you wanted, how much time does the BDR team spend on form fills versus working down the behavioral list?

Dave: If I could have anything, it would be 70% completed forms and 30% scored. The right thing to do is to look at the use of BDRs and subdivide the group. I would love to have BDRs specific to form fills in FinTech versus healthcare, but we don't have the demand yet for that. 

In six months, we will segregate the BDR role with an outbound percentage drop to zero. I want them to do no outbound and respond to marketing-driven demand. But as we crank up more and more scores, I can see a split in the off-team of BDRs that just focus on scored leads—what we jokingly call "SQL marketing semi-qualified leads." They go after the MQs, and I've got an “outbound” team that goes after scored SQLs, but only when they know those leads are familiar with the company.

Javier: Out of your 50 demos a month, how many are coming from the forms, and how many are coming from the behavioral scores?

Dave: In April, it was probably 97% MQs and 3% scored. In May, I'm off to a pretty successful start with our form fills and MQs, but I've got two times as many behavioral SQLs. I think this month and next month we'll get to that 50/50 range.

And the cool thing about it is that this month, for the first time, we can say, "Here's somebody that came through as a scorer; we have got them at tier 3, and here are the activities they did that got them to that point.” So, when the BDR engages with them through the outreach sequence we have crafted for them, they can have that background and guide the conversation. 

Javier: You had a pretty high demo success rate, from demo to sales. Half of those closes are something between 40% and 50%?

Dave: Exactly. The nice thing about that is that we just ran a campaign where we offered people cash to take a demo. Initially, we were cautious because we didn't want people getting into the pipeline just for the money. We phrase it: "We offer a $100 gift card for a qualified, completed demo.” 

We don't send the gift card until the BDR gives us a thumbs up and says, "I gave the demo, we had the discovery call, they're eligible, send the money.” Of the 61 people we brought in, we sent cards to 40. 

I mean, we're shooting for about 65% of the people that fill out those $100 gift cards to be qualified and moving through. And so, rather than degrading our conversion rate, it's actually boosting it. This is because we're giving our BDRs opportunities to pitch the solution to people. We're pretty happy about that. 

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