Building Your Lead Scoring Model: Essential Steps

Published: January 3, 2012

The Demand Gen Taskforce

  • Pull together the key stakeholders in sales and marketing and get them into the same room.
  • Make sure experienced, in-the-trenches resources from both teams are assigned to the project —this is not the right project to entrust to entry-level staff.
  • Get executive support to ensure this effort is made a high priority for the company
  • Consider bringing in an expert resource to help guide your project. I know it sounds self-serving, but trust me, it will save you a lot of time and pain! Plus you probably already know that a neutral third party can be very helpful in mediating disagreements between strong-minded colleagues.

Your Ideal Customer: The Qualification Model

  • The role of sales: Describe the ideal customer. List the attributes that make up the total profile. The role of marketing: Describe the “matchmaking” process and what a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) looks like.
  • Folks from both teams need to explain their reasoning so it can be clearly understood. Statistics and examples can be helpful, but truly understanding each other’s beliefs is the purpose of this exercise.
  • Discuss qualification until you come to a consensus. In some organizations, this will be easy; in others, it may be painful. Either way, it’s critical!
  • Once the qualification criteria has been determined, the forms on the website must be updated to capture that information from your prospects.

Digital Body Language: The Interest Model

  • The interest model for digital body language needs to incorporate the various online activities of prospect engagement:
  • Webs ite behavior such as forms submission and download activity
  • Email responsiveness
  • Event participation
  • Recency and frequency of these activities
  • DemandGen clients have the advantage of working with our proprietary Lead Scoring Worksheet for real-time modeling. Changing the weighting numbers for different attributes and looking at the results allows you to test your assumptions for accuracy, as well as to backtest against known customer attributes.

Making the Grade: The Rating System 

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  • Once you have the qualification and interest model, the ultimate lead scoring formula combines these two dimensions into a very simple rating system.
  • The goal here is to take the complexity out of this process.

A simple A-E grid provides an excellent solution.


It’s All in the Presentation

Finally, you need a great way to present information to Sales in the CRM that requires little to no training to understand and adopt. What you want is an “at-a-glance” knowledge of the top prospects. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can the rep easily find the lead rating system in the screen being presented?
  • Can the rep determine instantly (say, five seconds) that a specific lead is worth contacting?
  • Can the rep instantly see how qualified the lead is?
  • Can the rep instantly see how interested the lead is?

The point here is that presenting a numerical score in a field (62 out of 100, 33%) is not going to achieve the simple at-a-glance recognition that makes lead scoring effective for the salesperson.


Whether you choose stars, hot peppers, flames, or some other meaningful graphic, a visual rating is the best way we’ve found to present the overall lead score, followed by thermometer-style meters that indicate qualification and interest level.

David Lewis is an early pioneer in Internet marketing, marketing automation, and CRM systems with over 22 years experience marketing and selling technology solutions through direct sales channels, online, and distribution channels. David Lewis began his career at Microsoft in 1988 where he was part of the US Sales and Marketing Team that introduced the first version of Windows, Excel, and Word. In 2007, Lewis founded Demand International, Inc. a global consulting firm helping companies deploy and utilize marketing automation and CRM systems. Lewis is a frequent speaker on the topics of lead management, lead scoring, nurturing, and sales and marketing alignment. 

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