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Optimize Lead Generation With Lead Scoring

In today’s competitive environment, optimizing Sales’ resources by giving them qualified leads is key to B2B marketing success.

  • Prospective buyer traffic into digital marketing platforms has exploded.
  • Many freemium/low-cost digital marketing platforms lack lead scoring and nurturing functionality.
  • As a result, the volume of unqualified leads being delivered to outbound sellers has increased dramatically.
  • This has reduced sales productivity, frustrated prospective buyers, and raised the costs of lead generation.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Lead scoring is a must-have capability for high-tech marketers.
  • Without lead scoring, marketers will see increased costs of lead generation and decreased SQL-to-opportunity conversion rates.
  • Lead scoring increases sales productivity and shortens sales cycles.

Impact and Result

  • Align Marketing, Sales, and Inside Sales on your ideal customer profile.
  • Re-evaluate the assets and activities that compose your current lead generation engine.
  • Develop a documented methodology to ignore, nurture, or contact right away the leads in your marketing pipeline.
  • Deliver more qualified leads to sellers, raising sales productivity and marketing/lead-gen ROI.

Optimize Lead Generation With Lead Scoring Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should optimize lead generation with lead scoring, review SoftwareReviews Advisory’s methodology, and understand the four ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Drive aligned vision for lead scoring

Outline your plan, form your team, and plan marketing tech stack support.

2. Build and test your lead scoring model

Set lead flow thresholds, define your ideal customer profile and lead generation engine components, and weight, score, test, and refine them.

3. Apply your model to marketing apps and go live with better qualified leads

Apply your lead scoring model to your lead management app, test it, validate the results with sellers, apply advanced methods, and refine.

Optimize Lead Generation With Lead Scoring

In today’s competitive environment, optimizing Sales’ resources by giving them qualified leads is key to B2B marketing success.


Analyst Perspective

Improve B2B seller win rates with a lead scoring methodology as part of your modern lead generation engine.

The image contains a picture of Jeff Golterman.

As B2B organizations emerge from the lowered demands brought on by COVID-19, they are eager to convert marketing contacts to sales-qualified leads with even the slightest signal of intent, but many sales cycles are wasted when sellers receive unqualified leads. Delivering highly qualified leads to sellers is still more art than science, and it is especially challenging without a way to score a contact profile and engagement. While most marketers capture some profile data from contacts, many will pass a contact over to Sales without any engagement data or schedule a demo with a contact without any qualifying profile data. Passing unqualified leads to Sales suboptimizes Sales’ resources, raises the costs per lead, and often results in lost opportunities. Marketers need to develop a lead scoring methodology that delivers better qualified leads to Field Sales scored against both the ideal customer profile (ICP) and engagement that signals lower-funnel buyer interest. To be successful in building a compelling lead scoring solution, marketers must work closely with key stakeholders to align the ICP asset/activity with the buyer journey. Additionally, working early in the design process with IT/Marketing Operations to implement lead management and analytical tools in support will drive results to maximize lead conversion rates and sales wins.

Jeff Golterman

Managing Director

SoftwareReviews Advisory

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

The affordability and ease of implementation of digital marketing tools have driven global adoption to record levels. While many marketers are fine-tuning the lead generation engine components of email, social media, and web-based advertising to increase lead volumes, just 32% of companies pass well-qualified leads over to outbound marketers or sales development reps (SDRs). At best, lead gen costs stay high, and marketing-influenced win rates remain suboptimized. At worst, marketing reputation suffers when poorly qualified leads are passed along to sellers.

Common Obstacles

Most marketers lack a methodology for lead scoring, and some lack alignment among Marketing, Product, and Sales on what defines a qualified lead. In their rush to drive lead generation, marketers often fail to “define and align” on the ICP with stakeholders, creating confusion and wasted time and resources. In the rush to adopt B2B marketing and sales automation tools, many marketers have also skipped the important steps to 1) define the buyer journey and map content types to support, and 2) invest in a consistent content creation and sourcing strategy. The wrong content can leave prospects unmotivated to engage further and cause them to seek alternatives.

Info-Tech’s Approach

To employ lead scoring effectively, marketers need to align Sales, Marketing, and Product teams on the definition of the ICP and what constitutes a Sales-accepted lead. The buyer journey needs to be mapped in order to identify the engagement that will move a lead through the marketing lead generation engine. Then the project team can score prospect engagement and the prospect profile attributes against the ICP to arrive at a lead score. The marketing tech stack needs to be validated to support lead scoring, and finally Sales needs to sign off on results.

SoftwareReviews Advisory Insight:

Lead scoring is a must-have capability for high-tech marketers. Without lead scoring, marketers will see increased costs of lead gen, decreased SQL to opportunity conversion rates, decreased sales productivity, and longer sales cycles.

Who benefits from a lead scoring project?

This Research Is Designed for:

  • Marketers and especially campaign managers who are:
    • Looking for a more precise way to score leads and deploy outbound marketing resources to optimize contacts-to-MQL conversion rates.
    • Looking for a more effective way to profile contacts raised by your lead gen engine.
    • Looking to use their lead management software to optimize lead scoring.
    • Starting anew to strengthen their lead generation engine and want examples of a typical engine, ways to identify buyer journey, and perform lead nurturing.

This Research Will Help You:

  • Explain why having a lead scoring methodology is important.
  • Identify a methodology that will call for identifying an ICP against which to score prospect profiles behind each contact that engages your lead generation engine.
  • Create a process of applying weightings to score activities during contact engagement with your lead generation engine. Apply both scores to arrive at a contact/lead score.
  • Compare your current lead gen engine to a best-in-class example in order to identify gaps and areas for improvement and exploration.

This Research Will Also Assist:

  • CMOs, Marketing Operations leaders, heads of Product Marketing, and regional Marketing leads who are stakeholders in:
    • Finding alternatives to current lead scoring approaches.
      • Altering current or evaluating new marketing technologies to support a refreshed lead scoring approaches.

This Research Will Help Them:

  • Align stakeholders on an overall program of identifying target customers, building common understanding of what constitutes a qualified lead, and determining when to use higher-cost outbound marketing resources.
  • Deploy high-value applications that will improve core marketing metrics.

Insight summary

Continuous adjustment and improvement of your lead scoring methodology is critical for long-term lead generation engine success.

  • Building a highly functioning lead generation engine is an ongoing process and one that requires continual testing of new asset types, asset design, and copy variations. Buyer profiles change over time as you launch new products and target new markets.
  • Pass better qualified leads to Field Sales and improve sales win rates by taking these crucial steps to implement a better lead generation engine and a lead scoring methodology:
    • Make the case for lead scoring in your organization.
    • Establish trigger points that separate leads to ignore, nurture, qualify, or outreach/contact.
    • Identify your buyer journey and ICP through collaboration among Sales, Marketing, and Product.
    • Assess each asset and activity type across your lead generation engine and apply a weighting for each.
    • Test lead scenarios within our supplied toolkit and with stakeholders. Adjust weightings and triggers that deliver lead scores that make sense.
    • Work with IT/Marketing Operations to emulate your lead scoring methodology within your marketing automation/campaign management application.
    • Explore advanced methods including nurturing.
  • Use the Lead Scoring Workbook collaboratively with other stakeholders to design your own methodology, test lead scenarios, and build alignment across the team.

Leading marketers who successfully implement a lead scoring methodology develop it collaboratively with stakeholders across Marketing, Sales, and Product Management. Leaders will engage Marketing Operations, Sales Operations, and IT early to gain support for the evaluation and implementation of a supporting campaign management application and for analytics to track lead progress throughout the Marketing and Sales funnels. Leverage the Marketing Lead Scoring Toolkit to build out your version of the model and to test various scenarios. Use the slides contained within this storyboard and the accompanying toolkit as a means to align key stakeholders on the ICP and to weight assets and activities across your marketing lead generation engine.

What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring weighs the value of a prospect’s profile against the ICP and renders a profile score. The process then weighs the value of the prospects activities against the ideal call to action (CTA) and renders an activity score. Combining the profile and activity scores delivers an overall score for the value of the lead to drive the next step along the overall buyer journey.


  • For a company that markets sales management software the ideal buyer is the head of Sales Operations. While the ICP is made up of many attributes, we’ll just score one – the buyer’s role.
  • If the prospect/lead that we wish to score has an executive title, the lead’s profile scores “High.” Other roles will score lower based on your ICP. Alongside role, you will also score other profile attributes (e.g. company size, location).
  • With engagement, if the prospect/lead clicked on our ideal CTA, which is “request a proposal,” our engagement would score high. Other CTAs would score lower.
The image contains a screenshot of two examples of lead scoring. One example demonstrates. Profile Scoring with Lead Profile, and the second image demonstrates Activity Scoring and Lead Engagement.

SoftwareReviews Advisory Insight:

A significant obstacle to quality lead production is disagreement on or lack of a documented definition of the ideal customer profile. Marketers successful in lead scoring will align key stakeholders on a documented definition of the ICP as a first step in improving lead scoring.

Use of lead scoring is in the minority among marketers

The majority of businesses are not practicing lead scoring!

Up to 66% of businesses don’t practice any type of lead scoring.

Source: LeadSquared, 2014

“ With lead scoring, you don’t waste loads of time on unworthy prospects, and you don’t ignore people on the edge of buying.”

Source: BigCommerce

“The benefits of lead scoring number in the dozens. Having a deeper understanding of which leads meet the qualifications of your highest converters and then systematically communicating with them accordingly increases both ongoing engagement and saves your internal team time chasing down inopportune leads.”

– Joey Strawn, Integrated Marketing Director, in

Key benefit: sales resource optimization

Many marketing organizations send Sales too many unqualified leads

  • Leads – or, more accurately, contacts – are not all qualified. Some are actually nothing more than time-wasters for sellers.
  • Leading marketers peel apart a contact into at least two dimensions – “who” and “how interested.”
    • The “who” is compared to the ICP and given a score.
    • The “how interested” measures contact activity – or engagement – within our lead gen engine and gives it a score.
  • Scores are combined; a contact with a low score is ignored, medium is nurtured, and high is sent to sellers.
  • A robust ICP, together with engagement scoring and when housed within your lead management software, prioritizes for marketers which contacts to nurture and gets hot leads to sellers more quickly.

Optimizing Sales Resources Using Lead Scoring

The image contains a screenshot of a graph to demonstrate optimizing sales resources with lead scoring.

Lead scoring drives greater sales effectiveness

When contacts are scored as “qualified leads” and sent to sellers, sales win rates and ROI climb

  • Contacts can be scored properly once marketers align with Sales on the ICP and work closely with colleagues in areas like product marketing and field marketing to assign weightings to lead gen activities.
  • When more qualified leads get into the hands of the salesforce, their win rates improve.
  • As win rates improve, and sellers are producing more wins from the same volume of leads, sales productivity improves and ROI on the marketing investment increases.

“On average, organizations that currently use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI, over organizations that do not currently use lead scoring.”

– MarketingSherpa, 2012

Average Lead Generation ROI by Use of Lead Scoring

The image contains a screenshot of a graph to demonstrate the average lead generation ROI by using of lead scoring. 138% are currenting using lead scoring, and 78% are not using lead scoring.
Source: 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, MarketingSherpa
Methodology: Fielded June 2011, N=326 CMOs

SoftwareReviews’ Lead Scoring Approach

1. Drive Aligned Vision for Lead Scoring

2. Build and Test Your Lead Scoring Model

3. Apply to Your Tech Platform and Validate, Nurture, and Grow


  1. Outline a vision for lead scoring and identify stakeholders.
  2. Assess your tech stack for lead scoring and seek advice from Info-Tech analysts to modernize where needed.
  3. Align on marketing pipeline terminology, buyer persona and journey, and lead gen engine components.
  1. Understand the Lead Scoring Grid and establish thresholds.
  2. Collaborate with stakeholders on your ICP, apply weightings to profile attributes and values, and test your model.
  3. Identify the key activities and assets of your lead gen engine, weight attributes, and run tests.
  1. Apply model to your marketing management software.
  2. Test quality of sales-accepted leads by sellers and measure conversion rates through your marketing pipeline.
  3. Apply advanced methods such as lead nurturing.

Phase Outcomes

  1. Steering committee and stakeholder selection
  2. Stakeholder alignment
  3. Team alignment on terminology
  4. Buyer journey map
  5. Lead gen engine components and asset types documented
  1. Initial lead-stage threshold scores
  2. Ideal customer profile, weightings, and tested scores
  3. Documented activities/assets across your lead generation engine
  4. Test results to drive adjusted weightings for profile attributes and engagement
  5. Final model to apply to marketing application
  1. Better qualified leads in the hands of sellers
  2. Advanced methods to nurture leads

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

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Guided Implementation 1: Drive an aligned vision for lead scoring
  • Call 1: Collaborate on vision for lead scoring and the overall project.
  • Call 2: Identify the steering committee and the rest of the team.
  • Call 3: Discuss app/tech stack support for lead scoring. Understand key marketing pipeline terminology and the buyer journey.
  • Call 4: Discuss your ICP, apply weightings, and run test scenarios.

Guided Implementation 2: Build and test your lead scoring model
  • Call 1: Discuss and record lead generation engine components.
  • Call 2: Understand the Lead Scoring Grid and set thresholds for your model.
  • Call 3: Identify your ICP, apply weightings to attributes, and run tests.

Guided Implementation 3: Apply your model to marketing apps and go-live with better qualified leads
  • Call 1: Weight the attributes of engagement activities and run tests. Review the application of the scoring model on lead management software.
  • Call 2: Test quality of sales-accepted leads in the hands of sellers. Measure lead flow and conversion rates through your marketing pipeline.
  • Call 3: Review progress and discuss nurturing and other advanced topics.


Jeff Golterman

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