Whether you’re running a product or service business, B2B or B2C, a steady funnel of leads (or potential customers) is a key ingredient of success.
But even with the largest BDR team in the world, you can’t expect them to chase after every lead they see. You need a process, a strategy you can use to filter out or rank leads in the order of priority. That’s where lead scoring comes in.
Lead scoring is an effective way of picking the best leads your sales team can talk to right now. However, with so many industries, companies, and customers out there, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to lead scoring.
Successful teams evaluate different lead scoring models and adopt the one that fits them best. Testing a few models for short periods of time (e.g. 30 days) and seeing which one produces the best results is also a good idea.
But with the rise of AI technology like ChatGPT, are there new opportunities in the lead scoring space that can change the game?
Tip: Want an AI-powered lead scoring model that works right off the bat? Try Lift AI — a real-time buyer intent solution that instantly identifies how likely is every single website visitor to buy your service or product. You can easily integrate Lift AI into your marketing stack and increase conversions with no extra effort.
What Are Lead Scoring Models?
Lead scoring models are systems for ranking leads by assigning a numerical value to them, which could either represent the quality of information about that lead (how much do we know about them), how closely that lead fits your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and how likely they are to buy. This value can be composed of hundreds or thousands of data points, from geographic to behavioral to demographic.
Different lead scoring models emphasize different characteristics of leads. Choose the one that aligns best with how you’ve closed opportunities in the past.
1. ICP Fit (Demographic, Firmographic)
If you have an ICP, you know what your ideal customer looks like demographically: their age, job title, interests, etc. If you don’t have an ICP yet, you need one — it gives you and your team a target to aim at.
But there’s still a lot of variance even in the most precise demographic groups.
For example, Mary Smith might work in a SaaS company based in the USA which has more than 2,000 employees. Then you might have John Smith who also works in a SaaS company based in the USA which has more than 2,000 employees. Are they both equal in terms of being a lead?
The answer is no, there’s no telling which of these two leads is currently experiencing a problem that you can solve, or are in the market to find a new solution.
You need something more than just how well the prospect meets your criteria.
2. In-market Activity
Another method of lead scoring assigns numerical values to the type of activity certain accounts are taking “in the marketplace.”
This typically means that the lead-scoring tool records when accounts are reading certain types of content or researching certain keywords that are relevant to the product or services you offer.
If the account has performed an in-market activity, the lead-scoring tool can promote that account in your system for a follow-up.
However, these in-market signals of intent are not always accurate or timely. For example, someone researching a topic similar to your product could be a competitor. Additionally, the insights are not provided in real time, but are instead aggregated in longer intervals — by which stage the account may have already purchased from another company.
3. B2B IP Tracking
Lots of lead scoring tools, particularly in the ABM space, work based on finding out leads’ IPs, tracking them back to a database of company IPs, and then ranking them against prioritized accounts.
This typically works in tandem with the ICP fit and in-market activity.
For example, if you have a list of target accounts who meet your ICP, and one of those accounts has landed on your website, the tool can identify them and notify your sales team.
This is a good approach if you’re working in an ABM-focused sales motion, where target accounts are your main priority. The downside is that you might be missing on great prospects that haven’t been identified by the IP tracking system. In fact, on average only 30% of website traffic can be identified by ABM and lead scoring tools.
4. Marketing & Social Engagement
Regardless of the industry you operate in, it’s unlikely to be static these days. You exist in the same social sphere as your potential clients, which means you cross paths with them more often than you realize.
So what you can do is start tracking the social engagement you have with your ICPs. Do they like your tweets? Are they asking or answering questions in the conversations you’re involved in? Do they subscribe to any of your social media channels, newsletters, or podcasts?
Similarly, the same is true for your other marketing activities, such as email. Did your prospects open your email, read your email, and click on a link in your email? All of these actions can be assigned arbitrary numerical values and then added to the lead score of your prospect.
When you come across leads who are already engaged with you on social media or via your marketing channels, it’s a much easier sell than having to introduce your company from scratch.
5. Subtractive Scoring
Sometimes you might not know much about the qualities that your leads possess, but you know which ones they don’t — and that’s helpful.
Imagine a lead landing on your website and going straight for the careers page. Probably not a good fit. Similar things could be said about leads who turn out to be working for competitors or completely unrelated fields. Unsubscribing from your newsletter? Not a great sign either.
In subtractive scoring, you start from the baseline and take away points for things that clearly don’t align with the customers you’re looking for. While this model doesn’t show you the best leads, it enables you to quickly filter out those you don’t want to talk to, reducing the total pool and making it more manageable for your BDRs.
6. Real-Time Buyer Intent
Predictive lead scoring has been the most advanced way to score leads for years. And while they are pros and cons to such a model, now we have something that’s even better — real-time buyer intent.
You get real-time buyer intent when you use the power of AI to determine the lead’s exact likelihood to buy right at that moment based on their behavior on your website. This is possible because AI can analyze near-unlimited datasets and record even the smallest changes in behavior, telling apart close to identical website visitors.
The preeminent tool in the real-time buyer intent space is Lift AI.
Lift AI is a flexible buyer intent solution that integrates into any level of your marketing stack and detects high-scoring visitors as soon as they land on your website (even anonymous ones).
The efficacy of Lift AI is based on a unique machine-learning model pre-trained on billions of data points and millions of live sales interactions.
When you install Lift AI and integrate it with your live chat, for example, it will automatically find all the top visitors on your website and connect them directly to your BDRs for conversion. Other medium- and low-scoring visitors could be greeted by a nurturing bot or a self-help guide instead. As a result, your sales team’s time will always be optimized for engaging with the best website visitors.
On its own, Lift AI uncovers hidden buyers on your website and surfaces them for conversion in real-time, even if those visitors are completely anonymous (unknown to your other lead scoring tools). However, you can also combine Lift AI with your existing tools to add real-time buyer intent scores to your known leads, helping your sales team prioritize exactly which accounts to engage first.
In fact, Lift AI customers routinely report chat conversion increasing by up to 9 times within just 90 days.
For example, Formstack increased its conversions by 420%. PointClickCare — by 400%, adding over $1M of incremental revenue in the first year.
So here are the top 6 lead scoring models available to companies today. You can try them all and see what works best for you, but why not start with the most effective one? Lift AI makes artificial intelligence do all the work for you.