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B2B lead qualification and scoring

qualified leads

The growth of the Internet has changed B2B buyer activity.

Buyers don’t wait for a sales person to call them anymore. They get most of their education on the web. As B2B buyers increasingly use online channels to do their research, Marketing meets prospects earlier than ever in the buying process – often long before the prospects are ready to engage with Sales. This is one reason that, on average, only 25% of new leads are sales ready.

So you need a way to determine which leads are ready for Sales, and which need to be nurtured.

I was thinking about all the lead qualification criteria I’ve seen used in B2B lead generation programs and decided to list them by category. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Firmographics (industry, company size, location)
  • Demographics (contact’s title, job function)
  • Contactability (phone number, email address)
  • Action taken (attended webinar, downloaded whitepaper, requested pricing, spent time on certain Web pages)
  • Frequency, quality, quantity, recency of actions taken
  • Social media engagement (commenting on blog posts, joining social network discussions, retweeting)
  • Need for your product or service (application or problem needing to be solved)
  • Buying Stage (awareness, consideration, decision)
  • Fit (your products or services meet or exceed their technical, performance, reliability requirements)
  • Competition (what other competitors are involved? can you win against them?)
  • Contact’s role in the purchase decision process (recommender, influencer, decision maker)
  • Timing (purchase decision timing, implementation timing – how soon?)
  • Availability of funding for the purchase (has budget, can get budget)
  • Size of the opportunity (quantity needed, revenue potential).

In a survey conducted by Sirius Decisions, they found that companies who give fewer (better qualified) leads to Sales actually sell more. That means that if Marketing does a better job of qualifying leads, Sales can close more profitable deals, resulting in increased revenues.

Using the criteria I’ve listed above, plus the information in The Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring published by my friends at Marketo, you’ll be able to design a process that ensures Sales only gets sales-ready leads.

Lead scoring seems to be on everybody’s mind. My friends over at SilverPop have also focused on Lead Scoring with this blog post: Five Prospect Behaviors You Should Be Incorporating into Your Lead Scoring Process.

It’s obvious that lead qualification is growing in importance as Sales and Marketing productivity becomes more of an issue.

Do you have anything to add regarding lead qualification or lead scoring?


Great article – thanks for posting. I’d like to add a few thoughts.

We call the powerful combination of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation an Inbound Marketing Automation system, or IMA.

The better IMA systems provide both lead scoring and lead grading for qualifying a lead, and they are very different approaches.

Scoring is the “marking” or “evaluating” of the leads’ activities on your website. Think of the score as a measure of how interested the leads are in your solution. The number of times they return to the site and the amount of time they spend on it are literally indications of how much they want to learn what you do and how you do it, and the IMA racks up their score accordingly.

Grading, on the other hand, is what the IMA does with the answers a person provides to the questions you to build up their profile. Each time they want to download content, you ask them 3 or 4 questions, and because they want the content, they give you the answers. Thus, over time, you build-up their profiles. And thus grading is a measure of how interested you are in the lead. (Obviously, an executive is of more appeal than a student kicking tires).

And while you are designing your IMA system and thinking about how to operate it, we urge our clients to use a formal Process for this purpose. This comment is too long already and so I won’t go into detail here, but the advantage of using a Continuous Process Improvements approach to this idea is that your IMA system will deliver an ever improving Return on Investment or ROI. So, “Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat,” the process each cycle and you will see the rising ROI to prove your effort is working.



One thought I would add is about pricing.

Some buyers are comfortable to purchase time chunks of visible labour (time-based pricing), and some are comfortable with project pricing based on value.

Personally, I would never consider a project on a time-based pricing basis because clients would end up breathing down my neck urging me to do it faster, so they have to pay less.

Besides, I think hourly pricing is unethical because buyers and sellers have different agendas.

So, I think it’s important that we emphasise what sort of pricing we use with clients, so they can decide if it fits their world.



I really like some of the categories you created- like contact-ability and role. I haven’t seen lead scoring broken out in these categories, but I think this approach makes it easy for those developing scoring programs to think of it from new angles to get a more comprehensive score. Great work!

PS- Thanks for the Marketo mention.


[…] B2B lead qualification and scoring The growth of the Internet has changed B2B buyer activity. Buyers don’t wait for a sales person to call them anymore. They get most of their education on the web. Source: faint-road.flywheelsites.com […]


Great criteria list! one thought: perhaps there’s room to add a subjective criterion that indicates the qualifier’s perception of lead maturity after reviewing the collected info, or even after making that first call to the lead?

In our app, Lead Qualifier for iPhone, which we designed for a similar purpose though it’s meant to be used by a sales lead handler/qualifier or the sales rep herself, we’ve included the following criteria:
Existence and degree of identified need
Presence of buying/decision process
Degree that offering matches need
Budget allocation fit
Influence level of the contact
Competitive situation rating (e.g. none, high threat)
and finally, Instinct Says, a subjective rating.


Good Post.
I would add a couple of items:

1. Define your sales and marketing funnel based on a point system. Assign specific point values for certain behaviors or demographic criteria.

2. Audit leads that are not being closed by sales to find out if your scoring criteria is on target.

I get into this in my blog post TitledWhy sales often says the leads are junk.


Interesting post about Business to Business lead qualification and scoring, it is very informative and interesting to read….


[…] On B2B Lead Qualification and Scoring […]


This is outside the B2B realm really but if your business is based on B2C and you want to know if customer data inputted into a web-based signup form is really valid data. XVerify is able to do a lead lookup and score the data based off of criteria you set. If everything is a match your lead will result in a 100% score, this is how you know you have a real honest customer on your hands; The lower the score the more unreliable a customer may be so you now have a more narrow list of who you want to target based on quality of the data you received.


You were right when you said “The growth of the Internet has changed B2B buyer activity.” B2b marketers are creating new business strategies to gel along with the current trends. Internet nowadays is considered as the most powerful medium in marketing and advertising a product and acquiring highly targeted b2b leads. This post of yours is one great example and it greatly helped.



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