On-Demand Lead Scoring Clears Clogged Sales Pipeline

Jul 28, 2008 11:56 PM  By

There is good news buried in the reams of bad sales leads, which was dubbed “lead clutter” last week here. The clutter contains the very information needed to weed it out and expose those sales leads most likely to convert or become high-value customers.

Of course analyzing the clutter in a vacuum won’t provide all the answers. You must combine your leads’ information with third-party demographic data and compare it to your own sales and marketing intelligence. Then, with a process called on-demand lead scoring, you can bucket your leads into categories to effectively manage your lead pipeline on the fly.

A full-featured on-demand lead scoring system should work like this: A direct marketer of healthcare products uses advertising to drive prospects to its 800-numbers and Web sites. In sub-second time, incoming calls are scored according to their potential value. High-value, likely-to-convert prospects are immediately routed to the best agents, eliminating wait times and improving service. The callers who are least likely to convert are routed to an interactive voice response system, allowing the likely-to-convert callers to get more attention from agents.

The direct marketer also uses lead scores before the start of each call to determine which product or service is best suited to the caller, regardless of which offer spurred the call. It’s an improvement to the caller experience that surprises customers by exceeding their expectations. Better still, the company reaps higher conversion rates and higher revenue with the same (just more productive) staff.

The direct marketer’s Web leads are verified and prioritized the same way. In a split second before the sales team receives a lead, it’s automatically scored based on verified contact information and the direct marketer’s experience with leads fitting that demographic profile.

The sales team is now fully equipped to prioritize the leads that are most valuable to them, rushing the most promising ones to the top of the queue for an immediate outbound call.

Each call begins with a huge head start for the sales team: As each lead arrives, its score determines which product or service is most suitable, triggering a customized script. While the top leads get first attention, others are prioritized for follow up. Strategies like these help the direct marketer take better advantage of its advertising spend.

There are three keys to making on-demand lead scoring work. First and maybe most important, companies must be able to access scoring insight on demand — at the moment when they’re interacting with leads. Until recently, customer insight platforms haven’t easily afforded this capability.

Second, the data must be clean. Lead scoring is only as good as the information that drives it. If scoring solutions don’t include contact information verification, then you won’t even know which leads can be reached, making the effort worthless.

And if scoring solutions don’t include up-to-date consumer information, they slash your ability to score leads. Consumer information should come from a source that actually compiles it in real time, not one that just delivers it in real time from a stale database.

Finally, if scores aren’t customized to individual businesses, then their predictive power will lack punch. Off-the-shelf lead scoring systems typically rely on consumer profiles that aren’t even tailored to specific industries, much less specific companies, so they provide uneven results when used to drive real-time decisions.

On-demand lead scoring cuts the clutter that makes pursuing raw, unqualified leads inefficient and expensive. Using on-demand scoring solutions to focus on the most important leads extracts a higher return on marketing investments, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, higher sales.

Paul McConville is director of consumer-facing services for TARGUSinfo.

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