How to Master Lead Scoring to Enhance Sales and Marketing Outcomes

lead scoring

Companies invest a lot of resources into lead generation. Lead scoring helps businesses extract the most value from those efforts. In this article, we’ll cover the fundamentals of lead scoring methodology. We’ll also provide insights from industry experts. We’ll share how they’ve implemented lead scoring in their own businesses.

This article will help you determine:

  • the factors to include in your lead scoring model
  • how to assign scores
  • how to use lead scoring to improve sales and marketing outcomes

What is Lead Scoring?

Sales and marketing teams use lead scoring to rank leads. The ranking criteria vary from business to business. The likelihood that a lead will convert into a customer determines the lead’s score.

Usually, the scores run from one to 100, but you use any scale you want. The scores help sales determine who to engage with and how. They help marketing determine how to nurture the leads.

Why Score Leads?

Companies score leads to increase sales efficiency.

The process helps them focus their resources on the most promising leads. That way their sales and marketing teams can engage with the most promising leads.

Lead Scoring Criteria

Lead scoring factors can be anything that makes sense, including:

  • Demographic information such as gender or age.
  • Online behavior such as what pages they’ve visited on your website.
  • Engagement level criteria such as social media engagement.
  • Customer journey stage such as the Awareness or Decision stages.

How to Score Leads

Lead scoring requires a scoring model. This model describes how you assign points to leads. Some organizations use a simple point-based system, others use more advanced algorithms. What you use will depend on your needs and resources.

Implicit vs. Explicit Scoring

The specific methodology used will influence the effectiveness of your lead scoring efforts. There are two main methodologies: implicit and explicit lead scoring.

  • Explicit scoring relies on information the lead provides (e.g., through a form).
  • Implicit scoring relies on observed behavior and engagement (e.g., website tracking).

Implicit and explicit lead scoring methods each have their strengths and weaknesses. You will maximize the usefulness of your lead scores if you use elements of each method.

Implicit Lead Scoring

Key factors considered in implicit lead scoring include:

  • Website activity
    • pages visited
    • time spent on the website
    • frequency of visits.
  • Email engagement
    • opens
    • clicks
    • replies
  • Content consumption
    • downloads
    • shares
  • Social media interactions
    • likes
    • shares
    • comments
    • follows


  1. Provides insights into user behavior and interests.
  2. Helps identify engaged leads who might be ready to convert.
  3. Enables sales and marketing teams to tailor their messaging to specific audience segments.


  1. Requires tracking tools and analytics.
  2. Doesn’t always provide an accurate representation of a lead’s purchase intent.
  3. Susceptible to false positives due to automated bots and other external factors.

Explicit Lead Scoring

Explicit lead scoring relies on demographic and firmographic information. This method typically relies on data collected through forms, surveys, and other channels.

Key factors to consider include:

  1. Demographic data
    • age
    • gender
    • job title
  2. Firmographic data
    • company size
    • industry
    • revenue.
  3. Budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT)
    • Budget
    • Decision-Making Authority
    • Need for the Product or Service
    • Purchase Timeline


  1. Helps identify leads that match your ideal customer profile.
  2. Enables more targeted and personalized marketing efforts.
  3. Reduces the risk of pursuing low-quality leads that are unlikely to convert.


  1. Depends on the accuracy and completeness of the data collected.
  2. May not account for leads with high engagement levels but low explicit scores.
  3. Can be time-consuming and resource-intensive to implement and maintain.

Negative Scoring

Negative scoring can help identify leads that are less likely to convert. Negative scoring subtracts from a leads score based on factors such as:

  • email bounces
  • lack of engagement
  • unsubscribes

Assigning negative points to certain actions or inactions can significantly improve your results.

Negative scoring can be applied to both implicit and explicit lead scoring criteria. For example, you may deduct points for:

  • lack of engagement with your content
  • unsubscribing from your email list
  • not matching your ideal customer profile

Benefits of Negative Scoring

  1. Improved lead prioritization. Negative scoring identifies leads that less likely to convert. Then, you can deprioritize those leads. That enables your sales and marketing teams to focus on high-quality leads.
  2. Resource optimization. By deprioritizing low-quality leads, you can allocate your resources more efficiently. This will improve your overall ROI.
  3. Enhanced lead nurturing. Negative scoring help identify areas where leads may require additional education or engagement.

Implementing Negative Scoring

Negative scoring effectively only requires two steps.

  1. Identify negative indicators. Determine the specific behaviors or attributes that suggest a lead is less likely to convert.
  2. Assign negative point values. Assign appropriate negative point values to each negative indicator based on its significance.

Establishing Lead Scoring Thresholds

Lead scoring thresholds are predefined score ranges. They help categorize leads into different segments. Establishing thresholds allows you to determine which leads to prioritize.

Set effective lead scoring thresholds by following these steps:

  1. Analyze historical data. Identify common patterns among your most successful leads.
  2. Get your sales and marketing teams in alignment. Collaborate with both sales and marketing teams. This will ensure that the chosen thresholds are useful to each team.
  3. Define lead categories. Based on the thresholds, define lead categories such as:
    • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
    • Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
    • Leads that require further nurturing
  4. Test and iterate. Monitor the performance of your thresholds over time. Then, adjust them as needed to ensure optimal prioritization and conversion rates.

Segmentation Based on Lead Scoring

Once you have established your thresholds, you can use them to segment your leads. This will allow you to:

  1. Personalize your marketing efforts. Tailor your marketing campaigns to suit the needs and preferences of each group.
  2. Increase sales efficiency. Sales teams can focus their efforts on qualified leads that are likely to convert. This will optimize sales resources and improve overall efficiency.
  3. Enhance lead nurturing. Identify those who may require further nurturing before they are ready to convert. You can leads closer to conversion with targeted content and engagement
  4. Refine your lead scoring model. The performance of your segmented leads will provide insights into the effectiveness of your lead scoring model. Use these insights to fine-tune your scoring criteria and thresholds.

Real Life Examples

Here are some examples from the real world.


Tarun Agarwal is the VP of Business at Mailmodo. According to Tarun, determining the factors for a lead scoring model requires:

  • understanding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
  • analyzing historical data on conversion rates

The factors Mailmodo includes are:

  • ICP overlap
  • lead source
  • demographics engagement level
  • quality of engagement.

The company has seen a ~5% demo booking rate post-implementation.


Laszlo Ujj is the VP Client Solutions at Rocketseed. Ujj said that, like Mailmodo, they base their model on their ICP and past lead conversion data. The key types of data they consider are:

  • company size
  • email client used
  • validity of contact details
  • intent

Hallmark Timmins

Shawn Stack, is the CEO of Hallmark Timmins. He shared some common lead scoring challenges and solutions.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Challenge #1: Ensuring data accuracy.

Stack solves this by:

  • Validating data sources
  • Regularly cleansing your database
  • Making certain fields required on your lead forms.

Challenge #2: Gaining team cohesion.

Stack recommends:

  • maintaining open lines of communication between teams
  • training sales teams on creating and using lead scores

Challenge #3: Determining the weights for different criteria.

To solve this problem, Stack recommends:

  • Continuously assessing your lead scoring methodology
  • Iterating based on the performance of specific factors

Best Practices and Tips

Lead scoring is a powerful strategy. However, its effectiveness depends on your implementation.

Here are six essential best practices for a successful model.

1. Collaborate with Sales and Marketing Teams

A well-rounded system requires input from both sales and marketing teams. Collaboration ensures that the scoring model aligns with the objectives and expectations of both departments. To foster a successful partnership:

  • Establish clear communication channels between teams.
  • Involve sales and marketing representatives in the development and review of your lead scoring model.
  • Regularly share feedback and insights to fine-tune the scoring criteria and thresholds.

2. Define Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Your ICP is a representation of the perfect customer for your product or service. Identifying the key characteristics of your ICP will help you develop a more accurate and targeted model.

Consider factors such as:

  • Demographics (e.g., age, gender, job title)
  • Firmographics (e.g., company size, industry, revenue)
  • Behavioral patterns (e.g., content consumption, email engagement, website visits)

3. Use a Combination of Implicit and Explicit Scoring Criteria

Your lead scoring model should include implicit and explicit criteria. This provides a more holistic view of a lead’s potential.

Key factors to consider include the following:

  • Implicit criteria
    • web activity
    • email engagement
    • content consumption
    • social media interactions
  • Explicit criteria
    • demographics
    • firmographics
    • BANT criteria

4. Implement Negative Scoring

Incorporating negative scoring will help you identify and deprioritize low-quality leads.

Consider assigning negative points for:

  • Lack of engagement with your content
  • Unsubscribing from your email list
  • Not meeting your ideal customer profile criteria

5. Continuously Monitor, Evaluate, and Adjust

A successful lead scoring system requires regular monitoring and fine-tuning. To ensure your model remains accurate and relevant, you should:

  • Review the performance of your lead scoring model regularly. Adjust criteria and thresholds as needed.
  • Collect feedback from sales and marketing teams to identify areas for improvement.
  • Stay up-to-date with industry trends and changes in your target audience. Make sure your scoring criteria remain relevant.

6. Use the Right Tools

There’s a wide range of tools that make lead scoring more effective. Marketing automation tools can automate the process. A good CRM and email marketing platform will help you act on your lead scores. Website visitor identification software makes it easier to collect more data to score your leads.

Increase Efficiency with Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a powerful tool for prioritizing marketing and sales efforts. The tips in this article will help you to implement an effective model. Then, your sales and marketing teams will be able to do their jobs more efficiently.