Lead Scoring: A Prospect’s Journey from MQL to SQL

When it comes to tracking the effectiveness of your marketing activity, nothing gives you more information than a well thought out lead scoring process.

Lead scoring helps your sales and marketing departments identify which leads have the potential to be transitioned from marketing qualified leads (MQLs) into sales qualified leads (SQLs). If your sales team is reaching out to unqualified leads it will cost your business unnecessary time and resources.

To make sure you get the most out of lead scoring, you must have the right scoring thresholds, proper syncing with your CRM, effective scoring actions, and buy-in from both your sales and marketing departments.

When should an MQL become an SQL?

Put simply, an MQL is a contact that is technically sales-ready, but not ready enough to be engaged by a salesperson or business development representative directly. At this stage, it is best to place them into a campaign (email nurture, paid ads, paid social, event invites, etc.) based on their persona. 

An SQL, however, is a contact that is presently ready for direct contact from a business development representative or salesperson. SQLs should be passed on to your sales team as fast as possible for them to be able to reach out promptly. The scores used to distinguish between who is an MQL vs SQL can range widely so it is best you set up an internal process alongside your sales team to determine it. 

The two lead scoring strategies

Before creating a proper lead scoring process, it’s important to know the two methods available, explicit and implicit. 

Explicit lead scoring

With explicit lead scoring, a marketing team gathers information from potential leads using different types of forms placed on websites or landing pages. These forms may be for newsletter sign-ups, webinar registrations, or gated content. Usually, the information provided for explicit scoring is name, email, company, phone number, and even job title. All of this information can be used for further marketing efforts once you have permission from the lead. 

Implicit lead scoring

Implicit scoring gathers prospect data on an inferred basis. Information that would be considered inferred could be a lead’s IP address, and thus the location at which they are interacting with your marketing. The point of implicit lead scoring is to help track the specific actions a lead might take before they make a purchase or give you enough info to be an explicit lead. You can assign points, negative or positive, to these actions which will give a lead score that can be used to determine which purchasing consideration stage they are in. 

Developing an implicit lead scoring strategy

At MasterSolve, our team developed an implicit lead scoring strategy using best practices from our marketing automation platform. Here is an example lead scoring system:

 Action taken by the prospectPoints awarded
First webpage visit3
Concurrent webpage visits1
Email open1
Email click-through5
View client success story5
Webinar registration5
On-demand webinars (gated content)10
White papers (gated content)10
Webinar attendance15
Newsletter form submission20
Demo form / contact us form submission100

Once your lead scoring system is in place, it is important to understand how you think your prospects should be moved down the marketing funnel. Here is an example below. 

 Lead levelPointsExample marketing team actions
Prospect10-49Do nothing
Lead50-74Place in retargeting campaigns
Send one-off emails (if the email address is available)
MQL75-99Place into a campaign based on persona
Email nurture, paid ads, paid social, event invites
SQL100+Hand off to the sales team

All industries, companies, and prospects are unique. That’s why it is important to meet with your own internal teams to align on how to best perform lead scoring at your organization. 

Lead scoring at work: An example prospect journey

Below is a sample of a possible prospect journey. Follow along with Linda Leads as she makes her way through the lead levels. Use Linda’s journey to help you understand what type of interactions a prospect at your organization might have before becoming an SQL.

 ActionPoints GainedTotal pointsLead levelMarketing action example
First-time web page visit33XNothing
Views 5  pages58XNothing
Signs up for newsletter2028ProspectNothing
Opens newsletter email129ProspectNothing
Clicks through on newsletter to 2 separate blogs1049ProspectNothing
Views 4 total web pages453LeadPlace in a retargeting campaign
Registers for an upcoming webinar558LeadRun retargeting campaign
Attends webinar1573LeadRun retargeting campaign
View client success story578MQLPlace into a campaign based on persona
View 3 more web pages381MQLRun persona-based campaign
Opens an email 182MQLRun persona-based campaign
Clicks through to a webpage587MQLRun persona-based campaign
Views 3 webpages390MQLRun persona-based campaign
Downloads gated content10100SQLHand her contact info off to the sales team

Make your marketing automation platform and CRM automatically sync

If you are lucky enough to have a CRM and marketing automation system that sync together directly, this process is easy. Simply set up your lead scoring thresholds, rules, and actions in your marketing automation platform and have your lead scores sync to your CRM so your sales team can see them. 

Make sure to have your form fills also automatically sync into your CRM with specific alerts so the correct person can be notified. For more information, check out this guide to creating and managing forms on Sugar Market. Once your leads hit the predetermined SQL level necessary, pass the leads over to your sales team to get to work on closing the deal. 

If your marketing automation platform does not sync to your CRM directly tools such as Zapier can be used to get the information pushed where it needs to go.

Conclusion

Creating a lead scoring process may seem like quite a challenge, but it can be quite easy once you know what to do.  A strong scoring process makes things much easier for your sales and marketing teams to stay aligned as well as make the most of their time.

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D'Andre Davis-Taylor

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About MasterSolve

MasterSolve is a business and technology consultancy with offices in Toronto, Ontario, and St. Louis, Missouri.  We are your trusted business partner with expertise in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Technology (Martech) solutions. We live and breathe CRM we use a combination of best practices and common sense to help you implement and support, the software and technology you need to run your business and meet your goals.

If you are looking for technology and business processes improvement to help you propel your business toward success, give us a call today!