Clean Up Your Sales Pipeline: Lead Scoring vs. Lead Validation

The lead score simplified

As it stands, you are the one who decides what and how your lead scores are determined, most likely through rules you set up in your marketing automation platform. Your main objective is to send qualified leads to your sales team and of course you want those leads to be “hot”!! This is why lead scoring has become such a vital resource to marketing and sales teams— prioritizing leads to weed out dead end and “junk” leads. Accurate lead scoring helps you make informed decisions about what actions needs to be taken, whether manual or automatic, for each lead in the sales pipeline. From a conversion standpoint, lead scoring allows you to measure and qualify your leads based on:

1. Explicit Scoring—Looking at your leads to find out if they are the “right person” for your products or services, i.e., role/job title, company type/industry, company size/number of employees, company revenues, etc.

2.Implicit Scoring—Finding out if these leads are showing the “right level” of interest in your products or services, i.e., online behaviors and level of engagement of anonymous and known visitors, such as frequent visits to websites, form activity, email click-throughs, content downloads, etc.

According to Aberdeen Research, “companies that get lead scoring right have a 192% higher average lead qualification rate than those that do not”. That’s huge! Of course you need support from your execs and your sales team to make it happen, and you all need to agree about the definition of a lead and then how marketing will handoff those leads to sales, but more importantly, and this is a big element, your success in lead scoring, will depend on the technology that you’re using to capture information, orchestrate the lead handoff, and then ultimately track and process feedback.

High lead scores need validation too

Even with the best lead-scoring systems in place, we are human and humans make mistakes. What if a high-scoring, “hot” prospect somehow enters an incorrect email address or phone number? How does your sales rep contact this user to close the deal? The truth is, they can’t. Even though this lead completed the form and scored highly, there wasn’t an empirical solution in place to catch their mistake at the point of entry. Sadly, this lead now becomes “cold” or “dead”.

The key point here— just because a lead gets a high lead score, DOES NOT mean it’s also a valid lead. These are two separate entities altogether. To give you some perspective, let’s take a look at 2 hypothetical situations, one without lead validation and the other WITH a lead validation solution in place:

WITHOUT a lead validation solution

An iPhone 7 user visits a company’s home page, continues onto a service/product page, and then downloads their service whitepaper. During their 6 minutes on the site, the user signed up to receive the blog posts. Based on the rules set up in the marketing automation platform, this visitor is placed in a high-value lead drip campaign, where they’ll receive a set of emails that are specific to the service they are interested in, along with the benefits it brings. Marketing automation considers this a highly-valuable, or “hot” lead!

WITH A lead validation solution

That same iPhone 7 user completes the form from the above example as “Homer Simpson”, with a 555-555-1234 phone number, and an AOL email address, with their IP address showing they are in China but their mailing address says Santa Barbara. Even though the user did all of the right things above, and at first received a high lead-score, with the lead validation solution in place, this time around they will receive a low-quality lead validation score. At this point, marketing decides to remove this lead from the sales funnel so that it will have zero impact on future resources, reporting, and decision making. It is also important to note that the validation process is not created by the marketing team, meaning that it is not subjective.

In fact, it is a data-driven Lead Validation, i.e., Service Objects Lead Validation solution, where problems are not only identified, but legitimate leads are also corrected in real time, at the point of entry. The validation happens through these points: name, email, phone, address, IP address, device, etc., to verify that the visitor provided accurate and genuine information. Ultimately, we need to determine if this lead is in fact a real person.

The takeaway for you is, yes, lead scoring is a HUGE contributor to building a successful lead and sales pipeline, BUT it can ONLY go as far as the accuracy of the data provided. Incorporating lead validation into your lead scoring system is a powerful marketing tool and will help you reach a 192% higher qualification rate in no time. Happy validating!