In sales, you’re often told to get into the mind of your customer. Wouldn’t it be great if you really could see what they were thinking (rather than simply imagining)?

As it turns out, you can get pretty close with lead scoring through your CRM’s marketing automation tools. It takes a little bit more effort than just staring at those customers intently to sort out where they are in their buying journey, but a properly calibrated CRM can make short work of the extra effort you put into figuring out when each lead is ready to become a customer.

Today’s Customer: An Informed and Self-Motivated Buyer

Selling things to people has never been more straightforward, or more difficult. After all, if your refrigerator is $500 more than it is at Amazon, any random buyer can simply tap a few screens and find that discounted price. They can also check specs, read reviews and basically learn everything they need to know about your products or services.

This is both good and bad for you. It’s bad because you’ve got to be at least as informed as your leads, but it’s also tricky because you’ll need to know where they are in their customer journey before they even darken the doorstep of your inbox. If your CRM has marketing automation tools, it’s going to make it much easier to figure out which stage your lead is at.

Lead Scoring Schools of Thought

There’s no one way to configure your lead scoring, so you will have to do some experimenting to get it just right. However, there are several schools of thought on the subject.

School #1: Scores Based on Interactions

This is probably the most common school of thought you’ll find if you’re researching lead scoring. Leads get points based on their interaction on your site, one point for visiting at all, maybe 10 points for downloading a whitepaper. If they get really feisty and view a payment form, you might give them 30 or 40 points.

School #2. Decreasing Scores Over Time

School #1 establishes a basic level of interest in the moment that your lead is on your site, but it doesn’t account for the effect of time. With School #2, the longer it has been since a lead was interacting with your site, the more your system deducts from their score. For example, you might take five points off each month they don’t visit.

School #3: Survey Says…

You may want to ask a few questions of your visitors, in order to help gauge their attitudes or preferences. Even asking what time frame they’re interested in buying within can really help score your leads more accurately. Surveying can be used in conjunction with progressive profiling. This technique involves offering bits of relevant content to the lead and increasing their score accordingly as they view them.

Customer Behaviors to Watch For

In order to score your leads properly, you’re going to need to establish some ground rules for your CRM. Which behaviors seem to turn leads into buyers? What behaviors mean you didn’t make the short list?

A few implicit buying signals to watch for include:

  • Form submissions
  • Page views
  • Downloads
  • Email clicks
  • Site searches

Explicit data also help to determine a buyer’s readiness. After all, anyone can click forms and pages, even if they’re 12 and don’t have a credit card. Check that your visitor fits the customer profile that you’ve established for your sales efforts. This is often easier for B2B sales, but depending on how you qualify your leads initially, you could already have the explicit data you need to determine if your buyer is ready.

Warming Up to Cold Leads

According to a recent report by Pardot, 75 to 80 percent of leads passed on to salespeople never result in a significant conversation. This is often because that lead isn’t ready to buy. They need time to think things through and make sure they’re making the right call. If you contact them immediately, you’re just going to turn them off.

Instead, put these leads into your drip marketing campaigns and monitor their behaviors from there. When they’ve interacted with your materials sufficiently, based on the scores that seem to indicate that you’ve got a live one, you should make direct contact — but not until then. As their scores tick up, send more valuable materials, like white papers and interactive demos.

This is where the automation of an all-in-one CRM really shines. All of this can happen in the background without your having to do anything extra once you’ve told the system the conditions under which a cold lead receives a certain email or other product. The system will continue to nurture that lead on its own, freeing you up to work leads that have already been properly warmed!