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How to do HubSpot lead scoring the right way in 2020

How to do HubSpot lead scoring the right way in 2020 Blog Feature

Jessica Palmeri

HubSpot Trainer, 7+ Years Of Digital Marketing Strategy & Project Management Experience

August 12th, 2020 min read

In case you missed it, IMPACT has talked a lot about HubSpot lead scoring in the past few years.

We’ve covered how to master HubSpot lead scoring, how to score like a pro, how to build HubSpot lead scoring that actually works, and even the five most common mistakes HubSpot users make when setting up lead scoring. 

So when my editor asked me to write an article about how to do HubSpot lead scoring the right way in 2020, I thought to myself: What can I possibly say that hasn’t already been said before by several of my very intelligent co-workers?

When I read through all of our past articles, I noticed a common theme:

The majority of our content covers how to “set up” HubSpot lead scoring. 

These blog posts are jam-packed with tactical tips and tricks such as:

“You can use demographic information to qualify leads” and “use your HubSpot lead score to move leads through your marketing qualified lead or sales qualified lead lifecycle stages.”

Is this information helpful to the reader? Absolutely! Especially if that reader has full organizational buy-in and is ready to hit the ground running and start setting up their lead scoring criteria. 

But what if you’re not ready to “run” with lead scoring? What if you’re dragging your team kicking and screaming towards this new initiative? Or — worse yet — what if you haven’t even talked to your team and you’re about to set up lead scoring blind? 

That’s where this article comes in. 

Today, we’re going to talk about how to first create organizational buy-in to implement HubSpot lead scoring effectively, and then ensure it actually “sticks” as an integral part of your marketing to sales hand-off. 

HubSpot lead scoring: expectation vs. reality

Before we dive into our strategic approach to launching a HubSpot lead scoring initiative, we first need to have an honest conversation about expectations versus the reality of what it’s really like to use the tool.

A common expectation is that some combination of artificial intelligence (AI),machine learning, and/or our beloved robot overlords will analyze your entire HubSpot database of contacts and instantly identify those leads that are 99% likely to close into customers. 

But the reality is that the process for setting up a common HubSpot lead score is much more complicated (and unfortunately, the initial set-up is much more manual.) 

At its core, HubSpot is just a database designed to store contact information (demographic details, conversion points, social media interactions, etc.) 

That information can be analyzed and calibrated to generate a lead score, based on specific scoring criteria,  but in order to have an accurate score, you need to identify the key inputs to make that calculation spit out a number that makes sense to you and your sales team.

This requires continuous trial and error and constant tinkering with the underlying formula (especially if you’re just getting started!) 

Before you say, “What the heck! Why would anyone want to set up lead scoring if it’s going to be this much work?,” let me ease your fears… 

Yes, HubSpot lead scoring is totally worth it in the long run. 

A well-calibrated lead score can save your sales team valuable time and energy. 

Lead scoring allows your team to quickly identify the highest quality leads, with the best revenue potential, but only if you dedicate the proper time, resources, and organizational bandwidth to set it up the right way that’s unique to your ideal customer’s journey. 

Why do so many HubSpot lead scoring initiatives fail?

If you’re going to dedicate all of this time and energy into a big initiative, you need to understand exactly how it could fall apart.

Here are some potential pitfalls that you should definitely try to avoid: 

Pitfall #1: You’re severely underestimating the time investment. 

The first step to tackling a HubSpot lead scoring initiative is to understand that this is a long-term initiative, not a quick set-up project that you can tackle on Friday afternoon. 

More importantly, this is not a “set it and forget it” type project. 

As noted above, a properly calibrated lead score requires continuous trial and error and constant tinkering. 

Your first formula probably won’t be perfect (and that’s ok!) Just make sure you have someone on your team who can dedicate the time required to manage this project until you get it right. 

Pitfall #2: You don’t have enough leads and/or data. 

Remember when we said that HubSpot lead scoring will analyze your contacts across “thousands of data points?” It’s really, really important to have that data in there before you start scoring. 

If you’re just getting started with HubSpot (i.e. you’ve just uploaded your initial contact import, or you’ve just installed your HubSpot tracking code), you likely won’t have enough usable information in your database to make this initiative work in the short-term. 

Long story short, setting up lead scoring should not be your first priority when it comes to setting up your HubSpot portal. Make sure you have enough data in place to make it worth your time and energy.  

Pitfall #3: There’s currently zero communication between your marketing and sales teams. 

A well-calibrated lead score is designed to ease the friction during the marketing to sales hand-off. In fact, it should complement the service level agreement (SLA) between the two departments. 

If marketing and sales aren’t currently on speaking terms, however, finding a scoring system that will be meaningful to both sides is damn near impossible. You need to work to fix your internal alignment before you tackle such a complicated joint-project.

How to tackle HubSpot lead scoring the right way  

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… a step-by-step guide to creating a well-calibrated HubSpot lead score (that actually helps the sales team sell more deals):

Step 1: Get to know your data

Peruse your available HubSpot properties. Learn them, love them, and understand exactly what inputs you have to work with when setting up your lead scoring formula.

Step 2: Have a sit down with sales to agree on criteria 

Make sure marketing and sales meet to mutually define what success looks like for this lead scoring initiative and get into the nitty-gritty (i.e. how many points should we award if a website visitor takes this action? How many points out of 100 dictates an MQL vs SQL? Etc.) This article from HubSpot dives deeper into things you should align on. 

Step 3: Create a “rough draft” of what lead scoring could look like 

Once you have an outline, circle back with sales to make sure they’re bought into your approach and point allocations. 

Remember: Marketing needs to steer the ship on this project (i.e. set up and implement the lead scoring system in the back-end of the tool), but you’ll waste valuable time and energy on endless revisions if marketing and sales fundamentally disagree on the “weight” of certain actions (ex: a BOFU form should be more points than a pricing page view, etc.) 

Step 4: Implement your lead scoring criteria in HubSpot 

Once you have the stamp of approval from sales, it’s time to start manually setting up your first iteration of lead scoring criteria. In your HubSpot portal, go to the settings gear > navigate to “Properties” left side navigation, and then within “Contact Properties” search for “HubSpot score.”

While it may be tempting to go all-out on round one, remember that each individual point allocation needs to be its own logic criteria, so for the sake of your sanity keep it simple (and then go back in to test and iterate.) 

how-to-do-hubspot-lead-scoring

Step 5: Incorporate your lead score into your marketing to sales hand-off 

Make sure your HubSpot lead score property is front and center on the contact record (i.e. customize your record sidebar), and include lead score information in any internal hand-off notifications. 

how-to-do-hubspot-lead-scoring

For example, use a workflow to create a follow-up task and simultaneously send an in-app notification that includes the contact’s HubSpot lead score.

This is a great way to ensure that the sales team is always, always, always aware of how their leads are being “graded” against the current formula.  

how-to-do-hubspot-lead-scoring

Step 6: Do a test drive

Let your lead scoring run for 2-4 weeks (depending on your organization’s lead flow), and see how your current formula performs as actual website visitors make their way through the sales process.

Hint: If a contact hits the opportunity lifecycle stage (or better yet, a closed/won deal) and their lead score is way too low, that’s probably an indication that your lead scoring formula isn’t accurately predicting sales-ready leads!

Step 7: Meet with sales (again) to iterate on your test drive results 

Ask questions such as: Out of all the opportunities we created this past month, did the contact’s lead score correspond with their likelihood of closing? Do we need to make adjustments to the underlying formula (ex: add more “points” for pricing page views, etc.)  

Depending on what they say...

Step 8: Refine your lead scoring criteria

Try another iteration. Tweak. Tinker. Rinse. Repeat. 

Step 9: Repeat steps 4-8 until you get it right

If, at first, you don’t succeed… try like hell until you get it working! 

What can you do with a well-calibrated HubSpot lead score? 

So, you’ve finally reached the promised land! — And by promised land, I mean you created a lead scoring method that both marketing and sales trust as vital information to the sales process. 

You may ask yourself: What do I do now?

Here are just some of the wonderful things you can do with a well-calibrated lead score: 

You can use lead scores as true indicators of marketing qualified (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL). No more “gut checks” or “guesstimations” — sales and marketing are in total agreement on what factors need to be present for each lead designation.

If you get your numbers working the right way, your HubSpot lead score becomes the guiding light for the sales team’s targeted outreach. Sales knows exactly what to do with an SQL with a 90/100 means, and exactly how to approach the initial conversation. 

Speaking of outreach, you can create automated lead nurturing workflows based on lead scoring criteria. 

An MQL that is “stuck” at a 35/100 can receive some helpful emails to nudge them towards more bottom-of-the-funnel content (ultimately driving them down the funnel and boosting their lead score.)

Finally, you can create internal workflows to notify team members as leads move through these lifecycle stages — so that no qualified lead is ever missed, and no potential revenue is left on the table. 

With the right lead scoring formula in place, you have the power to leverage marketing automation to seamlessly hand off the right leads (at the right time), and maximize your revenue potential.

More importantly, you have a new internal process that will actually “stick” in the long run as an integral part of your marketing to sales hand-off. 

HubSpot Training & Implementation

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