In order to help determine the appropriate course of action for any given lead, such as when it is appropriate to have sales actively pursue a lead, it is important to score these leads. Generally, scoring is performed on two separate levels: profile scoring and engagement scoring. Profile scoring involves determining how closely a lead’s attributes (e.g. company, industry, job title, seniority, job function, etc.) match those of an ideal customer profile. Engagement scoring involves determining how much interest a lead has shown based on their previous actions. These could include downloading an article, visiting a website, attending a webinar, visiting a conference booth, filling out a contact form, etc. Note that both profile scoring and engagement scoring involve set but arbitrary values. It is up to you to decide what is most important and how each factor within each score should be weighted, but take care when doing so as studies have shown disconnects between what companies state their primary marketing targets are, how they allocate their resources, and what qualifications they use for lead scoring. If you find that your own scoring isn’t ideal, change it! It was arbitrary in the first place!
Leads are generally considered qualified if they cross a threshold of scoring, at which point they are pushed to sales for active pursuit of an opportunity. Don’t be too strict with your qualification criteria. According to the marketing automation platform Eloqua, less than 50% of companies have a single “perfect” lead which is in the highest scoring bracket on a profile basis and an engagement basis.
For leads which are not yet qualified, they should be nurtured via a “content drip” – a slow, steady exposure to educational and / or persuasive content designed to advance the leads through the buying journey. At most basic, this could be a series of automated emails. Ideally, if resources allow, this content drip should be based on prior behavior. For instance, if a lead is gained through a piece of educational content, then it may be prudent to first send that lead opportunities to download more educational content in support of the first piece of content, then only if they download another would persuasive content be sent.
For actionable, qualified leads it is critical to assess the value of a customer acquisition and from that point determine the appropriate level of resources to commit to each. According to a study from the United States Travel Association, face-to-face sales close 40% of prospects while inside sales close just 16%, making outside sales 2.5x more effective. However, the costs are widely different. Each contact by an outside sales rep costs about $300 – $500 whereas the average contact from an inside sales rep costs only $25 or $30, according to Mike Moorman of ZS Associates. In some cases, the nature of the product may dictate whether an outside or inside response is most appropriate, and the structure of your sales force can cause the costs of outside sales to vary widely, but don’t simply default to an inside approach because you can. You might be able to sell that $100,000 enterprise software license or that $200,000 research contract over the phone, but it may very well be worthwhile to send someone to the client site to increase the likelihood of closing the deal.
While there are certainly a number of best practices that all life science marketers should follow, there is no “one-size-fits-all” method to generating and handling leads. In determining the best strategies and tactics, an understanding of your target market and your own situation is of first and foremost importance. It is when this understanding merges with best practices that marketers can achieve truly great results in generating demand for their life science companies.