For many B2B companies, the weakness of traditional Lead Scoring is that they typically
score on an individual (contact) basis, or sometimes a summed individual basis, but
often fail to consider the broader and more complex corporate digital body language
that can signify a valuable lead. Today we explore how using more complex Lead
Scoring methodologies on a company basis can result in higher quality leads for the
Most Lead Scoring programs start with the premise that there are two factors to look at
when assessing an individual prospect’s potential value: their Profile Fit (or explicit
data) and their Engagement Score (or implicit data). Marketing organizations review
the data available about a prospective customer that has been obtained in a variety of
methods (form submissions, website visits, webinar attendance, etc.) and then ascribe
different weighted values to each of the different data elements. Based on the
aggregate value of the activities, a score is calculated which the Marketing team can
then use to either pass the prospective customer to the Sales organization as a
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or continue to nurture through various marketing
Why Look at Company-Level Lead Scoring
While this traditional approach to Lead Scoring does a very good job of determining if a
contact has reached the threshold of MQL in a Business to Consumer (B2C)
environment, it does not take into account the notion that in the Business to Business
(B2B) environment, very often the value of a prospective lead is actually based on the
activities of not one, but several individuals at the target company.
When scoring the potential value of a company as a lead, it is very valuable to look at all
activities for all individuals at the company. As a good sales rep knows, different
individuals at a company have different interests and different hot buttons. When a
rep reaches out to a prospect, she will target presentations to these people with a
message unique to the role each person plays in the buying cycle.
Similarly, when scoring leads, a Marketing organization would be wise to ascribe
different values to different types of activities performed by people in different roles at
the prospect organization. If each of these individuals were scored independently, not
one of them might reach the MQL level. However, when scoring a complete
organization, it is possible to rewrite the Lead Scoring program to view activities across
different individuals and different activities, and arrive at a point where the sum truly is
greater than the whole.
One quick example will show what we mean. Let’s assume the target market consists
of Finance organizations looking for new accounting software. There are several key
individuals involved in the buying process: the Finance Manager, the Chief Financial
Officer (CFO), and the IT manager. While the CFO is the ultimate target, the Finance Manager is more likely to become involved early in the buying process. The IT
manager will also be involved early in the decision process as well. If the Lead Scoring
program ascribed a high value to a CFO title, and lesser value to a Manager level title,
this company may linger in the nurturing stage, while the selling company waits for the
CFO to visit the site and submit a form. However, if Company Lead Scoring is utilized, it
would be possible for the prospect to achieve MQL if both the Finance Manager and the
IT Manager do certain activities – where neither of them alone would have reached the
MQL level. This would give the sales rep the ability to call on the CFO knowing that
much of the early information gathering has already occurred.
Company Scoring PLUS Individual Scoring
Company-Level lead scoring doesn’t necessarily replace the need for individual lead
scoring. They are often best used in combination. However, the presence of company
lead scoring should often cause a company to “raise the bar” for individual lead scores.
This may result in fewer contacts passing through as leads, but more companies passing
through, and more importantly all the leads passed to sales are now higher quality.
Company-Level Lead Scoring is not just the aggregation of individual lead scores, but
rather a set of values ascribed across an
organization such that the organization reaches
MQL even when no individual would be worthy
of that level.
The question then arises, what are the various
methodologies to score at the company level,
what situations do they each apply to, and how
do they compare?
Definition of Terms
So that we can talk about Company-Level lead scoring algorithms, we first need to
define the various components that may contribute to that. I’ve intentionally only
given high level meanings to these terms, and not specific calculation methods, because
they will be calculated differently depending on the corporate sales model. We’ve
added the following lead scoring fields. They are similar to the existing Contact lead
scoring fields, except that they assign value based on data gathered across the
Company Lead Score – Implicit: A measure of the Level of Engagement at the
corporate level. This looks at implicit activities at all contacts in the
Company Lead Score – Explicit: A measure of the Profile Fit at the corporate
level. This examines demographic information captured about the organization
as well as a composite of profile data for all contacts.
Company Lead Rating – Implicit: The weighted rating of the company based on
the Level of Engagement score
Company Lead Rating – Explicit: The weighted rating of the company based on
the Profile Fit score
Company Lead Rating – Combined: The final lead rating we will attribute to this
company. This is similar to the Lead Rating for a contact and this value will
determine if the lead is Marketing Qualified
Corporate Recency: The overall recency of activity within the corporation. Just
as with scoring at the contact level, recency of activity should also apply at the
At the company level, the calculation of recency becomes even more
complicated than at the contact level because recency in some way needs to be
evaluated and weighted across multiple contacts. After all, companies don’t
visit your website, contacts do. So calculating corporate recency must involve a
calculation based on contact recency. And here again, we may choose to apply
a weighting by title to which contacts affect recency the most.
We can also automatically apply recency at the company level if we apply it to the
individual contact scores before they are rolled up to the company level. However, if
we don’t apply recency in some way at the company level, then several contacts from a
company that visited you three years ago could combine with a recent scale-tipping
visit resulting in an MQL that really shouldn’t go to sales.
Simple Company Lead Scoring
Obviously, scoring at the company level is
primarily for B2B situations and Company Lead
Scoring can be as simple or as complex as
necessary. Simple often is optimal. In a short
sales cycle situation, anytime 3 or more people
from a single company hit the website within
the last 3 months we have an MQL. Done!
This Lead Scoring program would simply
calculate a Company Lead Score – Implicit and combine it with a Corporate Recency to
ascribe a Company Lead Rating – Combined value.
Another example where Simple Company Lead Scoring is optimal might be selling
services for heating or air conditioners. In this situation, simply focusing on a few key
titles related to “maintenance” might be best. This program would include Company
Lead Score – Explicit values based on contact titles as well as Company Lead Score –
Implicit to achieve a Company Lead Rating – Combined value.
Complex Company Lead Scoring
Complex Company-Level Scoring might be useful in a complex sales environment that
requires multiple high level purchasers. In this situation, looking for multiple high level
titles over a longer period of time (6 months) may be appropriate. B2B doesn’t always
mean company level scoring… however complex B2B sales processes would almost
always benefit from Complex Company Lead Scoring. This Lead Scoring program might
use each of the values defined above, looking at Company Lead Score – Implicit and
Company Lead Score – Explicit to calculate ratings based on weighted criteria, including
which pages were visited and which forms were submitted by different individuals in
the company. After a critical level was reached across the target company, the
Company Lead Rating – Combined value would achieve MQL status, and the lead
would be passed to the sales team.
Developing a Company Lead Scoring program can bring tremendous advantages to an
organization provided it is implemented in a well thought through manner. It requires
knowledge of the target market as well as the activities that signal a qualified
prospective company Lead. Moving from contact level Lead Scoring to Company Lead
Scoring also requires a collaborative effort between the Marketing and Sales
organizations and should be reviewed periodically to ensure highly qualified leads are
being scored effectively.