How Avid Launched Its Award-Nominated Lead Scoring ProgramMay 2, 2014 by Stephanie Kapera
Avid, a company specializing in audio and video production technology, is no stranger to accolades. The firm’s solutions, which are used by top filmmakers and recording artists, have helped win some of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment business, including two Oscars, a Grammy and 14 Emmy awards.
But as a finalist in Eloqua’s Best Lead Scoring Program Markie category, Avid recently received a different type of validation for its efforts. Though the changes Avid made to its latest lead scoring program weren’t the company’s first, they’ve proved to be the company’s most inspired effort, and have led to significant, lasting results.
We spoke to Arpine Babloyan, Avid’s revenue marketing manager, to learn more about how the company developed and launched their much-lauded lead scoring program in order to provide helpful tips and advice for other businesses.
Establish Communication Between Sales and Marketing
Babloyan, who was tasked with leading Avid’s lead scoring program improvements, says the very first step in the process was to get buy-in from the entire company—especially sales.
“Selling lead scoring internally can be hard,” she says. “I had the experience at another company where I was really passionate about implementing lead scoring, even though it was new to everyone. So I worked with sales to get criteria and put scoring in place, and they just didn’t care. It wasn’t used, and it didn’t work.”
At Avid, however, the foundation for building a sound lead scoring program was already in place, thanks to strong communication between the sales and marketing departments. The company had dedicated communicated channels in place, including a specific email address sales used to give marketing feedback on incoming leads, which meant both departments were already focused on ways to improve lead quality.
To really ramp up interest in a new lead scoring program, Babloyan says she used the power of storytelling. First, she would find leads that hadn’t been contacted by sales because they didn’t meet the right sales-qualified criteria— but were actually “good” leads.
Next, she would walk sales through how Avid’s current lead scoring process worked, and why it failed to pass that “good” lead along to sales. Finally, she would explain how a new, revised lead scoring criteria could better qualify the lead so opportunities like it wouldn’t be missed in the future.
Identifying sales’ commonly voiced issues and presenting lead scoring as a way to solve them, Babloyan says, is the key for getting buy-in.
“When sales says to you, ‘We have a ton of leads; who do we call first?’ or, ‘This person tried to contact us and we never got that lead’, that’s where you can turn around and say, ‘Let’s work together to improve our lead scoring so these things get solved,” she explains.
Determine the Effectiveness of Your Lead Variables
Marketers have long-relied on the commonly used BANT method (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline) to qualify leads, the idea being that establishing what these four variables are for a lead will tell you if they’re sales-ready. But Avid found this method was proving less and less effective.
In the past, for example, the company relied heavily on “Authority,” assigning higher scores to leads with the most relevant job roles—which, for Avid, are high-level film studio executives with C-suite job titles. But, it turned out, this was actually hindering marketing’s ability to deliver qualified leads to sales.
“A lead could be an independent film producer, but for his job title, he would put down something like, ‘I’m the dude,’ which would automatically remove him from our scoring model that was based on title,” Babloyan explains.
So Avid decided to learn which variables really mattered most for their leads, and get rid of those that didn’t. “We knew we needed a new scoring model that didn’t look at the title anymore, because some of the nefariously-titled people could be very well-qualified leads for us,” Babloyan says.
Assign Point Values to Online Behavior
In Avid’s ecosystem, a person is classified as a lead in the company’s marketing automation system when he or she makes some sort of contact with the company. This initial contact can occur in a variety of ways, such as filling out a form online or attending an Avid event—the key is that the person must voluntarily opt in.
As the lead develops and engages in different ways with Avid’s website, it receives more and more points based upon a point system Babloyan created to classify different types of behavior. When the lead has racked up enough points, it’s ready for a sales call. Avid assigns leads points for:
➔ Attendance at an event. Avid has events that are considered high value, such as major industry trade shows. If people attend those events, they’re typically assigned a score that’s high enough to pass them through to sales.
➔ Engagement with content at the bottom of the funnel. If a lead downloads something a person would typically read after they’ve familiarized themselves with the basics of product (e.g. a demo), points are added to their score.
➔ Engagement with more sophisticated information. If a lead visits pages that live deep inside Avid’s website, such as those containing highly technical product information (e.g. Avid’s system requirements pages for specific products), points are assigned.
➔ Engagement with content related to high value products. If a lead has looked at website pages featuring information about Avid’s priciest product lines, they’re assigned more points than a lead who views lower-priced products.
➔ Filling out high value forms. Points are added for registration and form submissions on Avid’s website, which are rated as higher value (e.g. a “Request a Quote” form) or lower value (e.g. a webinar registration).
“The higher value forms assign the lead a high score that sends them directly to a salesperson, while the lower value forms just add points, which may or may not be enough to push them through to sales,” Babloyan explains.
Use Tiers to Score Engagement With Assets
Avid uses a three-tier system to simplify the types of content and the scores assigned to each, where leads receive different point amounts for assets in each tier. Tiers are determined by how technical an asset is or how much information about the product it provides.
“We know at what stage of the funnel the lead is at based on what kind of content they’re looking at, so we use that to determine the tier base,” Babloyan explains.
“For example, a customer story that just says, ‘I’ve had great success using this product,’ would be a lower tier, whereas a deeply technical white paper that talks about product features will be a higher tier, because that means the person has expressed interest and engaged with the product.” A middle tier content asset, Babloyan added, might be a webinar.
How to Determine Lead Scoring Rules
So, how should you come up with your own point system? Babloyan recommends asking yourself the following questions:
➔ How valuable is the asset the prospect downloaded? Assign a higher score if the asset is deemed high-value.
➔ How much information about the product did they receive? Assign a higher score if the lead viewed more product-specific information.
➔ How engaged are they with your website? Assign a higher score if the lead viewed a greater number of pages on your website.
➔ Which products are they interested in? Assign a higher score if the lead is looking at your high-end products or services.
➔ What’s their purchase time frame? Assign a higher score if the lead is ready to buy within a timeframe that spells urgency for your particular product.
Adopt an Easy-to-Understand Scoring System
Another major change Avid made when developing this lead program was to the way it communicated lead scores to sales. Previously, Avid used an alphanumeric system, which has since been replaced with an easier-to-understand star rating system.
“Essentially, we’ve simplified the presentation of lead scores to sales, which they like because it’s really clear and straightforward,” Babloyan says.
“They don’t always have to remember what a B-2 lead is. They can just see three stars, four stars, etc., and use that to rate and prioritize their follow-ups.”
Unexpected Benefits of Better Lead Scoring
It’s still too early to offer up concrete proof of increased revenue due to Avid’s lead scoring initiative, but the early evidence shows it’s already making a difference in the company’s bottom line. Babloyan says the feedback from sales has been very positive thus far.
“They say the leads they’re getting are more relevant, and they can see the information on the lead record more clearly, such as the lead score itself, and better identify how to talk to each lead,” she says.
As a result, Avid’s lead qualification rates are improving. “We can definitely see that the sales are qualifying—I don’t see a whole lot of rejected leads,” Babloyan says. “Even if the number of the overall leads isn’t necessarily increasing, the percentage of leads that become qualified and become opportunities is growing.”
There have also been pleasantly unanticipated side effects of the improved lead scoring system, one of which has been positive feedback from prospects who are impressed at how quickly sales has contacted them.
“Sometimes it’s not just about the right score; it’s about being able to present the leads to sales in a way that they’ll call a lead faster,” Babloyan explains.
“We’ve actually had emails forwarded to us from sales saying, ‘Look, this customer wrote to say thank you for getting back to me so quickly!’ This has a positive impact on us in general as a company, because obviously a company that’s responsive is one you’re more likely to be interested in doing business with.”
Two Keys for a Successful Lead Scoring Program
To see similar success when creating your own lead scoring program, Babloyan says it’s essential to first make sure your sales and marketing departments are communicating frequently and clearly. “Talk to sales all the time,” she says.
“Make sure sales is on board with what you’re doing and understands why you’re sending a lead to them. “If you’re just implementing lead scoring without explanation, they won’t trust what you’re doing. They’ll just continue doing their own follow-ups and ignore your scoring paradigm.”
After marketing sets up rules for lead scoring, it needs to constantly measure its assumptions against the reality—which means getting sales to weigh in. To do this, Babloyan recommends two key things:
1. Provide a way for sales to give feedback. Babloyan says the email address Avid created specifically for sales to send marketing information on their leads has been invaluable in enhancing communication between departments.
“We get feedback like, ‘It would be great to have this variable incorporated into scoring,’ or, ‘I got this lead and it’s not good,’ or ‘This lead shouldn’t be mine,”” she says.
“We take this feedback and look at the lead they’re referencing to determine whether it’s a one-off issue that we need to just singularly fix, or if there’s a gap in the process somewhere that we need to improve.”
2. Schedule regular “sanity checks.” Babloyan also stresses the need to make continuous improvements. “There’s no such thing as, ‘You did lead scoring and it’s done forever,’” she says. “Business, customer behavior and the way customers buy is always changing. Lead scoring needs constant revisions and constant sanity checks to see if you’re still doing the right thing.”
One way Avid does this is by comparing the lead scores given to a segment of leads (for example, leads gathered during an event) to the true quality of the lead (determined by having sales call on all leads on that list and score them independently). This tells them if their scoring program is working, and lets them know if they need to revise point assignments.
These are just a few suggestions on how to improve your own company’s lead scoring program. What steps or strategies has your business found most effective in scoring leads? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.