Lead Scoring Playbook for Manufacturers That Sell Through Distributors

Are your distributors receiving sales leads that are clearly ranked in terms of their sales potential?

Treating all leads as equals is not only inefficient, but also inhibits revenue potential (spending time and resources on an unlikely buyer, while a higher-potential opportunity sits idle). This is why prioritizing sales activity — known as lead scoring — is so critical to business performance. It allows sales professional to focus more time on active selling to the right leads and less time on administration, qualifications and research.

If you’ve been following our blog, you’re familiar with the advantages of lead scoring in the channel. If not, you can catch up by reading the 4 Important Benefits of Lead Scoring in the Channel, where we explain what lead scoring is and spell out why it’s so valuable in an indirect sales environment.

In this blog, we’ll take lead scoring a step further and examine best practices for creating channel-specific lead scoring criteria. You’ll learn in greater detail how to define and apply an actionable set of lead scoring criteria for ranking the perceived value of each lead. Armed with this information, sales can then better prioritize and act on those leads deemed more qualified and ready for engagement over those that aren’t.

We’ve found that lead scoring models in the B2B sales space, where points are assigned to pageviews, email clicks, and other engagement statistics, can result in complexity to the point where the core purpose of prioritization is lost. Applying lead scoring to the channel requires a different and more direct approach than traditional direct selling models.

As manufacturers generate leads for their distributors, they should focus on these five criteria:

1. Does the lead match my Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)?

An Ideal Customer Profile is a known and agreed to set of criteria on what makes a great customer. This could be company size, location, industry, or other metrics that inform you who is most likely to buy the product or solutions you sell.

2. Does the lead match my target persona?

Does the title and/or responsibility of the prospect match who you are trying to reach in the organization that has decision-making authority, budget authority, or any other key consideration in the buying journey?

3. What is the source of the lead?

Did it come from a trade show as a result of a passing conversation or a direct quote/pricing inquiry on the website? Was it a marketing-generated lead from a campaign or a highly qualified sales lead based on pre-screening criteria? The source is often a strong indicator of qualification level.

4. What is the level of interest?

Related to the source above but any contextual information related to where a prospect is in the buying cycle – information gathering, committed to a path, comparing products, ready to buy — will help determine a lead’s ranking.

5. What is the opportunity/deal size?

This often requires further sales qualification, but inquiries around certain products or solutions can signal the potential revenue related to a lead. Deal size is an important criteria in prioritization but can also become a distraction if sales professionals chase the largest potential deal sizes at the expense of others. Be sure this metric is viewed in conjunction with the others.

Using this set of criteria, your marketing team doesn’t need to generate more leads in order to see revenue gains. You need only to prioritize the ones you already have — distinguishing the hot leads from the cool ones based on the above set of criteria — before sharing them with your channel partners. With leads that are prioritized based on their sales potential and that contain key contextual information, channel partners will be better prepared to convert more opportunities into sales.