Why Lead Scoring and Personas Need To Be Connected

Lead scoring and personas are popular topics in B2B marketing. However, the two are generally discussed separately.

Until B2B marketers begin talking about personas and lead scoring together they are missing an simple way to identify missed sales opportunities.

What if your objective is to deliver highly engaged leads to sales, but your persona indicates that sizable segments of your audience are not likely to engage with marketing content or even to register. Your lead scoring is excluding a valuable segment of your audience and you have the information you need to identify the issue!

Let’s look at lead scoring, personas, and the connection that needs to be made.

Lead Scoring

B2B marketing uses lead scoring to determine what prospects should be sent to sales and when. Lead scores are often based on a combination of the following criteria:

  • Role, including function, title and seniority.
  • Company characteristics, including company size, industry and structure.
  • Observed behavior, including the marketers website, content and email, as well as social media and other observable behavior.
  • Explicit provided information, such as a timeframe to purchase, role in the purchase process or existing solutions.

B2B Marketing Personas

B2B marketers use personas to develop a better understanding of their audience. Personas potentially include how your audience engages with content, marketing or sales. It can also include priorities, risk profiles, media usage, role in the purchasing process and numerous other elements and anecdotes.

The Missing Connection

What do your personas say about how your prospects research and purchase? Is that information aligned with your lead scoring, across all segments, or does your lead scoring model run afoul of your personas? Here are examples of issues to watch for:

  • You expect high scoring leads to engage with content on your site or through your emails when your persona indicates they are more likely to look to peers or publishers for information.
  • You expect prospects to provide accurate information about their purchasing plans, when research shows only 36% of buyers provide accurate answers to these questions.
  • You expect decision makers to attend your webcast or view your product demo when your persona indicates they rely on the recommendation of their team for more technical aspects of the evaluation.

In Summary

If your personas and lead scoring rules are like those of most B2B marketers, you are missing an opportunity to identify segments of your target audience that are interested in your solution but will not provide the explicit information or exhibit the behavior needed for marketing to pass them on to sales.

Are you ready to acknowledge the disconnect between your lead scoring and personas and begin begin using your personas to improve your lead scoring and sales and marketing integration?

Your Turn

Is the current approach “good enough” for B2B marketers because is supports automation? Or is this an area B2B marketers need to take on in order to improve lead scoring and drive bottom line impact? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: Putting the Puzzle Together by Ken Teegardin

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  • http://www.buyerology.com/ Tony Zambito

    Hi Eric, Good job here on presenting a fundamental flaw in persona development and lead management. The two do need to meet and map to the goals and the behaviors of your customers. I’ve echoed for years as you know – the need to conduct qualitative buyer research to truly understand the goals and behaviors of your customers. Your example of how your buyer persona prefers research and published versus emails is spot on as example. Tony

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Tony!

  • http://twitter.com/StephanieTilton Stephanie Tilton

    Erik,
    I love how you’ve highlighted another angle when it comes to tapping into buyer personas to better connect with prospective buyers. As you so rightly point out, solid persona research should unearth content/info/registration preferences and habits. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Stephanie

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Glad you liked it, thank you for taking the time to comment!

  • carmenhill

    Eric, your posts are always interesting, but this is one of the best! Valuable insight on a topic you don’t hear much about.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Wow, thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/MaureenB2B Maureen Blandford

    Hey friend. I definitely agree with what you think the holes are. I’m less clear on what you think the solution is? Or are you calling on the industry to come up with a better approach?

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      LOL. For purposes of the blog post, the “solution” is simply considering the behavior of our audience when developing lead scoring models. To borrow your own line, we need stratification here (only in this case it is stratifying across the audience).

      Realistically, one of the near-term outcomes is to identify gaps and start picking up the phone more. There are also different approaches to nurture that looking at your pesonas may uncover.

      Longer-term, there are two additional opportunities I see to identify and prioritize companies that may be in-market:

      1) Looking at company activity. Through companies like Demandbase you can tell what companies are visiting your site, what their behavior is on your site, etc, even if they never register. Of course in Eloqua or Marketo, you can look across all people from a company that you have identified as well.
      2) Looking at off-site activity. There are a number of initiatives in the industry right now that will give marketers access to data about what content and information potential prospects are consuming off their own sites.

      For both of these, you would need to check this information against what you know about each segment’s behavior (back to the persona) and determine if this information would actually give you the ability to identify prospects or not.

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