The lead hand-off process, i.e., determining when sales should engage with a qualified prospect, can be riddled with inconsistencies and ambiguity. The process is often an area of misalignment between sales and marketing leading to missed opportunities. Using account engagement scoring bridges this gap, leading to shortened sales cycles and more deals.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, account engagement scoring is a framework for tracking and weighing the totality of interactions and touchpoints between your organization and a prospect, individually and organizationally. The output is an account engagement score that helps marketing and sales identify hot opportunities and act on them quickly – just as they’re moving from exploration to being actively in-market.
When sales and marketing can identify prospects with an accelerating engagement trend, they can allocate their combined resources more efficiently. That is, identifying a prospect’s transition from qualified lead to in-market opportunity isn’t just a matter of the numerical value that is an account engagement score passing a threshold. It’s analyzing an organization’s engagement trend lines through the behaviors of individuals at that organization.
As marketing and sales work to create successful account-based marketing (ABM) programs, account engagement scoring becomes a vital tool. As a company becomes more proficient in their account scoring, it can refine its marketing and sales campaigns based on an improved understanding of what, where, and how its most promising prospects engage with it.
The fundamental challenge to account engagement scoring is figuring out how to define and weigh the various touchpoints to create a single score that can be tracked. The details of an account engagement scoring framework won’t be the same for every enterprise, but the variables to consider are.
Defining Variables of Account Engagement Scoring
There are three primary plains across which account engagement score variables it:
- What is the type of touchpoint?
- Who is interacting?
- What is engagement velocity?
Let me break each one down as these are umbrellas for more extensive collections of variables.
Touchpoints: The central division in types of touchpoints is whether it’s a live interaction or digital. For example, did you speak with a prospect face-to-face or by phone, or did someone download content? Another consideration is the format of the touchpoint. So when the DemandGen Content Survey 2019 identifies webinars and case studies as the top influencer content choices for B2B buyers, it makes sense to classify these content formats are signs of greater engagement than reading a blog post. The DemandGen Content Survey also reports that the perceived trustworthiness of the content source is a top priority, and the highest percentage of respondents (46%) named colleagues/peers as the most trusted source. Last, the topic of the content can be an indicator of where in the buyer’s journey the individual may be, e.g., a buyer engaging with product-centric content that includes features/functions compared to more industry or authoritative topics.
Buyer Personas: B2B sales are rarely individual decisions, certainly not a high-dollar purchase. Consequently, the who is critically important to weighing the value of a specific touchpoint. While decision-maker engagement is necessary, don’t overlook engagement by people in roles that can influence the decision-makers. The people who will be the on-the-ground end-user of your product or service are often buying committee participants, even if they aren’t ultimate decision-makers.
Engagement Velocity: Look for signs of increasing engagement within a given timeframe. Velocity covers the speed with which specific individuals are engaging with your organization and the rate with which more people at the same organization are starting to engage with you. For example, one buyer sporadically engaging with content over the span of two months isn’t as compelling as two or more buyers engaging with content over the span of two weeks.
Assigning and Attributing Value to Touchpoints
To analyze account engagement scoring, you do need to assign numerical values to touchpoints. This is account engagement scoring’s greatest challenge: Knowing how to weigh individual interactions relative to each other. Was it the white paper that was the tipping point? Was it the live webinar? These are difficult questions to answer, especially as the answers will change with new campaigns and new sales priorities.
The only way to get through the process to develop an account engagement scoring framework, both initially and on an iterative basis, is to analyze your aggregated lead behavior. Analyzing how leads, closed deals, and missed opportunities did and did not engage with you clarifies which tactics and touchpoints have their most significant impact and under which circumstances. This analysis also reveals where your organization’s marketing and sales strengths and weaknesses are.
Ideally, an effective account engagement score program does more than enable you to improve the effectiveness of closely aligned marketing and sales activities. It will also allow you to get predictive about when a lead is about to ripen and capitalize quickly on the opportunity.