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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: March 16, 2023

With the many marketing approaches in today's world—from email to social media to SMS—marketers rarely suffer from a lack of leads. On the contrary, as a marketer you're often faced with generating too rather than too few. The question, then, becomes what to do with all those leads once you've gathered them.

That's where lead scoring software comes in. By helping you assess and rank all your leads, these software systems enable you to prioritize which ones should be followed up on and in what order. Whether offered as part of a larger lead management software suite or as a stand-alone product, lead scoring software grades leads in order to identify those most likely to result in a sale.

This buyer's guide discusses the specific functions of lead scoring software so you can choose the right one for your own marketing, sales and business needs.

Here's what we'll be covering:

What Is Lead Scoring Software?

Lead Scoring Software vs. Lead Management Software

Common Features of Lead Scoring Software

Key Considerations

What Is Lead Scoring Software?

Lead scoring software's primary purpose is to save busy salespeople time, so they can close more sales from higher quality marketing leads.

In practice, this means that the software takes the leads you've captured from a variety of sources (whether email, web forms, other software systems etc.) and analyzes them in order to rate them against certain benchmarks. This then generates a ranking of which leads are the most likely to result in a successful sale/conversion, providing a list to the sales team of which prospects to contact and in what order. The software may also recommend particular mediums or types of messaging that will be particularly likely to appeal to those leads.

This process is sometimes called predictive lead scoring, often referred to simply as "lead scoring." This differs slightly from rules-based lead scoring, which assigns specific, predetermined numerical values to leads in your marketing database based on particular characteristics and behaviors that you've entered into the system. Predictive lead scoring is more complex, relying on a statistics-based algorithm rather than the anecdotal behaviors that determine rules-based scoring.

Lead Scoring Software vs. Lead Management Software

Although you can find and purchase independent lead scoring software, you are just as likely to find it as a feature within a larger lead management software suite. Here are some of the features you'll find in those software suites, in addition to lead scoring:

  • Lead capture. Generates a greater volume of data from people who are interested in the products and services you offer.

  • Lead storage and distribution. Lead tracking software allows you to manage the flow of leads captured through various channels (such as email and web forms) and store those leads within a database.

  • Lead nurturing. Let you check the status of your leads and automate the process of following up with them by delivering relevant content and maintaining a relationship until the lead is ready to make a purchase.

  • Lead segmentation. The process of sorting leads into various categories based on criteria such as geography, professional qualification, job role or industry. This function is intimately related to lead scoring.

  • Pipeline management. Allows you to track the status of potential customers or leads and to better view and understand the sales process as a whole.

Common Features of Lead Scoring Software

Predictive lead scoring

The software employs a complex algorithm that accounts for a lead's previous interactions with your organization and assesses it against a value scale determined by information in your customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing systems. It then ranks that lead's likelihood of converting to a sale. These rankings can be used by your sales team to prioritize more likely sales opportunities.

Rules-based scoring

Traditional lead scoring (which is less common today) is rules-based, meaning that ranking is determined by a set of factors that you have decided upon and entered into the system yourself. It is generally less accurate than predictive lead scoring.

Pipeline management

Part of successful leads scoring involves recognizing where a lead is located along your sales pipeline and intervening with contact or content at the right moment. Lead scoring software will help you with this by giving you a full view of your pipeline in regard to the ranking of your leads and when/how it will be best to contact them.

Analysis and reports

Analyzing the data from your captured leads, and ranking that data against other information found in your databases in order to provide reports on which leads are most likely to convert to sales, is the inherent functionality of leads scoring software.

Lead-scoring-in-software-platform-Freshsales

A lead score as presented in Freshsales.

Key Considerations

Other factors to take into consideration when picking the best lead scoring software for you or your organization may include:

  • Integration with other systems. Because the predictive algorithms of lead scoring software rely on data about historical lead behaviors found in your CRM and marketing databases, the software will need to access these systems. If your lead scoring software is part of a larger lead management suite, it may already be a function of your CRM or marketing system. If you are purchasing stand-alone lead scoring software, you must ensure it can access the data found in your other systems or else the predictive algorithms will be faulty.

  • Cloud-based software versus on-premise software. Prior to the advent of cloud computing, software was largely purchased with the understanding that it needed to be hosted, implemented and maintained by the purchaser. This required the space for additional hardware, such as servers, as well as the technical know-how and resources to keep it running, often in the form of a dedicated IT team.

    This model may still work for some large, enterprise-level businesses, but for smaller businesses it requires a high initial outlay, as well as maintenance as time goes on, making it less affordable at the onset. That's why, for the most part, today's software—including lead scoring software—is hosted via the cloud, meaning that it is provided by the vendor over the internet and doesn't require your business to house any hardware or be able to troubleshoot malfunctions on your own. Be sure to check with your vendor about how the software you're purchasing will be hosted, to make sure it works for your business' specific needs.