Between inbound leads, tradeshows, webinars, list purchases, and your amazing email newsletter, your CRM is now awash in a sea of leads—which isn’t the worst problem to have. But how do you know which ones are the “right ones” to follow up with when you have quote-carrying sales teams with little time to sort through it all? Enter lead scoring models.

The driving force behind many marketing automation systems, lead scoring can be as simple or complex as you make it. Understanding why you should do lead scoring is just one piece of the puzzle for marketers—you also need to get buy in from your sales counterparts to have faith in, and trust the system if you want to action on your lead scoring plans.

If you present a scoring model focused too heavily on the attributes important to marketing, you’ve already lost sales buy-in. And if your model is dependent on complicated relationships between variables with too many levels of complexity, it won’t scale well, rendering it difficult to use. But if you come to the table with a scoring model that prioritizes the most important sales concerns with common-sense business needs, well, you’ll find that getting sales buy-in your scoring model isn’t the hardest thing you’ll have to do this week.

There’s more than one right way to do this.

When it comes to lead scoring, there are literally dozens of variables to consider, which is why you need to come up with a scoring model or models based on attributes specific to your business. Many teams have just a single scoring model, while others have as many as 5 or more! Take a look at some of most common models, and you’ll get a good sense of what may sound most appealing to your sales team:


Probably the most commonly understood scoring model, behavioral scoring measures explicit or implicit actions performed by prospects to understand their level of interest and engagement. Whether they’re visiting specific pages on your website, viewing or interacting with your content, or engaging with your sales and social activities, behavior scoring is based solely on actions taken (or not taken) by a prospect. This level of visibility into lead activity enables your sales team to understand whether a prospect is performing passive research, which awards a lower score, or actively searching for a solution, which awards a higher one, and lays the groundwork for more personalized and relevant follow up.


If you find yourself spending too much time manually qualifying leads, demographic scoring will help you more efficiently rank your prospect database and start spending more time getting them ready for sales. Using specific buyer attributes like job title, annual revenue, or number of employees, this kind of scoring model is a clear indicator of sales fitness and sales readiness, and allows you to prioritize who should receive follow-up first.

Bonus Tip: Demographic scoring also helps you measure how well you’re targeting your marketing. If you find that certain channels consistently generate under-qualified leads, you can shift your focus and efforts toward those that do.

Buyer Persona

Similar to demographic scoring, but uniquely its own, buyer persona scoring works when you group like-demographic profiles into a single role. This can be effective for lead nurturing and sales follow-up when you need to target several types of roles within a single department, all of which could have potential purchasing power.

A great example of this is most larger technology organizations, wherein senior managers, junior managers, technology buyers, or even interns could have a say in recommending a purchase—but you would certainly want to nurture them each differently based on organization structure, and qualify them based on different criteria even if they’re searching for the same solution.

Buying Cycle

At Yesler, we commonly refer to buyer cycle scoring as “ARC” scoring because it’s based largely on prospect behavior to determine where they are in a specific stage of the buying cycle—Awareness, Research, or Consideration. And if you’ve already got content scoring down, this model also takes into account the type of content consumed by a prospect, rather than only scoring based on how much content they’ve consumed. If a hefty portion of your leads come from nurtured leads or in-bound activities, go with this model.

Bonus Tip: How to Set Up Buyer Cycle Scoring in Marketing Automation


For enterprise sales or larger organizations, it can be useful to implement scoring at the account level. Maybe you have multiple decision makers responsible for the purchase, and you would like to determine the sales-readiness of the entire account based on the sum of their interactions. This would be useful when purchasing decisions and approvals of an organization span several departments like marketing, accounting and technology.

Vertical or Business Unit

In unique use cases, it can be a good idea to score your leads against a specific vertical that can either be related to general product categories or specific industry segmentations. If you have a single organization that offers products or solutions that each represent a narrow slice of a larger ecosystem, scoring along the verticals allows you to qualify your leads based on behavioral attributes within that narrow slice.

This is also a great scoring model for determining which current accounts may be a good fit for cross-selling different services.

Engagement or Net Promoter

Engagement or Net Promoter scoring models are best suited for existing customers or accounts. This model helps you create rankings based on known activity, behavior, or feedback from clients to determine who is active and using the product or service, and who is satisfied or unsatisfied with the product or service. You would want to use this scoring model to focus on identifying your best customers to leverage their positive stories, or to identify your unhappiest customers to manage their churn rate.

At the end of the day, there is no one, single scoring model that is right. The best scoring model for you is going to depend on what business needs you have, and what questions you’re trying to get answered.

For more guidance on aligning your sales and marketing teams around marketing automation, lead scoring models and other best practices, check out the Marketing Automation Owners Manual.