Scoring SMB leads is tough. Enterprise lead scoring methods that are typically very data intensive don’t translate that well to the long-tail. It is better to focus on disqualifying obviously bad leads than trying to pick the best ones.

I call this separating the “probably nots”, those that will likely not be qualified to buy from you, from the “maybes”, those that might be qualified to buy. Here are the high level steps in this process:

  • Develop a simple customer profile. Think about the things that your prospects with definitely be doing and definitely not doing. I like to focus on declarative statements that highlight how they operate their business. For example, “they will actively be investing in growth by buying ads on Google and Facebook” or “they be using a competitors product”. I like to focus on the profile on specific statements like this rather than semi arbitrary firmographic data, though there may be cases where things like number of employees really matter (e.g. if you business is based on selling seat licenses).
  • Find proxies for the key customer features. Once you have a basic customer profile figure out how you can identify the prospects that have those features at scale. I’m a big fan of “technographics”. These are signals that you can identify directly from a prospect’s website. You may also want to consider other modern firmographics here.
  • Continue to monitor the “probably nots”. You’ll want to filter out leads that fail to meet the minimum features of you customer profile. But, keep an eye on any changes over time. Just because a prospect doesn’t meet your “maybe” criteria today doesn’t mean that they won’t meet this criteria in the future.
  • Allow accounts to “play their way in“. This is admittedly a pretty ham handed segmentation technique that is optimized for scale rather than precision. Keep an eye on behavioral signals that may tell you that a prospect is ripe for engagement even if they fall into the “probably not” bucket.

As with any lead scoring or segmentation method, you’ll want to gut check your initial customer profile over time. Make sure that you incorporate any new profile information as your customer base evolves.