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Building The Most Sophisticated Lead Grading System

3 min read
September 16, 2013

Warning: this post shares secrets on how Salesloft qualifies sales leads. We wrote it to help your marketing and sales efforts.

My favorite sales blogger Geoffrey James once said:

Sales is like panning for gold or digging for diamonds. You have to turn over a lot of dirt before you find the gems.

Panning for gold with a bunch of people wading the creek however is way too outdated. We’re going to show you how we do it with systems and processes. These systems have helped us add 50+ paying customer companies over the last three months. Are you ready?

Step 1: Generate massive amounts of inbound leads

We do this through our content strategy, community initiatives, influencer marketing, and product virility. Whatever you do, find a way to bring them in. We generate over 1,000 inbound leads (new product users) monthly with myself as the full-time marketer and Greg as our student intern and blog champion.

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Step 2: Request Social Sign-in

We built ours with the LinkedIn API. You can use services like Gigya and Janrain. We only ask three things of our users on signup:

  • Corporate email address (helps us understand the company better and lets us know we’re working with a professional
  • CRM used (we prefer Salesforce but are ok with other professional systems. If they select “none”, it’s a red flag.
  • Social sign-in with LinkedIn (Simple oAuth – we then auto-fill in first and last name in the form to verify accuracy)

Step 3: Fill in the rest of the users details programatically via their LinkedIn profile (requires some dev work)

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The profile provides us with Company, Title, Industry, City, # of Connections, LinkedIn public profile, Twitter account (if connected to the LinkedIn, and Company Size). We populate our marketing automation system and CRM with this information.

Step 4. With all this prospect data, begin to filter leads by their demographics. We use Pardot automation rules.

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The point is to allow us to stay focused on the most important prospects. We’ve identified that our ideal buyer prospect has the following characteristics:

  • Senior level title: Director or VP
  • City: Atlanta is the best
  • CRM: Salesforce is the best
  • Industry: Computer Software is the best
  • Connections: The higher the better

We create automation rules to promote the prospects with these characteristics.

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Then automatically, the system will assign a “D” letter grade to each new prospect and adjust it by the criteria above. We’re left with a sortable list of scores for prospects. “A+” is the top grade someone can receive.

This makes it simple for sales to pop in the system and know exactly who to reach out to on a weekly basis.

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This system saves hours in helping sales and marketing understand prospects who are most likely to buy our product. It’s a bit complex but reach out to us and we’re happy to help/share more.

Big shout-out to Anthony Zhang at Salesloft for helping set this up, Tim Dorr & Rob Forman for helping code in social sign-on, and our technology partners (Pardot, Salesforce & LinkedIn).