Marketing, Revenue Teams, Sales | June 21, 2024

Inbound Lead Qualification and Routing

Read time: 6 minutes

Written by:

  • Eddie Reynolds
    Founder & CEO

Exec Summary

  • Most companies don’t follow inbound lead qualification criteria
  • Then 99% of those leads don’t convert
  • The valuable ones are often missed
  • Fixing this improves pipe/revenue gen
  • Set target conversion rate first
  • Should be higher than outbound conversion
  • Define your ICP and Personas
  • Build your lead scoring model
  • Consider account-based scoring
  • Prioritize your hand raisers
  • Qualification scoring exercise drill
    • See bottom of newsletter for instructions


“We have +5,000 leads but we’re having trouble converting them and salespeople don’t want to call them.”

A revenue leader shared this with me the other day and it provides a good example on the pitfalls of lead qualification and routing.

In this case, these “leads” were a jumbled mess of any and every company and contact they had collected through various channels:

  • Webinar attendees
  • White paper downloads
  • People requesting a call or demo
  • People they just downloaded from ZoomInfo

These “leads” didn’t have any qualification criteria. No set of metrics to determine which ones might convert and which likely won’t.

For many of the companies I see that do have lead qualification criteria, it’s so loose that <0.01% of these “leads” actually convert – and the company is losing a fortune paying reps to call the other 99.99%.

Since such a small percentage of these leads are extremely valuable (especially those requesting demos), they’re being missed by reps like needles in a haystack due to poor lead routing. Fixing this is one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve pipeline generation and revenue production.

Here’s how to do it:

Set Target Conversion Rate

We should start with the end in mind. What percentage of leads need to convert to pipeline and revenue to justify the expense of having sales reps call them?

For example, inbound leads must be converting at a higher percentage than outbound. Otherwise, we’re wasting money calling our inbound leads when we could just be making more cold calls.

Or, let’s say we want to keep our CAC below X% of ARR. From there, we can reverse engineer the lead conversion rate we need to justify the cost to call down on them.

Define The ICP And Personas

Next, we need to focus our efforts on the right types of companies and people. Most revenue teams do not define ICP and Personas with enough granularity. This is a topic in and of its own, but to summarize it; if you have 50 sales reps and your ICP includes 5 million companies in 30 different industries, you’re probably not focusing enough.

If you look at those companies and break them down by industry, sector, revenue, headcount, growth rate, etc., you will find DRAMATICALLY different conversion rates in your sales process – as well as your retention and expansion.

Your reps are also more productive when they’re able to focus their energy and messaging on a narrow niche.

Build Your Lead Scoring Model

We want our reps focusing on the leads that are most likely in-market/closest to buying. A lead scoring system helps us determine this, but building one from scratch isn’t easy.

We see companies struggle with this part the most.  If someone hits your pricing page, maybe it’s worth 50 points. Then once they hit 150 points, they’re a qualified lead. Is that accurate? Who knows?

You have to start somewhere, experiment and keep iterating. (We can help you figure this out, contact us!)

We suggest first looking at the deals you’ve won and the signals that are associated with them. For example, you might see that 5% of all leads that hit your pricing page 3 times converted to qualified pipeline and 25% of those to a customer. Log that, then continue to look for more patterns as you see more cycles and more data.

Consider An Account Score Instead

Now that you have your lead score, maybe consider expanding it across the entire account. B2B buying decisions are increasingly made by a committee of 10-20 different people. It’s extremely rare that your lead will be the only person influencing the decision.

This is the first step to incorporating an account-based strategy across your GTM. By combining your inbound and outbound account scoring criteria/account list, sales and marketing are aligned on who to target. This also creates greater visibility into ABM performance – you’ll know your ABM is working when people from your outbound target accounts start coming inbound.

Prioritize Your Hand Raisers

People who request a demo or a meeting with sales are fundamentally different kinds of leads – and 100x more valuable than anything I’ve talked about so far.

These “Hand Raiser” or “High Intent” leads (or accounts) should be routed immediately to the most senior sales rep that can handle them and they should get a response in minutes.

Studies show that waiting even 30 minutes to respond to one of these leads reduces your chance of even getting a meeting, let alone landing the customer, EXPONENTIALLY. If it takes 3 hours or 3 days, forget about it! Your competitor has likely already won the deal.


You might also consider letting these people just book a meeting right on your website, as we do, to make their experience smoother.

If they’re not a Hand Raiser, they may need days, months, or years of nurturing before they’re ready to buy. Calling them 2 minutes later is not going to provide them with a good experience. Instead, score these leads or accounts and have your reps work them in order of priority (by score).

This Week’s Drill: Qualification Scoring

Here’s an exercise you can do right now to get a head start on this.

(Or have us do it for you!)

  1. Measure your current lead/account conversion rate
  2. Separate “High Intent” leads from other inbound leads
  3. Filter these leads by those that fit the ICP and Personas
  4. Segment these inbound leads by different types of leads
    • i.e. The leads hitting pricing page vs. those not
  5. Discuss whether or not these conversion rates are sufficient
    • Discuss the cost to acquire customers with finance
    • Compare these conversion rates to outbound efforts
  6. Discuss your definition of “qualified” with leadership

Be the voice of prioritization

It’s incredibly tempting to get loose with lead/opportunity quality when times are tough and pressure is high. But this often makes matters worse, leading to inefficient resource spending and poor close rates down the line.

If you have accurate data, this can be a quick exercise and get a conversation going about investing more time and resources to dramatically improve the production of your sales team by focusing on more qualified leads and accounts.

When you’re ready, here’s how we can help:

Get a Free 1:1 Revenue Efficiency Workshop

Get one of our Senior Revenue Strategists to yourself for 1 hour and leave with a plan to increase the money-making power of your go-to-market operations.

Click here

Hire Us!

Bring us on as your Strategic RevOps Team and realize the growth potential of your revenue engine. There are 3 ways to work with us.

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