Lead Scoring Lessons Learned Using GPCT

Before marketing automation software exploded onto the marketing world over the past 10 years, scoring your leads (i.e., judging them wisely) was still crucial to successful selling, including selling to the leads that are the best fit. When first following up on leads years ago as a green inbound marketer, I followed-up on every incoming lead regardless of its background or fit, looking to close ANY business in order to gain that proverbial momentum. Some of the closed business was a great fit, some proved to not be such a great fit. Unfortunately, my valuable sales time was often spent on leads I could have avoided, if I had a method. Nowadays I score leads within 20 minutes or less of discovery, rather than multiple meetings.

darts-857092_640.jpgBut how did I get there?

Trials and mistakes prepare your mind for the needed tools and equipment which later come across your desk, so it didn’t surprise me when Pete Caputa’s GPCT article struck a chord that to this day still helps me focus and organize our lead scoring. GPCT is a sales acronym which stands for goals, plans, challenges, and timelines. GPCT allows you to:

  1. Have the actionable information you need to match your offer to your prospect’s situation.
  2. Allows you to reduce the number of unqualified leads you follow-up with on each day.

As a prospect considers your service, successful qualification means you should lead the prospect into awareness of the four GPCT areas. Keep in mind there is no perfect question set. Start with basic questions for each letter, and continually improve upon them.

So other than the natural tendency of “if they can’t give me GPCT, maybe I shouldn’t follow-up further on this lead”, how should you score leads using GPCT?

Make sure you and the prospect share the same values.Every product or service has cultural value attached. I know what you’re thinking:  “But Ryan, I sell coat hangers. What value could that possibly express?” To begin with, orderliness and organization. That’s right:  People who don’t value orderliness and organization probably won’t want your hangers. I sell inbound marketing, so if a company doesn’t believe in investing in its website or its content in order to engage with and speak to its potential customers in the way those potential customers are expecting to be spoken to, then I need to hold off on talking benefits and features and get back to values. It’s crucial to ask prospects if they value digital relationships with their customers, and whether the marketing activities they engage in affirm the values inbound marketing brings.

The sensitive relationship between goals and accountability.Prospects and potential customers want pricing before they buy something. This will probably never change. This is still true for complex sales in the B2B world. “Just give me some rough numbers, so I know what I’m dealing with”, they say. One of the diamonds of sales knowledge I’ve found over the years is the focus on success a tentative numeric goal communicates. I’m not saying prospects without goals don’t care about doing well. Through my experience those who are willing to allow you to lead an early discussion on goal-setting are, usually a better fit for working with. Be ready to ask:  “It is perfectly ok that you don’t have goals now, but if we ended up working together, how would you feel about me holding you accountable to setting reasonable goals from month to month as we progress?” Goals can be tied to the work we do, so you know not only that you are getting results, but how and why you are getting those results? If someone will not allow for even a soft, gradual accountability system on goals, they may be more trouble than they are worth, even if you make the sale.

The reality of what things cost in today’s world.  If you are a B2C company selling a small ticket item, talking about cultural values and goals may not be the best use of your time. In that case a company might be qualified merely by whether or not it can afford the service. This is the quickest qualification known to a salesperson. But for everyone selling 4-dollar-figure and 5-dollar-figure services, we need to start preparing ourselves for having our prices challenged. Discipline yourself to ask, prior to revealing your prices: “What price expectations do you have for this service?, or, “What budget did you have in mind for this service?” Do not immediately take their pushback on price as sale-ending. Remember, people’s threshold for price is proportionate to their knowledge of the value of what they’re buying and the depth of company pain to which your service speaks. Be flexible and willing to return to value checks if they push back on price. Save your best transparency for explaining why your prices are what they are, make sure this explanation fits your prospects needs, they will usually appreciate the gesture.

Lead scoring can get complicated, but I strongly believe these guidelines simplify the matter for immediate use in the sales process. In recap… GPCT is the acronym. It stands for goals, plans, challenges, and timelines. Your purpose as a salesperson is to obtain this information as a means to qualification. How much a prospect is willing and able to give you out of the set is the first qualifier, followed by values, goals (as they relate to accountability), and the reality of costs. This should be your first steps for qualification. Abide by those things and you will spend less time on unfit opportunities, and more time following up on leads that make the most sense for your business.