How to Qualify a Lead with Marketing Automation

Lead quality has long been a point of contention between marketing and sales. What if you could turn that contention into contentment?  

How? By integrating a marketing automation platform.

One of the reasons that our sales team loves using marketing automation is because of its lead qualification capabilities. 

Lead scoring and lead grading are two commonly used techniques to qualify leads — that is, to determine if a lead is worth passing from your marketing team on to sales. It’s important to know the difference between the two. 

Lead scoring: Automatically scoring leads with a numerical value to indicate how interested they are in your product or service. By assigning points to the prospect’s actions you deem the most valuable, like visiting the pricing page or requesting a demo, you can create a score for your leads that will show how active they have been and how high their interest level is.

Lead grading: Automatically evaluating leads with a letter grade (A — F) based on a number of factors. Grading leads ensures that the leads being passed from marketing to sales match your company’s ideal customer profile.

Marketers can use these scores and grades to automate the lead assignment process, so that only leads who meet a threshold score and grade get passed on to the sales team. Only high-quality leads will make the cut. 


It’s important to work with your sales team to agree on lead scoring and grading criteria for qualified leads. Because your sales team spends every day talking to customers, they are going to be your best resource for understanding what particular actions best qualify a lead.

You should also work closely with your sales team to determine at what point the lead handoff between marketing and sales should occur. Being strategic about this step in the buying process ensures that leads aren’t falling through the cracks and guarantees a smooth experience for your customers.


Go beyond the A+ score that’s listed in a  prospect record by evaluating each of the criteria that you’ve discussed with your sales team. 

Who is your ideal buyer? For example, are you dealing with a B2B or B2C company? How long is their sales cycle? Is this lead an executive or a director? 

If your sales and marketing team hasn’t already designed your buyer personas, now is a great time to start! Here are three things to keep in mind:

  • Note who can benefit most from your product
  • Give your personas a name (Carla Chief Marketing Officer, etc)
  • Write down their needs, challenges, and how your product can help them

Double checking this criteria can prevent headaches down the line.


A quick glance at your prospect records can tell you all you need to know here. Take a look at your lead’s activities to see what they’ve been doing on your site. 

Are they looking at white papers, blog posts, and webinars? This kind of activity indicates interest in your company, but does not mean that these leads are ready to buy. 

Looking at your pricing page or requesting a product demo on your site, on the other hand, indicates that a lead is showing intent. These are your hotter leads!

Ensure that your scoring model is weighted more towards these intent signals in order to prioritize the most high-quality leads. 


This information can also be found in your prospect records. 

While a lead’s score and grade might be off the chart, you don’t want to pass them along to your sales team if they’re only an intern. 

Make sure your grading criteria takes “job title” into consideration to ensure these prospects  are a position of influence before passing them off to sales.


Double check that no one on your sales team is currently working with another lead from the same company by leveraging lead and contact status fields in your CRM.  Always be sure to have the same rep follow up with the same lead to guarantee the best customer experience.


Don’t shy away from artificial intelligence (AI). AI offers an advantage in the market that others may not have when it comes to vetting leads. 

Pardot’s Einstein Lead Scoring finds leads that are a great fit for your company based on their persona. It helps align sales and marketing to make your job feel seamless, and takes care of other responsibilities, including:

  • Prioritizing leads and determining where to focus efforts
  • Scoring leads by how well they fit your company’s successful conversion patterns
  • Allowing you to see which fields influence each lead score most
  • By using machine learning, Predictive Lead Scoring provides a simpler, faster, and more accurate solution than traditional rules-based lead-scoring approaches.

Einstein Behavior Scoring, on the other hand, lets you know when leads are ready to buy based on their behavior. With Einstein Behavior Scoring, marketers can:

  • Know when leads are ready to buy
  • Focus on the people who mean the most to your business
  • Score prospects on engagement activity
  • Place the Einstein Scoring component on your prospect records to see granular, meaningful insights

Learn more about how Pardot Einstein can help you qualify leads! 


Taking these few extra steps can help ensure that your sales and marketing teams continue to work together in harmony. Keep in mind that this process will become more efficient over time.  

Learn more about how to align your sales and marketing teams with marketing automation: Marketing Automation and Your CRM: Better Together.

Marketing Automation and Your CRM: Better Together. Get the E-book

This post was originally written and posted by Jenna Hanington on July 21, 2014. Updated April 2020 by Emily Fultz. 

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