I was fascinated an intrigued to read about a start-up company called Inbound Score that is literally just opening for business. Its business is simple but powerful: it takes email sales leads and automatically scores them for you.

In a simple application, supposed you have a "contact us" form on your website. Information from the form is generally sent to you via email. What you know about the person contacting you is generally very little. And if you are getting any volume of such leads, you can immediately see the value of rating them.

According to an article in VentureBeat, what Inbound Score offers is a new tool that seamlessly integrates with your email software and scans new messages for sales leads based on parameters your provide. When it encounters a lead, it uses the email address supplied by the sender to scour the web, social networks and private databases. What is returned to you is the original lead with up to 25 additional data fields appended, along with a score that rates the lead on a 1-100 scale. Pricing for this service starts at $29 per month.

As you can surely see, this is a new spin on what many B2B publishers are already providing (or trying to provide) to advertisers -- basic lead contact information, enhanced with additional data to further qualify the lead, and some kind of lead score.

This concept isn't entirely new, but it's a neat spin on the concept, particularly the notion of scoring the lead when it is delivered to an inbox. If services like this take off, publishers will have to consider both the information they are supplying as part of their lead programs, as well as the format. Excel files (still the most common way leads are delivered) will start to look very tired by comparison.

And let's not forget the opportunities here for data publishers who can be powering tools such as this with fast access to proprietary, structured data. There are lots of interesting angles here, including possible a la carte up-selling of deep company or individual backgrounders.

Exciting stuff!