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3 Reasons Lead Scoring can be a Bad Idea

When implementing Marketing Automation, one of the inevitable questions becomes "are we going to use lead scoring?" It's an intrinsic part of leading MA platforms such as Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot. If you're not familiar with it, lead scoring allows you to place value on actions, assets and even frequencies of activity and produce a "score" to define which prospects are engaged and which are not.

While I'm a believer in lead scoring, I don't always feel it's the best fit for every organization. It really depends on a number of factors including your products, the sales model, and the customer journey from awareness to purchase.

So if your Sales or Marketing VP is asking for lead scoring, take a moment and consider these three reasons why lead scoring may not be a good fit for your company:

  1. It may not fit your business - Lead scoring has alot to do with repeat visits and repeat actions. Watching (and scoring) each action a prospect takes usually requires a few web visits to become vaulable to Sales. I've worked with companies where repeat visits were rare, trying to score a prospect off of a single web visit to a few pages was simply not of value to Sales. I've also worked with companies where Sales broke prospects into two or three simple camps (based on the registered action they performed, such as downloading a whitepaper or an eval of software) and those camps became the scores (e.g. high, medium and low). Lead scoring would have simply been overkill and unnecesary.

  2. Your reps are calling everyone anyway - Every tech company I've worked for had a similar sales mantra - Sales would call the same day the lead came in. And the next day. And the next day. If your reps are already calling everyone, the very need for scoring (to separate the "interested" from the not so interested) becomse somewhat moot.

  3. Your reps need intel, not integers - The lead score is intended on helping Sales identify who needs attention. Given that Sales calls everyone, what would provide them with more value and a better shot at closing a deal is to provide them with intelligence on the prospect. In my last stint as VP of Marketing, I focused my MA energies on providing sales with a single view into all pertinent activities of the prospects they were calling on. If you can arm a rep with detail on what buttons to press by informing them the prospect spent alot of time in the compliance section of your website, wouldn't that be helpful?

So if you find that lead scoring isn't as helpful, but you're being asked to implement it, consider instead utilizing the integration between your MA solution and your CRM and provide as much activity detail as is possible to your reps. Marketing has so much access to information about what's important to the prospect, how they think and where they are in the sales funnel - it's important to share that with sales. Here are some basic steps to get you going:

  1. Meet with Sales - ask them what they'd like to know about their prospects. You may get some off the wall, unrelated answers like "I want to know how many users they have" but take it as it comes and hone the conversation in around the types of actions possible by a prospect - webpage visits, frequency, downloads of various kinds of marketing assets, requests for quotes, etc.

  2. See What's Possible - If you have a MA solution in place, figure out which of the actions can be tracked and spawn an activity logged in the lead inside yout CRM.

  3. Build this for Sales - When you plan on implementing this, meet again with sales and propose a specific way to provide them the information - from the types of actions to even the specific way the activity will be worded. Everything. You're building this to help Sales so it needs to be exactly what they want to see.

Now, I've only listed 3 steps and, it's obviously going to be more difficult than what I've laid out here, but the steps above will serve as a great mindset of how to get this accomplished.


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