3 lead scoring mistakes to avoid

Phil Vallender avatar
Phil Vallender

Apr 09, 2015

Avoid these three pitfalls to ensure that your lead scoring system is both effective and scalable from the outset.

Lead scoring is a powerful technique for filtering the leads that marketing passes to sales and, like most areas of marketing automation, is most effective when tested and refined in collaboration with sales. When faced with a scoring blank canvas, however, it's easy to fall into a number of traps that make it difficult to later analyse and improve the system.

To ensure that you create a system that all stakeholders understand, that is scalable and that can be continuously improved, start by avoiding these common mistakes.

1. Too detailed

The first and easiest trap to fall into is that of making your lead scoring system too detailed.

When first setting up your lead scoring system is easy to start awarding small scores to a large range of different factors. In fact, this is often encouraged by a lot of the guidance available out there. By the end of the process, you've allocated a plethora of point scores to a plethora of signals.

Overly detailed systems are most likely to come about when the target score (the score at which a lead becomes qualified) is set very high, 1000 or more for example. This leads to lots of low scores being awarded and prospects having to tick lots of boxes in order to become qualified leads, which doesn’t align to reality for most SMEs. 

Resist the temptation to set the target score too high and keep the number of signals to which you assign scores to a minimum.

Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing here and learn all about this  powerful approach to generating leads and sales.

2. Too complicated

The most effective lead scoring systems are simple ones. When faced with that initial blank canvas however, it can be easy to drift from simple intentions to a complex outcome. From a structured system that is clear and concise to one that is overly complex and convoluted, in which any structure is lost.

The more complex you make your system, the harder you make it to interrogate and analyse the data later on. In a simple system on the other hand, people can easily look at particular lead score and quickly identify the sequence of events that led up to it. This means they spend less time following convoluted trails to the source of a high lead score and, in the case of sales, more time trusting it and talking to prospects. 

Most marketing automation vendors allow, and even encourage, you to create complex, layered lead scoring rules drenched in logic arguments. Avoid doing so and keep things as simple as is practically possible, you will thank yourself later.

3. Too generous

The third pitfall to avoid is being too generous with points. Falling into this trap is even more likely if the lead scoring system is already too complicated or too detailed. When this is the case it's easy to start awarding points to actions specifically with the intention of bumping more leads up to the target score for qualification. Given that the aim of lead scoring of is pass the highest quality leads to sales, this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.

It's worth mentioning that if sales wants to dip into the less qualified leads, then let them. Just don’t devalue your lead scoring initiative by artificially inflating scores so that sales get passed the leads earlier than they should.

Each time you assign a score, ask yourself if you awarding a real buying signal. If not, think again.

Keep it simple, stupid

As the phrase coined by Kelly Johnson in the seventies means, most systems work best when kept simple and not overcomplicated. This is as true of lead scoring as it is of anything Johnson and his team worked on. If you can resist the urges that you will no doubt feel to make your system too detailed, complicated or generous, you'll be on to a winner.

When you do keep your lead scoring simple, sales and marketing alignment is easier to achieve as you spend less time explaining, and more time collaborating on and refining the system together.

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