If you have a marketing automation solution in place, you’ve probably enabled lead scoring as a key element in the early stages of your lead management process. Research has shown that that lead scoring can improve everything from productivity to conversion to revenue. But, as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
Lead scoring has a very specific purpose: assessing the likelihood that a prospect is interested in starting down the buyer’s journey. Forcing your lead scoring model to serve too many other purposes as well may weaken its effectiveness. Here are five things that probably shouldn’t be in your lead scoring model, and which other tool in your automation toolbox might be the better fit.
Area or Product of Interest
Organizations with multiple product and/or service offerings would often like to know, early in the lead lifecycle, which of those offerings is of most interest to the prospect. This isn’t really lead scoring, though: it’s actually product scoring, and the two don’t belong together in the same model. Why? What if a prospect showed interest only in a “low-value” area or product – would you really be less interested in speaking with him or her, all other things being equal?
Further, at this point in the lifecycle, prospects often will describe a possible solution to their problem in a way that’s different from how your business describes it. While you can infer probable areas or products of interest based on search keywords used or website pages visited, this information is much more accurately captured via a conversation with a telequalification or inside sales rep.
Region or Country
The location of the prospect really doesn’t belong in a lead scoring model. What would happen for the reps that have a low-scoring country or state in their territory? They’d end up with a bunch of apparently junk leads.
Location belongs in your lead assignment or exclusion rules. If a prospect hails from a country or state that your business doesn’t support, you can send them an automated, nicely phrased email letting them know that.
Personal versus Business Email Address
I see this crop up in a lot of lead scoring models, and I struggle with it. Admittedly, prospects who use their business email are probably willing to give up more information at this early stage in the buying cycle, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that someone providing a personal email isn’t planning to engage at all. If everything else in their profile is looking strong, why penalize them for the personal email? That just might be how they sort through their respective inboxes.
Most likely, a prospect providing a personal email address is also providing a lot of other junk information on their response, so that will bring down their lead score overall anyway. In no case should you prohibit a prospect or subscriber from entering a personal email address into their profile (for example with form submission validation rules). That would get you a lost reader or potential customer for life.
I feel some vendors offer the option of negative points in a lead scoring model simply due to “shiny object syndrome,” to be blunt. Some organizations will use that option to attempt to exclude non-qualified prospects; for example, giving negative points for visiting the career webpages based on the (often incorrect) assumption that a prospect would never look at those.
Make sure your lead scoring model is able to re-score leads periodically based on an updated profile and/or new engagement data, or triggers re-scoring in the absence of such information. If you can do this, calculating negative points is moot because the re-scoring will already result in a lower score. If you have criteria indicating zero fit, instead set up automated exclusion rules so that those individuals aren’t handed off to the next stage in your lead management process.
No Cap on Engagement
Inevitably, some visitors come to your website purely for your content, especially if it’s great thought leadership! If you don’t put a cap on a realistic expectation of engagement (webpages visited, forms submitted, emails opened/clicked, events attended, etc.), those visitors are going to look like amazing prospects (assuming their profiles are also great fits).
Is it Time to Sort the Toolbox?
When you’re busy and need to get campaigns up and running, just tossing something new into the lead scoring mix may seem to be a good idea. But asking too much of the model may make it difficult for your sales team to understand why a prospect got the score he or she did, resulting in an unfocused conversation. It’s like not being able to find the one screwdriver you need, because there’s too much in the box that you never use. That’s why refining your lead scoring model over time is a must for every organization.
Consultants from an impartial third-party expert like DemandGen can help you gather feedback from your sales organization on the accuracy and usefulness of the lead scores. We can also perform data analysis to understand what criteria are driving value for you and what’s not. Your business changes over time, and so should your lead scoring model – make sure you’re using the right tool for the right job! Drop us a line or visit us at DemandGen.com if we can help.
Gaea Connary, Director of Consulting Services, focuses on helping organizations strengthen their lead management processes, lead scoring, nurturing strategy, and reporting and analysis to get the best return on their technology investment and meet their marketing objectives.