Lead scoring is used in most B2B companies. It would be tough to follow up with every "lead" that came through, so sales must prioritize their time in order to maintain focus and efficiency. The implementation of a lead scoring solution can range from tiers, star system, percentage likelihood to close, or simply "hot" vs "cold" indicators. Lead scoring also doesn't have to happen on just leads; you can prioritize customers, opportunities, contacts, or activities/tasks that you have already planned for following up on your sales prospects. 

But is lead scoring really effective? It can certainly help to direct sales to know who to follow up with (and who marketing needs to nurture more) when done correctly, but there can be issues with the way the scoring is built that causes inaccurate scores. Here are some of the most common problems.

Lack of a definition of who a lead is

Most projects fail because the end result was never agreed upon in the beginning. Both sales and marketing need to agree on what characteristics make up a “lead,” and how they will be expressed in your CRM. 

You’ll mostly want to consider actions taken by the prospects. Depending on how niche your target market is, you may also choose to include attributes of the account, such as industries or job titles (both who exemplifies the ideal candidate and who is excluded).

The complete buyer's journey IS UNknown

Most teams just document the steps prospects take at certain points of the journey. As George E.P. Box said, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." Images of the sales funnel and even the flywheel are easy to understand and follow, but neither show a real customer journey. Most buyers do not take linear steps in their buying cycle. While accounting for different milestones they may take is important (such as free trials, doing live chats, or talking with sales), it needs to be taken in context with their entire journey. To which, there may be three to five different paths your customers usually take, instead of one "ideal" journey. 

Also consider all of the smaller steps in between these big milestones. Does the way they found you (advertisement vs organically vs through a referral) change the journey? Or do they take different steps for different products? Try and take all of this into consideration.

Lead scoring solutions that are difficult to implement or maintain

If you do not take the time to define all your rules upfront, you will most likely end up choosing a substandard solution for lead scoring that does not allow for all your rules to be implemented. Or worse, the solution is not user friendly to maintain the rules. 

When sales and marketing meet to discuss new lead scoring criteria, or try to improve lead scoring, you must have a simple solution to take the feedback and apply the changes. If you do not have this in place, there is no interest in even discussing what can be improved over time, and your teams will just become stuck with a rigid lead scoring system that nobody really trusts. You need to have a lead scoring system that evolves over time as the market and your company changes.

Buyers do 70% of actions before engaging with the vendor (siriusdecisions)

Buyers look at reviews and compare options before taking the first step with any company. It's easy to keep track of moments where prospects willingly give you information when they fill out a form. However, there are many other actions, such as web page views, that are more difficult to track, especially if you don't already have their contact information.

Third-party sites may be able to fill in the gaps. Platforms like Hubspot can track regular page views and record the activity on contact records. You can also take advantage of other sites your prospects may be going to. For example, potential leads may be looking at review sites first to narrow down their search, such as G2.

inability to score all leads

This boils down to a lack of information (or inability to access it all in one place). If you can't collect all the necessary steps a prospect takes, then it's difficult to accurately give them any score. It's not hard to see why there may be a communication disconnect when there's dozens of different ways to communicate with customers now - websites, email, live chat, phone calls, mobile app, in-person, referrals, the list could go on. 

Similar to the problem above, try and find or build a lead scoring solution with good integrations. The more sites you can pull from, the more information at your disposal to base your scores off of. Salesforce is great in this regard as there's many AppExchange options.

usiNg only one score

As we mentioned before, there's multiple buyer's journeys, so why not multiple scores to reflect that? 

If you have different products or services, you may need to have a score for each one. People may be interested in multiple products at once, but at different stages of the journey. You might also want to consider a score for a prospect, as well as a score for current customers doing a cross-sell/up-sell.

Recommendation

Lead scores are useful, but it's important that you do them correctly. Defining a "best practice" can be difficult since different businesses require different solutions, but avoiding these pitfalls will make your lead scoring formulas more accurate. 

You can build your own lead scoring field in Salesforce, or you can use an AppExchange tool. We recommend our app, Prioritization Helper! You can use Value or Matrix scoring to add or subtract points based on different field values. You can even pull in information from custom objects too. It's easy to change or add new conditions, and you don't need an Admin or Developer to set it up. Plus, scores are updated in real-time.

Learn more about Prioritization Helper

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