When Lead Scoring Is a Waste of Marketers' Time

    by Karen Rubin

    Date

    January 26, 2012 at 6:30 PM

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    There are times in a marketer's life when lead scoring can seem like the Holy Grail. According to the MarketingSherpa B2B Banchmarking Report, only 21% of B2B marketers have established lead scoring, but many more are thinking about adding it. Lead scoring can not only help your sales team prioritize leads so they focus on the best ones first, but it can also show how high in quality the leads you deliver to them are. Yes, lead scoring can be a great tool for a lot of businesses, but there are also times when implementing a lead scoring process can be a big waste of marketers' time. 

    If you're trying to decide whether lead scoring should be a part of your business' lead management strategy, first consider the following signs that indicate you might want to hold off a bit.

    Your Sales Team Doesn't Have Enough Leads

    Unless your sales team is overwhelmed by the number of leads you're throwing at them, you don't need to worry about lead scoring. If they have time to reach out to all the provided leads, or if they are supplementing your marketing efforts by cold calling poor, unsuspecting souls, you don't need lead scoring because you aren't providing enough leads for it to matter! Your sales team doesn't need to know which leads are the best if they don't have enough leads to begin with. Lead scoring should be used to prioritize leads when you have too many and can't reach out to them all. 

    If you aren't generating enough leads to CRUSH your sales force, you should instead focus on generating more leads! Spend some time analyzing your traffic numbers and your visitor-to-lead conversion rates. You'll find that you either need to work on generating more traffic (by creating more content, optimizing it for search engines, and promoting it in social media) or doing a better job of converting the traffic you do have into leads (by improving your calls-to-action and landing pages). 

    Your Sales Team Doesn't Call the Leads You Send Them

    If your sales team isn't calling the leads you generate, or if they spend their time complaining about how bad the leads are, it's easy to think lead scoring can help. If you had lead scores, your sales team wouldn't call the wrong leads because the lead score would point them to the best leads. Right? Not necessarily. If your sales team isn't calling any of the leads you generate, your problems probably go much deeper than what a lead score could solve. 

    If Sales doesn't like any of the leads you send them, you have internal alignment issues that need to be resolved. Instead of adding lead scoring, you need to get your sales and marketing teams on the same page. If Marketing and Sales aren't in alignment, no amount of lead scoring is going to convince sales to believe in the leads you're generating. They won't trust the score you provide any more than they like the leads you provide. It's time to sit down with the folks running Sales, have a heart to heart, and get to solving the real problems. 

    Try setting up marketing and sales service level agreements (SLAs). The marketing SLA should set expectations regarding the quantity and quality of the leads they are providing to Sales, and the sales SLA should set expectations about how deeply and frequently sales people will pursue leads Marketing provides. SLAs help encourage alignment between the two teams, which is something you'll need before you head down the path of adding lead scoring to the mix. (Learn more about how to set up SLAs in your organization here.) 

    You Don't Have Enough Data

    lead history prodThere is no doubt that lead scoring can be super sexy. But it can only be successfully implemented if you can back up those lead scores with super sexy data. Lead scoring is generally based on two different types of data: demographic data and lead intelligence. Demographic data is information about the company or individual you are selling to. You can generally collect this via the lead-capture forms you ask site visitors to complete in order to convert them into leads. Lead intelligence is the information you gather from a lead based on their behavior on your website. How often they visit, which pages they view, and which offers they convert on are all great examples of lead intelligence to include in your lead score. 

    If you aren't collecting the right information from your lead generation forms or aren't tracking how leads interact with your site, then you don't have the right data to start lead scoring. Figure out what are the right questions to ask on your conversion forms by working with Sales to determine which kinds of data would be most helpful to identify the best leads. In addition, test different form fields and form lengths to see how these changes impact your conversion rates. Next, make sure you are collecting detailed information about how leads interact with your site (you'll need a marketing analytics and lead management platform for this). It's not enough to know that someone was there; you also need to know which web pages and content they're interested in and what their level of engagement is. Once you have this data on a lead by lead basis, you can start thinking about adding lead scoring to your strategy. 

    Lead Scoring Might Not Suit Your Business' Needs...Yet

    There are lots of reasons why you would want to score your leads. But getting reliable, valuable lead scores in place take time. First, make sure you aren't focusing on lead scoring when you should be focusing on something else. Before you start implementing lead scoring, you want to make sure you are generating enough leads, that your relationship between Sales and Marketing is a healthy one, and that you have enough data to make your lead scores relevant. 

    Have you incorporated lead scoring into your business' lead management strategy? What other tips can you share for those who are considering it, too?

    Image Credit: Michael Pick

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