PowerOpinions: Making Lead Scoring a Success Part 3 [Expert Advice]

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Jul 14, 2015 10:18:00 AM

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This is the final installment of a three-part series in response to the following question: 

As we enter the second half of 2015, have companies made the adjustments necessary to utilize lead scoring or is the status quo killing results?

We asked this to top industry experts, then compiled their responses and wrote three blogs summarizing what they have to say.

Why did we ask? Because we care about quality leads. It’s what we do. We generate high quality leads, align sales and marketing, and drive revenue.

We believe marketing automation has a place in the world, but we are aware that if it’s not properly utilized, it very quickly creates a whole lot of nothing. And that’s bad for everybody.

Briefly stated, here’s the problem. Lead scoring models are:

  • Based on assumptions.
  • Contain inadequate sales input.
  • Overly weighted to arbitrary behavioral signals.

And, to make matters worse, lead scoring teams rarely establish a baseline or make ongoing adjustments based on feedback and results.

We wanted to see what the experts had to say about the issue. So, here is part three.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Trish Bertuzzi Kyle Porter Matt Heinz
Ardath Albee Todd Schnick Lori Richardson
Tony Jaros Pam Hege Jamie Turner
Amanda Kahlow Rafe VanDenBerg Chad Burmeister
    Rich Wilson

The Titanic's Deck Chair Approach

Our good friend—Matt Heinz, founder of Heinz Marketing—starts us off:

It can be really difficult for organizations to not only measure what’s working, but to also “re-rally the team” (sales, marketing, product, or all of the above) as findings point to slight, and perhaps frequent, direction changes. Tactically this can be easier to do within functional groups (inside sales, paid media, etc.).

  • But what if the message is wrong?
  • What if the target audience is wrong?

These are bigger, fundamental problems that require broader shifts. Not easy, but necessary if you want to get back on track.

What to do:

  • Admit you were wrong in the first place, no matter how difficult that is to do.
  • Remember that failure and adjustments are the most proven path to progress and innovation.

These things are true at a tactical and strategic levelfor small adjustments as well as major shifts.

It’s easier to stick with the status quo. Whether it’s right or not, it’s often comfortable. Easier. But I’m sure that deck chair on the Titanic was comfortable, too, for a while…

The Score More Sales Approach

Lori Richardson of Score More Sales recommends that you "Score More Sales":

In my experience, based on working with sales teams every week in various companies, some have more finely-tuned lead scoring models than others.

In a recent Boston Chapter AA-ISP meeting, EMC marketer Dawn Rodrigues discussed the disconnect between sales and leads that has existed over the years. She says that marketing is now working more closely than ever with sales teams to better deliver value.

Many larger SMBs (small to midsized businesses) are getting it right because they must get it right to benefit from all of the effort and expense to procure leads.

Of course there are still the laggards—those companies whose marketing and sales do not agree on basic parameters of what a good lead is; however, in my opinion, this segment is shrinking due to better data and higher visibility of this issue.

In our experience here at PointClear, very few companies are getting it right. We think our view is shared and clearly expressed by the majority of the panel. Congratulations, Lori, on working with a mix of more advanced clients.

The Models are Models' Perspectives

My buddy Jamie Turner from 60 Second Communications and a frequent guest on CNN chimes in saying:

The nature of scoring models is that they’re just that—models. As such, they’ll never completely reflect reality, because reality is always in a state of flux and evolution.

On the positive side, digital technology has made scoring models better than they have been in the past. Despite the fact that the models remain somewhat inadequate, companies are adapting to these somewhat inadequate systems, albeit slowly.

Predictive Analytics, At Last

Chad Burmeister of ConnectAndSell always has an interesting perspective:

2015 is the year of predictive analytics, finally.

The problem with the current predictive analytics lead scoring solutions is that they can help marketers target "like companies" to their existing clients; however, they don't do much to help with going into new markets to identify the white space.

The sales hack to share, giving credit to Chris Beall (CEO of ConnectAndSell), is to look at meetings in the new market instead of closed/won deals. The meetings scheduled are a leading indicator of closed/won business.

Some companies will tell you that the weather and some other unusual things can predict when and how to approach a lead, not so sure that's ready for prime time yet!

Collaboration is the Key

Another new contributor, Big Scary Cranium's strategy and creative director, Rich Wilson, has a big head (according to his website). He also has A LOT of great advice about lead scoring:

Given the fact that lead scoring can be flawed, the companies who are doing it well are those that:

Break down the barriers between marketing and sales

  • Give sales an authoritative seat at the table.
  • Allow sales to give qualitative feedback to marketing.

With marketing automation and data analytics, you start gathering the data needed to determine what went right or wrong.

Sales must collaborate with marketing

  • A salesperson's view of the customer is often one of someone in the later stages of the buying process.
  • When a buyer interacts with marketing, they are generally at a less evolved stage.
  • Likewise, marketing doesn't have the intimate personal view of the customer that sales gets to see.

Both perspectives are needed to craft an efficient end-to-end marketing and sales process.

Companies must understand the buyer journey and develop content and scoring systems to execute based on that journey.

  • Most companies are at various stages of maturity in this process.
  • It generally takes much longer to get executive buy-in at an enterprise company than it does at a mid-sized company.
  • SMB's can execute much faster, which can be a significant advantage.
  • Larger companies must embrace automation as a true operational change.

You must have the following:

  • An operations improvement plan for gathering input.
  • An internal communications plan to communicate change.
  • A series of follow-ups to go over the process and progress.

Going from zero to full maturity doesn't happen overnight. But if the right stakeholders are aligned, larger businesses can execute a proof of concept in as little as 90 days.


Now that we’ve heard from all of our contributing experts on the topic of lead scoring, here’s what it boils down to:

  1. Lead scoring is not a silver bullet. It needs to be validated and calibrated.
  2. You have to reach a common definition of a lead between sales and marketing.
  3. You need an environment where sales and marketing talk to each other—otherwise leads and dollars are almost totally wasted.
  4. Unless you have an unlimited universe, leads should not be ranked (and allowed to fall out of the funnel).
  5. You can’t afford to ignore or mistreat any prospect.

And finally, to quote Jim Obermayer who kicked off this series: “In summary, we have to say we agree with George Carlin who said, ‘The status quo sucks.’”


Tell us what you think!

Topics: Marketing & Sales Alignment, Inbound Marketing

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