Sunday, August 28, 2011

5 Lead Scoring Myth Busters

Having researched countless lead scoring programs for various clients, certain patterns tend to appear over and over. A few very lucky clients get it right the first time, but this is extremely rare.

Some clients enable a simple lead scoring program initially, then if it fails to meet the expectation of sales, they leave it on a shelf and abandon the idea. Successful clients actively tweak their scoring program continuously, adapting to changes in their industry, their products, and the shifts in behaviors of their leads.

Myth #1: Lead Scoring Works Immediately

Successful lead scoring programs take time to develop. On average 3-6 months to test, evaluate, tweak, etc, often even longer. It is very common to see either very low scores or very high scores come through when you first fire up the program. This is normal. Go back to sales and refine the scores further, each time getting closer and closer to accurately scoring explicit and implicit criteria. You really need to evaluate it for the entire length of your average sales cycle to fully vet it. So if your average sales cycle is 2 years, be very patient as you diligently continue to refine it.

Myth #2: Lead Scoring is for Everyone

If sales’ only criteria for accepting a lead is if there is breath showing on a mirror, then sales will ignore lead scoring. In fact they will resent any efforts to throttle back non MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads). Some sales reps are desperate for any lead, whether they are qualified or not, so taking the time to develop a scoring program for them is not typically worth the effort. Also if the sales cycle is extremely short, say less than 30 days, it may not be worth it to develop a lead scoring program either.

Myth #3: One Size Fits All

I have clients that have multiple lead scoring programs running simultaneously, one for each product, geo or BU. Keep in mind this took several years to get to this stage and was done only after fully vetting their first successful lead scoring program. When setting up an initial lead scoring program, I recommend scoring on general interest first – Not by Specific BU. The advantages of doing it this way are:

    • Vetts the process with Key Players
    • Builds Confidence/Buzz
    • Gains Momentum
    • Build out Specific BUs once Success Achieved

Myth #4: Lead Scoring Generates More Leads

It always surprises me how prevalent this misconception is, especially among sales. It is often the reason sales reps ultimately ignore your lead scoring program. The truth is, just the opposite occurs. Sales actually gets fewer leads; but they tend to be of higher quality and further in the buying cycle. Make sure sales understands that lead scoring does not guarantee a lead has an open PO ready to sign, or have their checkbooks out, it only provides a pecking order of who to call first, second, third, etc. That’s it.

Myth #5: If Sales Looses Confidence in Lead Scoring – Game Over

This almost always happens when the mistake is made to launch an initial lead scoring program to the entire sales organization out of the gate. Sales heard about this cool thing called lead scoring, marketing is anxious to provide immediate value, so the lead scoring program is launched quickly. That’s when the trouble starts. Sound familiar?

If this occurs, don’t give up, but don’t re-launch an edited version to the whole sales team. They are already circumspect and if there are still any edits to be made, then it will be very difficult to get full buy-in moving forward.

Instead work with 1 or 2 sales champions and really get them involved in making the tweaks. Have them evaluate the last 50 closed deals and look for explicit similarities. Are they sharing a specific job role or title? Look for similar behaviors as well. Visits to certain web pages, attendance at specific webinars, etc. If you look, patterns will emerge. Make sure your next generation scoring program is incorporating these.

If you are new to lead scoring or need a Lead Scoring “Do-Over”, consider the following tips, depending on whether you have many leads or few leads:

We Have Many Leads in CRM

  • Start with an Inactive Lead Nurturing/Scoring Program
  • Pros:
  • Converts dead or “junk” leads
  • Doesn’t disrupt current lead flow processes
  • Cons:
  • Takes full sales cycle to provide value
  • Leverage nurturing to drive scorable behaviors – don’t just leave it to happenstance

We Have Few Leads in CRM

  • Score Everyone Often
  • Focus on recency of behavior, rather than frequency of behavior
  • Give sales visibility to all scored leads (not just MQLs)
  • Build Fast Lane for Ready to Buy Leads
  • Work closely with your “sales champion” throughout testing phase
  • Leverage nurturing to drive scorable behaviors – don’t just leave it to happenstance
Lead scoring is marketing's gift to sales. It can be an extremely powerful sales enablement tool. But it rarely works correctly out of the box and requires continuous course correction once it does work. Having that expectation helps make the lead scoring journey worth all the trouble for the entire enterprise.

Visit my brand new website and learn more about lead scoring.

Steve Kellogg
-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
-Eloqua Certified Marketing Automation Best Practices Consultant

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