Go-To-Market Strategy and RevOps Consultant


Avoid Lead Scoring Pitfalls: Towards Pipeline Harmony

Lead scoring pitfalls are all over the place, is hard to not step on them. Have you ever wondered why sales reps might be seen cynically eye-rolling at the mention of lead scoring programs? As an experienced Revenue executiveith cross-industry background, I can assure you that no matter the company, the product or the buyer persona, it’s often because they’re asking the right questions.

Why are there highly scored leads who don’t know what we sell? Why are triggers set off to contact accounts that only register visits to the blog? Why did we almost lose a sale because a ready-to-buy prospect, who tried to schedule a demo, has hardly any points?

And the answers, more often than not, can be summed up into lead scoring in not working.


The Dangers of Lead Qualification from a Lead Scoring Perspective

The Lead Scoring Problem: Stats and Figures that Show Industry Concerns

Let’s kick off with the optimistic stats: Did you know that according to an Aberdeen Group’s survey, 80% of top-performing companies use lead scoring as part of their lead qualification process? (source)

According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of leads generated are legitimate and have the potential to convert. From those legitimate leads, approximately 79% will not convert into sales, leaving companies with a mere five customers out of 100 leads (Cognism). An unreliable lead scoring system can lead to wasted resources pursuing the wrong opportunities.

The Marketing and Sales Alignment research study shows that 74% of those surveyed feel that their tools cause misalignment between marketing and sales. The biggest consequence of a failure to align marketing and sales efforts is leads that do not convert.

Although 68% of marketers point lead scoring as one of their primary revenue contribution drivers (Lenskold Group), a 2019 Gartner study found that 70% of leads are lost from poor follow-up due to the sales team not knowing the correct leads to contact.

Therefore, leads that do not convert cause misalignment, and misalignment causes teams to disperse effort in different directions, ultimately driven by unreliable qualification models that generate distrust and suspicion.

Finally, traditional scoring systems are very time-consuming when implemented correctly to find the best leads on a list. Although identifying more profitable customers in a larger portion of the list can increase sales performance, more company and human resources are required, leading to increased costs. There is a trade-off, and maintaining the balance between the two is crucial (research).

In summary:

  • High-performing companies need lead scoring.
  • Reliability and trust in the scoring model are major concerns in the industry.
  • Bad lead scoring causes misalignment between marketing and sales.
  • Most lead scoring systems require too many resources and complexity.


The Challenges Your Lead Scoring Model Needs to Overcome

Well, let’s face it. If we set ourselves to come up with a comprehensive list that accounted for all the challenges that lead Scoring needs to beat, we would fill the whole post with them. According to my experience and the data shared above, I feel entitled to reduce it to these 3 main aspects:

  1. Stop wasting SDR/AEs time and morale with low quality leads and provide them with the highest value opportunities.
  2. Align Marketing and Sales efforts, building trust between them.
  3. Improve team efficiency and boost win-rate identifying high-value opportunities.

Why are these 3 the biggest challenges? Let’s see it.

As stated in this Springer research, a good lead scoring model prioritizes sales and marketing efforts towards leads that are more likely to convert into customers while this other research states that only 36% of marketers believe the efforts, strategies, and goals of their marketing, sales, and customer success teams are “fully aligned.” and 41% cited differing/misaligned goals.

There are 2 very related concerns that no matter who you speak to in the industry, will surely come up as the most challenging: having a scoring model tha you can actually trust AND that it can demonstrate ROI and increase sales.

When digging into the ROI part, it affects several areas: marketing team’s time-efficiency, SDR/AEs wasted time in low value SQLs, poor campaign attribution to scores, low conversion rates… at the end of the day, it all comes down to trusting the lead scoring model is capable of correctly identifying opportunities and deliver them to Sales at the perfect moment.

Anyway, these are the challenges all right. But I always like to dig in to deeper levels in my questioning. It’s hard to arrive to #TheRightQuestions in you stay on the surface. Specifically, I use to go a minimum of 3 layers down questioning. Let’s do it together:

The first question was, “What are the challenges we want to solve with Lead Scoring in the first place?”. The answer are the three points above.

The second layer is, “What does our lead scoring need to crush those challenges?” Easy peasy. The answer is that, efficiently identifying and delivering the most promising leads to Sales optimizing ROI, requires a reliable lead scoring system trusted by all departments involved. In other words, we need to deploy a reliable and trustworthy lead scoring model that improves lead qualification and opportunity identification.

An here comes the real deal, the third layer, where things start to get interesting: “What is keeping us from having reliable lead scoring system trusted by all departments involved?” Ahá… I’m glad you asked that question, the answer is not simple. It spans across several topics, take your pick:

  • Creating a reliable, company-wide trusted lead scoring model requires significant resources, especially marketers’ time, and even then, there is no guarantee of accuracy in results.
  • To establish trust in lead scoring models, there is a need for easily digestible dashboards that offer clear and actionable insights for Sales and Marketing, allowing for unequivocal demonstration of ROI. No one is sure how to arrive at these.
  • Silos between Sales and Marketing prevent optimal lead scoring models, as Marketing lacks important information from SDR/AEs for lead qualification and Sales cannot trust an opaque system.
  • Once you have one, keeping the lead scoring system current with the evolving company strategy and complex product catalog, can be challenging.

Chances are you recognize yourself in no less than 2 of those answers. Specifically the first one, the resources dilema:

Investing a significant Demand Generation team’s bandwidth to improve the lead scoring system. This trial and error approach takes months or longer until it becomes reliable, leading to a short-to mid-term mediocre Lead Qualification. Lead Acquisition suffers not getting enough attention.


Not investing enough time in getting the lead scoring model right and instead dedicating more resources to lead acquisition and content generation, which leads to SDR/AEs wasting significant time on leads that are not and will never be properly qualified.

It is a typical trade-off that Demand Generation teams face, sacrificing time input for greater accuracy and reliability, as research has shown. However, even when you decide to invest the time and resources needed, there is a limit to this trade-off, a point where the investment in refining the model does not pay off for the marketing team.

But even if you solve that part, alone it fails to address the trust issue in a lead scoring model. It is not just a matter of resources, but also demonstrating the quality of the data and its unequivocal relationship to ROI. And even if you get everything else right and you manage to have a reliable lead scoring system, it is a whole new challenge to make it evolve at the same pace as the company’s strategy, portfolio, and goals.

So in a nutshell, what we need is to create a reliable, resource-efficient, and trusted lead scoring system that demonstrates ROI and actionable insights, overcoming Sales and Marketing silos.

Only that, uh?


The Most Common Lead Scoring Pitfalls.

Good news is, we are done for today with the bad news and big obstacles. The truth is we shouldn’t obsess with perfection, specially in a field where the perfect is CLEARLY enemy of good. Getting it perfect is nearly impossible. Getting it good enough to get delicious results is in reach. I’m a firm follower of the Pareto rule, is often a matter of identifying the 20% of things you need to get perfect to rip 80% of the benefits.

Did you know that according to Forrester Research the maestros of lead scoring generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost? That’s music to the ears, isn’t it?

Yet, as we know, an out-of-tune lead scoring program can be the proverbial thorn in the flesh, a frequent source of eye-rolls from sales reps, and a stumbling block to marketing-sales harmony. Misaligned teams, missed opportunities, and squandered resources are the usual suspects when the lead scoring tune doesn’t hit the right note.

However, a fine-tuned lead scoring symphony could be your ticket to revenue growth and team alignment. Many times, that 20% of things that done wrong can mess our whole lead scoring model, fall under a shortlist of usual suspects.

Let’s dive into the right questions to avoid those pitfalls:


Are you overvaluing demographics?

This is one of the most common lead scoring mistakes. The first note to strike is the balance between demographics and behaviour. Don’t fall into the trap of overvaluing demographics. In the world of lead scoring, demographics alone are like a one-string guitar. You need more strings to play a melody. That’s why we need to balance demographics with behavioural data. While the job title or the size of a company are tempting to get a high score, they are worth nothing without intent.

The best concerts are those where the crowd participates, and it’s the same with leads. Your highest scoring triggers should account for high value actions, frequency, company engagement.


Are you over-relying on a single scoring model?

Different products, different services, different buyer personas – they all call for distinct melodies. Then why should we confine them to a single scoring model? The pivotal question to ponder here is – would a tailored scoring model specific to the buyer persona and product offering provide better insights? You bet it would!

Of course, and as always, the more scoring models, the harder to keep them updated and fully functional providing value. So, my advice is, if your current or main scoring model is not yet trusted by all teams in your organization, fix that first. If you add new lead qualification models before you have learnt to do it right, you will just multiply the chaos.


Are you suffering score inflation?

Another super typical lead scoring pitfall: over scoring everything the user does. And failing to substract points when they do (or don’t do for a while) certain actions. We must question – are we assigning points to every interaction, leading to artificially inflated scores? Are we considering the time decay in the value of the actions?

Let’s focus on meaningful actions tied to sales readiness to keep the scoring in check.


When was the last time your lead scoring model was audited?

A static model won’t cut it. Regularly evaluate your model’s performance and adjust the criteria based on real-world results and market changes. It is not easy, it takes time if it is not AI powered, but it needs to be done. Behavior changes, products change, web and contents change… everything evolves and your scoring model should evolve with it.


Are you including sales in the lead scoring system design?

Consider the sales and marketing teams as two musicians. If one doesn’t trust the other, will they be able to create beautiful music together? The crucial question here is – are we involving our sales team in the model’s creation and refining the scoring criteria based on their feedback? Ensuring this collaborative approach would significantly enhance trust in the system.


Should we consider AI-powered lead scoring tools?

Artificial Intelligence is the new virtuoso in the world of lead scoring, but it comes at a cost. Is it worth embracing AI tools that can analyze vast amounts of data and provide accurate, dynamic scoring based on real-time engagement and behavior patterns? Well this question calls for its own analysis:


AI powered lead scoring vs. traditional lead scoring.

Dis you know that AI-powered lead scoring tools can offer enhanced accuracy, adaptability, and scalability compared to traditional tools? By analyzing large datasets and identifying complex patterns, AI algorithms prioritize leads more effectively, ensuring your team focuses on the right prospects.


Advantages of AI-powered tools:

  1. Better accuracy and prioritization
  2. Adapts over time for improved performance
  3. Scales with your growing database
  4. Holistic view with behavioral data

However, AI-powered solutions can come with higher initial costs and increased complexity.


Traditional lead scoring tools:

  1. Easier to understand and implement
  2. Lower upfront costs

The downside? Limited accuracy, manual updates, and scalability challenges.

So, which one should you choose? The answer depends on your organization’s needs, resources, and goals. Assess your specific situation and determine which solution aligns best with your business requirements. If you have the resources to invest in AI-powered lead scoring, the long-term benefits are likely to outweigh the initial costs, providing a more effective and efficient system for identifying high-value leads.

Addressing these questions can be the catalyst for transforming your lead scoring program into a reliable, revenue-driving machine, thereby increasing your sales team’s faith in marketing.


Final Note: Toward Harmonized Lead Scoring

In our quest for an outstanding GTM Strategy, as we traverse the vast terrain of lead scoring, it becomes clear that the crux of overcoming pitfalls lies in persistently asking the right questions and seeking the most insightful answers. No matter what kind of business we operate or industry we’re part of, we must be mindful of the nuances within our lead scoring strategy.

Demographics and behavioral patterns, customization over generalization, vigilance against score inflation, frequent model updates, fostering marketing-sales collaboration, and embracing AI; these considerations echo the central tune we’ve been orchestrating. While it may seem daunting, navigating these aspects with the right questions as our guideposts can genuinely bring us closer to mastering the art of lead scoring.

As leaders, we owe it to our teams to create a reliable system that inspires trust, alignment, and enthusiasm. We should aim not just for the music to continue, but for it to evolve, inviting everyone to the dance floor of revenue growth and success. The key is not to fear the off notes or the challenging rhythms, but to anticipate them, learn from them, and let them refine our performance. After all, lead scoring is not just a business strategy; it’s the symphony we compose for our path to growth.

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