By: Keith Holloway On: February 10, 2018 In: Articles & News Comments: 0

I worked with a new director of sales who was convinced they needed a lead scoring system.

They spent days designing a system that applied many points to various actions such as downloading a guide, attending a webinar, or requesting a demo.

Why did it take so long?

They wanted to ensure all the possible permutations and combinations resulted in contacts split into three buckets: people to be nurtured in one of two tracks, and people who should be contacted by sales.

And get this: the people who would be contacted by sales had asked for a one-on-one demo.

While there were only three buckets, it took days to do it with lead scoring!

Categorizing contacts into three buckets is a straightforward exercise, but not if you try doing it by assigning many points to every possible action and then audit your scoring system to make sure it categorizes correctly in every possible scenario!

Lead scoring is too complicated

If you’ve read our other content, you know a request to be contacted is the benchmark for a quality lead.

The highest quality leads are:

  • Qualified
  • Have requested to be contacted
  • Delivered in real-time for quick follow-up

Although this appears to invalidate the need for a complex system, lead scoring is often touted as a must-have feature of marketing automation.

The reality, however, is it is often an overly-complex solution for a relatively simple problem.

According to Raab Associates, most companies using marketing automation, it takes three years before they implement lead scoring (State of Lead Scoring, 2015).

It’s little wonder that it takes so long when you consider the time to decide on a point score for every action, and the time to fine-tune the system to get the ‘right’ leads to bubble to the top.

And then there’s the time needed to maintain a complicated system. Does it need to be changed when new content is added? Does it need to be audited when the results are questioned?

Lead scoring doesn’t work that well

It’s no surprise that when marketers do implement lead scoring, it doesn’t work well (Openprise Tech, 2016). In one report, only 47% of marketers thought lead scoring was effective. And only 35% believed their sales counterparts thought the same way. (DemandWave, 2017).

So, what’s the problem? In part, salespeople and marketers don’t agree on how to define a qualified lead.

Senior sales people prefer qualified leads who agree to be contacted, while marketers generally focus on website engagement.

Lead scoring creates cold calling

Sales people think it is a waste of their time and skills to be cold calling leads.

And on the flip side, if someone requests to be contacted, it would be rude not to call them.

Even companies selling lead scoring systems agree! It’s a common ‘best’ practice to set up lead scoring systems with the contact request as the highest signal.


In any lead scoring setup, it’s critical to give high points to contact requests to make sure these leads float to the top.

This highlights one of the biggest challenges with lead scoring systems – prospects with a lot of digital activity result in salespeople being passed “leads” who have not requested to be contacted.


This results in a frustrating experience for salespeople and prospects. If you’ve ever received a call minutes after visiting a website you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Enter Self-qualification

This is why Envoke uses a more straightforward approach to lead scoring – something we call self-qualification.

We categorize leads into the fewest number of mutually exclusive states required to drive nurture programs and assign leads to sales. This can be as simple as two categories:

A simpler approach to lead scoring is to place leads into multiple categories, such as those you will contact and those you will nurture.

The first step to create higher-quality leads is deciding to send sales only leads who have requested to be contacted.

What if you need more leads?

Marketing automation is digital sales.

The solution to increasing lead volume isn’t to start sending unsuspecting prospects to sales based on arbitrary scoring mechanisms. It’s increasing digital engagement.

Many websites fall short by not having enough options to engage their visitors. You can increase engagement with your visitors and generate more prospects by adding relevant lead magnets in key locations.

You then convert the right prospects into qualified leads with simple drip campaigns to educate and inform until they are ready to ask for a contact.

What if you need higher quality?

When salespeople are receiving too many requests for contact, the next step is to add qualifying questions to your forms.


Adding qualifying questions to a contact forms separates qualified from unqualified leads.

Qualifying prospects

Using qualifying questions on forms that don’t generate leads will segment your database between those you want to target for sales and those you don’t. You can apply different nurture treatments or second step forms for your qualified and unqualified database segments.

This qualifying question on a subscription form segments the database into job candidates (not a fit for sales) and hiring managers or HR professionals (sales targets).

Qualifying leads

The use of well crafted qualifying questions and related options will reduce the number of unqualified requests.

For example, if you ask about budget and the smallest option is “less than $100,000”, people with smaller budgets will be discouraged from completing the form. Having too many fields in a form, however, reduces conversion rates, so remember to only ask for what you really need to know before you call.

A budget drop down is a common method of identifying leads who may not be a good fit for your product or service.

It sounds great but what do I do with the unqualified leads who complete my forms? Here are a few options:

  1. Continue to send all contact requests to sales with an agreement that marketing will use the information to adjust the campaigns to reduce unqualified traffic.
  2. Route unqualified leads to a different person or team, or display and send an automated message setting expectations. For example, an email could be sent to the lead thanking them for their inquiry, letting them know you aren’t be able to help them at this time, and asking them to contact you again if their situation changes.
  3. If lead volumes are high enough, telemarketing can be used to quickly contact leads you aren’t sure about to gather more information and determine if there is a fit for sales.

Adding qualifying questions on your lead forms (those that result in a request to be contacted) will determine which leads go to your best salespeople.

The end of lead scoring

A request to be contacted is the benchmark for a quality lead.

Despite the fact that this would seem to invalidate the need for a complex lead scoring system it’s often touted as a must-have feature of a marketing automation system.

The truth is, lead scoring is often an overly complex solution to a simple problem.

With self-qualification, the qualified request to be contacted lead is prioritized and only high-quality leads are passed to sales. It does what lead scoring sets out to achieve but in a simpler and more effective way.

Keith Holloway

Keith Holloway

Keith is VP Marketing at Envoke.
Keith Holloway

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