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The Importance of Negative Lead Scoring

By Dan StasiewskiMay 23, 2013
lead score high

When we think of lead scoring, it’s easy to get caught up in making a qualified lead’s score higher. After all, sales wants to be able to know at a glance if a lead is worth their time, and the higher the lead score the better you look as a marketer, right?

Well, focusing on scoring too high will just result in the same problems as before—sales saying “all the leads” you're sending to them “are bad leads.” The solution: negative lead scoring. This technique deducts points for common disqualifying criteria so unqualified leads don’t end up with sales.

So what are some criteria you can use negative lead scoring on? Here are just a few:

Email Address

One of the most common scoring issues comes from overscoring people with non-business email addresses. Even if you do ask for “Company Email” on your landing page (a practice Kuno highly recommends), you are still likely to get people who fill out the form with an @gmail.com or @hotmail.com address. 

Putting in a personal email address generally indicates one of two things. First, the person is not ready to buy, so they don’t want to hand over a company email yet. (I’ve seen a number of instances where someone waits until they fill out a bottom of the funnel contact or request form until they fork over a coveted company email address.) The other option may just be someone who isn’t going to be able to buy from you in the first place, like a student doing research. 

There are obvious exceptions to this rule. But a negative lead score for a personal email address prevents someone who isn’t ready or able to buy from leading in the sales queue. 

Industry

Some companies focus on a specific industry or a sector of an industry more than others. For example, a solar panel company may specialize in manufacturing facility sales because its panels are specialized for those customers. But it avoids retail sector leads because its panels are too expensive for a retail store building. 

At Kuno, we have quite a few clients that know if a lead tells them they are from a certain industry, they aren’t likely to become customers. If you have industries that are hot, then score them positively. But industries that are not should have an equally negative lead score. 

Title

This one can be controversial among sales teams, especially if a highly scored subordinate can result in access to the decision maker. But a properly scored title field can separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to prospects. 

Most commonly, associate level employees should receive a negative lead score. Why? Because in most cases they are not likely to have as much influence over the decision making process, often reporting to a manager who won’t likely make the final decision. 

This is just an example, of course. Some industries will want to deduct points from people with specific divisions in their title, as well. 

Of course, none of this will be successful unless marketing and sales have an agreement regarding what would trigger a negative lead score. You’ll likely hear, “But this customer would have a negative lead score” at least once or twice before you come to an agreement over scoring. Just remember, these negative scores can always be offset by proper lead scoring for other criteria.

Are you using negative lead scoring? What field or responses do you commonly deduct points for?


dan stasiewski blog photoDan Stasiewski is Technology Director at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan viaTwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.


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The Author

Dan Stasiewski

When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song.
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