[White Paper] Lead Scoring: The Philosophy You Didn’t Yet Know About!

Author: Otto Warner | Categories: Customer Acquisition, Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Digital Marketing, Digital Strategy

We hear the term ‘Lead Scoring’ bandied about quite often, and there are a few different versions of what Lead Scoring typically means, depending on who you ask and what perspective it’s being taken from. Sometimes it means a score that’s been gathered based on unknown prospect data, to inform inbound marketing; other times it’s a score of known engagement data; and still other times it refers to a propensity model measuring an individual’s likelihood to buy something.

Regardless of your definition, Lead Scoring, when fully baked into a larger sales and marketing process, includes a combination of all of the above perspectives to create a score that will inform and enhance your process, at all points of the sales and marketing cycle.

Lead Scoring, when implemented fully, will help to organize and bring to bear the priority and tactics that should be used for contacting and qualifying leads during various stages of the sales and marketing process. This, in turn, informs marketing and sales communications platforms, which campaign to include an individual, and which content to be sent out to that individual, or conversely, which campaigns/content a person should be excluded from.

Getting started with a lead scoring formula

How to come up with a scoring formula?

There are two different lead scoring philosophies that are widely used: Single Number scores and Co-Dynamic scores.

Single Number scores combine all scoring criteria into 1 single score, such as ‘137 out of 200’. The business determines the maximum score and the number of points that specific criteria add to the overall score.

Co-Dynamic scores separate demographic from engagement criteria and create scores like ‘A1’ or ‘C3’, where the latter represents the demographic fit, typically using A – D as the possible scores, and the numerical score is usually a 1 – 4 score that tells the level of engagement or interest that the lead has.

Pros and cons of each scoring model

Single number scores are quick to initially set up. They use simple, linear arithmetic, i.e. add or subtract a single number – a simple formula to conceptualize and implement.

Due to their simplicity however, single number scores can create false high scores. For instance if a person clicks on a lot of marketing emails and attends a lot of events, it will mean that he/she is highly engaging with your brand. This will weigh their score to the high end; while at the same time, he/ she may not be the right person demographically for the business to be selling to.

Co-Dynamic scores, which take a bit more planning and consideration to implement, provide a clearer view into the specific components that make a good lead. So, an ‘A4’ co-dynamic score means you’ve got the right person from a demographic perspective (‘A’ score denotes demographics), but the ‘4’ engagement score (the lowest) indicates that he/ she hasn’t engaged enough with your brand to show true buying behavior. This would tell us that this lead should be included in additional nurture campaigns, but it isn’t yet ready to be sent to the sales team for an opportunity to be created and, hopefully, closed won.

  • Single Number Scores typically result in more leads being sent to sales, but with less of a guarantee that a high score is actually a good lead.
  • Co-Dynamic scores usually result in less leads being sent to sales, but with a more accurate assessment of their actual propensity to buy.

How to implement a lead scoring model?

Align your sales and marketing teams

Getting a lead scoring model implemented and layered into your sales and marketing process requires tight alignment between your sales and marketing departments. Ensuring that both teams are able to add their inputs to the specific criteria that are to be evaluated in a scoring formula is crucial to creating a scoring formula that actually works for your organization. Your teams will need to consider whether you need just one global scoring model or multiple models to support different products/brands, and how the lead score should inform the rest of the process – what subsequent tasks should happen if a lead score comes out as ‘X’ and what should happen differently if it comes at as ‘Y’?

Formula components

The teams should decide on an initial formula for lead scoring, using no more than 5 scoring categories (10 total if you’re using the Co-Dynamic model, 5 for demographic and 5 for engagement). This will keep your scores focused and your formula will be easier to modify later. It will NOT serve you to try and make your formula too complex, or to consider too many scoring attributes in the same scoring model.


Lead scoring is NOT a ‘set it and forget it’ process. Especially in the initial launch phase of the scoring process there should be at least quarterly, if not monthly review in the first 6 months, to ensure that the scores that are being calculated are accurate in terms of how it will inform the subsequent steps in the sales and marketing process. If there are too many leads of a certain score coming out of the scoring engine, you may need to take a look at the formula criteria, and adjust to ensure that an ‘A1’ lead is, in fact, the hottest lead that sales could get from marketing, and not something less.

When to implement lead scoring?

While a lead scoring formula can be put together whenever you have time to decide on the criteria for one, it’s important to organize your scoring model(s) in context of how you’ll use these scores within your overall sales and marketing process. Otherwise, you may be going through the trouble of creating and implementing a scoring model before you’re able to get much value from it.

Lead scoring becomes valuable when it has been aligned to your actual buyers’ journey, and optimized to give a meaningful indication to both sales and marketing teams about how hot or cold that lead is for a certain opportunity, product, or brand.

If your organization doesn’t have a sophisticated buyer journey mapped out, with lead stages defined throughout your sales and marketing funnel, it may be too early to implement a lead scoring engine.

Perishable Scores

An important note to any lead scoring approach: be sure to make your lead scores perishable over time! Especially your engagement scores. This means that an engagement, which happened more recently gets a higher score than one that happened further in the past. If someone submitted a form yesterday, they might get 50 points added to their score, whereas if they submitted it 6 months ago, the score for that engagement would revert to 0, with a possibility of including additional tiers (based on recent).

How different platforms approach lead scoring

Lead Scoring

In the end…

If you are looking at ways to reduce redundancy in your sales and marketing efforts, lead scoring can be a good start for you to make. Not only will it streamline your organization’s efficiency, it will also help you identify the best leads, which you could nurture and convert. Lead scoring as a process can take time – nonetheless, by being consistent at it, you can ensure that the results are favorable. It’s never too late to start; on-board your sales and marketing teams, and begin your lead scoring process right away…