Why SDRs are at odds with Lead Scores

I don’t think I’m giving away any trade secrets by revealing that SDRs aren’t always the biggest fans of lead scores. Whether implementing a lead score built internally or a solution like MadKudu, SDRs are in the precarious position of being the primary users and having very little influence over the score itself.

SDRs carry a lot of intuition of what makes a lead good or bad. They aren’t surprised when a lead they perceive as good/bad is rated as such. And yet, they are viscerally frustrated when a lead they perceive as ‘bad’ is rated otherwise, and vice versa. Even if the lead score is scoring leads perfect, an SDR’s core metric – the number of demo’s booked – is often undermined by the lead score.

Lead scores are meant to filter out bad leads while surfacing lead with the highest probability to convert to customer. A poor-performing lead score might surface leads that are likely to get a phone call, but not likely to convert. These care called NiNas (No Intent. No Authority), and they are like grease in your funnel – they look like they should go down smooth, and then they dry up halfway down the funnel, slowing down everything else that should pass through easily.

NiNa’s are great for an SDR’s quota, and while we know that NiNa’s aren’t good for the overall business, this means that a good lead score is removing one of the easiest ways for an SDR to make quota.

Lead Scores should serve SDRS

While not exactly a black box, Lead Scores have historically operated as such for SDRs. Their purpose is to help SDRs prioritize the highest-value leads, which should be great for helping them hit their quota; however, without knowing why a lead is good, lead scores provide little more than expectations for how the engagement should go.

At the same time, Lead Scores are calculated by measuring a lot of valuable information, most of which is not visible to the SDR. Beyond job title and employee count, lead scores evaluate the predicted revenue of each company, the size of specific teams, the tech stack & tools that a company uses, whether their solution is B2B or B2C, whether it has a free trial or not, whether they’ve raised venture capital, and much more. There can be thousands of signals that are weighed initially in order to figure out which ones are the best determiners of success, against which every lead will be measured.

MadKudu Signals sitting inside Salesforce
Sample MadKudu Signals sitting inside Salesforce

In the above example, we can see how valuable it is to know that the lead is performing 150K daily API calls, or that their company has multiple active users on the account , or that they are using Salesforce: these are indicators of the buyer persona, the use case, and therefore of the right message for the SDR to send.

For SDRs, these signals are context. Context for why a lead is a good lead, and that’s exactly how a Lead Score and serve an SDR. Constructing the right message, understanding where your lead is coming from, identifying what the tipping point is that made them sales-ready: SDRs and Lead Scores are trying to do the exact same thing.

With one customer, MadKudu was able to demonstrate a disproportionate ratio between Opportunities created and Opportunities won – another way to look at that is prospects that made it past an SDR vs. prospects that made it past an AE. What you can see above is that having ‘Manager’ or ‘Operations/HR’ in a prospects title negatively impacted their odds of getting through an SDR (or negatively impacted an SDR’s chances of getting them to an AE), while it greatly increased their chances of becoming a customer if they made it to an AE.

Knowing which kinds of titles are good for AE’s can help SDRs understand what to spend more time on, but it can also help SDR managers better train their SDRs on how to win with those personas.

Speaking with Francis on our weekly podcast, it was clear to me how important it is for SDRs to buy in to a Lead Score. If you’re in charge of implementing a lead score, you need to bring SDRs into the conversation early to understand how the lead score can serve them. Making a lead score actionable for SDRs means that your front line for feedback on how well your score is performing will be more incentivized to work with the score instead of working against the score.