Pardot Knowledge Base

Best Practices: Grading

Last Updated: Apr 26, 2016 | Print this Article
While scoring indicates how interested or engaged a prospect is with your company, grading indicates how interested or engaged your company should be with that prospect. Your interest in a prospect will be based on specific criteria, such as Job Title, Industry, and Company Size. These criteria can be edited in the Pardot profile associated with a prospect. When you choose to match or not match these criteria in a prospect record, the grade will be increased or decreased by the amount set by each criterion in the profile associated with the prospect.

This article covers best practices and grading examples. If you need an overview how grading works in Pardot, see Grading Overview.

Grading Simplified: The Basics

Below are a few key points to understanding grading:
  • The grading scale is from A+ to F-
  • All prospects begin with a grade of D. (Note: You won't see a grade until a prospect is matched or not matched to profile criteria)
  • All prospects will be associated with the Default profile unless they are re-assigned a different one. For more information about how to assign prospects to a different profile, see the article here.
  • You can set the profile criteria within a prospect record to Match (thumbs up), or Not Match (thumbs down).
  • Matching a profile criterion within a prospect record will cause an increase in grade by the amount (1/3, 2/3, or 3/3 of a letter grade) specified in the profile associated with the prospect.
  • Selecting Not Match on a profile criterion within a prospect record will cause a decrease in grade by the amount (1/3, 2/3, or 3/3 of a letter grade) specified in the profile associated with the prospect.
  • You can use automation rules to Match or Not Match criteria to grade all prospects appropriately.

Basics of Grading a Prospect: Example

Sally Joe was just created as a new prospect, so she is automatically associated with the "Default" profile with a grade of D. If we click Profile in her prospect record, we can see the following: the criteria inside of that profile, the grade letter impact that each criteria will have, and whether or not those criteria are matching or not.

Sample Prospect Profile

Now, if Sally had a favorable Job Title and Location, we might decide that those criteria are each worthy of a grade bump of 2/3, as specified in the Default profile which she is assigned. Let's match (thumbs up) those two criteria like so:

Job Title and Location match

If we click back into the overview of Sally's profile, you can now see that she has a grade of a C+, indicating that her grade of D was bumped up 1 and 1/3 times (2/3 + 2/3= 1 and 1/3).

Example Prospect Grade

In addition to increasing grade, we can also decrease it by not matching a profile criteria (thumbs down). A prospect's grade will go down by the amount specified on the criteria that you have chosen to not match.

Automating the Grading Process

Rather than manually qualifying prospects by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to each profile criterion in a prospect's record, we can use automation rules  to automatically apply grading based on prospect field data. See Using Automation Rules to Grade Prospects for more help.

Advanced topic: Three-tiered Grading

We recommend setting up a three-tiered grading system as it allows you to easily grade and segment prospects based on three categories of fitness: Best Fit (A prospects), Good Fit (B Prospects), and Okay Fit (C Prospects). Creating tiers also allows you to easily automate the grading process since you can clearly define the demographics that will cause a prospect to fall into a specific tier. Steps to set up the three-tier grading system:
  1. Choose the 3 to 4 most important criteria that you would like to use to grade your prospects.  Common Examples: Job Title, Company Size (number of employees), Annual Revenue, and so on.
  2. Modify the profile you will be using to grade your prospects and divide each criterion into three tiers.  Tier 1 should be worth 1 whole letter grade, tier 2 will be worth 2/3 of a letter grade, and tier 3 should be worth 1/3 of a letter grade.  See below for an example of 4 criteria divided into 3 tiers:
3 Tier example  

Three-tiered Grading: Best Fit, Good Fit, and Okay Fit

Now that we've split our criteria into tiers, we need to make decisions around how to match a prospect to a particular tier.  If a prospect has the job title of Vice President, for example, do we choose to match the tier 1, tier 2, or tier 3 criterion for Job Title?  It helps to map out the qualities that distinguish an A prospect from a B and/or a C prospect.

If you think about this on a grading scale from A+ to F-, consider the Best Fit (tier 1) would be qualities of an "A" prospect, Good Fit (tier 2) would be qualities of a "B" prospect, and Okay Fit (tier 3) would fall into the "C" range.  For example, let's take Job Title as mentioned above.  The three questions you'll want to ask are:
  1. Which job titles would be an indication of the best fit (A prospects) for your business? for example: President, Vice President, CMO, CTO
  2. Which job titles would fall into the good fit (B prospects) category for your business? For example: Marketing Manager, Associate Director of Marketing Operations
  3. Which job titles would fall into an okay (C prospects) fit category? For example: Marketing Specialist, Email Marketing Manager, Lead Generation Manager

Grading Worksheet

We recommend creating a rubric to help you map our your grading scheme by deciding your criteria and how to break them into tiers.  Feel free to download our editable Grading Worksheet. Once you have mapped out which qualities match which tier, you can begin using it create automation rules which will determine a prospect's grade.

Three-tiered Grading: Automating the Process

Once we've mapped out a three-tiered grading system, we can then automate the process of matching based on prospect field values. For each tier, we should write a separate rule that will change a profile criterion to match if we find data in the prospect's record that falls in line with the grading scheme that we came up with previously.

Let's take Job Title for example. We want to create a Tier 1 - Job Title Automation rule so that all prospects who are: President, Vice President, CMO, or CTO will cause the "Job Title - Tier 1" criterion to match.

The rule would look as follows:

[Prospect default field] "Job Title" contains {President; CMO; CTO; Vice President; VP; Chief Marketing Officer; Chief Technology Officer] then

[Change prospect profile criteria] "Job Title - Tier 1" to {matches} since all of those job titles are tier 1 values.

Note: One thing you may want to do is create some additional actions on your automation rules so that other tiers are "not known" when you are matching a particular tier. This ensures that grades will not be inflated twice if job title were to change and then match a different tier.  For example, if you were matching tier 1 with a rule, you would move tier 2 and tier 3 to "not known" in order to reset the other criteria.

Grading Rule Job Title Tier 1  

Three-tiered Grading: Automating, Example 2

For this example, let's use Company Size. We have decided that our "A" prospect (tier 1) has a company size > 1,000 prospects, a "B" prospect (tier 2) has a company size between 100 and 999, and a "C" prospect (tier 3) has a company size between 50 and 99 employees.

Writing a Tier 2 Rule for Company Size, here's what our rule would look like:

[Prospect default field] "# of employees" is between {100 and 999], then

[change prospect profile criteria] "Company Size - Tier 2" to {matches},

[change prospect profile criteria] "Company Size - Tier 1" to {not known},

[change prospect profile criteria] "Company Size - Tier 3" to {not known}.

Company Size Tier 2 Match  

Three-tiered Grading: Downgrading Prospects

There may be some times that prospects need to be disqualified (downgraded from D) if they meet a particular criteria. For example, you may decide that you wouldn't want to work with companies below a certain size, or pursue a prospect with the job title: "student." If that is the case, we will want to set ALL profile criteria to "does not match," thereby grading that prospect down as much as possible.

Example: A job title of student or researcher would automatically disqualify a prospect.  We would create an automation rule such that:

[Prospect default field] "Job Title" contains {student; researcher}, then

[change prospect profile criteria] Job Title - Tier 1 to {does not match},

[change prospect profile criteria] Job Title - Tier 2 to {does not match},

[change prospect profile criteria] Job Title - Tier 3 to {does not match},

[change prospect profile criteria] Company Size - Tier 1 to {not match},

[change prospect profile criteria] Company Size - Tier 2 to {does not match}, etc...

Essentially, we want to "Not Match" All criteria if a prospect matches a rule for which they should be disqualified.

Note: If a prospect has already matched other criteria (company size, for example), they may be above the initial D grade, which is why we want to set ALL profile criteria to "not match"


Not what you're looking for? Check out these other articles:
Profiles Overview
Grading Overview
Creating Profiles
Using Automation Rules to Grade Prospects

Need more? Start a conversation with other Pardot users in the Trailblazer Community