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An image of a weighted scoring model called ICE Score to help prioritize sales and marketing investments
Lucas HamonApr 30, 2024 4:45:00 AM4 min read

How to Use ICE Score to Prioritize Sales & Marketing

How to Use ICE Score to Prioritize Sales & Marketing
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The Value of ICE scores

ICE is a weighted scoring model designed to help Growth strategists prioritize investments in sales and marketing. The scoring process helps you evaluate ideas in a way that's practical and objective. This enables clear-eyed decisions and reasonable discussions around the best and highest use of your time as a company.

ICE scoring model

The ICE score is based on 3 things ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best.

  • I - Impact 
  • C - Confidence
  • E - Ease

 

I - Impact

We wouldn't be talking about Growth if we weren't talking about your North Star Metric (NSM) at every turn. The ICE scoring model is no different. The very first thing to rank is how this idea could impact your NSM.

Now, don't go ranking every new idea a 10 out of 10 (because what idea ISN'T a game-changer?). There are factors to consider.

The most major influencing factor is where in the customer journey it's supposed to meet users. For that, we turn to aarrr Pirate Metrics as our framework. Click HERE to learn more

For example, if it's an Acquisition-based experiment (lead gen for b2b, website attraction for d2c), the score should be tempered since there are many steps to go through before North Star achievement.

(Get the cheat sheet with our ICE Scoring lesson, available for free as part of our Growth Strategy course & certification)

C - Confidence

Confidence is based purely on whether an experiment will work as intended. This is primarily influenced by historical success.

ie. proof that it will work.

Benchmarks.

Learned knowledge.

What do we know to be true and what questions remain?

This category is one of the best for de-escalating ideas that were about to derail all of your hard work in other, more relevant areas. Most people don't bring ideas forward unless they're confident, but that confidence should be driven by data, not emotion.

By using the simple requirement of "show me the evidence," it's easier to temper expectations.

Better still, a low confidence rating will help move the conversation into more productive areas, such as "how can we test this idea?"

Great ideas aren't just about intuition. They often come from it. But nothing replaces cold, hard data.

Use that intuition to unearth ideas, then brainstorm your way into viable entry points that don't uproot everything else you have going on.

E - Ease

Ease (of execution) is about how heavy of a lift something is going to be. This is derived from the type of content being published and where in the experiment cycle it is.

Tactically, this translates to:

  • How much $ is it going to cost to stand up?
  • How many days on the calendar will it consume?
  • How many people are involved (and whom, specifically)?
  • What behaviors will have to change (and how much pushback do we anticipate)?

The bigger the content, the heavier the lift (and higher the E score). The newer the content, the heavier the lift (usually). The more people involved, the heavier the lift.

Heavy should be balanced with light in any given Sprint cycle. But, when you take on too much heavy all at once, periods of stagnation tend to occur. And, idle marketing doesn't bode well for anybody (except your competition).

ICE prioritization process

A low score in any category is ideally offset in at least one other category. But it doesn't always work like that.

If you're investing in marketing for the first time, for example, everything you do will require a bigger lift, tempered Confidence, and focus on lower-impact initiatives like lead attraction. But once you take that first step using a scientific approach like Experimental Marketing, the opportunities for balanced Sprints begin to present themselves naturally.

When prioritizing new ideas, it's best to do so in a collaborative setting vs having one person assign all of the scores and taking them at face value. This is especially true when the ideas being presented deviate from existing plans.

After collaboratively settling on the three final numbers, take the evenly-weighted average as your "ICE score."

What to do with the final ICE score

The ICE scoring method is ONE part of your decision-making process. It's meant to inform, not dictate. Even ideas with low scores make it to production. So, it's not just about which ideas have the highest average.

Equally important is the context of the day. What do we need more of right now? Leads? Appointments? Customer conversions? And, what are we working with? A marketing investment based on zero history of marketing success? A sales team stuck in its ways? Seasonal expectations? An industry disruption? Company acquisition?

XYZ.

Fill-in-the-blank.

All of it matters.

So, this is about decision-empowerment.

ICE will get you about halfway there. For the rest of it (context-building), check out our Growth course: Experimental Marketing Strategy.

We have an entire lesson dedicated to ICE, where we take you through team exercises and even provide cheat sheets and templates (like Catalyst):

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Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.

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