Guide to Grading (Part 1): What is Pardot Grading?

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Prospect Grading is a Pardot feature that represents how closely a prospect fits your ideal customer profile. Each prospect is assigned a letter (A-F) that is calculated by matching their data with your defined criteria. Essential for smarter lead qualification, grading can have a big impact across the organisation when setup and leveraged properly – the trouble is, grading is tricky to get your head around when starting out, and requires some groundwork.

Grading does not come out-of-the-box (unlike its counterpart, scoring), because what you consider a model buyer persona is unique to your organisation. You have the opportunity to make grading your own – but it requires careful planning and setup.


This four-part series will walk you through how to set up Pardot grading gradually, so you can navigate the different moving parts involved in grading.

Grading vs. Scoring

As I mentioned in the introduction, grading does not come out-of-the-box with Pardot, unlike the default scoring model that starts working as soon as prospects begin activity. This means that grading is a lesser-known feature, compared to scoring.

Knowing the difference between the two is fundamental.


How interested the prospect is in your brand.

  • Behavioural: score increases based on prospect tracked activities, eg: clicking in an email.
  • Represented by a number.


How interested you should be in the prospect.

  • Demographic: grade increases based on a prospect’s data matching your defined criteria, eg: company annual revenue above a particular threshold.
  • Represented by a letter (A-F).

Where To Start? Tips For Keeping It Simple.

The way grading is structured and automated means it can get complicated quickly.
The parts that make up prospect grading are:

  • Criteria
  • Grading Profile
  • Grade Adjustment Automation Rules

This may not mean anything to you at this stage, but a good opportunity to outline them before we tick each off in parts 2-4. My suggestion is to avoid the temptation to over-engineer grading on your first go, and instead to keep it simple by:

  • Selecting 4 or 5 criteria – dropdown, checkbox or number fields (featured in Part 2)
  • Sticking with one persona (we’ll cover ‘Grading Profiles’ further in Part 3).
  • Restricting grade adjustments to basic match / no match (what Part 4 is all about)

What’s Up Next?

Your task is to begin thinking about your model buyer – what pieces of information are used to qualify a sales prospect? Have a conversation with the sales team to garner insight on qualification criteria – but be warned, some organisations have more ‘black-and-white’ criteria, and therefore easier to fit into a grading framework. Kick off the conversation now, so that you are ready to ‘hit the ground running’ in Part 2.

One thought on “Guide to Grading (Part 1): What is Pardot Grading?

  1. Good afternoon! I would like to create a custom profile for a customer, but I can’t seem to find how many ‘letters’ a grade should consist of in order to be able to have it working properly. I remember reading an article or Pardot help topic about this, but I’ve been looking for it for a while now and cant seem to find it. The default grading profile has 10 ‘letters’ is that the baseline?

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