Responding quickly to incoming leads can make or break a deal, particularly in highly competitive markets. The more mature a business gets, and the more complex the prospective customer’s needs are, the more challenging it is to maintain that speedy response and personalized touch.
Quickly growing businesses require more sophisticated automation to ensure operational efficiency, proper distribution of leads among their sales team, and to make sure no leads slip through cracks.
That’s what makes lead routing a critical component to any scaling sales strategy.
What is lead routing?
At its most fundamental, lead routing is the process of automatically assigning leads across a sales team, or through the proper sales model if your company has more than one sales approach, like self-serve, transactional, and enterprise.
Automated lead routing can be simple, such as a round-robin assignment to your sales reps based on who is next in line. Mature lead routing models take multiple factors into account, like deal value, territory or geography, use case or specialization, or a combination of multiple factors by a lead scoring system.
Unless you’re in a highly niche industry, chances are your business attracts more than one type of customer. Lead routing helps make sure the right prospects reach the right people, and at the right time, saving your business time and resources.
Lead Routing by Value
Companies like Slack and Dropbox popularize the hybrid approach of building a self-serve business in tandem with an enterprise one. This approach maximizes operational efficiency by keeping the most expensive resource - the sales rep’s time - focused on building relationships and closing larger deals while routing smaller deals to a low-touch, high volume, one-to-many sales model.
Tools like Clearbit can help pull in data about customer’s company size and value to pre-populate CRM data. Using this data, low-value leads can be handled by self-serve marketing automation (with a human touch provided by customer support teams answering incoming questions). High-value leads can be sent directly to sales teams to guide high value, complex deals through an enterprise sales process.
Lead Routing by Territory or Geography
For industries tied to brick-and-mortar stores or geographical locations, like manufacturing or real estate, defining territories is a common practice. Leads are assigned by location, enabling sales teams to divide and conquer regionally. Routing leads by geography provides certainty that reps aren’t stepping on each other’s toes with double coverage in some areas, while completely neglecting others.
For lead routing by territory to work, you must first define your territories and organize your CRM data around those definitions. With the right CRM and automated toolset, you can sort records into territories and assign leads to any reps working within that territory using round-robin automation.
Lead Routing by Use Case or Specialization
Many tools and systems, especially in SaaS, have multiple relevant use cases. A tool like HubSpot, for example, serves customer service teams, sales teams, and marketing teams, which all come with their own buyer personas, choosers, users, and influencers. Flexible tools like Trello might be used for anything from wedding planning to software bug triage.
Savvy sales teams know that industry expertise helps establish the trusted advisor relationship requisite to closing the big deals, which makes lead routing by specialization or use case increasingly important for enterprise sales models.
Let’s take an example of software targeted to creative firms, encompassing graphic design, animation, film editing, and illustration. It’s unlikely all sales reps will develop the expertise needed to speak to the needs of all of those varied professionals, even if they do sit under a similar umbrella.
Instead, you may have your top sales reps cover the largest deals that involve multiple products across a company, but route smaller, more specialized deals to reps who specialize in a particular area. Reps that specialize in the graphic design product can handle all deals that come in with that interest as an entry point, whereas those who specialize in the animation product speak to the animation firms who are interested.
Lead Routing by Lead Score
The most sophisticated sales models implement lead scoring as part of their lead routing process. Lead scoring assigns a quantifiable value to every lead generated for the business, usually by a numerical point system.
Leads can be scored on multiple attributes, including a combination of previously mentioned qualities such as value, geography, and use case, but also on qualities like engagement with your company and brand to assess the strength of the lead’s likelihood to close.
Lead scoring helps sales teams prioritize leads, and apply a more tailored approach to engagement, thereby closing more leads with less effort. Lead scoring can also help define whether a lead needs more time being nurtured, could close with a low-touch one-to-many approach, or requires the high-touch consultative efforts of a dedicated sales rep.
Route only those with scores ready for sales to your sales team to not only maximize time and efforts. This results in a happy and productive sales team by minimizing the frustration of poor leads.
How to Get Started
To develop lead rotation, you will need to:
- Define your lead routing criteria, like value, use case, territory, or lead score
- Create workflows or automations based on that criteria
- Qualify leads, which can also be done with lead scoring, and rotate between your reps
Setting up the automation with the proper toolset is easy, but there’s more to setting lead routing on autopilot when it comes to building a successful sales strategy.
In order to improve and optimize your lead routing, you need to know what’s working and what’s not. Monitor and report on the successes or shortcomings of routing by certain criteria to understand why routing and segmenting by some criteria work better than others for your sales team, customers, and product. Automated lead routing makes it easy to experiment and shift gears, so you can zero in on the most effective approach for your business.
Want more insight? Learn how to manage and nurture sales leads by taking this free Lead Management Training course from HubSpot Academy.