Territory management automation: Lead routing is just the tip of the Iceberg – Part 2

In part 1, we introduced the concept of territory management automation, and discussed why companies fail or fall short of their lead routing expectations. The main reason this initiative fails is because companies try to tackle lead routing before they set up prerequisite processes—like data quality, segmentation, account hierarchy, lead-to-account matching, and scoring and grading.

These processes fuel your lead routing program, and can’t be ignored. So lead routing should be the last territory management automation process you automate. When it comes to structuring sales territory planning and management automation, the order of operations matters.

In today’s blog, we’ll discuss the processes that comprise territory management automation from the bottom up, and why they’re important.

Data quality

The proverbial “garbage-in-garbage-out” problem may be the single most important, yet often ignored, root cause for bad lead routing, and why accounts, contacts, and leads are assigned to the wrong salespeople. Every single data process stems from the quality of the data in your database, so make sure to clean, format, translate, normalize, dedupe, and enrich your data before moving on to the next process. When people ignore data quality, they try to compensate by hard coding logic into the lead routing rules to handle bad data. This creates overly complex and difficult-to-maintain automations, and slows the lead routing process to a crawl.


Whether it’s industry, number of employees, annual revenue, or assets under management, many assignment rules are based on numerical data or a list of values. That means you need to segment the data for assignment rules to work efficiently. For example, the raw data for annual revenue collected from different sources can have all these different formats:

  • 25,000,000
  • 25 million
  • 10,000,000 – 100,000,000
  • 25 mil
  • 25m
  • 25mn
  • 25mm
  • 5m to 50m

Instead of forcing your routing rules to decipher all the possible variations, the scalable and manageable approach is to properly segment your data into a list of defined ranges that fit your company’s sales strategy.

Account hierarchy

Sales teams that sell to large enterprises often group account ownership by account hierarchy or family, so they can coordinate the selling effort across the group of related accounts. While data vendors like Dun & Bradstreet can provide legal entity hierarchies, making that data operationally useful requires infusing it with your specific business logic so the data fits your sales strategy.

Without the ability to build and maintain accurate account hierarchy and family data, assigning an account or lead to an appropriate owner can be very difficult. Here’s an example that illustrates this challenge:

  • Telecommunications Company A is based in Ohio and owns many subsidiaries, including other smaller telecommunications companies.
  • Telecommunications Company B is a subsidiary of Company A that’s based in Alaska.
  • A prospect from Company B fills out a form on your website. Based on simplistic routing rules the lead gets routed to Sales Rep X who covers the Pacific Northwest.
  • However, because Company B is actually owned by Company A, the lead should have been routed to Sales Rep Z who covers the Midwest.
  • The lead was misrouted, because your lead routing rules didn’t designate Company B as a subsidiary in Company A’s account hierarchy.
  • Instead of routing directly to the parent company for a streamlined sales experience, the lead will bounce from Company B to Company A, experiencing unnecessary friction in the buying process.

As you can see, improper or incomplete account hierarchies can significantly impact downstream lead routing and sales territory planning and management processes.

Lead-to-account matching

This is the process of matching a person record to an account record using some combination of company name, website and email domain, and address data. While Salesforce handles this unique separation of Lead and Contact record types, systems outside the CRM, including ERP or user databases, may also need to match a person record to account records. This is a critical piece of the process when routing a lead based on account ownership, segmentation, ABM criteria, and more. It’s also commonly used for lead and account scoring.

Once you match a person to an account, they’re generally assigned to the account owner, or corresponding SDR, although there are exceptions to this rule. Flexibility and scalability are key in Lead-to-account matching; your organization may have other matching and routing criteria.

Scoring and grading

Scoring and grading measures the quality of the lead, or how closely an account matches the ideal customer profile. Scoring and grading are often integral parts of territory management in two ways:

  • Companies that have implemented Account Based Marketing (ABM) go-to-market tactics, usually grade accounts, and focus the most experienced sales reps on the highest-grade accounts, so they’ll require grading as input for both account and lead assignment.
  • Some companies use a meritocracy-based routing scheme, sending the highest quality lead—whether based on demographic or behavioral scoring—to the highest performing sales reps.

Lead routing

This is the tip of the iceberg—the most visible point above the surface, and often the focus and pain point for organizations. As we’ve seen, it’s difficult to achieve scalable lead routing if you haven’t automated the rest of the territory management. But that doesn’t mean you need to perfect all the foundational and intermediary processes before you can automate lead routing. It means that to do it well—with a high level of accuracy, reliability, and minimum amount of manual intervention—may take more time and resources than you think. If your goal is speed to lead, don’t chase the tip of the iceberg. Realize you’ve got to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top.

What does this all mean?

Lead routing is just one part of the much bigger sales territory planning and management automation set of processes. However, when starting a data automation initiative, don’t begin with lead routing. Start with data quality, then move on in this order: segmentation, account hierarchy, lead-to-account matching, scoring and grading, and lead routing. Together, these sets of processes form what we call territory management automation, and adhering to this order of operations will ensure a stronger, more accurate, and more effective territory management program. To achieve a high level of operational excellence with territory management automation, we recommend using an integrated RevOps automation platform like Openprise that’s fully integrated, scalable and capable of automating the entire set of processes on one no-code technology platform.

To learn more about territory management automation, download our territory management survival guide.


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