Territory management automation: everything you need to know to go below the tip of the iceberg
If a salesperson can follow up on a lead within an hour of receiving it, that salesperson is 60 times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a decision-maker.
This discovery from Harvard Business Review is a compelling argument for automating the lead routing process, but there’s just one problem: lead routing automation isn’t an easy thing to do. The frustrating thing is that it looks like it might be a reasonably straightforward process. But like the duck gliding peacefully across the water with its legs paddling madly underneath the surface, there’s more to lead routing automation than meets the eye.
It’s such a big topic, we need to expand our analogy from ducks to a larger aquatic phenomenon: the iceberg. The tip of the iceberg—serene, small, and unobtrusive—hides the real problem that plummets far beneath the waterline. And that’s an excellent metaphor for what’s going on with lead routing automation. To fully understand the issue, we need to take a deep dive.
It all starts with territory management automation
Before we can address the iceberg, we have to understand what put it there in the first place. In RevOps, that’s called sales territory management automation, the processes and technology required to accurately assign all revenue-related relationships. It’s typically represented by data objects in a CRM, including assigning:
- Sales reps to territories
- Accounts to sales reps and territories
- Buying centers or demand units to sales reps
- Leads and contacts to sales reps and buying centers
- Opportunities, orders, and tasks to sales reps
Territory management automation software processes include data quality, segmentation, account hierarchy, lead-to-account matching, scoring and grading, and—of course—lead routing.
Territory management automation means higher sales—for those who can keep up
Successful and effective territory management automation does provide more than a framework for an efficient lead routing program. A survey of more than 100 enterprise companies recently showed that:
- Companies using technology in territory design achieve 10% more of their sales objectives than average.
- 76% of companies design and plan sales territories once a year. Most of these companies believe they’d get more value out of more frequent planning, but time, technology, and sales disruptions make more frequent planning impractical.
Sales territory management automation software doesn’t only contribute to higher sales. It also increases organizational efficiency and reduces costs. But companies find it challenging to roll out this kind of program because executing proper territory assignments and maintaining these relationships becomes a massive job as your sales organization grows. And the paradox is, the larger your sales force, the more you need territory management automation. As a rule of thumb—if you have more than 50 sales reps, you’ll need a comprehensive territory management automation platform.
Once you’ve automated foundational processes, focus on lead routing. Too many companies try to tackle lead routing first, and that’s a mistake. Lead routing should be the last process you automate. When it comes to structuring territory management automation, the order of operations matters.
Now that you’ve got your foundation, it’s time to work your way up the iceberg.
Holding up the territory management automation iceberg: data quality
The bottom of the territory management automation iceberg bears most of the structure’s weight, which is also true of your data quality. The success of every data process begins with the quality of the data in your database, so make sure to cleanse, format, translate, normalize, dedupe, and enrich your data before moving on to the next process. When RevOps teams ignore data quality, they try to compensate by hard-coding logic into the lead routing rules to handle bad data. And then you have overly complex and difficult-to-maintain automations, and that can slow the lead routing process to a crawl.
Put it together by taking it apart: Segmentation
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 to get assignment rules to work efficiently. For example, when you collect the raw data for annual revenue from various sources, you might see the same information in at least eight different formats:
- 25 million
- 10,000,000 – 100,000,000
- 25 mil
- 5m to 50m
How do you expect any system to correctly parse that? The scalable and manageable approach is to segment your data into a list of defined ranges that fit your company’s sales strategy.
Sales teams that sell to large enterprises often group account ownership by account hierarchy or family to 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.
Assigning an account or lead to an appropriate owner can be very difficult without the ability to build and maintain accurate account hierarchy and family data. In this example, Company A in Ohio has three subsidiaries. When a lead comes into your company from one of these subsidiaries in Alaska, how can you know whether it belongs with your rep who covers that region, or if all purchases need to come from the HQ in Ohio?
As you can see, improper or incomplete account hierarchies can significantly impact downstream lead routing and territory management processes.
Putting a name with a company: Lead-to-account matching
When you match a person record to an account record using a combination of company name, website, email domain, and address data, you’re doing lead-to-account matching. 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 matching 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, you can assign it to the account owner or SDR, (with some exceptions). Flexibility and scalability are crucial in lead-to-account matching and effective territory management automation.
Who’s worth talking to? 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 automation 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— based on demographic or behavioral scoring—to the highest performing sales reps.
Smooth sailing: Lead routing
This is the tip of the iceberg—the visible point above the surface. If you’ve done it right and worked your way up from the bottom, lead routing should be much faster and easier. You’re on your way to achieving that critical goal of getting fresh leads to sales within an hour.
But don’t be afraid to start automating your new lead routing process because it isn’t perfect. To do it well—with a high level of accuracy, reliability, and a 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.
Lead routing is just one part of the much bigger territory management automation set of processes. That’s why we recommend that you follow the bottom-up path when starting a data automation initiative. These sets of processes make up territory management automation, so stick to this order of operations to help ensure a stronger, more accurate, and more effective territory management program. To achieve a high level of operational excellence with territory management automation, use an integrated, scalable RevOps data automation platform like Openprise that’s capable of automating the entire set of processes on one no-code platform.
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