Lead routing: the challenge is that you’re always behind
At the speed that most sales organizations move these days, Sales Operations and Marketing Operations are constantly being asked to update their lead routing rules. Sales reps are rightfully very possessive of their accounts and leads, and when a lead is misrouted it’s serious business.
The challenge for Operations is to get the leads routed accurately as quickly as possible. Often this requires enrichment prior to assignment. If leads are assigned based on company for key accounts, geography for specific regions, and revenue for those not already designated, it’s already a lot of data to collect before that lead goes anywhere, as seen below.
|Routing Requirement||Data Needed|
|Key Account||Lead to account matching and fuzzy matching for the company name|
|Geography||Country, State, Postal Code, Metro Area, or any combination of those for each lead|
|Revenue||Matching the lead to the company and the revenue|
|Industry||Matching the lead to the company and its industry|
|Partner Account||Lead to partner matching and fuzzy matching for the company name|
|Round Robin||Each sales rep’s workload or assignment history|
|Alphabetical||Child-parent relationship, Business Unit to Headquarters relationship|
Because Sales is constantly in motion, as Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) get promoted to account managers and new SDRs join, territories are re-assessed, and new regions are targeted, operations must have a reliable way to update assignments. They must do this while ensuring that no leads are misrouted and that none are orphaned by being assigned to owners who are no longer active or will not follow up on them.
Many organizations keep complex spreadsheets to track lead assignments, then need to translate that into the platform managing routing. This can be hugely time-consuming, as re-programming CRMs or MAPs takes time and the systems are in use 24/7, especially at global businesses.
The cumulative time to enrich incoming leads, whether from online forms, loaded lists, or other sources, and then route them accurately can sometimes be days instead of the minutes that fast-paced businesses demand. In addition, budgets are tight, so enrichment strategies need to be affordable, comprehensive, and efficient. And that means automation.
No single data provider delivers all the necessary data points for every prospect. In fact, companies that used four or more data providers were happiest with all of their providers overall. In addition, the same vendors won’t provide the best data for every company, because each specializes in a different set of firmographic, demographic, and individual data. With most vendors providing 30-40% match rates, clearly more is needed in order to get the right information to accurately route them.
At this point, most companies with only one or two data vendors resort to manual assignments, sacrificing rapid routing and requiring tedious manual work from their teams. This is where the time to lead assignment can stretch to days or even weeks. It’s not unusual for a lead to bounce from rep to rep a few times before it is finally with its rightful owner. Leads can also get stuck in a “black hole” or an unassigned queue where no one is looking.
For engagement, time is of the essence. Sales wants to contact interested, qualified leads immediately, following up while those leads are interested and while the company is still top of mind. Waiting a few days, or a few weeks, means that interest and engagement potential have waned and the project the lead was considering has moved from, “Yes, I was just trying to figure out a solution for that!” to “Oh, I’ll get to that eventually…”
There are a few necessary components to turn lead routing into a smoothly operating, fully automated, near-real-time machine:
- Real-time enrichment with high match rates: Start with the least expensive resource and move to the more expensive ones only when needed to save on budget while using as many resources and vendors as possible to complete the highest percentage of lead and account records you can. Automate the steps to move from vendor to vendor so you’re not reliant on a person clicking an “enrich data” button when one source doesn’t pan out.
- Automated lead to account matching: Even if the lead arrives with a company of “Amex” instead of “American Express,” you’re going to want to ensure it’s properly enriched and routed to the right rep. That means fuzzy matching for company names to ensure that your lead is associated with the right account, which should already have been enriched with full account data.
- Immediate, easy-to-update assignment rules: If it takes hours to update your assignment rules in your CRM or MAP (and probably on a weekend while things are slower), that’s way too long. Also a waste of your weekend. If you can’t test your rules before you activate them, you’ll end up with a bunch of people complaining about misrouted leads, which is a headache you don’t need. Being able to quickly change assignments and test the paths before you deploy is essential to a well-oiled lead routing machine.
- Eliminated or minimized manual work: It happens all the time. New junior employees are hired, all excited about their opportunities, and the first thing they’re assigned is a bunch of manual drudgery. While there’s a point to working your way up, replacing a robot isn’t in most people’s list of job aspirations. Instead of assigning team members to double checklists, verify spreadsheets, or manually look up leads so they can be assigned, automate all that and assign them something they’ll be engaged in and can grow with. It will also save you the trouble of hiring again when they (quickly) get bored.
Because lead routing is critical to the success of your business, it’s worth the research to find the best way to keep it up-to-date, effective, and easy to manage. While it’s possible to employ individual tools to accomplish all of the above processes, the better option is a data orchestration platform. Where point tools can fail to integrate with each other and overwrite data using different formats, a data orchestration platform delivers all of these processes in a streamlined, normalized, automated fashion and can distribute the data to all the relevant systems of record. Ideally, your lead routing becomes part of a regular process that adapts to your growing sales team, enables rapid responses to active leads, and helps drive pipeline and revenue growth.
Originally published on September 26, 2018 on MartechCube.