Directing every promising new lead to the right member of your team is a fundamental strategy for improving sales performance.
Effective lead routing can lower your response times, resulting in more sales opportunities. It can also help ensure deal pipelines stay stocked with qualified leads. In short, the better organized your lead management system, the better positioned you’ll be to change more prospects to customers and increase your sales revenue.
According to sales skills data from RAIN Group, top sales performers are 59% more likely to collaborate deeply with buyers throughout the customer journey. Understanding who your buyers are and what they need is just one of the keys to steering leads to the sellers best suited to convert them.
In this step-by-step guide to lead routing, we share an essential list of best practices you can use to consistently route leads to the right rep, improve your sales efficiency and close more deals.
Lead routing is the process of directing leads to salespeople or teams based on predefined internal criteria. More specifically, it refers to the planning, strategy and analysis behind impactful lead assignment.
Your lead routing approach, for example, could be as simple as adding team member names to a lead tracker template and manually assigning each new prospect to whichever rep is next on the list.
You’re more likely to improve sales outcomes, however, if you base your lead assignment rules on specific factors like:
Location and sales territory
Product interest and lead score
Sales rep skills, availability and experience
You’ll also find it more efficient in most cases to develop an automated lead routing process – one where lead generation software or tools use rules or algorithms to automatically match leads with sales reps.
There’s also lead routing technology, like Pipedrive’s automatic assignment feature, that will automate the whole process for you.
Whichever lead-assign system you implement, adhering to a set of lead routing best practices will help optimize your results.
Lead routing best practices
Following a dedicated lead routing strategy can be an effective way to improve your conversion rates and increase your revenues. Use these step-by-step best practices to assign every new lead to the right rep so you can boost your sales cycle.
1. Develop a clear lead routing process
Sales lead generation is essential for powering deal pipelines. You’ll harness that power more effectively, however, if you develop a clear lead routing process that ensures every lead you generate gets assigned to the right salesperson or team.
Including these key elements will help clarify and strengthen your process.
Customer profiles and buyer personas
Profiling the types of companies and decision-makers most likely to benefit from your product or service will help you direct leads based on the needs of your ideal customers. It will also prevent you from wasting time on prospects that aren’t a good fit for your offering.
Lead qualification and scoring criteria
Qualifying and scoring your leads makes it easier to identify which ones should be contacted first, and the best way to follow up. Consider factors like lead source, company size, buying authority, budget and purchasing timeline to help score and segment your leads.
Monitoring and measurement tools
Using performance tracking and evaluation tools will help uncover shortcomings or bottlenecks in your process. You might, for example, use metrics like customer satisfaction, lead response time, conversion rates, revenue-per-lead and sales cycle length to help guide your process improvements.
2. Prioritize training and transparency
Ongoing training can improve your lead routing efforts by equipping you with the skills and knowledge to qualify and follow up leads successfully.
According to RAIN Group sales training, well-managed sellers who experience effective training and regular coaching are 63% more likely to be top performers.
So it makes sense that engaging in continuous lead management training or coaching can be effective for:
Learning important lead assessment and closing skills
Staying up to date on the latest engagement trends and best practices
Improving your sales performance
By learning how to identify and prioritize leads, you spend less time and effort chasing cold or unqualified prospects and devote more focus to the ones with the highest conversion potential.
Prioritizing lead assignment transparency, meanwhile, is another way to improve your sales outcomes.
By centralizing all your lead data, for example, you can:
Ensure every rep has access to pertinent lead information before they reach out
Enable more timely and personalized follow-ups
Provide more equitable opportunities to nurture leads into customers
Staying in a shared loop as a sales pro or lead router will also help prevent duplication of efforts, confusion and frustration among leads and team members alike.
3. Categorize and segment your leads
Strategically sorting prospects based on relevant factors and demographics can make your lead delivery system more efficient.
Categorizing and segmenting prospective customers, for example, makes it easier to:
Qualify and score each new lead
Route qualified leads to the most suitable reps
Improve the quality of your follow-up conversations
Categorizing your leads lets you flag prospects as hot, warm or cold in terms of their interest, behavior and readiness to buy. Not only does this allow you to immediately route hot leads to the next available rep, it provides an opportunity to match warm or cold leads with salespeople who may excel at different lead funnel stages.
Segmenting your leads based on shared traits – like location, industry or company size – will make it easier to direct prospects to sales agents in specific territories or route them to reps with experience nurturing certain types of buyers.
Here are some examples of what to consider when grouping your sales leads:
Industry, role and location. What is your lead’s title, what does their company do and where do they operate?
Company size. How many customers and employees do they have and how much revenue do they generate?
Needs and goals. What are their pain points or challenges and what do they want to achieve?
Interests. Which product, service, plan, feature or outcome are they most interested in?
Budget. How much are they likely or able to spend?
Behavior and buying stage. What actions have they taken, which channels did they use and where are they at in the buying process?
Arranging your sales leads this way will help you determine the best route for following up based on their unique attributes and requirements.
4. Route leads to optimize productivity
Productivity is a reflection of how effective you are at generating sales revenue. One of the best ways to improve sales productivity is by finding the most efficient ways to manage your time.
Here are a few simple lead routing strategies you can use to save time, increase efficiency and optimize sales productivity:
Automate your routing tasks. Use automation and lead routing software to eliminate manual or repetitive tasks like lead scoring, email messaging and outreach scheduling. This will free up more time to engage leads with personalized interactions that can enhance the customer experience and help boost conversions.
Centralize your leads and sales content. Improving access to sales leads and proven selling materials will help reduce your lead response times. You can use a feature like Pipedrive’s Leads Inbox, for example, to manage new leads separately and all in one place while avoiding sales pipeline congestion.
Incorporate analytics into your process. Use real-time data to evaluate your lead routing process and ensure it delivers optimal results. If, for example, analytics reveal it’s taking longer than it should to follow up with new leads, you might consider having a chatbot respond immediately to prospects who submit forms or download offers.
5. Find a balance between speed and accuracy
A lead assignment process that’s both fast and accurate can increase your sales efficiency and conversions.
Responding to inbound leads quickly is paramount to avoid leakage and loss. Research from customer service consultant Jeff Toister, for example, suggests nearly a third of customers expect businesses to respond to emails in one hour or less.
Effective ways to speed up lead delivery include:
Not all leads are equal, however.
By handling every lead the same way, you can reduce your response times – but you might be losing out on more meaningful engagement.
Depending on your sales process, it could make more sense to sacrifice some speed for greater accuracy by precision-routing leads to the next available and most suitable reps for their needs.
This combined approach can be especially effective when:
You attract multiple types of customers
Their requirements are intricate or the buying process is lengthy
You have a specialized product or complex team structure
Comparing your sales performance against lead response and follow-up times will help you find the most effective balance between quick and intentional lead assignment.
6. Use the right automation tools
Using the right tools to streamline lead management saves time and work while keeping your lead routing approach quick, fair and impactful.
By automating lead distribution, for example, you can:
Ensure every lead gets the help they need to make buying decisions
Create a structured process for your salesforce to follow
Save time and close deals faster
Because every lead needs special care and attention, there are various tools you can use to customize lead assignment rules, automate nurturing tasks and make the most of each sales opportunity.
Here are some common and effective lead automation tools:
You could also make the most of individual tools like these by using Pipedrive’s all-in-one lead distribution software to capture and route leads to the best-matched salespeople.
With Pipedrive CRM, you can instantly assign incoming leads in a round-robin style. Create custom routing rules that automatically direct prospects to the best reps based on factors like skills, availability and location.
Using software qualification and prioritization features to score leads, schedule follow-up tasks and trigger personalized email lead nurturing messages can maximize your deal-closing rates.
7. Regularly review and improve your process
Regularly reviewing your automated process or manual lead routing system will allow you to improve its performance as needed.
Tracking and measuring your results has several benefits:
It helps ensure you’re using the most current and impactful criteria to guide lead assignment
It makes it easier to pinpoint and improve inefficiencies in your lead nurturing activities
It enables you to optimize the key factors influencing your conversions, like lead qualification, scoring, prioritization and response workflows
Unpredictable performance can prevent you from reaching sales quotas and goals. However, without access to accurate sales performance data, you’ll find yourself repeating the same lead management mistakes.
Using a CRM-integrated sales dashboard is a great way to gain a visual overview of your lead-assign process. You can use your favorite metrics – like number of leads followed up, lead response times and number of leads converted to deals – to track and measure sales activities and outcomes.
You’ll also have access to clear, data-driven sales forecast reports that will help you prioritize deals and allocate resources effectively, so you can meet your lead routing objectives.
Consistently routing the right leads to the right sales reps can help convert more of your prospects to paying customers.
By following lead routing best practices like the ones described here to clarify, optimize and improve lead assignment, you and your team can benefit from:
Shorter lead response times and higher-quality engagement
A more efficient sales process
Better customer experiences and increased loyalty
You may need to experiment with different lead assignment rules or criteria to streamline your routing workflows and maximize their impact. A CRM like Pipedrive can help.
By using Pipedrive to customize and automate lead management, you can enhance the contacts you make and the actions you take, so you spend more quality time with your most promising prospects.