For any sales team, the big challenge lies in converting leads into customers.
The first step to accomplish this is for sales reps to respond to leads in the shortest possible time to convince them of your solution’s value.
But how will you prioritize the most promising leads? How will you know which rep is the best suited to handle each lead? Mismanaged leads may slip through the cracks, leading to missed opportunities and revenue loss for your company.
To overcome this challenge, you need to have a clear and effective lead distribution process that defines how each lead will be assigned to your sales team.
In this blog, we’re taking a deep dive to explain what lead distribution is, its importance, how it works, and how you can streamline this process.
What Is Lead Distribution?
Lead distribution is the process of strategically assigning leads to your sales reps. It ensures that each lead is directed to the right rep for a successful sales cycle.
Each lead in your marketing funnel is unique, with different needs and goals. Similarly, your sales representatives vary in skills and expertise. Through lead distribution, you try to match each lead with a sales rep who is best suited to handle them in their buying journey.
Let’s say your company offers a range of solutions tailored to different use cases, like sales, marketing, and customer service.
So, if a lead comes in expressing interest in your marketing solution, you should assign this lead to an experienced sales rep to increase the chances of conversion.
Why Is Lead Distribution Important?
Imagine you have a good inflow of leads but don’t have a strategy to distribute them among your reps. Then, one of these 5 things might happen:
- Leads may not be assigned clearly, leading to confusion among sales teams. This confusion can result in multiple reps reaching out to the same lead.
- Some leads may be left unattended, causing delays in communication and potentially losing opportunities.
- Managers will not be able to weed out low-quality leads and prioritize high-quality leads.
- Reps will waste time figuring out who should handle a particular lead. This inefficiency can slow down the sales process and reduce the overall effectiveness of the sales team.
- Leads might be distributed unfairly, giving some salespeople more opportunities than others. This inequality can lead to dissatisfaction among reps and affect the sales team’s overall morale.
And the end result? Unhealthy pipeline. Lost deals. Revenue nosedive.
So, having an effective lead distribution process is important because it ensures that potential customers are assigned to the right salesperson or team in a fair and organized way to increase the possibility of closing more deals.
As Jim Collins, management expert and author of Good to Great, puts it: “If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”
If your lead distribution is set, you can take your sales team to someplace great, too.
How Does Lead Distribution Work?
Lead distribution is broadly classified into 2 primary methods: Manual and automated.
Each approach comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at these 2 approaches.
Manual Lead Distribution (Pull Method)
Manual lead distribution involves a hands-on approach to assigning leads where sales reps get to choose from the pool of leads rather than being assigned.
In this process, sales reps access a CRM, database, or spreadsheet and filter leads based on their own criteria. This selective approach allows reps to focus on leads they believe are more likely to close deals.
Let’s explore the 4 different ways of manual lead distribution:
In cherry-picking, sales representatives get to choose the leads they want to work on based on their preferences or expertise. Each sales rep reviews available leads and selects the ones they believe are the best fit for their skills or interests.
Pros of Cherry-Picking: Cherry-picking works well in environments where sales representatives have specialized skills or expertise, allowing them to choose leads that match their strengths.
Cons of Cherry-Picking: One inherent problem with this method is that the leads with low scores are often left unattended by sales reps for several cycles, leading to potential revenue loss.
A blind pull lead distribution method is a way of assigning sales leads to different team members without revealing specific details about the leads beforehand.
Pros of Blind Pull: In this method, all types of lead are handled as a priority, which reduces lead leakage.
Cons of Blind Pull: One major problem with blind pull is it increases the sales cycle as reps have no knowledge of the leads they are handling. This may lead to a decline in conversion rates until reps gain generalized knowledge and convince the prospective buyers.
In this method of lead distribution, the reps have a “first come, first serve” approach. When a new lead is available, all reps are notified instantly, and the one who responds first gets to claim the lead.
Pros of Shark Tank: Shark Tank is effective in environments where speed is critical and healthy competition among team members is encouraged.
Cons of Shark Tank: Some reps may end up taking more and more incoming leads, even if it is out of their expertise, rather than focusing on the ones they already have. This situation, known as lead hoarding, can lead to poor customer experience.
Here, the reps are first divided into specialized groups based on their skills and expertise. Then, the leads are distributed among the groups according to fit and relevance. Finally, the reps claim the leads from their respective groups.
Pros of Shotgun: As the leads will be matched with reps who have relevant expertise in the field, this targeted approach is likely to boost conversion rates and shorten the sales cycle.
Cons of Shotgun: If there are fewer inbound leads compared to the number of reps, the competition increases, and so does the risk of lead hoarding by select reps. This can cause friction among team members and reduce the scope for collaboration.
Let’s now understand what automatic lead distribution is and how it works.
Automated Lead Distribution (Push Method)
Automated lead distribution involves using software that automatically distributes sales leads to the right salesperson without them having to choose manually.
When potential customers show interest by filling out a form online or downloading free resources, the software examines these leads and determines the best-fit salesperson or team based on round-robin, lead assignment rules, company size, or the country in which the lead is located.
Here are the 4 automatic lead distribution methods:
Round robin distribution works by assigning leads to sales reps in a rotational manner.
Here’s an example of round robin:
Let’s say you have 3 reps— Alex, Ben, and Chris— and 5 leads. Each rep gets a lead based on their position in the queue. Once each rep receives a lead in this order, the cycle repeats, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to engage with potential customers.
- Lead 1 goes to Alex.
- Lead 2 goes to Ben.
- Lead 3 goes to Chris.
- Lead 4 goes to Alex.
- Lead 5 goes to Ben.
Now, when there is a sixth lead coming in, it will automatically go to Chris in the second round, as he is the next person in the queue.
Pros: The round-robin method ensures faster response time and gives each rep an equal opportunity to work on quality leads by evenly distributing them among the sales team.
Cons: This method doesn’t take into account the skills and expertise of the sales rep, which could result in prospects having a poor experience.
Lead Assignment Rules
You can enhance your lead distribution process by using lead assignment rules alongside round-robin. Instead of simply distributing leads among sales reps in a round-robin fashion, you can incorporate rules to specify which leads go to each rep.
These rules can be based on specific characteristics of the sales rep’s expertise.
For some companies, this expertise might revolve around industry knowledge, such as technology or manufacturing. While others may focus on market segment expertise, like mid-market or enterprise.
With an automated system, these rules can be customized depending on your business requirements.
Pros: With this method, you can distribute leads considering criteria like geographic territory, industry, specific skills of reps, availability, existing relationships, and more. This helps in assigning the most suitable rep for each lead to give a personalized experience.
Cons: This method may become problematic when your distribution criteria are unclear or overlapping. As your business and team grow, there’s a constant need to update the rules, especially if you run global operations, as any granular mistake in setting rules could lead to assigning the wrong rep or leaving potential customers unattended.
Company Size-Based Distribution
Instead of randomly routing leads, this method considers the scale of the businesses and matches them with sales representatives who specialize in handling companies of that particular size.
Imagine a software company that sells solutions to both small startups and large enterprises. In a company-size lead distribution approach, leads from small startups would be assigned to a team or salesperson who excels in working with smaller businesses.
Meanwhile, leads from larger enterprises would be directed to a team or individual with expertise in handling the complexities and demands of larger companies.
Pros: As the assigned reps are specialized in handling big shots and their objections, the chances of converting big companies increase, and so do the chances of achieving revenue goals.
Cons: This method might not easily adapt to changes in the market or shifts in customer behavior, as the company size remains a fixed criterion. Some valuable leads might not fit neatly into the predefined size categories, leading to missed opportunities if there's no mechanism for exceptions.
The idea of territory-based lead distribution is to automatically match leads with sales reps or teams responsible for a particular geographic region.
If a company sells products or services in different cities or states, with territory-based lead distribution, the leads generated from each location are assigned to the sales reps responsible for that area. So, if a new lead comes in from New York, it goes to the sales team designated for New York.
Pros: Sales reps familiar with a particular territory are likely to have better insights into local laws, trends, customer preferences, and competition, which can lead to more effective sales strategies.
Cons: Depending on the size and potential of different territories, some sales reps may have more opportunities than others. Some reps may have specialized skills that could benefit leads outside their assigned territory, but the territory-based model may limit their ability to leverage those skills effectively.
Factors To Consider During Lead Distribution
When it comes to distributing inbound leads, several factors play a pivotal role in determining the success of your sales strategy:
One of the most crucial factors to consider is the availability and capacity of individual reps or teams to handle new leads.
Distributing leads to available reps ensures a timely response, preventing potential clients from losing interest and increasing the chances of successful engagement.
By tracking your team’s calendar, you can figure out which sales reps are available and available and prevent the chances of double booking or scheduling conflicts.
When you are distributing inbound leads, take into account the sales rep's knowledge of a particular product, service, or market.
Reps with expertise in a specific area can grasp the pain points of the prospective customers better. Since they know the product in and out, it helps them explain the solution’s value and tackle any objections with precision.
As Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, points out:
"We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals." Matching the expertise of the rep also helps build trust and rapport, increasing the likelihood of successful conversion.
Experience and expertise go hand in hand, but they are two different terms.
Experience is practical knowledge gained by tackling real-world challenges over a period of time. Expertise means a focused and in-depth understanding of a specific domain.
Certain situations demand the involvement of a more seasoned sales rep.
For example, when you’re dealing with a high-ticket lead that requires a lot of hands-on experience, like handling multiple stakeholders and negotiation, a rep with substantial experience would be suitable to handle the lead. As they would have honed their skills to face real-world problems while dealing with a variety of challenges over time, they’d be able to put their best foot forward to take the deal to the closed-won stage.
Performance-based lead distribution, as the name suggests, means distributing incoming leads to reps based on their level of performance. This means the reps in the top tier will get more quality leads.
On the other hand, the poor-performing reps are left with low-quality leads.
To strike a balance and motivate the average performers, Nick Hedges, sales leader and former CEO of Velocify, suggests that managers have to be flexible in implementing a performance-based distribution program.
“The reason for this is the system needs to learn. If all my best leads go to my best reps, for instance, lower-performing reps will never get the chance to prove their ability to convert good leads. It's all about ratios,” he explains.
Distributing inbound leads based on geographic location is effective for specific businesses. For instance, it's logical to assign certain sales reps to leads in a particular state or country when understanding local laws, demographics, or language is crucial.
Additionally, this approach is beneficial when your business caters to clients from different parts of the world, you want to allocate reps time zones to schedule virtual meetings or conduct an on-site meeting within their designated territory.
Why Should You Automate Lead Distribution?
Manual distribution can be effective when you have a small business, but it becomes less practical as the volume of leads grows and the need for quick responses intensifies.
Lead distribution software excels in speed, consistency, and scalability. They process large volumes of leads swiftly, adhere to predetermined rules, and minimize errors. This efficiency is crucial for businesses dealing with a high influx of leads, enabling rapid responses and maintaining fairness in allocation.
Here are 7 key reasons why you should automate your lead distribution process:
1. Improves Response Times
Rapid response times are crucial in today's competitive business environment. Research shows a whopping 391% of leads buy from a company that responds to inquiries within the first minute.
By automating the allocation of leads to sales reps based on availability, skills, experience, expertise, and other factors, businesses can ensure an instant response to potential customers and maximize the chances of converting leads into customers.
2. Efficient Lead Distribution
Lead distribution software ensures fairness in assigning leads, preventing biases or uneven workloads among sales representatives. This promotes a sense of accountability and a fair chance for each team member to succeed.
For example, leads are assigned based on a round-robin or other specific criteria, preventing any one salesperson from consistently receiving more leads than others.
3. Ensures High-Quality Leads
You capture leads from different places like your website's form, social media, and email campaigns. These leads vary in quality—some are ready to buy, while others are just checking things out.
Lead distribution software helps evaluate and score leads based on factors like buying interest, demographics, browsing habits, and engagement with your content. You can adjust how you distribute leads based on their scores. This ensures that the most promising leads get quick attention and that different leads are handled appropriately.
4. Reduce Manual Errors
Manual errors like data entry mistakes, overlooking lead characteristics, human biases, failure to update information, etc., can lead to inefficiencies and missed opportunities.
Automation helps organizations minimize these errors by using predefined rules and algorithms to assign leads based on predetermined criteria. Hence improving the overall efficiency of the lead distribution process.
5. Improves Precise Targeting
By tailoring the distribution criteria based on factors such as industry, location, or other relevant variables, sales teams can precisely target their potential buyers.
This targeted approach ensures that each lead is directed to the representative best equipped to understand and meet the specific needs of the customer, contributing to more effective sales strategies.
6. Provides Valuable Insights
With an automated distribution, managers can access information about the number of leads assigned to each rep. This helps managers gauge the status of the deal, conversion rates, and response times.
Based on this, managers can assess sales reps’ performance and spot bottlenecks to refine their lead distribution strategies.
7. Offers Scalability and Growth
As your business grows, the distribution software can easily adapt to handle an increasing number of leads. This scalability is crucial for expanding businesses that need a flexible solution to accommodate growth without sacrificing efficiency.
For example, if you're planning to 2x your revenue going into a new year, having an automated lead distribution will let you distribute leads in a way that's best suited for your revenue goal and ensures that no leads are left in the lurch.
5 Best Practices for Lead Distribution
Now that we’ve explored the fundamentals of lead distribution, let's delve into 4 best practices that can optimize your approach and boost conversions:
Define Clear Criteria
Establish clear criteria for lead qualification based on relevant characteristics such as demographics, behavior, and engagement level.
Similarly, define routing rules for assigning the right rep to the right lead. Consider the rep’s availability, expertise, skills, experience, and workload.
Implement a Lead Scoring System
Lead scoring becomes a priority when you have an influx of leads, and your sales team doesn’t have the bandwidth to follow up with every lead.
Use lead scoring to prioritize leads based on their likelihood to convert. Assign scores to each lead based on factors such as engagement, demographics, and behavior, and distribute leads accordingly to sales reps or teams.
Personalize for High-Quality Leads
When you have high-quality leads in your sales pipeline, ensure there’s a human touch.
Research and gather information about their goals and needs through LinkedIn or the company website and use these to personalize your messaging in your preferred channels. This personalization helps you engage them better in the initial conversations.
Regularly Review Your Lead Distribution Strategy
What may work for others may not work for you. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to lead distribution. So, be flexible in devising your strategy by regularly reviewing its effectiveness.
Analyze conversion rates, sales performance, and customer feedback, make a list of areas where your current strategy misses a touchpoint, and adjust your strategy as needed to adapt to changing market conditions or business goals.
Save Time by Automating
The manual method of lead distribution is time-consuming as it involves individually qualifying leads and finding a suitable rep. The manual process is often prone to errors, causing confusion, delays, and mismanagement, leading to missed opportunities.
Leveraging automation tools reduces the risk of human error, improves lead response time, ensures prompt distribution, provides valuable insights and allows for scalability as your business grows.
If you’re looking for a tool to automate your entire process of routing leads in the best possible way, look no further than Schedule IQ.
How Can Schedule IQ Help Automate Lead Distribution?
Schedule IQ by Klenty is an all-in-one solution for scheduling meetings and efficiently managing leads. It seamlessly integrates with your Google or Outlook calendar and lets you add personalized meeting links to enable visitors to book meetings directly from your website. You can create custom forms to gather specific information from your inbound leads.
Schedule IQ offers 3 customizable and advanced routing methods:
- Flexible Routing allows you to randomly distribute meetings.
- Strict or Equal routing allows you to allocate an equal number of meetings for each rep.
- Weighted routing lets you route meetings based on predefined weightage to assign the right rep to each lead.
Using the platform, you can further filter the leads by:
- Rule-based Scheduling: This function helps you distribute leads automatically based on the form answers given by the leads.
- Owner-based Scheduling: Schedule IQ checks your CRM to find the right owner for the prospect, showing only their calendar. This ensures that your prospect talks directly to their point of contact, making their experience seamless.
- IP-based Scheduling: Schedule IQ detects your prospect’s location based on their IP address and lets you distribute leads accordingly. This gives you insights into the region your leads are from and eliminates the need to add more fields to your form.
Book a demo now and try Schedule IQ to connect right leads to right reps, boost lead response time, and improve the overall efficiency while distributing leads.
What Are the Best Practices for Lead Distribution?
1. Define clear criteria to qualify and distribute sales opportunities
2. Implement a lead scoring system.
3. Personalize for qualified leads
4. Be flexible and regularly review your lead distribution strategy
5. Use lead distribution software to auto-assign leads and save time.