Lead routing: what it is and 4 best practices for performing it

The vast majority of organizations, (99%, according to our study) fail to email or call an inbound lead within 5 minutes.

This lack of responsiveness can be all it takes to lose potential deals, often to competitors, and hurt your organization’s reputation in the process.

To boost your lead response time, you can turn to lead routing. 

How can you implement lead routing effectively at your organization? We’ll tackle this question by offering a variety of best practices, but before we do, let’s align on what the term means. 

Related: 7 types of sales automation that your organization can implement

What is lead routing?

Lead routing is the end-to-end process of collecting leads and distributing them internally. This process can vary widely depending on how the leads are collected and how you want to route each—but, generally speaking, the overarching goal remains the same: to respond to more leads, faster. 

With this definition in mind, here are some lead routing best practices that experts at Etumos*, Edward Unthank and Nate Smitha, shared with us!

Note: Etumos is a marketing technology consultancy that enables marketers to maximize the effectiveness of their tech stacks, using proven best practices to ensure their clients can stay focused on activities that create revenue.

Lead routing best practices

Though there are countless tips we could mention, we’ll cover 4 that are critical.

1. Set up routing criteria that enables leads to reach the right person

Who you route the lead to can depend on the lead’s employer. 

Does the lead work at an organization that isn’t already a customer? Then you should send the lead to a sales development rep who can qualify the lead—before moving them to the account executive. Alternatively, if the lead works at an organization that’s already a client, you can pass them onto the appropriate customer success manager (CSM). They’ll be in a better position to upsell/cross-sell the lead based on their current relationship with the customer.

This process of routing leads based on their employer’s relationship to yours not only helps your team convert leads at a higher rate, but it also allows you to provide a better experience. For example, the CSM can help educate the lead on what other stakeholders at their organization are doing with your product/service, as well as offer more prescriptive solutions based on the CSM’s knowledge of the lead’s organization. 

Related: How to use intent data effectively

2. Match appropriate account types/profiles with the right employees

Your sales reps likely vary in their strengths. Perhaps some have been particularly successful at converting leads in a certain industry, while others have done well with leads who work in a specific job title. 

If you can identify your reps’ strengths and use them to determine who gets which lead, you’ll be more likely to convert leads at a higher rate and delight your employees (as they’ll be positioned to succeed). It’s worth noting that your criteria can extend far beyond industry and job title. For example, it can include things like organization size, department, job level, etc.

3.  Don’t be overly-prescriptive

This best practice is hard to follow successfully. After all, it’s hard to draw the line between helping reps and providing them too much information. 

If you manage to provide colleagues with a variety of details that aren’t necessarily essential, like the last activity a lead performed with your organization, you can unintentionally motivate your reps to cherry pick leads and neglect certain ones altogether. This naturally lowers your conversion rates and hurts your sales long term.

Smitha explains further:

“It’s perfectly natural for sales reps to cherry pick. After all, people are naturally wired to figure out how they can extract the most value with the least amount of effort. If certain MQL categories are perceived as less valuable, specific leads may be the last to be worked and may even be skipped altogether. This can hinder marketing’s efforts to improve the performance of (historically) poorer-performing offers or channels that are represented to sales as MQL categories.”

To ensure that cherry picking isn’t impacting conversion rates, Smitha advocates for marketing and sales leadership to partner on regular testing that looks for variance in conversion rates with respect to how MQLs are categorized and presented to sales. Comparative conversion rate testing can be done either by working with dedicated SDRs tasked with focusing on traditional low-performing categories or by obfuscating MQL categorization for subsets of total lead volume.

Related: How Lead Bot can improve your lead routing workflow

4. Route leads based on geography 

Assuming that your organization determines lead ownership (at least partially) by location, this best practice is worth following closely. 

Why? An employee who works in the same time zone as the lead is more likely to be working and ready to respond. In addition, that employee is likely in a better position to nurture that lead as they’ll have an easier time scheduling meetings, and naturally have more to connect on (e.g. plans for a regional holiday).

Related: What you need to know about RevOps

Leverage Workato to route leads intelligently

Workato, an enterprise automation platform, allows you to route leads in a variety of advanced ways that you couldn’t do otherwise. For example, it lets you:

  • Perform intelligent round robin, which takes into account when employees are out of the office
  • Identify employees who aren’t responding to leads—and remind them to do so
  • Review how leads are moving across your systems, and improve any part of the routing process with ease

To learn more about how Workato can transform your lead-routing process, you can connect with an expert at Etumos.