Lead Routing 101: A B2B SaaS Guide to Getting Started

1 Jan
8min read

What is Lead routing?#

Lead routing refers specifically to directing potential customers in a way that maximizes their potential for conversion into actual customers. This may involve assigning leads to different sales representatives based on their location, industry, or other factors.

It can also involve using automated systems to distribute leads in a way that ensures that they are handled equally, promptly and, efficiently. The ultimate goal is to optimize the sales process and extract maximum value from each lead.

Lead routing: a key component of your sales strategy‍#

When you start, you often rely on manual lead distribution or basic assignment rules to get leads to sales reps. But as teams grow larger and deal with an increasing number of leads, it is no longer the way to do it, this costs companies time, effort, and, ultimately, revenue.

It's often the right time to invest in an automated solution.‍

But what power automation?


The fundamental behind lead assignment comes from the exhaustiveness and reliability of data: having an automated enrichment process (i.e. enriching person and company data) ensures efficient lead routing beyond good CRM hygiene.

Let me explain:

‍I worked on an analysis of 1000 leads coming from gated content (webinar or ebook)

  • And guess what: no one was passed to sales reps.


By diving into the data, I uncovered a startling revelation: 95% of leads did not have industry information, and 12% did not have company size data, whereas those two criteria were determining for triggering a workflow to assign them to a sales rep.

I close the parenthesis, it was to highlight that incomplete data can seriously hamper your lead routing process.‍

One well-known method for lead distribution is the "round-robin", used to automatically route leads and accelerate lead response time, a critical performance component. It is used for both inbound processes, when a lead submits your demo form, for instance, and for outbound processes, to auto-assign new accounts to a sales rep.

"The odds of the lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead was submitted".

In a nutshell, the "round robin" enables each new lead to be assigned to a different salesperson until everyone has received one, and the cycle repeats. It ensures equal assignation at scale with a minimal error margin and optimized conversion potential.

This feature natively exists for most CRM and is particularly helpful and efficient when you don't have defined territories internally.

More sophisticated systems depend on various lead assignment rules, often based on geography, industry, potential deal size, or other factors.‍

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, a mere 36% of companies contacted leads within the first hour. By implementing a reliable lead routing process and adhering to strict SLAs, businesses can seize the opportunity to guarantee timely response times and gain a significant competitive edge.

‍Why Competitive edge?

‍Because 30% of your prospects will go to a competitor if you don't respond quickly enough.

‍This lack of responsiveness can be all it takes to lose potential deals and hurt your organization's reputation.

‍By developing a lead scoring system as part of your lead routing, you can seamlessly prioritize and manage your sales-ready leads. These two processes are often closely related in mature companies as you want to create a score to ensure high-value leads are passed to the right sales reps.

‍At the same time, suppose leads are efficiently routed to the sales team without additional manual work from the salesperson. In that case, this helps them to focus more on closing deals and less on finding them.

‍An effective lead routing may also support Marketing and sales alignment, one of the most recurrent issues SaaS companies face, as it helps handle the handover from Marketing to Sales. Companies where sales and marketing teams work together see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher win rates.

Okay, Let's jump in!

Diving into lead routing requirements#

Data helps you make better decisions

Data helps you solve problems

Data helps you understand performance

Data helps you improve processes.

In Today’s world, data is the lifeblood of any tech business.

Before routing a lead to a sales rep, the first part consists of ensuring all the sales-friendly attributes are enriched and verified, both for the company & contact, to favor an end-to-end automated process.

This is something I like to refer to as “Minimal Viable Leads” or "Minimal Viable Accounts”, basically writing down the required attributes that need to be filled before considering a record as “Sales ready”.

Sophisticated lead routing processes require a deeper comprehension of digital behavior exhibited by leads across multiple channels/devices and further enrichment to help sales convert the account.

To get actionable data, you must pass through what OpenView called the “Marketing data hierarchy of needs.”

After extracting data from Linkedin or Crunchbase, you can pull in data about customers' attributes at scale using tools like Clearbit or Cognism, or even combining your enrichment providers using what we call "Waterfall enrichment" to maximize coverage.

You can see it as "fallback prioritization": saying "if no value from Clearbit, then enrich with Cognism".
Then you must verify the data using neverbounce for email validation and numverify or Virtual Assistants for phone validation.

Unless data is cleansed, standardized, deduplicated, enriched, and segmented correctly, it's nearly impossible to ensure that the correct lead will land in the right sales rep without a good deal of manual intervention. Hence the opportunity to unify & model your data using a warehouse and a tool like Cargo that help you do the hard work in a scalable way.

By automating data management, you’ll be able to properly collect and analyze lead data, improve sales intelligence, spot lead routing trends, and improve forecasting accuracy.

Some examples of data that a lead routing system can take into account include

the following:

  • Lead scoring

  • Buyer Job Title & job tenure

  • Company firmographics (industry, company size, etc..)

  • Territory & locations

  • Channel/traffic source

  • Intents & buying signals at both the individual and the company level

  • Stage of buying journey (or customer status)

  • Sales Availability

  • Whether there's already a team member handling that lead's account (SDR, AE, or CS)

  • Response time and any SLAs

  • Past outreach legacy

2. Organizational factors to Consider When Routing Leads

Beyond the data for your lead routing, it’s essential to consider your organizational structure. ‍
Especially if your organization is structured in squads, whether it is based on specific verticals (i.e. companies within a particular industry), territory, or company size. At Spendesk, we had four segments based on the company size for our core markets, A,B, C and D, and dedicated sales team for each.

There are a lot of benefits to re-organizing the commercial engine around segments & territories. ‍‍

💸 Maximizing revenue by addressing only Ideal Account Profile companies

On the pie chart above, we can see that 21,5% of our “working” pipe was “Segment A” companies (ie: under 20 employees) - It was no longer a segment we wanted to address in outbound due to the competitive landscape and our CAC payback. (and globally, all the limits associated with targeting small companies: higher churn rate, low MRR, etc.) ‍‍

This way, your focus will be tailored to the most promising opportunities with high deal size. ‍‍

📈 Leveraging industry experience by being specialized

One of the main advantages of being an expert in a sector is that you can leverage valuable knowledge to build trust and legitimacy with your prospects. You are not a sales anymore but a trusted advisor. It will facilitate a productive conversation, enable you to lead why the conversation matters, and focuses on the business outcomes your prospects care about, resulting in higher trust and credibility.


‍-- ‍‍
" No one likes to be sold to, but people value relevant information, insight, and perspective from someone with humble wisdom and the gravitas to carry the conversation."

Tony J. Hugues - Sales Leader ‍‍


On top of that, you can then decline some specific marketing supports and assets (targeted ads with particular pains for this , specific social proofs that will resonate more with the prospects, testimonials, contextual FAQ, persuasive flows using the “Jargons” of your audience).‍


From the learning perspective, over time, sales reps will strengthen their expertise, which may result in higher meeting booked rates, a stronger network, and an opportunity to craft some dedicated sales materials to train sales newcomers. ‍ ‍

Ultimately, it will lead to an ARPA increase and a scalable approach to attack new verticals with dedicated squads.

🔎 The all-in-one approach finally talks to no one

Tailored & personalized journey > One-size-fits-all approach‍

‍ ‍

To have worked on this topic, there are better approaches than trying to sell the all-in-one platform. Instead, it's best to narrow on a single pain, and eventually work on expansion for this account afterward.

I can only mention this great post from Jed Mahrle that highlights "to send shorter, clearer emails that are easier for the prospect to digest." You can always grab a new angle later in the sequence if the first one did not pick the interest.‍

You may be wondering: "What is the link with lead routing"?

Well, you can build a dedicated sequence for the most represented industry x company size in your target audience. It means having a persuasive flow, claims, and customer stories narrowed for this segment. This will let you assign and route the lead to the proper sequence and the right sales rep.

🔮 Other factors to consider for proper lead routing

‍ Geographic factors may facilitate synchronization & coordination with a lead. We’ve talked about how critical is lead response time. A geographic organization can help increase the conversion rate due to the lack of time change shuffling, and minimizing potential language barriers. ‍

Distribution by source (i.e: Different rules apply when a lead is created manually, captured from the web, outbound, or imported from a list) can also be considered a factor in your lead routing. ‍

Ultimately, you can weigh all those factors in a lead scoring system to assess the strength of the lead’s likelihood to close and distribute it accordingly to your sales reps.

Make sure to set engagement rules and SLAs to ensure that prospects are contacted, that your sales reps receive notifications and reminders when an account is assigned to them, and finally, that a lead not addressed is either passed to someone else or route to a nurturing sequence.‍

II. How to implement Lead routing?#

In a nutshell, to recap what we went through: to develop lead routing paths, you will need to:

  1. Define your lead routing criteria, like value, use case, territory, or lead score.

  2. Create workflows or automations based on that criteria.

  3. Qualify leads and split them between your reps.

Now, you have two main ways to do it: Your CRM or a third-party tool like an automation tool or an end-to-end lead routing platform.‍

Clearbit made a benchmark to assess the lead routing sophistication needed based on your company's maturity.‍

CRM-native routing

Most of the time, you will start your routing process with your CRM native abilities. It will let you kick-start quickly based on the data available in your CRM. When you have at most 50 employees, chances are that you don't have clear internal territories or high complexity to manage your leads - A classical round-robin would do the work.

For Salesforce, you will build a round-robin process by:

  • Creating a Lead Number f+Field to Give Each New Lead a Unique ID.

  • Creating a Round Robin Field That Tells the System to Assign Each New Lead to the Next User in Order.

  • Creating a Lead Assignment Rule to Ensure Leads are Assigned Evenly Across Users‍

For Hubspot, this would be done using the automation feature:

  • Go to create workflow + name it

  • Trigger workflow with Form Submission (or via an active list that gathers form submissions+ manually added leads)

  • Select the action in Assignment > rotate contact to owner

  • Select sales teams as owner

  • Review and publish‍

But as Clearbit said, as soon as you want more granularity (understand complexity) in your routing model, you will probably turn to a dedicated solution.

Third-party Softwares

‍ Many product leaders believe it's cheaper to build software than buy it. But that doesn't necessarily hold true. Investing in acquiring new software can help you solve a specific problem and avoid handling the maintenance part.

Companies tend to be ready for a routing tool when they:

  • Reach complexity and tiering in their sales team (which tends to track with the 50-employee mark and a sales team of around 7)

  • Have a clearly defined ICP and personas.

  • Have a lead scoring methodology in place.‍

That's where you can let a third party do the hard work for you. They often plug directly in your CRM like Powerrouter or Ringlead.‍

But, It's not uncommon to have essential customer data that doesn't natively live within the CRM, especially behavioral data and sales activities, making it harder to build an accurate routing model.‍

This is where Cargo comes into play by sitting on top of the data warehouse that gathers all your data.

Cargo lets you leverage lead data from all sources and accelerates lead assignment to sales by enriching fields, scoring, and building a routing model that fits your business-specific needs.

Process and route leads faster with automation to follow up more quickly and close more deals.‍


Sign up here 👉, and we'll get you onboard!

MaxMaxJan 1, 2024

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