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March 24, 2022

How To Design a Lead Routing Process That Motivates Your Sales Team

It’s not often you hear the words ‘process’ and ‘sales team motivation’ in the same sentence. When we think of motivating sales reps, we’re usually thinking about incentives, SPIFFs and anything else that drives them to hit their goals. 

But sometimes, the key to team energy is to remove unnecessary steps and make the day-to-day simpler. Lead routing is one of many revenue operations practices that, when implemented following best practices, can remove the friction that stands between your sales team and the motivation they need to succeed. 

Lead routing takes up a surprising amount of time for revenue departments. As companies scale, this time can turn from annoying-but-manageable into a real detriment to results. On top of the impact to top-line revenue, nothing de-motivates a team more than sifting through unworked and unclaimed leads, validating contact and company information and filling in the blanks through tedious research. 

The solution here is simple: sales departments need to be more strategic — to think more intentionally and scalably — about when, why and how leads are routed to reps. So how do you build a process that reduces friction and motivates sellers? Here are a few best practices that have brought us and scores of customers scalable growth:

Assign Ownership Strategically

Each lead that enters your CRM should always be owned by someone or at least some team. This is because ‘ownership’ of contacts and companies in your CRM should signify the accountable party for moving the contact through the customer flywheel, or at least to the next defined stage on their buying journey. 

While we want to ensure that contacts get to sales when they’re ‘sales-ready’, it’s a common misconception that this ‘ownership’ has to live with the Sales team. Before dedicating sales resources to a lead, you’ll want to establish if they’re a fit for your business — a classification that changes from company to company. When possible, you’ll also want to use your CRM to track digital behavior and assess their level of interest before directing the lead to a rep. 

In the meantime before a lead meets your company’s established fit and interest criteria, you have a few options:

  • Route them to Marketing to take responsibility for stimulating interest through activities like content marketing 
  • Route them to your SDR team to own the initial layer of lead qualification and contact enrichment

Ultimately, thinking carefully about the functional roles and responsibilities on your revenue team today will help as you design a more thoughtful process for lead routing, and will create a feeling of more collaborative ownership.

Leverage this free checklist to start aligning your marketing, sales and  service operations.

Leverage a Lead Routing Technology Your Team Can Trust

Relationships are everything in sales, and trust is everything in relationships. To really lead and motivate a team, they need to trust you and the tools you’ve selected to support them. 

If you’re still using a person to manually route each lead, you risk degrading this trust. Unlike a technology solution, there’s always going to be a risk of bias in how and for whom leads are actually selected. When you use an automated lead distribution software, you take a step toward objectivity by making your routing criteria clear and removing bias in the rotation. But you still need to ensure that the tool you select for that system evokes trust from your sales team. Sellers crave transparency, and when they don’t have clear data visibility to draw their conclusions, leaders can lose control of the performance-based culture they’ve worked hard to cultivate. 

‘Process’ can become a really easy scapegoat for reps when they’re dealing with the pressure of hitting quota and can’t see why things are playing out how they are. The key here is to choose a lead routing system with rules that are simple enough for reps to understand without compromising on sophistication and scale

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Reduce ‘Feast and Famine’  

Sales is a team sport. If a team is showing strong numbers in a month but an individual rep is underperforming in that same period, you need a sales culture that rallies everyone — regardless of their goal attainment that month — to celebrate the wins together. 

But it’s human nature to want success for oneself; this competitive spirit is often what drives and motivates your best sellers. Your lead routing system can significantly impact this have- and have-not split and, when not handled carefully and transparently, can make things… tense. 

For example, take a rep who hasn’t received a truly qualified lead in a couple weeks and is low on pipeline creation as a result. Another comparable rep on their team, who has a more than healthy pipeline already, was just given another handful of good-fit, interested leads in the last few days.

We call this ‘feast and famine’. 

While there’s a level of luck involved with how each lead will actually play out, these situations can be straight-up inequitable and are all but guaranteed to demotivate those who are ‘famined’ (and anyone else on the team who’s paying attention).

A worthy lead distribution software allows for ‘lead capping’ or potentially even ‘lead weighting’ by pipeline stage, which will instantaneously assess a rep’s current pipeline by deal stage as part of the assignment criteria. These capabilities allow teams to level the playing field by sharing the ‘feast’, while giving leaders the tools to build fair — but still performance-based — routing criteria.

Key Takeaway

No matter what you sell or how your team is structured, reducing friction, fostering trust and sharing wins are all critical components to keeping reps motivated and driving month-over-month growth for your business. The key to achieving all three lies in how you design the lead routing system that gives them the opportunity to build relationships and close deals. If it’s scalable, transparent and consistent, you’ll motivate your team reach new heights.

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Beth Abbott

Beth is a Senior Manager of Revenue Operations at New Breed and specializes in optimizing how processes and platforms support revenue growth.

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