As your business grows, your revenue operations processes inevitably need to evolve and become more scalable. This is particularly true for lead distribution across your sales team which, for most scaling businesses, this shift includes the transition from manual lead routing to automated distribution.
The benefits of automation are well known, including greater efficiencies, mitigation of “human error” and increased overall team and revenue performance. Recent studies also illustrate that employees view automation as an important driver of productivity and customer service. However, many businesses struggle with effectively managing and rolling out a new process. To overcome this challenge, RevOps leaders need to focus not only on what they are trying to accomplish, but why, when and how to establish buy-in and an effective plan for implementation and rollout. The following best practices – developed through both New Breed’s own implementation of automated lead routing as well as our work with hundreds of scaling organizations – offer a framework for success.
To Align Your Stakeholders, Start with Why
As your sales team grows, your needs in lead routing will naturally become more complex, your qualification criteria more diverse and your selling segments expanded. With the increased complexity of your lead-routing needs, there will also come a higher risk in things slipping through the cracks if you’re doing it manually. And in our world, “things slipping through the cracks” equates to potential opportunity and dollars walking out the door. No C-suite member in their right mind will argue against wanting a solution to plug that gap.
However, in a world of competing priorities and budgets, it’s important to secure buy-in for automation across all revenue stakeholders. To do this, RevOps professionals need to constantly remind stakeholders of the business impacts on moving forward with a change vs. the opportunity cost of maintaining the status quo.
If you are building a case for a new automated lead-routing system, you’ll want to consider how the time invested in standing up a process like this will yield valuable results for your company. To build a business case, gather data and context on how things are being done today to compare the current state to the ideal future state. Here are a handful of questions to frame your case to all key stakeholders:
- How many hours per month are you applying toward lead routing today?
- Are inbound leads currently coming in and manually being assigned by a single person on your team based on a set of criteria?
- Are inbound leads pooled together and assigned on a first-come, first-served basis??
- When you upload a list of sourced outbound contacts, are they just randomly divided up amongst your sales and Sales Development Rep teams?
Compiling this data and documenting the pros and cons of this current process also has a secondary benefit: it will help serve as a benchmark you can measure after your implementation.
At the end of the day, we know in the operations world that finding a scalable way to move from manual to automated processes is almost always going to be considered best practice, and automated lead routing is no exception. Automated lead routing reduces time investment and manpower in an unnecessary process of checking boxes and doling out leads; your CRM and sales enablement tool, like HubSpot, should do this work for you.
Clarify When you plan to make your process update
Once you’ve made your case of why and have the necessary buy-in from executive stakeholders, next comes the question of when it makes sense to actually implement an automated lead-routing system for your company.
If your company is a lean, mean, inbound machine and your lead generation is through the roof, then you have no time to waste. And if your company includes a handful of salespeople that are just starting to invest in an inbound engine, then honestly, there’s no better time than the present to establish a solid foundation for scale. If the task of managing things manually starts to outweigh the opportunity cost of automating OR you have a herd of salespeople constantly bombarding your support ticket pipeline and berating your lead routing system for being faulty and ineffective, then now is the time to act. Essentially, an automated lead-routing system makes sense to establish at any stage of growth — it’s how and what you set up that will have to take on different forms and complexities based on your growth stage and needs.
As mentioned above, the longer you wait to establish an automated lead-routing system while you grow, the more time you allow things to slip through the cracks. Start early and you set yourself up for success in the long-term.
And if you find yourself implementing something like this late? Well, you’ve got to start somewhere. Let’s dig in to how.
Develop Your Project Plan by Identifying and Assessing How to Proceed
There are countless ways to configure your automated lead-routing system to meet your company’s unique needs, but the key factors most businesses should consider are below:
What tech will you use to support this functionality?
A tool like HubSpot’s CRM and Sales Hub will allow you the flexibility to establish a round-robin lead rotation system basically out of the box and combined with other needed actions through workflows.
If your needs go beyond round-robin, then you’ll need to find a tool that allows for greater complexity and, ideally, that natively integrates with your CRM, like Distributely. Your whole job in revenue operations (RevOps) is around reducing complexity and increasing efficiency and effectiveness at scale, so finding a tool that’s built right within or linked directly to your core tech stack is definitely the way to go.
Who on your team will need to receive leads in an automated way?
Are you only planning on routing contacts to Account Executives? Or is your SDR team expected to field leads too? It’s also easy to assume inbound lead routing should just automatically go to your sales team, but for many teams, we know marketing is a large part of the revenue engine too! Maybe it makes sense for your marketing team to get new subscribers routed to them for more robust marketing nurture before they become owned by sales. Thinking about who you want involved first and the desired role they will play in your lead flow scenarios will help you architect the appropriate solution for your automated system.
When do we want to trigger our automated lead rotation?
This is the fun part. This is also where different teams will have the greatest variability depending on how complex their lead routing needs are and how big their team is. It helps to think through the different scenarios and trigger events in which you’d want a person assigned and notified about a contact in your CRM. Most commonly, we think of brand new contacts that enter our system. Yes, we obviously need that to be a core scenario, but then what about re-engaged contacts/accounts in your system that have taken some recent action signifying they’re ready for sales again? What if you have a pool of previously unqualified companies in your CRM, but your qualification criteria has evolved over the years, and now some of them might now be a good fit to work with? If those people convert on a BOFU request, wouldn’t you want an SDR or AE to take a second pass at it? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself to determine the types of scenarios you want to trigger automated lead assignment or rotation.
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Don’t forget to get that whiteboard out and validate where all of these paths intersect and where they operate independently along the way because chances are, there may be more overlap than you think initially. You may also realize along the way that some of these scenarios will only need to trigger notifications rather than a full re-route. This can reduce some complexity while ensuring we’re considering the best way to alert our sales teams that there’s a contact you want to pay attention to based on their actions.
Prepare Your Go-Live and Post-Launch
Once you’ve established your automated lead-routing triggers, have considered all possible scenarios, and determined who should be involved and why, your last step is launch!
Before turning anything live, you’ll want to test different contacts/companies from all of your expected scenarios within your new system to validate how they will interact with what you built and if they follow the intended path in your flow. Determine how much time you can and should invest in this critical area among your stakeholder team. This type of testing is something that you can easily do through the workflow tool in HubSpot.
In parallel, you’ll want to develop a high-level communications plan for your rollout. Pre-launch, you want to make impacted end-users aware of the changes and how it might improve their daily workflow. Additionally, you’ll need to proactively brief your executive team on any potential risks to set appropriate expectations about what could go wrong, but also how you, as a RevOps professional, plan to solve for those potential blips in the system once it’s live.
Finally, for your actual go-live, it's best to find a time of day when your lead velocity is low to mitigate risk upon launch. Once your system is live, create and share a log of instances where the new functionality is not operating as intended. This way, you can crowdsource your post-launch testing with your team and create visibility across stakeholders and end users on when and how things are getting fixed.
From there, test, repeat and take a moment to celebrate the win of a highly impactful system implemented for your company!
Scaling businesses inevitably require a transition from manual to automated lead distribution processes.
While the benefits of automated lead routing are intuitive and well understood, it is easy for companies to default to status quo processes, and therefore imperative for RevOps professionals to understand how to frame a business case and strategically manage the rollout and implementation.
By developing a clear business case, rollout plan and post-launch plan, RevOps professionals can ensure a timely and successful process change while also documenting performance benchmarks and opportunities for continued optimization.
Beth is a Senior Manager of Revenue Operations at New Breed and specializes in optimizing how processes and platforms support revenue growth.