May 13

How to Improve Marketing Qualified Lead Routing Results

Lead Management


In this post, I’m going to share seven tips to help you improve lead routing for more sales.

Have you intentionally managed and optimized your marketing qualified lead routing and assignment process?

If not, you could be losing sales, and marketing ROI not know it.

Let me explain.

LeadData’s new report, The State of Lead Management, based on a survey of 527 B2B sellers and marketers found an average 25.5 % of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong account owner.

In sum, over 25% of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong person.

This means individuals who expressed interest are not getting the attention they deserve.

LeanData also discovered sales and marketing leaders also have different opinions on lead follow-up effectiveness. For example, the chart below shows 30% of marketing leaders believe that sales will always follow-up on marketing-generated leads compared to 61% of sales leaders.

Lead Routing

There’s room for improvement.

7 Tips to Improve MQL Routing

Tip 1: Set up a service-level agreement on lead routing with sales 

Do you have the following things documented by your sales team?

  • Written criteria for lead routing (territories, vertical focus, product interest, etc.)
  • Sales time-to-follow-up expectations (2 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours,)
  • Management support to help keep the sales team accountable?
  • Clear process flow from form completion to sales hand-off?

I helped a client develop a service level agreement to improve lead routing and increased their leads-to-opportunities by over 200%. 

Here’s how.

  1. Developed a universal lead definition which influenced how they score. And field sales agreed to engage all marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) within 24 hours.
  2. Qualified all leads with inside sales and distributed within two business hours.
  3. Used a checklist to update territories often to keep up with changes.
  4. Routed leads via automated rules in The workflow notifies the salesperson and creates a task with a deadline.
  5. Setup rule if a qualified lead is not opened/edited by the assigned rep within 24 hours, they get a reminder message from their manager. And if a sales lead goes more than 48 hours, they get a call to see if that contact needs to reassigned or if they need help.

It takes some time to plan the process and collaborative work with sales. But it’s worth it. Using this approach, they converted 200% more leads to opportunities.

Tip 2: Qualify that people actually want to talk to a sales rep before routing

Use your potential customer’s and your sales rep’s time well. When someone downloads a single piece of content (like a white paper), are they ready for a sales rep to call? Not likely.

The key to lead routing to match the readiness of the lead (i.e., future customer) with expectations of your sales team. If you don’t do this, you’re starting them off with a quick disconnect.

First, you need to qualify each lead to see they are “sales-ready” which means they want to talk to a salesperson. You can find this ideal point by using lead scoring and lead qualification. There is only so much information that you can get off a Web form or that someone will volunteer in an email.

For more, read: Lead Qualification: Stop generating leads and start generating revenue.

Tip 3: Provide tools your reps can use to follow-up after the handoff

Like a relay race, there’s a point when Marketing’s and Sales’ hands are on the baton when you make a handoff.

Here’s what I mean.

You need to be clear when marketing is going to hand the lead off to sales. So don’t drop the baton because that hurts the relationship.

Additionally, salespeople often struggle with their follow-up approach. After working with hundreds of salespeople and seeing their sales processes first hand, I frequently hear this “stuck point.” They often ask, “How do I advance the lead when there isn’t an immediate need?” And salespeople are often stuck wondering, “What else can I talk to them about?”

Without your input, salespeople can resort to boring or irrelevant messaging. This is not because they lack creatively, it comes down to their time. Help your salespeople spend their time connecting and selling rather than building content and messaging.

Create a few emails and some talking points to help them connect with the motivation of leads based on their interest. In sum, provide your sales team with messaging and content to engage relevantly.

Tip 4: Schedule appointments for the sales team and cut “telephone tag.”

Here are three potential ideas you can test to optimize your lead routing for more sales:

Distribute leads based on sales skill

Use lead grading to rank what level of expertise leads need based on the need. More general inquiries can go to inside sales reps first. Do not frustrate field salespeople by sending them people who don’t want to talk to them. Make sure you sort your leads based on anticipated needs or interest then route them as soon as possible.

Send leads to reps by product or industry expertise

Use your sales team’s industry experience and knowledge. The more you know about your reps, the more you can match with leads they’ll have the most success. This is why round-robin lead distribution can be deadly to conversion. It assumes every salesperson is the same.

Route based on the location

If you have a large distributed field team, you likely route leads via territories or regions. But smaller teams and inside sales teams can also use local lead routing too. You can help your sales team make local connections.

For example, if a contact works from home in CA, but their office is located in MN. Who do you route this lead too? Can that person based in CA connect work with someone local? You need to real collaboration with sales to do this.

Tip 6: Develop to track and measure sales follow-up

Does your routing support the real-time tracking and reporting of all marketing-generated leads? You can monitor and measure lead routing in the following ways:

  • Stage of the sales pipeline
  • Industry vertical and initial interest
  • Salesperson responsiveness (time-to-open/edit and initial follow-up)
  • Territory performance (benchmark and compare performance)
  • A marketing campaign or lead source
  • Lead scoring and grading
  • Forecasted revenue and time-to-close

For more ideas, read The Most Important B2B Marketing Metrics for CEOs

Tip 7: Use a checklist to make sure no leads get lost or missed

Airline pilots, portfolio managers, surgeons use checklists so why not marketers? By using lists, you can improve your performance and get more consistent results. For more on this, read HBR: Using Checklists to Prevent Failure.

You can use the following list of steps to help you focus on where you need to improve lead routing now:

  • Get buy-in from the sales team on your “sales ready” lead definition
  • Provide qualification information for each sales lead
  • Centralize the lead qualification process with a clear lead definition
  • Document the lead hand-off process and accountabilities at each stage
  • Qualify and Distribute sales-ready leads immediately
  • Communicate lead handoff to salesperson using automated rules and human oversight
  • Measure sales pursuit on leads (If not followed up will leads get pulled or reassigned)
  • Sales management must also audit and track rep follow-up
  • Close the loop on marketing-generated leads -what gets measured gets done
  • Train your salespeople on how to follow-up and give you feedback
  • Get close-loop feedback from the sales team on leads
  • Share best-practice lead generation follow-up across the sales team


In sum, you can get a boost to your lead generation ROI without any extra spending by improving how your route leads. Using the example I started with, if you were to improve lead routing, it’s like getting a 25% lift in leads. Here’s this best part: You can do this without spending anymore more budget. That’s the kind of results we can all get excited about.

It’s your turn. What’s worked for you to optimize lead routing? Share in the comments below.

You might also like

How to Do Lead Management That Improves Conversion

10 Ways to Optimize Your Lead Conversion Rate

Why Not To Focus On Marketing & Sales Alignment In 2019

B2B Marketing: Why Marketing shouldn’t promise BANT qualified leads for Sales

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. Great tips. Thanks for sharing. Lead qualification is a must to make sure that you are not wasting your time on leads that won’t convert.

  2. The way a company routes leads can make or break the sale. Overall, it is important to match the lead with the correct sales rep rather than do it at random. You want to get to know the prospect well enough to know exactly which sales skills are needed to convert them to paying customers.

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