Why intelligent routing matters

Written by RingLead Marketing on January 28, 2021

Why intelligent routing matters

Business leaders must care about how data is routed, because it has a direct impact on business results.

According to LeadConnect, 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first. It makes sense. Let’s consider Sarah, who is shopping for a new tractor for her agriculture business. After doing some research, she narrows it down to two machines from competing companies. She contacts them each within a couple minutes to ask a question. One company responds in two hours and the other responds the next day. Sarah doesn’t bother answering her phone the next day, because her question was already answered and she started a relationship with the company that responded to her first.

Lead response time is not a gamble most businesses can afford to make. Hot leads can go cold real quick and revenue targets are missed.

But building a company culture where everyone respects the importance of “speed to lead” can feel like an endless struggle without an intelligent routing strategy. Indeed, CRM admins, data professionals, and revenue managers alike will understand the pain and frustration that often create barriers between marketing and sales teams.

Ultimately, organizations without an intelligent routing strategy can experience a downstream impact on P&L: Technology and payroll costs increase while revenue growth stalls. But there are other underlying consequences of not having systems in place for routing data intelligently that can be felt across all functions of the go-to-market engine.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those “below the surface” challenges.

Critical business issues and consequences

When leads aren’t properly routed, multiple stakeholders are affected:

  • The SDR has trouble meeting their qualification goal.
  • The CRM manager is bombarded with constant change requests, like fixing lead assignments, resolving duplicates, or correcting data discrepancies.
  • Developers have to deal with creating, updating, and maintaining Apex code in Salesforce (a costly endeavor).
  • The head of sales is wondering why win rates are low.
  • The marketing director is struggling to prove ROI.
  • The chief revenue officer is asking the head of sales why quarterly targets aren’t being hit.
  • And most important, the customer is left wondering if they’ll ever receive a callback.

Why intelligent routing mattersAs market conditions fluctuate and organizations adapt to new working conditions, business logic changes and routing rules must follow suit.

And yet, a survey revealed that more than 75% of organizations are still manually distributing leads or relying on their CRM or MAP (marketing automation platform) for routing.

Manual effort wastes time, creates inconsistencies, and can even introduce unintended bias in lead assignment. Salespeople are unhappy and customers are upset because of delayed responses.

Without a sophisticated routing system in place, leads don’t get to where they belong on a reliable basis. This is problematic, not only because it severely slows down response times, but also because lead assignment issues are hard to diagnose. Shoddy routing implementations are difficult to manage and time-consuming to update.

What’s the cost of high-paid employees spending time on low-value, administrative tasks?

Some organizations can get by with out-of-the-box functionality like Salesforce lead assignment rules, but it can end up being slow, inaccurate, and difficult to scale. Unfortunately, Salesforce does not support round robin assignment out of the box. (More on Salesforce functionality later.)

As go-to-market strategies become more sophisticated and companies concentrate their efforts on high-value accounts, lead-to-account matching (L2A) has become an integral component of the intelligent routing strategy.

But without a mechanism for matching leads with accounts, account-based marketing (ABM) programs are unlikely to be effective. Here’s why:

Without L2A, it’s difficult to treat customers and prospects appropriately because necessary data is absent from lead, contact, and account records.

  • The hunters (account executives) have a lack of context because they can’t see company-level information on lead records, such as geography, industry, and company size. They miss opportunities to capitalize on marketing efforts that generate demand from named accounts. SDRs might be assigned leads from a company that an AE is already working on, which ends in an embarrassing scenario. (“Oh, I didn’t know you were already working with John.”)
    • Leads related to prospect accounts need to be matched for effective prospecting, nurturing, and scoring.
  • The farmers (account managers) can’t easily see all the leads and contacts related to their accounts. Customer activity history is not organized in one spot, and hot leads on hot accounts slip through the cracks when they’re not matched properly.
    • Leads related to customer accounts need to be sent to account owners, the customer success team, or converted; otherwise, cross-sell and upsell opportunities remain hidden.
  • Organizations without lead-to-account matching suffer from too much friction in their revenue operations, and salespeople squander their time researching customer information instead of selling.

Make no mistake: lead-to-accounting matching is a prerequisite to ABM.

Ultimately, poor routing systems slow down the sales cycle, negatively impact both the employee and customer experience, and deals are lost to competitors.


As mentioned earlier in the introduction, it’s critically important to respond to leads within the first five minutes. An intelligent routing strategy enables this by increasing the average speed of getting leads from the initial point of engagement to a salesperson. Thus, “speed to lead” is improved and there’s a lift in conversion rate.

Revenue operations leaders gain greater control of the revenue engine through smarter lead management. Automated routing processes eliminate manual efforts that suck up time. Fewer leads are lost, and the company culture flourishes around the idea that lead response time is tantamount to success.

There are multitudes of other benefits enjoyed by organizations after implementing an intelligent routing strategy. Let’s look at them from the perspectives of database health, account-based marketing, employee experience, and customer experience.

Better database health

  • Eliminate duplicates, prevent the creation of new duplicates, and reduce the cost of your MAP database.
  • Accurately measure campaign influence, marketing ROI, and conversion rates.
  • Enriched data provides business intelligence on customers and prospects, such as annual revenue and company size. Normalized data creates consistency by standardizing fields like job titles and addresses. Together, enriched and normalized data allow for improved segmentation.
  • Correct lead assignment and account ownership saves time.
  • A clean database is an efficient workspace for everyone.
  • Add fuel to the revenue engine with enriched, normalized, and segmented data.

Streamlined ABM efforts

  • Intelligent routing with lead-to-account matching makes account-based marketing possible.
  • Give everyone on the account team a complete 360-degree view of activities within an account by making sure all data gets to where it should be.
  • Marketing campaigns are more effective because they’re targeted at the right buyer persona at the right stage in their journeys.
  • Account owners can quickly see new leads generated from targeted ABM campaigns, right from the account record, effectively surfacing new cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
  • SDRs benefit from seeing company data—industry, company size, location, account score, and more—directly on lead records, at a glance.
  • Sales and marketing teams collaborate better and enjoy the success of their concerted ABM execution with measurable results.

Improved employee experience

  • Bridge the sales and marketing divide with higher-quality leads that don’t slip through the cracks. Facilitate fair lead distribution among the sales team so everyone is happy.
  • Cure the headaches caused by duplicate data, missing data, and mismatched data.
  • Quickly get the right lead to the right rep, so they have a better shot at making contact with the prospect.
  • Salespeople have more time in their day to focus on making quota, because they don’t have to deal with manual lead triage or hunt for information.
  • Enhance the CRM user experience to increase adoption, collaboration, and productivity.

Delightful customer experience

  • Impress your prospects by responding to them faster and knowing more about their business.
  • With all the data you need to create personalized experiences, you’ll be able to build positive relationships in less time.
  • Create a frictionless buying experience; create a happy customer.

With sophisticated technology and capabilities, revenue operations leaders are able to drive opportunity creation and hit their targets, and customers receive the fast service they expect.