A Puzzle with Thousands of Pieces: Multi-Channel Territory Assignments in Salesforce

Managing territory assignments in Salesforce can be daunting for large organizations, especially when selling through multiple direct and indirect distribution channels

Assigning accounts and other records to the right team members is crucial for the effective use of Salesforce.

In larger organizations account assignments are often based on territory maps generated by a planning tool—typically with dozens or hundreds of territories defined down to the ZIP code level.

These are then combined with segmentation and eligibility rules and named account lists to govern the assignment of accounts to team members.

Deploying all this complex logic into Salesforce is a major challenge. Which is compounded further for firms that sell through multiple distribution channels, each of which has its own territory map and assignment rules.

Add onto that the constant change that occurs in every large organization and you can imagine how the maintenance of this logic might overwhelm the operations team.

As an interesting case study, let’s look at one of our newer clients who faced this exact problem, and how they were able to use Decisions on Demand to help them develop a highly effective and adaptive territory assignment system.

The Challenge

The client in question is a large insurance and financial services firm offering a variety of life insurance, annuity, and mutual fund products. This company distributes its products through around a dozen internal and external distribution channels of finance and insurance professionals—agents and advisors that are often associated with industry intermediaries. Each channel has assigned geographical territories, and all the agents associated with a channel have assigned territories in which to sell the firm’s insurance and financial products. Among their partners are a number of large wirehouse investment firms, as well as a national multi-level marketing organization. Many of these companies have tens of thousands of agents across the country with innumerable opportunities for overlap.

Thousands of Moving Targets

As their business evolves, the company continues to add new channel partners, each with its own network of agents and advisors. In addition, many agents across these distribution channels have territory changes to reflect agent advisors being reassigned, moving or leaving their respective organizations. To manage this network of sellers and distributors, the company relies on the Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, a robust add-on financial services platform built on top of Salesforce CRM. But even so, keeping track of this complex external distribution network requires an internal team of sales, operations and support professionals.

Perhaps you can see the difficulty here. This financial firm faces the formidable task of managing tens of thousands of territory assignments across multiple channels, where each channel has its own territory definitions — all while the territory boundaries themselves are periodically adjusted and agents move locations and change affiliations. It’s tantamount to firing at thousands of moving targets simultaneously.

The Solution

While many clients rely on Decisions on Demand for complex lead routing and distribution, our financial services client has used our powerful AppExchange app to automate its hugely complex territory assignment process. Decisions on Demand provides a unique decision table approach that allows Salesforce operations team members to represent complex territory assignments in a spreadsheet-like model—one that is easy to maintain whenever territory changes occur. Our client’s operations team can also test any changes in Decisions on Demand to ensure that new or modified territory assignments are correct before deploying them. Furthermore, Decisions on Demand provides a detailed explanation for each territory assignment, which facilitates troubleshooting and helps with communication to the field.

Why It Works: Enhancing Salesforce Territory Management

Decisions on Demand is an AppExchange ISV partner whose software fully integrates with Salesforce—including the Salesforce Financial Services Cloud and Salesforce Enterprise Territory Management (ETM). ETM is a module designed to assist Salesforce customers in managing their territory management and assignment process. However, although ETM has an assignment rules capability, it does not support all of the complex requirements of a large firm doing business through multiple channels with hundreds or thousands of complex territories. Decisions on Demand fills this gap — our app enhances ETM with a flexible and scalable rules engine designed to handle the toughest assignment challenges. Some examples:

  • Cross-object relationships. Financial services firms often work with outside professionals such as wealth management advisors who have an association with multiple intermediaries, which means one financial professional may be associated with multiple territories. Assigning territories in this manner requires an ability to have a Salesforce “person account” (which represents the financial professional) associated with more than one Salesforce “regular account” (representing the intermediary firm) through a relationship object. ETM does not support assignment based on such cross-object relationships.
  • Enterprise-scale rulesets. Managing thousands of fine-grained assignment rules requires a dedicated tool built to facilitate rule management at scale, with versioning, testing and audit trails built in.
  • Exception handling. Exceptions to standard rules sometimes need to be applied. For example, a financial advisor may be kept in an existing territory for some time after relocating physically into a new territory, to avoid disrupting ongoing relationships.

Since deploying Decisions on Demand, our client has achieved close to 100% automation of its territory assignment process, while greatly reducing the effort required to manage assignment rules and resolve erroneous assignments. Changes are deployed in hours rather than days or weeks. And the IT team was also able to retire a significant amount of custom code and eliminate the associated maintenance costs. Finally, because of the flexibility of Decisions on Demand there is a natural progression to use the same platform to distribute leads into these assigned territories, as well as deploy other rules-based automation.

If your company struggles with the challenges of complex or multi-channel territory assignments, we’d love to discuss how Decisions on Demand can help.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements, or schedule a product demo!