Yes, There Is a Better Way to Assign Leads in Salesforce

How quickly do your sales reps respond to new web leads?

In 2007, the Lead Response Management Study by Dr. James Oldroyd reported that the recommended time for following up on a lead is five minutes. Nine years later, published Best Practices for Lead Response Management based on Oldroyd’s study. The five-minute rule still holds true. However, the average sales rep takes much longer than the recommended time to respond to leads.

Clearly, it is critical to respond quickly to web inquiries. According to a study from, 78% of sales go to the company that responds to an inquiry first. And yet, the average time a company takes to respond to a lead is 40 hours. This gap offers a chance to get ahead of the competition by ensuring your lead assignment process is automated, fast, and accurate.

There is no one right way to assign leads. The best approach depends on a company’s product and customer types. To complicate the process, speed is not the only criterion for lead assignment. It’s also important to consider factors like territory alignment, existing relationships with a customer account, skills and availability of the assigned rep, and fairness in lead distribution.

Sending Leads to the Right Rep in Salesforce

Salesforce includes built-in Lead Assignment rules that are useful for small sales teams to get started. But the rules have limitations. They are not enough to support your organization as it grows and the rules become more complex. This image shows an example of basic Salesforce lead assignment rules.

Mid- to large-sized companies need many more rules, and entering those rules becomes a time-consuming process. In fact, just managing a few dozen rules is painful.

For example, you might use criteria like these to funnel leads to your sales reps:

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Company size or revenue
  • Product interest
  • Lead quality

Anne, an awesome rep, handles leads from companies in the healthcare industry that have revenues of $100 million or more and are located in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.

Implementing that rule would involve entering multiple criteria, including a list of ZIP codes or county names. The image below shows an example of more complex lead assignment rules using revenue, industry, and location as the criteria. It’s quite typical for a mid-size company to create hundreds, sometimes thousands of rules. This is especially true with fine-grained territory assignments based on ZIP or area codes, or for companies doing business internationally.

Entering complex rules with point-and-click is cumbersome and prone to errors. To make matters worse, there is no easy way to test the rules to see if they work correctly before activating them. The people who define the rules — typically, someone in sales operations or the VP of sales — may not have the tech skills and access to validate them. This results in miscommunication and more overhead.

If reps receive the wrong leads or leads remain unassigned, there’s no way to figure out what happened. The system doesn’t keep logs for assignments or an audit trail for rule changes. It would be valuable to have a monitoring and reporting tool to stay on top of what’s happening, identify any stray leads, and take action so leads aren’t stranded.

Balancing the Load

Remember the five-minute rule? Anne may be the best rep for XYZ criteria, but it doesn’t help the company if she’s bombarded with too many leads and can’t quickly follow up on them. Even if she has a balanced number of leads, what happens if she is at a meeting or out of the office when a lead comes in? The clock is ticking, and the lead is sitting in Anne’s queue.

That’s where Round Robin and Load Balancing can help. Instead of assigning leads to individual reps, they can be distributed to members of a group. Distribution strategies can vary from a basic Round Robin to Weighted Load Balancing. They can be combined with assignment caps, checks for absent users, or skills-matching.

Complexity Increases as the Number of Sales Reps Grows

A company with dozens of reps has people coming and going often enough that the lead assignment rules will need frequent updates. On top of that, territories periodically change or get re-aligned.

Assigning the right person to a lead also depends on the current products and business lines that are offered. New ones get added, and old ones are removed. These changes occur on a regular basis in large companies. Acquisitions happen less often — but when they do, they will affect the lead assignment process.

Another factor to consider is a team-selling setup in an internal sales organization. You may also have partners, such as resellers and solution providers, added to the mix. In this case, you may assign to both an internal rep and a partner, or you can choose just one of them.

How to Turn Complex Lead Assignment Rules into an Easy-to-Manage Process

In summary, you want a lead assignment program that achieves the following goals:

  • Qualify the lead to determine which sales rep or team is the right one.
  • Verify the sales rep is available.
  • Ensure that each rep has a fair number of assignments.
  • Confirm that someone follows up with the leads quickly.
  • Make changes to the rules easy, fast, and reliable.
  • Monitor lead assignments with reporting and logs.

The assignment rules in Salesforce are not designed to manage this process, and Salesforce does not offer Round Robin or Load Balancing capabilities. Fortunately, the AppExchange has an app like Decisions on Demand to give you powerful tools to address these challenges. You can define your lead assignment rules in a simple table inside Salesforce as shown in this image.

After setting up the rules, you can test them with a built-in Test Console. The unique Excel import/export capability makes it easy to update large rulesets containing thousands of rules. It includes useful distribution options like Round Robin and Load Balancing with weights, caps, and skills-matching.

Decisions on Demand for Salesforce boosts close rates, cuts overhead, and reduces errors. With this AppExchange app, your team can turn lead assignment into a completely automated process.

Learn more about flexible lead assignment rules, or schedule a personalized demo at a time that works for you.