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Lead Allocation for Marketing Automation

This Post looks at the use of Inaport for automating lead allocation for a large Software Provider. This Company captures hundreds of leads per day from the web via their marketing automation platform, Eloqua, and distributes them across more than 40 sales people, split into several teams and territories, in their CRM system. This project removed the need for a full-time person to allocate leads and introduced a more accurate, timely and balanced work load across the sales teams.

This project had two key components. The first was to identify where leads should go, and the second was to deliver them evenly and fairly within sales teams. Their CRM system was web based, so another constraint was optimizing performance by minimizing the need to query the CRM system.

Business Processes for Lead Allocation

Companies often have quite complex sales structures. Teams can be organized geographically (US, Europe), by verticals (Finance, Health care), or function (New sales, Internal, External). Team members can have different skill sets, and varying levels of experience; they may be responsible for different campaigns or languages. All of these factors need to be taken into account when routing leads.

To complicate further, these factors can change from one day to another. With this particular client, for instance, new campaigns are started regularly, and there were frequent changes to the 40-50 sales personnel, such as illness and holidays. An important consideration in developing the process was enabling Marketing Operation personnel to handle such changes without requiring programming assistance.

Business rules use all these factors to decide where a lead goes, and the flow chart in Figure 1 gives an idea of how complicated this can be. Many attributes may be considered – campaign codes, product types, country codes, and so on. As this chart shows, the business rules will normally look at a range of attributes and have layers of decisions to determine the ultimate destination.

SampleLead flow

Figure 1: Flow Chart of Business Rules for Round Robin Lead Allocation

Project Implementation

Separating Code and Data

InaPlex worked with the customer to clarify, develop, and implement the business rules in Inaport. Whilst the rules are implemented in Inaport Profiles, the data used (campaign codes, teams, sales personnel) was placed in an Excel spreadsheet that could be updated by Marketing Operations without requiring IT involvement. The business rules in Inaport do lookups as required in the Excel spreadsheet each time an import is run.

The decoupling of business rules from the data used gave tremendous flexibility and responsiveness to the lead management process.

Round Robin Allocation

Working out where to send a lead, though, was just half of the challenge. The next step was to make sure that leads were delivered and allocated evenly across the sales team. The approach used was “Round-Robin Distribution” which is a technique for “taking turns” to ensure an even load distribution: or in this case, to make sure that leads were distributed evenly across the sales personnel in each team.

In theory, round robin distribution is straightforward. You get a lead, allocate it to the first person in the sales team, then the next, and next, and so on. Once each sales person has been given a lead, you go back to the first and go through the sequence again, in the same order.

In practice, it’s often more complicated. The process of keeping a tally of leads that have been distributed, and the sequence of distribution, can be tricky. This is especially true when the flow of leads is erratic. For this reason, leads were cached to ensure throughput did not impact lead distribution and to provide an even allocation across sales people.

Caching for Performance

Inaport works with a variety of web based CRM systems such as Microsoft CRM, Salesforce, Sage CRM, and Infor CRM. A common factor across all of these systems is that any interaction with the system (a query or an update) is in computer terms glacially slow.

Some of the business rules required pulling data from the CRM system and making decisions based on it. InaPlex was able to substantially improve performance by implementing caching for the queries – storing the data in memory, so that it only has to be queried once.

Conclusion

The entire project was completed using standard features in Inaport Professional. A single job is run once an hour, and the leads flow automatically into the target CRM system. Marketing Operations can update campaigns and teams as required. Full logging with email alerts on problems ensures traceability.

The client was delighted with the result. Lead allocation went from being a costly, time-consuming manual process to an efficient, easily maintained automated solution that can manage growing volumes with no additional expense. Significant savings could be quantified, and there were also many indirect savings and improvements in the service provided to potential clients, making the project a success in all respects.

Inaport, from InaPlex, delivers CRM integration and data migration solutions for leading CRM systems including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Sage CRM, Infor CRM (previously Saleslogix), Goldmine and ACT. It has a range of connectors and maps for quick results, and its straightforward approach provides a wealth of powerful functions. To learn more please book a free webinar, download a free 30 day evaluation license, or visit the InaPlex website.

 

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