Definition: Lead distribution is the process of strategically assigning leads to specific sales reps.

You’re probably already familiar with lead generation, where you draw people in and get them actively interested in whatever your business sells. And you may have also heard of lead nurturing, which is where you continue marketing to leads until they’re ready to buy.

But you may not have heard of lead distribution, which happens in between lead generation and lead nurturing. This is the step where you assign leads to salespeople, who will then nurture those leads. But if you want to do it right, you need a strategy behind how you assign those leads.

What is lead distribution?

Lead distribution is the process of matching up specific leads with certain sales reps at your company. There are numerous ways you can do this, but most of them focus on assigning leads to the sales reps most qualified to convert them. For example, a sales rep who specializes in airline company clients would be the perfect person to manage an airline lead.

Why is lead distribution important?

Lead distribution is a great way to help your business drive more sales (and ultimately more revenue). Why? Because it’s all about assigning leads to the people with the best chance of converting them. That means a higher percentage of your leads become clients, which results in higher earnings.

In other words, it’s essential to distribute leads strategically if you want your lead nurturing process to be as successful as possible. Otherwise, you risk losing out on a lot of potential clients.

Steps in the lead distribution process

When distributing your leads, there are a few steps you can expect to take. Here are some of the most common steps involved in the lead distribution process:

  1. Lead generation: The first step is to bring in fresh leads that you can distribute to your sales representatives.
  2. Quality screening: Once you’ve generated new leads, the next step is to figure out which ones are worth targeting. Filter out any types of businesses you don’t serve and then use a system like lead scoring to help you prioritize the most important leads.
  3. Criteria setting: When you’ve narrowed down your list, you should clearly establish what criteria you’ll use to assign leads to sales reps. Decide on a lead distribution strategy (which we’ll come back to in a moment).
  4. Sales rep communication: Finally, communicate with your sales reps. Give them as much information as you can on each of the leads you assign to them so you provide them with the best chance of converting those leads.


Unsure which sales process stages are right for your company?

Our 16 Sales Process Templates for B2B Pipelines provide top examples of how companies just like yours structure their sales processes.


Exploring lead distribution strategies

A moment ago, we mentioned that you should decide on a specific lead distribution strategy for your business. That means you should have a system for determining which sales reps receive which leads.

You can distribute leads however you like, but there are various established lead distribution strategies to consider. Here are some of the most common methods:

  1. Manual
  2. Round robin
  3. Criteria-based
  4. Shotgun
  5. Cherry-pick
  6. Region-specific

Keep reading to learn more about each one.

1. Manual

Manual lead distribution is one of the most straightforward methods, but it’s also the most involved. This strategy involves assigning each lead to a sales rep on your own. The reason it’s called the manual method is that the other strategies listed here are at least partially automated.

This strategy is straightforward, but as lead volume increases, it becomes more difficult and time-consuming to manage. This method may work well for businesses with relatively few leads and the personnel to manually assign those leads. However, for many companies, this approach requires too much time investment to be worthwhile.

2. Round robin

The round-robin method automatically and evenly distributes leads across all your sales reps. This eliminates the manual effort required to assign leads and ensures all reps get a fair number of leads.

The simplest round robin approach is assigning each lead to a random sales rep without considering factors like industry, territory, or company type. This random approach may work well for companies where all leads are similar and all sales reps have similar skills.

You can also use the round-robin method in combination with these kinds of criteria. For example, if you get a lead in a given industry, you could randomly assign that lead to one of your three sales reps who work with that industry.

3. Criteria-based

Criteria-based lead assignment involves assigning leads to reps based on the type of leads without the round-robin element.

For example, you might assign all leads interested in a certain product to one specific sales rep.

Criteria you might use for lead assignment include:

  • Industry
  • Company type
  • Market
  • Territory
  • Products
  • Value
  • Sources

4. Shotgun

A third approach to the lead distribution process is the shotgun method. With this method, you divide your sales reps into groups based on their strengths. You then assign leads to specific groups rather than specific individuals. From there, the reps in each group divide the leads amongst themselves.

Needless to say, this method requires a sales team with integrity, where no one will gobble up all the leads for themselves and leave the rest of their group hanging out to dry. Done well, though, it’s a great way to make sure your leads are going to the right sales reps.

5. Cherry-pick

The cherry-pick method is a more hands-off version of the shotgun method. Just like in the shotgun method, you let sales reps pick their leads. In this method, though, you skip the first step of dividing reps into groups and assigning leads to each one. You don’t assign the leads at all — you just pour them out on the table and let your sales reps snatch them up.

Again, this method requires sales reps with integrity. It also requires those reps to have a good idea of their strengths and weaknesses so they know which leads are best suited for them. Ultimately, whether this is a good method comes down to how much you trust your sales team to choose the right leads.

6. Region-specific

Finally, we have the region-specific method. As the name suggests, this method assigns leads based on their location. Certain sales reps work on teams dedicated to specific regions and receive leads based on their assigned region.

This can be a good system, but you do need to be careful — some regions may receive more leads than others, so you need to make sure you account for that with how many sales reps you put on each team.

Lead distribution software

As we mentioned earlier, most lead distribution strategies are at least partially automated. For example, with the region-specific method, you might use an automation tool to divide your sales reps into groups and then automatically assign leads based on their location. The question is, what tools can you use to do that?

One of the best types of tools for lead distribution is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. A CRM already contains all your data about your leads and clients, so it’s the perfect tool for distributing those leads to different sales reps.

If you’re looking for a CRM to use in your lead distribution strategy, consider Nutshell. You can use Nutshell to easily assign leads to your sales team, either in groups or as individuals. You can also set criteria for how leads are assigned, including features like company type and industry. From there, Nutshell will assign leads automatically.

Use Nutshell to help you distribute your leads

Every business can benefit from having a CRM. Not only can you use it to automate your lead distribution, but you can also more easily manage, automate, and track your entire sales process, customer relationships, and marketing efforts with features like sales automation, reporting and analytics, and email marketing.

With affordable pricing plans and a top-tier customer support team, Nutshell is the perfect CRM for all your business needs. If you’re interested in trying out our platform, check out our 14-day free trial today!

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