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Sales - 11 min READ

The Beginner's Guide to Lead Distribution

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Author photo: Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis


Your sales leads are like the Legos that help you build your business.

And just like with Legos, it can be easy to lose track of your leads.

The difference between Legos and leads is that Legos are easy to find again (usually when you’re walking to the bathroom at night in the dark).

But if you don’t keep track of your leads from the moment they come in, you may not find them again before their interest cools off.

That’s why many companies turn to lead distribution as a solution to neglected leads.

So, how exactly does lead distribution work? What kind of benefits can it bring your company? And how can you put a lead distribution strategy to work for your sales team?

What is lead distribution?

Lead distribution is a strategy that goes beyond just assigning incoming leads to different sales reps.

It involves matching every lead to the sales rep who is in the best position to seal this deal.

You know that each of your leads is different. They all have different needs, desires, and goals. And each one of your sales reps has different strengths, abilities, and experiences.

That’s why matching each lead to the right rep is so important.

Basically, lead distribution aims to automate the process of analyzing, qualifying, and assigning leads to your team. Ideally, it takes into account different factors (such as a rep’s experience in dealing with similar leads), and narrows down the best rep for this particular lead.

An efficient lead distribution strategy can do wonders for your business.

What are the benefits of lead distribution?

It helps you build a more efficient sales process.

And don’t you just love a strategy that makes your team more efficient with winning over qualified leads?

With a good lead distribution strategy in place, the most qualified reps will be connected with new leads, giving them the ability to close sales faster.

Equally important, sales team leaders will save time because they no longer have to personally assign each new lead to a rep. This also reduces the chance of manual errors and lost leads.

It allows the buyer journey to be mapped out, making it easier to analyze and attribute.

From the moment that a company or consumer becomes a lead to the moment the sale is completed, how many people have they talked to in your company?

Without lead distribution, it’s harder to tell who exactly was the lead owner, or which rep was the one who truly sealed the deal.

Lead distribution allows for greater transparency in seeing who is bringing in the big fish.

Every sales rep knows exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.

With lead distribution, the hand-off between marketing and sales teams is automated. New leads collected from web forms and other online methods are automatically sent to sales reps through their CRM, meaning every single rep knows which leads are coming in and which leads to focus on.

This removes any confusion and wasted time trying to sort out leads amongst different sales reps.

It speeds up response time (which helps you increase sales).

Once a lead fills out a web form, you have five minutes to get on the phone with them.

Oh sure, you can call them 10 minutes after if you want. But you’ll decrease your chance of qualifying by 400%.

The longer you wait on a sales lead, the colder that lead will get.

This is one of the biggest benefits of lead distribution: speed.

The automated nature of lead generation helps sales reps get notified about new leads faster, which in turn enables them to reach out faster.

Increase response speed, and you’ll increase sales.

Now that you know the benefits of using a lead distribution system for your sales team, let’s talk about how you can implement it.

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Manage more leads in less time.

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How to implement a lead distribution strategy in 6 steps:

1. Capture all leads and deliver them automatically.

If the hand-off between Marketing and Sales is sloppy, you’ll lose out on leads; important leads can easily be misplaced or forgotten in long email chains and spreadsheet lists.

To fix this problem, you’ll first need to automate lead capturing. You can do this by using lead generation tools like Sumo or Leadfeeder to capture leads as they visit your website.

Many of these tools integrate with your CRM to automatically deliver new leads to your sales reps.

The adaptable automation tool Zapier also allows you to connect your marketing and lead generation tools to your CRM.

For example, when someone fills out a web form, a new lead is automatically created in your CRM and your sales reps are alerted.

That means leads are captured and delivered without someone from the marketing team having to send sales reps an email with spreadsheets or lists of names. (Here's how to get away from using Excel for that.)

2. Filter new leads for quality.

Do you suffer from a lack of quality leads?

Then you’re just like 45% of sales reps who ranked generating quality leads as their biggest sales challenge.

That’s why the next step in setting up a lead distribution strategy is automating the process of qualifying leads.

First, you’ll need to define what a quality lead is for your business. This can include factors such as:

  • Business size or location
  • Decision-makers involved in the buying process
  • Current business needs and issues
  • Deadline that a new solution must be implemented by
  • Allocated budget
  • Solutions currently being used by this lead

Next, you’ll need to automatically filter out the leads that don’t meet your requirements, saving only the leads that are most ready to buy for your reps.

For example, you could find out some of the above information by adding them as questions in your web form. That way, you know a bit about the company and the interest before your sales reps get in contact with sales leads.

Or, use a CRM that automatically imports available info on the web about the company:

Finally, use this information in your lead distribution strategy to ensure that higher-quality leads are sent out first to your sales reps.

Obviously, this sales lead method isn’t the same as a human qualifying your leads. But it will give your sales team a head start in knowing which leads are the most valuable.

3. Set requirements to send the right leads to the right reps.

Once you’ve prioritized your high-quality leads, it’s time to determine who will receive these leads.

Deciding which of your reps is right for a certain lead is tricky, and there are certain factors that will be unique to your business.

To get you started, here are some of the main factors to consider when setting up a lead distribution strategy.

Geographic location

Matching the location of your leads to the location to the sales rep assigned to the case may have been a more popular method some years ago. But with the growing popularity of online shopping, this may not apply to some businesses.

However, some businesses still see a significant advantage to matching by location.

For example, an international insurance company would obviously want a lead based in the UK to be matched to a rep that understands insurance needs and law in the UK.

Geographic location is also important for companies that span several time zones and still rely heavily on phone conversations, or for companies whose sales reps specialize in on-site product demos.


The experience of a sales rep is an important factor when handling complicated or especially large deals targeted towards qualified leads.

For example, you wouldn’t want to hand off a very big fish to a relatively new rep. Or, if the lead doesn’t have a clear buying process in place, a newer rep may have a harder time organizing and closing the deal.

So, take into account the experience of the rep when distributing leads.


This goes beyond just years of overall experience: it’s experience in a specific field or type of customer.

For example, let’s say your company sells a product that can be used in different markets. If one of your sales reps has proven experience selling to clients in the real estate sector, why give them clients in the technology sector?

When reps sell over and over again to a certain sector, they’ll become more effective at building rapport because they understand the pain points of this type of business. They’ll also be better able to anticipate common objections and roadblocks, and successfully navigate their way to a sale.

Best of all, they’ll learn to do it faster every time.


Reward systems can be a powerful motivation for sales reps. So, using past performance as a factor in how you distribute leads can serve as a powerful push to get more sales.

Of course, you’ll need to be careful when applying this: performance is a delicate factor that can easily lead to favoring top sellers, leaving the less talented reps with the dregs. To avoid this, make sure that performance-based rewards in the lead distribution cycle are small, and don’t apply to every lead.

That way, under-performers will still be motivated to try, and high performers will be motivated to push harder.


This last factor is essential to keep in mind in your lead distribution strategy.

After all, a rep could be in the right location, have the most experience and the best expertise with a certain type of lead—but if they already have their plate full with other leads, this new lead won’t get the attention it needs.

So, before assigning an incoming lead to a rep, make sure they have the time in their schedule and the resources to dedicate to new leads.

4. Test different lead distribution strategies to see what works best for your team.

Every sales team is different. So, when deciding how to distribute leads to your sales reps, it’s important to test different methods and see what really works for your team.

Let’s look at some of the more popular methods for lead distribution.

Round Robin

This push-based method automatically sends out new leads to your sales team in the same order.

The benefit of this method is that every sales rep receives an equal amount of leads. However, the downside is that it doesn’t consider factors like a rep’s expertise with a certain type of lead or their current availability.

Cherry Pick

This pull-based method allows reps to take on new leads at a pace that’s comfortable for them, instead of auto-assigning.

Since reps know what kind of leads they work best with, allowing them to choose their own leads can help them close deals faster.

However, unappealing leads (such as ones with smaller budgets, and thus a lower commission) can often get lost at the bottom of the pile, since no one wants them.

Shark Tank

This is also a pull-based method, but with a twist that fosters healthy competition.

In Shark Tank, all sales reps are notified when a new lead is on the table. Then, the first one to respond gets the lead.

This is great for gamifying lead distribution. However, if you have more reps than leads coming in, slower-responding reps could easily get discouraged by losing out constantly on new leads. Or, worse, it could lead to the fastest reps hoarding more leads than they can really handle.


There are pros and cons to every lead distribution method. However, using a mixture of these different methods including the factors that we mentioned above can result in a much more efficient strategy.

For example, you could group sales reps together based on the expertise they have with a certain type of lead. Then, you could use the Round Robin method within those different groups. That way, leads are distributed fairly, but expertise is still taken into account.

Experimenting with these different strategies, including with inbound leads, will help you see what works best for your unique sales team.

5. Ensure real-time notification.

We mentioned above how essential it is for reps to respond to new leads within five minutes.

So, in order for your lead distribution system to work, reps must be notified immediately when a new lead has been assigned to them.

Using a CRM that offers real-time notifications will help keep all of your reps on track when new leads come in.

6. Be transparent with your sales team about how lead distribution works.

Being completely transparent about the methods you’re using to distribute leads, such as using CRM lead distribution, will help reduce any doubts or hard feelings towards sales leadership.

Make sure your reps know that leads are being distributed fairly, and that no one is being shown favoritism.

For reps to trust your lead distribution system, they need to know it works. It may even be a good idea to include your reps when planning which lead distribution method you’ll use. Their insights could be very helpful in understanding the best way to help the team run smoothly.

Distribute your leads right and watch your sales increase.

Lead distribution can have a direct impact on the number of sales that your team gets.

With a lead distribution system, you can make the sales process more efficient and help reps focus on the right leads, thus increasing the speed of their response time.

Remember, automating your lead collection and filtering for quality helps you see which leads should get matched to which reps. While you’ll need to experiment to find the best lead distribution method for your team, it’s important to factor in things like expertise and availability.

Finally, by using a CRM with real-time notifications, you’ll make sure every rep is instantly aware of new leads:

Lead distribution is the future of successful sales. Get ready to get started with a strategy that will boost your team’s efficiency in closing deals with CRM lead distribution.

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