I am a gal who likes to keep her Eloqua instance clean, tidy and efficient. The old lead allocation program builder I inherited was none of those things.
For the uninitiated, lead allocation is a workflow that assigns MQLs from Eloqua to an active salesperson in a CRM based upon criteria. In this case, leads were segmented based upon company size (above or below 250 FTEs) and then by industry sector groupings (known was verticals). Within the verticals leads were then assigned to salespeople based upon the first letter or number of their company name.
A single change in the sales team meant that in Eloqua I had to naturally change the program builder by:
- updating 36 match rules (A-Z, 0-9)
- then waiting over an hour for test data to trudge its way through many, many program steps (priority mode ain’t exactly zippy) only to land in Salesforce (SFDC) and reveal that I had made a mistake and had to rinse and repeat the whole process.
Tedious and time-consuming. The above are just problems that surfaced when making changes:
- sudden departures from the Sales team and the consequent user deactivation in SFDC resulted in Create Lead external call errors generated by the program builder stacking up in Eloqua;
- misallocated lead mysteries were fiendish to unravel as I had a) no record of what the data looked like at the time of passing through allocation and b) no record of the path a lead took through allocation;
- the alphabet-based Sales territories resulted in unfair lead allocation, leaving one salesperson drowning in potential commission and another parched;
- the labyrinthine nature of the program builder meant that Sales management had not a clue on how it worked or how they could make it work for their overall strategy.
What I needed was a lead allocation program that was robust, easy to maintain, auditable, quick to amend, didn’t require a degree in rocket science to understand and handed out leads fairly.
Enter the Eloqua Luminary Technology course and the wonder of program canvas. It automated repetitive tasks! It processed contacts, fast! It took decisions based on the contact record and performed actions! It looked like campaign canvas so I knew what I was doing!
Technology also put me wise to the fact that I could use an auto synch to populate a picklist with inactive Salesforce users.
And imagine my delight when the Targeting course revealed the Contact Washing Machine app and its almost magical math function. I now had a random number generator that could replace lead assignment based on company name. Much fairer (you wouldn’t believe the number of companies that start with ‘T’).
Finally, a shout out to the Engagement course for introducing me to the App Cloud, without which I wouldn’t have the Form Submit app.
More on the above later.
To give you an idea of the unfair state of the lead allocation program builder, here’s the lead allocation by salesperson in 2018:
Prior to commencing the rebuild I showed the above to Sales, as well a breakdown of how long basic maintenance was taking, and the reaction was, well:.
This was perfect ammunition for making the case for an allocation rebuild. Sales were rather wedded to alphabet-based allocation (they had been doing it for years), thinking that it was the only way to do things. Revealing that I had a fairer method of allocation up my sleeve was definitely a light bulb moment for them.
“What’s in a rebuild?!” I hear you cry. Naturally, the first step was to validate the current program builder with Sales. What was working, what wasn’t and what was required to make the allocation program fit for Sales’ goals in 2019 (not 2016, when the program builder was created)? I steered Sales away from making suggestions on exactly how the new program should work (avoiding a repeat of 2016) and encouraged them to focus on what allocation needed to achieve. With Luminary learnings under my belt, I was much better placed to tackle the ‘how’.
With a clear vision of the end result I could set about incrementally designing a shiny new allocation program. The beauty of program canvas is that the drag and drop interface means that you can easily place elements on to the workspace and play around with the best order to connect them up in. You can also save your draft and come back to it later with even better ideas.
To ensure the new program was both easy to use and understand, I created a modular build. Breaking the allocation program up in to its constituent parts avoided creating one enormous and crowded canvas which required a map to navigate. The new canvases were:
- Canvas 1
- Removes bad data, cleanses data, allocates specific lead segments to specific salespeople and sends leads on to either canvas 2 or 3
- Canvas 2
- lead allocation for the sub-250 FTEs Sales team
- Canvas 3
- lead allocation for the 250+ FTEs Sales team
The key to creating a fair allocation program was crafting those all-important contact washing machines (CWMs). Using the math function, you can turn them into random number generators and the number generated decides which salesperson is allocated the lead e.g. if a lead could potentially go to three salespeople, the CWM randomly assigns a number between one and three to the lead, and so each salesperson receives an even slice of the pie (person A gets number one and so on). Even better, if a salesperson needed 50% of leads in a territory and the remaining 50% needed to be shared between the rest of the Sales team, the CWM can easily be set up to accommodate this.
But what if those CWMs sent leads to someone who wasn’t in the business anymore? My regularly updated (thank you auto synch!) picklist of inactive users had my back. One final check on all leads before they were sent to Salesforce – if they were assigned to an inactive user an update rule would reassign them to a central queue.
Finally, I used the Form Submit app to make the program auditable. Each exit from the canvas or transition was preceded by a form submit that added the lead, their all-important data at the time of passing through and the name of the exit/transition point to a custom object. Now, each lead creates a paper trail as it flows through allocation.
Now, it was time for the big reveal, and much to Sales’ delight they understood (possibly for the first time) what lead allocation was doing.
We went from this (note the many, many collapsed branches):
And imagine their surprise when during the presentation I carried out some on the fly editing when they needed to swap a couple of salespeople around. Gone were the days of snail pace amendments and the lead allocation program not reflecting the Sales team structure.
Even more gratifying is the fact that lead distribution is now much more even: