Portfolio Lessons: Intronis’s Transition to a Scalable Lead Distribution Model

Devon-McDonald by

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Recently I met with Rob Merklinger, the VP of Sales at cloud backup and recovery company Intronis (an OpenView portfolio company), to discuss the results of a major lead distribution model transition that his team went through a year ago. In this interview, Rob shares insights on:

  • The benefits of a round robin lead distribution model over a geography-based territory model.
  • Keys to preparing for and executing the transition.
  • The incredible outcomes of the transition.
  • How to determine if a lead distribution model transition is right for your team.

Intronis’ Lead Distribution Model Transition

DM: Rob, last summer you were exploring new ways to optimize your sales team and make the operation more scalable. The idea that seemed most promising was changing your team’s structure from a geography-based territory model to a round robin lead distribution model. Can you tell us a little bit about how these these two models work, and why you were considering making that transition to begin with?

RM: The reason we decided to go the round robin path was to ensure equality with leads coming in and being worked. We wanted to move to a model where we were feeding our business development team a consistent flow of qualified leads that have gone through a scoring process. At the same time we standardized on the type of qualification questions we ask and the emails we send. Having a model shift to this direction allowed us to better understand utilization and capacity constraints.

DM: How long had you been using the geo-based territory model? Why had you originally structured the team that way, and how did you feel that it was limiting you?

RM: We started the geo-based model back in 2011, and we felt at that time – based on the number of trade shows we attended – it made sense to have geo territories to maximize relationship building.

DM: Before making the switch, you had consulted the OpenView Team, and more specifically Venture Partner George Roberts about the potential friction points that would arise in making this transition. What were those potential friction points that you had identified?

RM: The biggest friction points were establishing a transparent set of rules of that helped govern when a rep would or would not receive a lead. The other area was having the proper reporting in place to provide the transparency.

DM: What tool did you end up using for automating the round robin distribution model and why?

RM: We piloted out a tool called “Distribution Engine.” It fit all of our requirements, and it was very easy for our marketing team to install. It allows the round robin flow to happen automatically.

DM: Have their been any hiccups along the way?

RM: There have been a few, but they are very small. They’re mainly around ensuring leads  flow to a rep’s POD if they are out of the office. The open communication has helped us get past this, and we make the adjustments in our weekly meeting with Sales and Marketing. The marketing team has been extremely helpful on this front and have made a great impact on getting this transition into place.

DM: Can you complete this sentence for us: “Don’t make this transition if….”

RM: …if you are afraid of change. No, I think this works well for our time of sales cycle and who we sell to. If you are selling to large enterprises I would not recommend this especially if there is a lot of travel involved.

DM: How has changing to this model increased the team’s efficiency and productivity?

RM: YTD we are 109% of our quota for new bookings. We have also seen our win rates move from 20% to 25%, and seen our ASP increase by 40%. The team also really likes the new model and we have not had any push back from our reps on the change.

DM: What advice would you give to another team considering restructuring their sales team like you have?

RM: Talk to other folks in your space to see how they set up their models, you will learn a lot and be able to take a lot of best practices. Also the key thing is to test, test, test these types of model changes. Start with a pilot and expand it. We did this and it made the full launch much easier!

Thanks for sharing, Rob!

Alright everyone — your turn to share. What kind of lead distribution model are you currently working with? What lessons, tips, or questions do you want to share?