Sales & Marketing

Manual vs Automated Lead Distribution: Which Is Better?

Manual vs Automated Lead Distribution - Which One Is Better for You?
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Lead distribution plays a vital role in the sales and marketing process, as it ensures that leads are assigned to the right sales representative for maximum conversion potential. With the rise of technology, businesses now have the option of using either manual or automated lead distribution methods. But, which one is better?

In this article, we dive into the pros and cons of both manual and automated lead distribution to help you determine which approach is right for your business. We’ll take a closer look at the key differences between the two methods, so you can make an informed decision that will lead to increased sales and overall business success.

What Is Lead Distribution, and How Does It Work?

Lead distribution is a method used by companies where the inbound leads are assigned, as soon as they come into the system, to the sales reps who are best fit to close the deal. To understand the whole working of lead distribution, you need to understand the four steps: lead generation, lead capture, lead qualification, and lead distribution.

  • Lead Generation: Businesses generate leads with the help of inbound lead generation techniques. Strangers reading their articles, watching videos, or visiting their website show interest in the product and want to know more about it.
  • Lead Capture: These visitors then fill out the lead capture form or contact the business through email or phone.
  • Lead Qualification: At this stage, leads are qualified with the gathered data. Or further qualifying questions can be asked from the lead related to their need, budget, and when they want to purchase the product.
  • Lead Distribution: After gathering data about the lead during the lead capture and qualifying process, qualified leads are analyzed using that information. And finally, the leads are distributed to sales reps based on the rules made by the company.

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What Is Manual Lead Distribution?

Manual lead distribution is a process of allocating leads (prospective customers or clients) to sales representatives or teams manually, rather than through an automated system. The distribution process typically involves a designated person (such as a sales manager) who receives the leads and then assigns them to individual salespeople or teams based on specific criteria, such as the salesperson’s territory, product expertise, or workload.

For example, consider a software company that generates leads through its website and various marketing campaigns. When a potential customer submits their contact information through the website, the lead is automatically added to a database.

The sales manager then reviews the lead information and assigns the lead to a specific salesperson based on their geographic location and experience with the company’s software offerings. The assigned salesperson will then reach out to the lead to follow up and try to convert them into a customer.

Manual lead distribution is often used when the volume of leads is relatively low or when there is a need for a high level of customization in the distribution process. It can also be used when an automated system is not available or when the company wants to maintain greater control over the lead distribution process.

This method is mostly used in small companies, although it has its advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of Manual Lead Distribution:

  • Flexibility: Manual lead distribution gives sales reps the flexibility to work on the leads that fit with their strength and where they feel more confident about a lead.
  • Cost-Efficient: Manual lead distribution is less expensive than implementing an automated lead distribution system. Small businesses with tight budgets can use manual systems.
  • Simplicity: Implementing technology to the business is good, but sometimes complex tech eats more time and kills productivity. This might be the case in small companies where the number of leads is not many and can be assigned manually.
  • More Control: Managers have more control over the process with the manual lead distribution. Business owners can determine when leads will be distributed and who will receive them.

Disadvantages of Manual Lead Distribution:

  • Time-Consuming: Assigning leads manually to each sales rep and keeping track of which leads have been assigned to which rep is time-consuming. This can be a lot of work if the sales team is large.
  • Difficulty in Tracking: It is difficult to track leads in manual lead distribution. It can be hard to tell which leads are hot and which ones are cold, and this can lead to sales reps wasting time pursuing leads that are not interested.
  • Creates Confusion: Manual distribution of the leads can sometimes create confusion because there are always chances of human errors, like assigning the same lead to two sales reps.

What Is Automated Lead Distribution?

Automated lead distribution is a process where leads are assigned to sales representatives or teams using an automated system. The system uses predefined rules and algorithms to distribute leads based on specific criteria, such as geographic location, product interest, or lead score. The goal of the automated lead distribution is to efficiently and accurately allocate leads to the sales representatives who are most likely to convert them into customers.

Automated lead distribution software works on a rule-based or round-robin lead routing system to distribute leads automatically. According to a Novocall survey, businesses using automated lead distribution saw an 87% higher conversion rate.

For example, consider a real estate company that generates leads through its website and various marketing campaigns. When a potential customer submits their contact information through the website, the lead is automatically added to a database and scored based on factors such as their stated budget and preferred location.

The automated lead distribution system then assigns the lead to the appropriate real estate agent based on their geographic territory and expertise in the type of property the lead is interested in. The assigned agent will receive an email or text message with the lead’s contact information and will be able to follow up with the lead in a timely manner.

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Advantages of Automated Lead Distribution

  • Time-Efficient: In comparison to manual lead distribution, automated lead distribution requires less time. As the lead comes into the database, it goes to the sales rep based on the lead data and set criteria.
  • Helps Stay Organized: With automated lead distribution, businesses can keep track of their leads and their status. This is helpful in ensuring that each lead gets proper attention and nurturing and is followed up by the sales team.
  • Helps in Scaling the Business: Automated lead distribution system ensures that each sales rep gets enough leads and the rep’s time doesn’t go wasted on other unproductive tasks. This helps cover more leads at the same time, resulting in the closing of more deals and, eventually, more revenue.
  • No Discrimination: Once the rules are set in the lead distribution system. The tool assigns the leads to reps based on those rules. Hence there’s no chance of discrimination with any sales rep.

Disadvantages of Automated Lead Distribution

  • Need Attention before Setting Rules: If the leads are not properly segmented, you could end up sending the wrong leads to the wrong salespeople. This can lead to frustrated customers and salespeople and could ultimately cost you sales.
  • Expensive: Automated lead distribution systems can be expensive to set up and maintain. If you are not careful, you could spend more on your lead distribution system than you make in sales.

Which One Is Better: Manual vs Automated Lead Distribution?

After knowing the advantages and disadvantages of both systems, the question arises, which system is better for your business? Manual lead distribution will consume more time but also allow for more control over who receives the leads and when.

On the other hand, automated lead distribution can save time, but it can also lead to leads being assigned to the wrong sales reps if the criteria used to assign leads is inaccurate.

The answer depends on several factors, such as the size of your business, the number of leads you generate, and the sales process you use. If you have a small business with a limited number of leads, manual lead distribution may be the best option.

However, automated lead distribution may be the better choice if you have a large business or a high volume of leads.

Related: Best Lead Generation Tools for Small Businesses


Both manual and automated lead distribution have their pros and cons. However, Automated lead distribution is more efficient. Manual lead distribution gives salespeople more control over their leads, but it can be more time-consuming. Ultimately, the best method for lead distribution will depend on the sales team’s needs and the company.

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