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How to Write a SMART Goal [+ Free SMART Goal Template]

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Work can feel like a never-ending grind when you’re not chasing a clear goal. A SMART goal template can help you clarify your motivations, set a clear direction for you and your team members, and ensure you’re able to celebrate the wins when they come along.

But what exactly is a SMART goal, and how does it differ from a regular goal?

To help you write SMART goals, we’ve created a free template with all the tools you need to get started.

What is a SMART goal?

The letters of SMART stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

The SMART acronym is a framework that will enable you to write goals that drive greater impact. Write goals with each of these aspects in mind, and you’ll be able to quantify how far you’ve come and how far you have left to go against your goal.

When you reach the milestone you articulated in your SMART goal, you’ll be able to celebrate knowing that you achieved something tangible and impactful.

To make setting a SMART goal simple, we’ve created a free, downloadable SMART goal setting template.

smart goal worksheet: filled out example

I’ll walk through the template below as we discuss each aspect of a SMART goal.

I’d suggest downloading the template yourself to follow along with this blog post. However, before anything else, let’s dive into the importance of each aspect of the SMART acronym.

What does each aspect of the SMART acronym mean?

While we run through the definition of each aspect of the SMART goal framework, we’ll apply the framework to a real-world example.

Let’s start with a basic, non-SMART goal as our example — “I want to get fitter.”

1. Specific

Goal setting is often associated with striving toward our highest aspirations, and reaching those aspirations can seem daunting. Specificity helps us determine the path between where we are and where we want to be.

  • Ambiguous goal: “I want to get fitter.”

There are innumerable ways to get fitter, and everyone has their own definition of fitness. For instance, do you want to lose weight? Do you want to perform more push-ups? Or do you want to cut a minute off your mile time?

When a goal isn’t specific, there is no way to tell whether your actions will help you achieve that goal or not. If your specific fitness goal is to increase the number of push-ups you can do, then following a running plan will not be very helpful in getting you to your true goal.

  • Specific goal: “I want to be able to do more push-ups.”

A specific goal makes your next steps clearer or, at the very least, narrows down the next steps you are going to take.

Make your goal more specific and type it into the cell under Step 1.

smart goal worksheet: example

2. Measurable

When a goal is measurable, you can easily track your progress. Typically, this means that a number will be attached to your goal.

  • Immeasurable goal: “I want to be able to do more push-ups.”
  • Measurable goal: “I want to be able to do 25 push-ups in a row.”

A numerical goal is valuable for many reasons. In addition to giving you something to strive toward, you’ll be able to celebrate a victory when you reach the final benchmark.

If you say that you just “want to do more push-ups,” does that mean that you want to complete just one more push-up per session, or that you want to double the number of push-ups you can do overall? One goal will take a lot more time and dedication than the other.

Let’s say I can do 10 push-ups in a row right now. To measure our progress against our final goal and to determine whether we’ve reached a milestone, we’ll edit our push-ups goal to read, “I want to be able to do 25 push-ups in a row.”

3. Attainable

Big aspirations are admirable, but it’s important to balance long-term goals with more achievable, short-term goals.

Setting attainable goals is all about looking at what you’ve done so far and adjusting your goals to be more realistic in relation to those benchmarks.

To consider the point in more concrete terms, think about business growth rates if your company has been selling 2% more product each month for the past 12 months:

  • Unattainable goal: Sell 15% more product next month.
  • Attainable goal: Sell 3% or 4% more product next month.
  • Unattainable goal: 25 push-ups.
  • Attainable goal: 20 push-ups.

Keep in mind that 2% growth is the status quo. Selling 4% more product would still be doubling your month-over-month growth.

Attainable goals are useful because they help you maintain momentum. It can be discouraging to miss huge targets, but consistently making small gains will encourage you to continue delivering wins.

Each month, you’ll be aiming for the familiar satisfaction of hitting your target rather than dreading another seemingly major miss.

Of course, there’s still a significant amount of work required to get to where I want to be, but I’ll be able to celebrate a huge achievement like doubling the number of push-ups I can do, and use that momentum to drive me in setting a goal of doing 25 push-ups soon after I achieve my goal of 20.

Consider what you’ve done in the past in relation to the goal you’re in the process of setting, and adjust it accordingly.

4. Relevant

Relevant goals will help you move in the direction you truly desire. You can allocate your time to an infinite amount of activities, but which activities will push you closest to your ultimate goals?

It’s a common trap to feel like we’re being productive when we’re busy, even if our action isn’t creating a meaningful impact.

In the beginning, our example goal was to “get fitter.” To ensure our goal is relevant, we need to ask ourselves if following through on this goal will help us get to where we want to be.

In the case of our push-up goal, the answer is yes.

  • Irrelevant goal: “I want to be able to do 20 push-ups in a row,”
  • Relevant goal: “I want to be able to do 20 push-ups in a row to improve my overall muscular fitness.”

Push-ups engage several muscle groups, including your back, arms, shoulders, and core, and consecutively doing a significant number can elevate your heart rate.

Executing this goal will improve my muscular strength and perhaps even my cardiovascular strength, which are key elements to overall fitness.

Ask yourself if the goal you’ve set will create a real impact on your overarching targets, then adapt it or identify a way to track its impact if the answer is currently no.

5. Time-bound

The final letter of the SMART acronym stands for time-bound. You should always aim to accomplish your goal within a specific time period. Adding a time frame will motivate you to take consistent steps every day toward your goal. In addition, setting a timeline or time boundaries allows you to track how much progress you’ve made toward your goal based on the amount of time that’s passed.

  • Goal that isn’t time-bound: “I want to be able to do 20 push-ups in a row to improve my overall muscular fitness.”
  • Time-bound goal: “I want to be able to do 20 consecutive push-ups two months from now to improve my overall muscular fitness.”

If I aim to increase the number of push-ups I can do from 10 to 20 in two months, I can set a midpoint milestone of adding five more push-ups in the first month. However, if a month passes and I’ve only increased the number by three, I’ll know I need to ramp up my efforts, re-evaluate my strategy, or perhaps adjust the time frame I initially chose.

A time frame can help you chart your progress. Now, I have a goal that clarifies the path to where I want to be.

In the final tab of the SMART goals template, you’ll be able to document the roadblocks to achieving your goal that you anticipate and make an action plan for overcoming those roadblocks to set yourself off on the right foot.

smart goal worksheet: blank example

Download the Template

Before I made my goal SMART, it would’ve been easy for me to make excuses. It wasn’t clear how I’d measure my progress or keep myself on track toward my goal.

Still need some help creating your SMART goals? You have a variety of worksheets at your disposal to help you establish SMART objectives. We’ve listed our favorite ones below.

1. Hubspot’s SMART Goal Template

smart goal worksheet template: hubspot

HubSpots’ SMART goal template will help you design effective marketing goals with measurable, time-bound results. It’s particularly useful if your key objectives are related to increasing traffic and conversions across your online properties.

We’ll teach you how to fill it out below, but remember: You can adjust it and customize it as you see fit. If you work for a customer service organization, for instance, you could change “Monthly visits” to “Incoming customer service calls,” then aim to increase first call resolution rate.

Because it lives on a Google Sheets file, HubSpot’s worksheet is ideal for collaborative SMART goal setting. Everyone in your team can access, comment, and edit the file with a Google Workspace account.

Step 1: Define your SMART goal.

Start by defining your SMART goal using the Define your SMART goal sheet.

  • Write your goal next to the example goal in Your Initial Goal section.
  • Make your goal specific by defining exactly what you want to accomplish. Write the specific goal next to the example goal in the Make it specific section.
  • After specifying your goal, make it measurable by including quantifiable KPIs that you would like to reach. Write your new specific, measurable goal next to the example in the Make it measurable section.
  • After making your goal measurable, make it attainable by setting realistic expectations. Write your new specific, measurable, attainable goal next to the example in the Make it attainable section.
  • After making your goal attainable, make it relevant by asking yourself why you are setting the goal. Determine the impact that achieving the goal will have on your business. Write your specific, measurable, attainable, relevant goal next to the example in the Make it relevant section.
  • Lastly, make your goal SMART by making it time-bound. Set a timeline that will keep you on track to achieve the goal.

Step 2: Calculate your SMART goal.

After defining your SMART goal, you can calculate recommended target metrics for site visits, leads, and customers using the Calculate your SMART goal sheet.

Visits

  • Enter your current number of monthly site visits in the cell to the right of Current.
  • Enter your month-over-month % increase goal in the cell to the right of Month-over-month % increase goal.
  • Enter the number of months you have to achieve your goal in the cell to the right of How many months out is your goal?
  • The template will calculate a recommended monthly traffic goal.

Leads

  • In the cell to the right of Current in the Average number of monthly website visits column, enter your current number of monthly site visits.
  • In the cell to the right of By what % would you like to increase your visitor-to-lead conversion rate each month?, enter your desired % increase of your monthly visitor-to-lead conversion rate.
  • Enter the number of months you have to achieve your goal in the cell to the right of How many months out is your goal?
  • In the cell in the Visitor-to-lead conversion rate column and Current row, enter your current visitor-to-lead CVR.
  • The template will estimate the number of leads your website generates a month. The template will also calculate a recommended visitor-to-lead CVR goal and monthly lead goal.

Customers

  • In the cell to the right of Current in the Average number of monthly website visits column, enter your current number of monthly leads.
  • In the cell to the right of By what % would you like to increase your lead-to-customer conversion rate each month?, enter your desired % increase of your monthly lead-to-customer conversion rate.
  • Enter the number of months you have to achieve your goal in the cell to the right of How many months out is your goal?
  • In the cell in the Lead-to-customer conversion rate column and Current row, enter your current lead-to-customer CVR.
  • The template will estimate the number of customers your website generates a month. The template will also calculate a recommended lead-to-customer CVR goal and monthly new customer goal.

Step 3: Evaluate your SMART goal.

After calculating the recommended target metrics for your SMART goal, you can evaluate your goal using the questions on the Evaluate your SMART goal sheet. This sheet will prompt you to think critically about your goal, identify challenges that may make it difficult to achieve the goal, and brainstorm steps that you can take to remove the challenges and achieve your goal.

  • Write your SMART goal in the cell next to What is your SMART marketing goal? If you have defined a SMART goal using the first sheet, the goal will populate this cell.
  • In the cell below your SMART goal, answer the question, “Do you feel that this goal is realistically attainable in the time frame you’ve set?”
  • In the next cell, enter the number of hours you can dedicate to inbound marketing.
  • In the next cell, enter the biggest marketing challenge preventing you from achieving the goal.
  • In the last cell, enter 3 steps you can take to reduce or remove the challenge and succeed in reaching your goal.

2. Organized 31’s SMART Goals Template

smart goal worksheet template: organized 31

This simple SMART goal worksheet by Organized 31 is a great fit for you if you’d like to create your SMART goals as quickly as possible. It provides five boxes to fill out, each one dedicated to a letter of the SMART acronym. A big plus? It can be used both at work and at home.

Here’s how to fill it out:

Specific

In this section, clearly define your goal. Determine what you will accomplish, the resources you have available, why the goal is important, who will do the work to accomplish the goal, and where the goal will be accomplished.

Sample scenario: Instead of setting a goal to get rich, set a specific goal of having enough money to buy a house.

Measurable

In this section, determine how you will measure your progress toward the goal. Use questions such as “How much?” and “How long?” to make your goal measurable.

Sample scenario: Instead of setting a goal to gain more social media followers, set a measurable goal of gaining 1,000 new followers.

Achievable

In this section, determine how you will achieve the goal. Determine the resources you will need and the amount of time you can allot to achieve the goal. Also, consider whether you have the necessary skills to achieve the goal.

Sample scenario: Instead of setting a goal of gaining 10,000 followers in the first six months, a social media team may set a more achievable goal of gaining 500 followers by the end of the year.

Relevant

In this section, determine if your goal is meaningful and relevant to your other goals. Determine if the goal supports your mission and if it’s the right time to pursue the goal.

Sample scenario: Instead of an online retailer setting a goal of increasing foot traffic, they may set a more relevant goal of increasing their leads by 15% in the first quarter.

Time-Bound

In this section, determine the deadline for your goal. In addition, consider what you can do in the coming days, weeks, or months to progress toward your goal.

For instance, rather than simply writing a novel, set a more time-bound goal of writing a 100,000-word novel in a year by writing 300 words a day.

3. IntelliHR’s Goal-Setting Template

smart goal worksheet template: intellihr

IntelliHR’s goal setting worksheet is ideal for managers who want to establish SMART goals with or for their teams. It’s an online fillable PDF file, making it easy to distribute among your team members.

Here’s how to fill out each section:

What is your goal?

The first step to completing IntelliHR’s goal-setting template is to define your team’s goal. For instance, your team’s goal may be to bring more traffic to your website. At this stage, your goal doesn’t have to be too focused. Write your goal in the What is your goal? box.

Specific

After determining your goal, make it specific — detail exactly what your team has to do for the goal to be met. For instance, your team’s specific goal may be to increase website traffic by 10% in the next year.

Measurable

After making your goal specific, make it measurable. List the actions you will take to meet your goal. For instance, your team’s measurable goal may be to increase website traffic by 10% by posting ads and sponsored content on social media that will lead more of your target audience to visit your site and improve your CTR.

Achievable

After making your goal measurable, make it achievable. List the resources you will need to meet your goal. For example, to increase website traffic by 10% by posting ads and sponsored content on social media, your team will need to launch advertising campaigns and reach out to celebrities who may be interested in endorsing your brand and participating in sponsored content.

Relevant

After making your goal achievable, make it relevant. Consider how your goal contributes to your business’ overall goals. For instance, increasing website traffic by 10% by posting ads and sponsored content may be beneficial for businesses with a strong social media presence, but for businesses with little or no social media presence, the goal of increasing website traffic may not align with their other goals.

Timely

After making your goal relevant, the last step is to make it timely. Consider the amount of time you can allot to this goal every week. This template also factors in your workload, as a busy schedule may limit the amount of time you have to complete your goal.

4. Hirebook’s SMART Goals Template

smart goal worksheet template: hirebook's smart goals template

This SMART goal worksheet from Hirebook lives on a Google Docs file, making it an excellent choice if you want your team to collaborate on one documents. It also offers the simplicity of Organized 31’s template with a more workplace-friendly color palette.

Here’s how to fill it out:

Goal

The first step to completing Hirebook’s SMART Goals Template is identifying your goal. The template gives you a few examples, such as “Buying a house,” to help you brainstorm ideas for goals. Write your goal here.

Specific

The next step is to make your goal specific. The template includes a few questions, such as, “What do you want to accomplish?” and “Who needs to participate in this with you?” to help you narrow the focus of your goal as much as possible. Write a more specific version of your goal here.

Measurable

After making your goal specific, make it measurable. Determine how you will quantify the goal. How much do you need to increase or decrease a metric to reach your goal? How will you know that the goal has been met? Write the answers to these questions here.

Achievable

After making your goal measurable, make it achievable. How do you know that you can fulfill the goal? What past experiences have you had that make you capable of achieving the goal? Do you have access to the resources you need to accomplish the goal? Is this goal realistic when you consider time and financial limitations? Write the answers to these questions here.

Relevant

After making your goal achievable, make it relevant. Define how the goal is relevant to you, your business, and your long-term needs. Is this the right time to focus on this goal? Write about the relevance of the goal here.

Time-Bound

After making your goal relevant, the last step is making it time-bound. To keep yourself and your team accountable, you need to set a deadline for accomplishing this goal. When should this goal be completed? What can you do today to work towards completing your goal? What can you do in the next 6 weeks? The next 6 months? Establish a timeline and write it here.

5. SpriggHR’s SMART Goals Worksheet

smart goal worksheet template: sprigghr

SpriggHR’s goal setting worksheet is available in three file types: A fillable online PDF file, an Excel spreadsheet, and a Word document. Because it offers three flexible options, it’s a great choice if you don’t want to use a Google Doc document or force your team to use a certain file type. You and your team members can choose what works best on an individual basis.

Here’s how to fill it out:

Simple Goal

The first step to completing SpriggHR’s SMART Goals Worksheet is coming up with a simple goal. This goal will be the basis of your SMART goal.

Specific

After creating a simple goal, the next step is making it specific. What exactly do you want to accomplish, and why? Who should be involved in this process? Where will the process take place? Write the answers to these questions here.

Measurable

After making your goal specific, the next step is making it measurable. How will you measure your goal’s progress? How will you know when you’ve successfully attained your goal? Write the answers to these questions here.

Attainable

After making your goal measurable, the next step is making it attainable. Is the goal attainable with your current skills and resources? If not, can you obtain new skills and resources to help you attain the goal? Write the answers to these questions here.

Relevant

After making your goal attainable, the next step is making it relevant. Is this goal a priority? How does it align with your team’s overall objectives? Write the answers to these questions here.

Timely

After making your goal relevant, the next step is making it timely. What is the deadline to achieve this goal?

SMART GOAL

The last step of this worksheet is taking your answers from the previous sections and rewriting them in a sentence or two to turn your simple goal into a SMART goal.

Start practicing smarter goal setting. Download a SMART goal template today.

Whether your goals are personal or professional, working toward them will never feel like a grind when you set SMART goals. Make sure every goal you set is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound by downloading one of these SMART goal templates today.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehension.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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