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Tools You Need To Create and Manage a Solid Remote Work Team

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Tools You Need To Create and Manage a Solid Remote Work Team

According to Bloomberg, in about ten years, ‘remote work’ will just be ‘work.’ Even if you aren’t completely convinced, there has undoubtedly been a massive increase in the size of the remote workforce after the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, thousands of organizations now have to deal with managing remote employees and sometimes entire remote teams.

While this may sound daunting at first, the truth is it doesn’t have to be. Many companies have adapted incredibly well to the remote culture.

With the right attitude and remote work management tools, managing remote team teams is something you can pick up in no time. By the end of this article, you’ll know just how to move forward with project management in this new, post-pandemic, remote environment.

Remote team management challenges

Managing remote workers comes with its own set of challenges that can pose a hassle to the team’s productivity. Let’s take a look at some of the main challenges remote teams face.

  • Communication breakdowns. This is one of the most common issues faced by remote workers. Since all communication now relies on video calls, emails, and other communication tools, it often becomes more challenging to communicate effectively. Despite the wide range of collaboration technologies and video conferencing tools, many seasoned employees are still used to in-person communication and find it harder to communicate with team members.
  • Data transfer. Since everyone is working from home with their own computer systems, there are bound to be compatibility issues. This is especially true for file sharing and when employees have different versions of software.
  • Lack of transparency. This is another major problem that managers face. When it comes to remote employees, it’s harder to gauge how much work is actually getting done. Often, managers feel the need to micromanage everyone. This can often include using time tracking or other kinds of employee monitoring software. The problem is not using these remote tools but a lack of transparency.
  • Work-life balance. For some employees, it may become harder to define exactly where the boundary between work and personal time is. Many remote employees feel the need to prove they’re working extra hard to ensure management doesn’t think they’re slacking off. Long hours and working late into the night slowly become the norm, and it can often feel like there’s no boundary between work and everything else.
  • Distractions. Many remote workers feel like it’s harder to get any work done from home due to the countless distractions most people face when working from home. In fact, statistics show that distractions are one of the top three challenges remote workers face while working from home. Apart from being able to use social media on their mobile devices freely, there are also family expectations, domestic chores, neighbors, and countless other distractions one faces while working at home.
  • Learning. Workplace training sessions look different when you work remotely, as most companies use video calls or training videos. These resources are fantastic for some but hard for others to adjust to.

Tools your remote team needs

Picking the right tools for remote work can often be a little complicated.

The perfect tool for you depends on your business and your team’s requirements. Pay attention to the nuances and unique requirements your business demands. Then, select the appropriate tool for the job to help you prepare for remote work long-term.

Let’s take a look at a few of the various types of tools you could require and some of the popular choices in each category.

Instant messenger tools

There are several little issues that pop up in the day-to-day functioning of any business that would take too long to fix if you relied solely on email. For these smaller issues (which you would normally fix by walking over to a coworker’s desk or office), instant messaging is a must-have tool if you want to work remotely.

Let’s take a look at some messaging apps in the space.

Slack

Slack is undoubtedly the leader among the instant messaging apps for organizations. What makes Slack a favorite as an internal chat app is that it allows you to create channels for each team, project, or topic of interest.

Slack keeps discussions super organized. It also allows you to directly message people if you need to chat privately with them and to tag anyone in a conversation you think they should see. It also integrates well with several other apps, which helps drive collaboration.

Pros:

  • Easy to organize
  • Intuitive
  • Integrates well with other tools

Brosix

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Brosix is another messaging app you can use while working remotely to streamline communication across multiple applications. Brosix allows you to create a safe, encrypted, private team network.

You can also communicate with other team networks while maintaining full control over all communication outside your team network. Additionally, it comes with several features for collaboration, such as instant video chat, file transfer, and screen sharing. It also allows you to record your user activity to review later.

Pros:

  • Feature-rich
  • Tracks user activity

Team meeting tools

Team meetings still need to happen, and while emails and chat apps may fix smaller issues, there still exists a need to have longer discussions with the entire team to make sure that everyone is on the same page. When virtual teams meet through video chat, the need for business tools that allow virtual meetings along with features to share notes, presentations, and resources arises.

Let’s take a look at some of the apps that facilitate this.

Microsoft Teams

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Microsoft Teams incorporates elements from Microsoft Office Suite, which simplifies things for companies that are already using other Microsoft products like PowerPoint and Word. Microsoft is a competitor of Slack and offers similar services.

Pros:

  • Works well with other Office products
  • Easy to use

Google Hangouts

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If you need a cross-platform messaging service, Google Hangouts is a good choice. You can start a Hangout on your computer and continue it from your home, which makes it useful for remote working, especially if you’re occupied around the house and can’t always be at the computer. Every bit of your data, information, and chats is encrypted by Hangouts and stays safe.

Pros:

  • Cross-platform messaging service
  • Can be used across devices

Project management tools

If you’re looking for remote work tools to manage projects, your choices will vary according to the type of projects your organization usually handles. However, any good software tool should allow you to manage your workflow, resources, and keep track of projects and progress. Let’s look at two.

Clickup

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Clickup allows you to customize according to team size and type. Clickup brings everything to one place and allows you to handle it easily. It supports modularity through the use of an add-on called ‘ClickApps,’ making it customizable for any team. It also supports various views which can be saved and shared by anyone.

Pros:

  • Customizable
  • Supports modularity

Trello

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Trello is a collaboration tool that is simple and easy to use. It comes with powerful automation, various integration, and powerful collaboration features like comments, document sharing, notifications, etc. It also has a mobile app.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Powerful collaboration features

Team management software

Managing workflow across teams and coordinating tasks can become quite challenging without the right software tools. However, the task of managing everyone on the team and coordinating work so that everyone is in sync doesn’t have to be difficult just because it’s no longer in person.

Good software smoothens the entire workflow and iron out any creases in the process. It also boosts productivity and work quality.

Let’s look at two software options.

FactoHR

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factoHR simplifies the day-to-day tasks of managing teams and their workflows. Monitoring remote workforce can be done efficiently using the performance analysis to maintain work quality and productivity.

The work process gets smoothen and reduces the confusion, as the managers can set the goals, review, and rate the employees’ inputs. It also has several other features like employee onboarding, performance tracking, handling payments, and expense management. The user interface is intuitive and straightforward.

Pros:

  • OKR based performance management
  • On-time reviews and feedbacks
  • Informative dashboard and easy analysis

TimeDoctor

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TimeDoctor is a tool for time management and employee monitoring. It is a Software as a Service (SaaS) tool that provides functions like keystroke logging, internet usage tracking, screenshots, and a multi-functional employee monitoring application with CRM and white label capabilities.

Along with powerful reports, TimeDoctor also tracks breaks, reminds employees to stay off time-wasting websites, tracks time for billing, and benchmarks individuals and departments across key metrics.

Pros:

  • Keeps employees productive
  • Comes with CRM
  • Tracks time effectively

Cloud storage tools

A cloud storage tool is something you need irrespective of whether you’re working in person in an office or engaged in remote work. Traditionally, all your files were stored in a cabinet or a room in an office, and this is inconvenient and difficult to navigate when trying to find a file.

With a tool for cloud storage, you can store everything from Google docs to other important files, retrieve them in a few seconds, and make them available to everyone with access in your entire organization.

Let’s look at two popular choices.

Google Drive

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Google Drive allows you to store files in the cloud, synchronize them across devices, and share files with others. Your files are also encrypted, scanned for malware, and kept safe.

Drive integrates with several tools your team may already be using, and the powerful AI helps make it very easy to search for files quickly.

Pros:

  • Powerful AI
  • 15 GB free space
  • Security

Dropbox

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Dropbox is quite similar to Google Drive in terms of the services it offers. However, it does have a few small differences. For example, it offers only 2GB of free space as opposed to Google Drive’s 15GB (though it does offer free extra storage based on how many friends you refer to Dropbox).

With Dropbox, you can share files through the Desktop app, unlike drive, which only allows sharing from the web app.

Pros:

  • File sharing from the desktop app
  • Security

Tips for optimizing remote work tools

Getting everyone in your remote workforce onto the same page can be challenging at times.  

It always helps to optimize tools so they’re more intuitive and easy to use. Optimization makes a huge difference to the coordination and synchronization between a distributed team.

So, let’s take a look at some of the steps that can make a difference in employee engagement and productivity.

1. Provide training for employees

Since this is an unprecedented time in most people’s lives, it makes sense if your company culture can accept that these changes are hard to adjust to and that training staff can help them adjust better.

The training should be specific to the workflow that employees need to get familiar with and should cover any and all doubts that might arise so that work can carry on smoothly (even in the absence of traditional support).

2. Encourage positive communication

Your organization must encourage communication both among employees as well as with management. Clear communication can foster team spirit and encourage team building.

Keep in mind that team members may vary in age and background, affecting their ability to adapt to working remotely and the technological tools required to do so. Encouraging communication can help flatten out any speed bumps in the process of adjusting and helps foster a healthy hybrid workplace culture.

3. Make learning a priority

Making sure that your organization prioritizes an attitude of constant learning and education can play a huge role in how quickly you adjust to the new work environment. Working remotely requires that you adjust quickly to new methods and rapidly learn to use new software. Having a culture of constant learning makes adjusting easier.

Making Remote Work Work For You

While it might take a while initially to adjust to managing a remote team, it’s usually a question of how quickly you can identify the challenges and find solutions to combat them.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools that support managing a remote team. At the end of the day, managing a team across time zones and borders is just another challenge that organizations everywhere must rise to. Not only will this help you quickly adapt, but you can even begin to thrive in this new and emerging post-pandemic world of work.


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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.

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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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