Sales for startups: How to do it in the early days
So you’re in the early stages of growing your startup. You want to place a heavy emphasis on increasing sales, but you’re not entirely sure what to focus on. You’re also worried that if you hire the wrong people or invest in the wrong strategies, nobody will buy your product and your startup will crash and burn.
Sound like you?
Good news—you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, we’re going to answer one big question that comes up all the time (and that you’re probably asking at this very moment):
How can you close more sales in the early stages when you don’t have the budget to hire a big sales team?
And to best answer that question, we’ve split the post into two sections:
- → How to talk to trial signups without typing out every email every time
- → How to build a superstar sales team without paying superstar rates
Talk to your trial signups—a lot
When someone signs up for a trial of your product, the last thing you want to do is back off and let them go through the trial alone. If they sign up for a trial, that means they’re seriously thinking about your product, so the best time to reach out to them is ASAP.
In fact, research shows that if you call within 5 minutes your chances of actually reaching a lead will be 100 times higher than calling after 30 minutes of sign up. Your chances of qualifying that same lead? 21 times higher.
Why do so many startups avoid following up?
The short answer: Fear and lack of good process.
- Founders and startup teams are scared of being annoying. They think sending more emails will just tick off their prospects and make them run away for good.
- They also often lack a process and system that would enable them to effectively follow up with trial signups in a timely manner.
Here’s how you can get it right:
1) Show up in their inbox early and often.
Strike while the iron’s hot. After they sign up for a trial, reach out. After they perform a certain task or action, reach out again. The key is to keep them engaged and keep your product top of mind throughout their trial.
Which brings us to tactic number two:
2) Help them succeed.
It’s important to remember that you’re not just sending emails for the sake of sending emails. Not even for the sake of converting them to a paying customer. Yes, you want to reach out early and often, but you also want those emails to be more than a pointless “just checking in…” or "buy now and get 15% off" note.
The very first objective your emails should accomplish is to provide value to the recipient. Be helpful. Give value.
Monitor what actions they’re taking and connect the dots for them to solve the pain that originally drove them to your product.
Your goal is to help them see the value in your product as soon as possible. If their trial expires before they even figure out how to use the features they wanted in the first place, good luck closing that deal.
Where should you start?
Let email automation become your new best friend.
"You don’t need to whip out your laptop and type up a fresh email every single time a new trial signup comes through your website or an online form. You also don’t need to hire a dozen salespeople to do this either.
Close's built-in email sequences tool simplifies automating your email follow-ups. Try our CRM with built in calling, emailing, and sales automation features free for a full 14 days!
Our email automation tools can help you create templates and sequences that do the heavy lifting for you. Just draft up the emails you want to send, create the sequences, and use the hundreds of hours you’ll save to keep growing the business and fine-tuning your follow-ups.
Find underrated sales talent
Let’s be real here—if your startup is still in the early stages, you most likely don’t have the funds to hire a massive sales team full of proven heavy hitters. You need to hire the appropriate talent for your startup. Does that mean you’re destined for months (or years) of mediocrity and poor sales numbers?
Not at all!
Proven heavy hitters weren’t always as good (and expensive) as they are today. They started their careers as hustlers with potential. And the companies that hired those hidden talents in their early days were able to bring in top salespeople without paying top dollar.
Let’s take a look at this through a sports lens…
In the NBA, superstars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Steph Curry are all making $40 million a year—and for good reason. They bring their cities championships and endorsement deals and massively increase the value of their teams.
But this wasn’t always the case.
They all started their careers as rookies with potential. And the teams that drafted them ended up getting All-Star production without having to pay for All-Star contracts.
And if a team drafts well multiple years in a row, all of the sudden they’ve created a team with multiple All-Stars capable of winning titles.
The perfect example?
The Golden State Warriors. They drafted Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and won the 2015 NBA title while paying all three a total of $40 million.
So what’s the takeaway here for sales leaders?
If you can find under-the-radar hustlers, you can build your own superstar sales team from the ground up—Golden State Warriors-style.
Now over to you
If you’re an early-stage startup, remember—you don’t need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into top-level, superstar salespeople. If you have the budget, by all means go for the cream of the crop, but there are other options for growing your company and closing more sales.
I’ll recap where you should start in one quick sentence:
Embrace the time-saving powers that come with email automation, and build your very own high potential sales team.
Check out our ultimate sales hiring guide for B2B startup founders to get started on your hiring journey. And if you want to test out our email automation tools, sign up for a 14-day free trial today—no credit card required. Start sending more emails without having to manually send more emails.
Finally, if you're serious about developing your sales strategy, get a free copy of our book The 2020 Startup Sales Playbook!