Skip to content


What company leaders really want is more sales. Increased sales translate to healthier bottom lines and growth trajectories. More sales conversions mean more money coming in to facilitate company improvements. When the sales numbers go up, everything seems to improve.

From startups to scaleups, growing the sales pipeline and enhancing sales enablement is a top priority. But because the dynamics of your business and industry vary, you can’t afford to apply a cookie-cutter approach to landing more business. However, there are sales strategy essentials for both business models that will help you navigate the path to more sales in a faster and more efficient way.

Sellerant logomark


Sales requires a series of components, including the right people, with the right tools, leveraging the right processes. Startups and scaleups alike make the mistake of only improving one of those key elements without addressing potential gaps in the others. Hiring a top-notch sales director won’t translate to sales growth if your company still lacks the tools and processes. Similarly, investing in the latest sales enablement tool won’t increase sales if you don’t have the sales team and processes in place to maximize its use. To ensure you grow each segment equally and efficiently, there are sales strategy fundamentals you can carve out first. Startup or scaleup, this is the sales strategy framework you need to know.

Sellerant logomark

Prospect Research & Sales Targeting

Before you can begin to develop your sales strategy, you must first complete an assessment to identify your target market. Before you can deliver catered sales campaigns, send email offers, or start smiling and dialing, you need to know, with certainty, who your prospects are and what they want. Sales targeting and prospect research are key to ensuring every other element of your sales strategy is focused on the right conversion effort.

Prepare to Engage Buyers, Not Sell Them

Remember, the customer journey is entirely controlled by the customer, based on browsing, communication, and buying preferences unique to the customer. But once that potential customer clicks to interact with your brand, it’s time to engage the buyer’s journey. Now you’re in control of what engagement happens next. And it’s in this phase that you’ll need to be prepared to prompt action through your funnel and into a conversion. Missing a step here means dropping that potential customer out of your buyer’s journey pipeline.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, today’s buyers are savvier than they’ve ever been. They have access to more information and your competition. They want to solve their own problems and only engage those brands with real benefits. And the last thing they ever want is to be sold. The days of elevator pitches are long gone. Authentic and customized engagement is the name of the game. 

Sales used to be measured in conversions only. But effective sales strategies today include outreach, touchpoints, and conversations. As Simon Sinek says, “people don’t buy what you sell; they buy why you sell it.” And it’s a reminder that effective and authentic connections to the right target audience are the only way startups and scaleups succeed.

For startups, every process is from scratch, including sales enablement and identifying key target markets. At this phase of your business, customers are typically early adopters looking for unique problem-solving solutions. Startup intel is based on early feedback, and the mission is almost always conveying some proof that what you’re offering satisfies a particular need. Critical target research involves picking five of your top 50 most enthusiastic customers and talking to them. Get the feedback you need about their preferences, why they felt compelled to try your offering, and what element effectively converted them. You can then use these compelling insights to develop a broader perspective of your ideal targets based on those early adopter preferences. 

Key sales strategies for startups will always include:

  • Getting direct customer feedback
  • Understanding what unique problem you’re able to solve
  • Being able to prove why your offering works

When you’re a larger company looking to scale into new markets, emerging industries, or among new consumers, your roadmap of target market research will look a little different from that of a startup. You’ll already have a refined set of processes in place that led you successfully to your current position. Now you need to redirect your focus on enhancing those offerings.

Your company is ready to scale only if your product or service satisfies the 3 E’s:

  • Getting direct customer feedback
  • Understanding what unique problem you’re able to solve
  • Being able to prove why your offering works

Now’s the time to introduce efficiencies to those proven systems and frameworks that will allow you to surge output and customer intake at a new pace. Sales targeting still starts with knowing why your best clients bought from you in the first place. But now you’re looking to attract at a higher rate, meaning you’ll devise a plan to put a megaphone to what already works well with your current sales model.

  • Can your software handle 10x more input?
  • Is your website prepared to nurture 10x more buyer’s journeys?
  • Will your teams have the tools they need to engage 10x more prospects?

If there’s one constant throughout your business journey, it’s change. And while you can’t always anticipate changes to your existing or anticipated customer targets, you can look to constantly monitor customer pain points to spot shifts and trends. No matter what your company sells, if you’re not addressing a customer pain point, you’re veering off track. Startups and scaleups in tech segments are particularly vulnerable to these solutions-driven changes. But every industry needs to be acutely aware of existing problems their offerings are uniquely positioned to solve.

Here’s how to monitor customer pain points ongoing:

  • Prospective Customer Surveys
  • Existing Customer Feedback Conversations
  • Competitive Landscape Analysis
  • Active Social Listening
  • Live Chat Sessions to Field Q&As

Because sales targeting strategies are subject to change, so will your buyer profiles. A key step in identifying your target audience is ensuring the profiles you have in place match your ideal target customers. In general, it’s recommended that you re-evaluate your buyer profiles regularly to ensure they’re still the best representative of your ever-changing target customer.

Prospect Research Funnel

You’re thinking, if you’re supposed to cater each customer message and bring in personalization at every engagement, how can you replicate that model or even build a framework? Won’t every encounter require a different engagement benchmark?

Yes. And no.

With your polished buyer profiles, you can identify key target audiences based on similar traits. Each of those can be engaged with a broad-stroked strategy infused with personalization. The days of “try our state-of-the-art product” are gone. The sales engagement now needs to be, “You’re tired of wasting money on widgets that don’t work with your gadget. Our widgets not only work with your gadget, but they’re more affordable to buy and are entirely made from recycled materials.”

You can still build out frameworks for your teams to follow when engaging potential customers. But each customer touchpoint should also offer an opportunity for customization. Ensuring your sales teams have the tools, resources, and skills needed for those personalized engagements will lead to conversions every time.

Don’t jump into the sales process without first developing the basic target audience guidelines, rules of engagement, and strategic problem-solving position. Doing your homework and sharing the insights, tools, and resources with your teams will be most effective. 

The prospect is the potential customer that has just entered the buyer’s journey by connecting with your company in some way. Prospects are ready to engage with you in some way, either in curiosity or because they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Identifying this pool of your target audience is a great place to start creating the sales strategy touchpoint. 

Once you identify a prospect, you can begin to identify your first sales step by answering these key questions about the prospect:

  • What problem do they have?
  • What issues are blocking their results?
  • Where can you contact the prospect?
  • Why would they want to hear from you?

Using this collection of answers, you can then prepare your sales teams to engage in a meaningful way to either further the buyer through the pipeline or create a conversion opportunity. 

Your teams can leverage these prospect engagements to:

  • Deeply understand a narrowly defined target market.
  • Focus on high-value prospects who can benefit the most from your solution.
  • Engage in each business opportunity as a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Gather more information and feedback about the opportunity and the buyers.
  • Establish better credibility through targeted knowledge, understanding, and domain expertise.
  • Create relationships rather than transactions.

Use a simple approach to doing your prospecting homework. To initially screen and find the right prospects, personify, probe, and pinpoint potential contacts using specific profiles and problems that your solution addresses as an initial screen for finding the right prospects. By better understanding the business issues and desired outcomes that buyers face, you can be a better partner in helping those buyers solve their unique issues.

Sellerant logomark

Lead Qualification

There are clear distinctions for categorizing your potential customers as they engage throughout various stages of the sales cycle, customer journey, and buyer’s journey. Understanding these definitions will help you develop a concise set of guidelines as part of your sales strategy, outlining precisely what sales teams should do next to engage, based on the needs of the customer’s chosen category. It’s about timing and developing a framework for managing that time to maximize results with each customer engagement.

Find the Fit with Alignment and Validation

Selling is predicated on providing the right solution to solve the right problem at the right time for the right buyer. It’s about alignment and validation to determine if your solution is the right fit.

The more quickly you can determine the fit, the shorter you can make the sales cycle.

Understand the unique groups of potential customers in your target pool. Here are the definitions, and you’ll notice they’re dictated by the engagement timeline. You can use these distinctions to develop sales strategies that cater to each phase in the sales cycle: cold outreach, entry into the buyer’s journey, lead generation, and nurturing.

Suspect: Someone who appears to fit the profile of a potential customer, but no interaction has occurred, and no other information is known about them, their problems, or their preferences.

Prospect: Someone who is a potential customer with profile alignment and who has had some interaction with your company.

Lead: Someone who demonstrates interest in your service or product, usually after the initial engagement.

In the previous segment, we outlined sales strategies for engaging those you might consider prospects, having made some form of contact with your company. Lead development is the next step with its own set of rules to follow that help move those prospects into an interested stage of the sales cycle.

You got their attention. Now it’s time to pique their interests.

Here’s an example. Imagine you’ve captured a click from a potential customer with an online survey. You wouldn’t assign this prospect to your sales force and instruct a “full-court press” approach to calling or hard selling this person. Instead, you might follow up with an email thank you with a call to action pointing to your company newsletter. The follow-up email would pique their interest and invite the next level of engagement with your brand. When this person opts-in to the newsletter, he or she has now transitioned from a prospect to a lead.

Distinguishing the different types of leads will help you develop your sales strategy more precisely. Here are the most common lead variables, along with what sales engagement should follow.

These leads are potential customers who have engaged with some form of your marketing efforts but who aren’t quite ready for the sales call yet. Like the example above, these leads need a less intrusive follow-up and call to action that responds to the engagement they chose.

These leads are ready to be paying customers because they’ve taken an express action to express interest in buying from you. This might be someone who filled out an online questionnaire that requires a customized response or follow-up.

These leads have used your product or service before and are interested in buying. These usually apply to those companies with free trials or limited use offers. Your sales teams should be ready to jump in for a conversation and conversion offer.

There is a proven progression that applies to startups and scaleups of every industry. Create a sales strategy that appeals to your target audience of suspects that inspires them to engage and become prospects. Develop a unique strategy for converting those prospects into leads. And once you qualify an engagement as a lead, you can then move forward to develop your lead nurturing efforts to move those leads through your sales funnel and toward conversion.

A lead generation strategy will consist of processes and initiatives intended to increase the interest of your prospects and encourage them to take the next engagement step, ultimately leading to the conversion.

That roster of available processes and tools is broad. And not every business will need to leverage every lead-generating resource. However, when selecting yours, make sure they align with your targets and prospects, asking them to take the next reasonable step towards further engagement.

As a startup, your lead generation strategy is going to involve several engagement opportunities. And the more you offer, the more data you can collect to help you streamline the best overall process. For now, though, it’s best to build a framework that:

  • Provides Multiple Opt-In Opportunities
  • Allows for Constant Testing
  • Includes Landing Pages
  • Well-Written Ads
  • Provides Better Offers
  • Leverages Remarketing Strategies

As a scaleup, your sales strategy might already include a robust lead generation ecosystem. But in order to surge your capability, you’ll also need to surge your capacity for outreach, engagement, and funneling. More marketers rely on these lead gen tools for increased scalability:

  • Retargeting Advertising
  • Social Media Engagement (non-ad)
  • Social Media Ads
  • Search Engine Ads
  • Webinars
  • Email Marketing

Lead nurturing refers to the process between the initial prospect engagement to the official purchasing decision. How many steps that potential customer needs to take in between will vary. And companies should be realistic about how drastic each step should be. Whether you’re selling an online subscription or behemoth John Deere tractors, the lead nurturing process should continue to follow these standard suggestions.

  • Providing expert insights and valuable content will keep them engaged.
  • Focusing on natural progression for each opt-in CTA will ensure you’re not asking too much.
  • Lead nurturing messages should always be customized to create a personalized engagement.
  • Reminding leads of your availability to provide additional information demonstrates reliability and helpfulness.
  • Offering added-value services, free trials, live demos, resource guides, or discounts is enticing.
  • Keeping engagement about them, not you, will build trust and inspire engagement.

With the proper lead generation and lead nurturing strategies in place, it’s time to turn to the sales strategies and processes needed for those must-have conversions.

Sellerant logomark

Sales Methodology

With your prospects and lead generation in line, it’s time to get into the processes required to execute your sales strategy. The sales methodology will apply a “wash, rinse, repeat” approach to launching and scaling your company conversions.

Of course, there are variances for every process, and each business will present unique dynamics to consider. But these are the tools and steps required for building a sales methodology framework that works best for your business model.

To create the most frictionless buyer’s journey (remember the 3 E’s,) you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the broad menu of tools and methods intended to identify, assess, manage, and engage leads.

Sales Funnels: Sales funnels are a consumer-focused marketing tool that illustrates the theoretical customer journey toward the purchase of a good or service.

Lead Scoring Tools: Lead scoring describes a methodology used by sales teams to determine the worthiness of leads or potential customers by attaching metrics-based values to them based on their behavior relating to their interest in products or services.

Sales Enablement Content: Sales enablement content is content and language that sales teams use throughout the selling process to assist leads in making decisions. 

PASO Framework: The PASO (Pain, Agitate, Solve, Outcome) messaging framework allows for the power of persuasion with messaging and content in addressing customer pain points.

AIDA Framework: The AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) messaging framework is designed to lead prospects through a logical process, inspiring connecting and engagement, furthering the journey through to conversion.

Get current with your acronyms for this layout of what HubSpot considers to be the best sales methodologies proven to generate results. Again, your company won’t leverage all of these. But you can develop your sales method based on some of these proven processes.

SPIN Sales: A technique comprised of Situation questions, Problem questions, Implication questions, and Need-payoff questions

Concept Sales: A technique whereby the customer opts in because of the concept of a solution, not just a product or service, and involves questions regarding client issues, confirmation, new information, attitude, and commitment outcomes

SNAP Sales: A technique that aligns the salesperson with the perspective of the client using the keep is Simple, be iNvaluable, always Align, and raise Priorities

Challenger Sales: A technique recognized by co-authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, whereby the salesperson takes a more tailored and controlled approach, involving the assertion of new ideas and end goals, without hesitation to push back during the process

MEDDIC: A technique that involves a qualification process including Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and champion

N.E.A.T. Selling™: Technique that identifies the Need, Economic impact, Authority, and Timeline, as developed by The Harris Consulting Group and Sales Hacker

Solution Sales: A technique whereby the salesperson promotes the benefits of the product or service, not the product or service itself

Inbound Sales: A technique that aligns marketing channels with sales whereby salespeople can meet their prospects where they are and takes four actions, including identify, connect, explore, and advise 

Target Account Sales: A technique that relies heavily on lead qualification criteria and sales automation to prioritize targeting quality over quantity

Gap Sales: A technique salespeople use to highlight the gap between where the customer is and where the customer wants to be, selling goal-achieving solutions

Command of the Sale: A technique involving selling with a sense of urgency, rooted in the salesperson’s confidence in the knowledge of the customer’s value proposition and pain points

With all of these tools in your toolbox, it’s time to pluck those that best apply to your business lead generation goals and design a sales process that seals the deal.

It’s time to assemble the tools and sales methodology resources and assign action items to outline the processes for your teams. You can start with the HubSpot Flywheel, which is a great visualization tool to bear in mind as you develop yours.

When applying the flywheel to your sales strategy, the amount of energy and momentum that your flywheel will contain depends on three key things:

  • How fast you want to spin it
  • How much friction there is while it’s spinning 
  • How big your flywheel is

Most sales-savvy leaders trust the sales funnel, named so because of the conical shape of the graphic that demonstrates the customer flow from initial engagement through to conversion. And there’s nothing wrong with the sales funnel. However, the funnel can neglect some other key engagement points, including customer referrals, testimonials, and word-of-mouth influences. The flywheel, alternatively, can apply consideration for these other outlets and will also help you identify how customers can help your company grow. The flywheel will comprehensively represent the various forces that will affect your company growth and scaling. And because conversations between sales and customers are happening in more places, your company needs a more comprehensive approach to understanding and maximizing the benefits of every customer engagement.

Before you get caught up in purchasing software that will make your business grow, you need to understand, document, and implement your approach to selling. A structured sales process is instrumental in creating a consistent, scalable, and repeatable methodology that you can use to teach your team to sell and to improve sales performance.

While there is no single “right way” to sell, every sales process should be developed to align with the buying process. Ask questions. Listen and learn. Take a genuine interest in the person on the other end of your conversation. Create conversation points based on listening and understanding rather than on a sales script. Develop sales processes for each persona and each solution, as the needs and motivations will be unique to each combination of buyer and solution. Each sales process is a distinctive and dynamic work in progress.

8-Step Sales Process

Ensuring consistency with your sales strategy means creating a process that is effective, consistent, and optimized for growth. Here’s an anatomy of a sales process you can use to inspire the development of your step-by-step roadmap.

STEP 1: Research

The anatomy of a sales process can be unique, but follow a simple and repeatable path for success:

Research before you engage with your contact by gathering as much knowledge about the industry, the market, the company, and the individual as you can. Make sure you know who you are talking with as an individual and where they fit into the buying process. You may need to make some presumptions to start, then use your conversation to ask questions and learn more. Make sure you are educated and informed enough to have a valuable conversation.

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What do you already know about your contact?
  • What is the purpose of the conversation
  • Why should they participate?
  • What is the call to action (next step) we want them to follow?

STEP 2: Introduce

Introduce yourself and your business with authenticity and transparency to establish trust and credibility from the beginning.

Anything less than honesty in your opening salvo will cast a shadow on the relationship moving forward. It’s better to be honest and let the cards fall where they may than to be viewed as deceitful or lacking integrity as you try to build a relationship.

Make the conversation about them – not about you. Be the expert at what you do—and respect that they are the expert at what they do. The following is not a script but a framework for having effective sales discovery conversations.

  • State why you are calling with a presumptive statement. This shows that you have a good understanding of what they are going through and that you “get them.”
  • Find out about their role and their needs based on a goal or problem point.
  • Ask what they are doing to improve their situation? Be curious.
  • Demonstrate industry expertise and understanding with your questions.
  • Make the conversation about them to build interest in continuing the conversation.

STEP 3: Qualify

Qualify your contact through alignment and validation of solution fit, based on what you’ve heard in the conversation.

During this conversation, you will also ask questions that help you learn more about the issues they are facing and how they frame those. Use reflective listening to confirm what you are hearing and obtain more detail.

  • Make sure the contact is a part of the buying process.
  • Understand how their business issues are aligned with the utility of your solution.
  • Determine how the contact can help the process move to a “Yes, No, or Later and why” decision point.
  • Gather information about current solutions and where they see room for improvement.
  • Understand their timeline and budget to ensure alignment with what you can deliver.

STEP 4: Learn

Learn about your contact, their organization, and their preferences.

Open-ended questions provide far more information than one-word answers or simple “yes-no” replies. Throughout the process, listen for verbal and tonal cues that help reveal how your contact is reacting to the conversation. With video calling, you can also tap into facial expressions and body language.

  • Ask the “Who, What, How, and When” to identify goals, issues, opportunities, and risks.
  • Ask the “Why” to understand true motivations that will drive decisions. What makes solving this particular problem a priority right now?

STEP 5: Present

Share the value proposition, presenting it to decision-makers and key stakeholders, showcasing your solution and how it solves their business issues.

Connect with your customers as a partner for their business who understands their needs, challenges, and desired outcomes and who has the ability to deliver unique value for their business. Don’t make yourself the savior in the story. Instead, make your customer the hero of the story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Make your solution the tool they use to resolve the issues uncovered in the discovery process of the sales conversation. Clearly state the value they gain from your solution that other solutions won’t provide (your unique value proposition and key differentiators.)

  • Beginning: They are facing a challenge or opportunity.
  • Middle: They find the right solution or make the most of the opportunity (with help from a trusted guide.)
  • End: They and their business are positively transformed as a result.

Additional tips:

  • Present a compelling story with simplified information so it can be easily absorbed and shared.
  • Use a presentation style that fits your objectives.

STEP 6: Propose

Propose an offer that directly addresses the needs, motivations, and challenges that you have uncovered up to this point in the sales process.

Open-ended questions provide far more information than one-word answers or simple “yes-no” replies. Throughout the process, listen for verbal and tonal cues that help reveal how your contact is reacting to the conversation. With video calling, you can also tap into facial expressions and body language.

  • Focus on their issues with a path to help them reach their desired outcome.
  • Highlight the features and benefits of your solution that they have indicated the most interest in.
  • Explain the value you bring as a partner to their business.
  • Offer terms, conditions, and a contract that works for their business operations as well as yours, focusing on a clear win-win.
  • Lead the conversation toward a “Yes, No, Later and Why” resolution.

STEP 7: Resolve

What if they hesitate? Resolve any issues or objections with honesty, authenticity, and transparency.

No single solution is right for everyone. But listening to the concerns and motivations of your buyer makes it easier to find a fit that creates value from your solution. When issues are raised, the buyer is engaged and letting you know they want more information and guidance. Keep the buyer engaged by resolving concerns.

  • Answer any questions about your solution.
  • Address any concerns about your solution.
  • Offer a scenario that will lead them to use your solution to solve their issue.
  • Create the potential for a positive outcome.

STEP 8: Agree

Agree to the next steps before finishing the conversation. Schedule your next meeting and let your buyer know what you will do between now and then to move the conversation forward.

Also, get agreement from your buyer for their participation and any commitments you need from them to be ready for the next meeting. If they are not willing to agree, you need to find out what concerns they have about moving the relationship forward. When you uncover concerns, return to the resolve stage of the sales process and work through it to completion.

  • Manage expectations about “when and what” next steps will look like for both you and the buyer.
  • Get a firm commitment to follow up.

This sales methodology and process outline is an essential ground-zero starting point for startups. Because you’re creating a model from scratch, you can implement a process that follows this format, and aligns with your target audience, to then mold and amend as you collect more proficiency data. Trust-building is essential because your brand may not yet have the reputation or visibility that existing brands do. Remember, early adopters are your way in, and your unique ability to solve a core problem is your selling point.

A sales process like this can be a great benchmark for scaleups to use in identifying areas of the existing methodology for improvement. With scalability in mind, you can adjust your ideal process based on your current intel and future projections. Re-examine the methods you currently have in place and improve or amend steps that may need to be more robust in a scaling endeavor. You don’t want to replicate any steps that aren’t productive or won’t be able to meet your scaling objectives. Strategies, systems, and skills are your primary focus. 

Remember, a sales process helps you follow a structured path toward turning a contact into a customer. It is a buyer-centric framework that allows for consistency, scalability, and repeatability. It provides checkpoints at each step to ensure that you are getting the information you need while providing the information the buyer needs to move the relationship forward. It also identifies points where alignment and agreement may be missing so you can resolve any issues in the buying process and get the deal back on track. Finally, it enables you to measure progress and success so you can better understand and optimize your sales process moving forward.

Are you missing steps in the Sales process?

Download a checklist to identify gaps and improve your processes.

Sellerant logomark

Sales Technology

When you’re confident that you have your people, processes, targets, and definitions organized, it’s time to introduce efficiency to your sales strategy execution steps. 

The sales tech stack is essential for any business selling in today’s landscape. And there’s always a newest, latest, and hottest sales enablement tool or software upgrade around the corner, making it a challenging endeavor to keep up with efficiency trends and bottom-line best practices. There are, however, some great ways to ensure your company is making the smartest use of the best sales tech stack for your model.

A sales tech stack is a phrase that refers to a collection of assets and tools a company uses that enables sales teams to do more, engage more, and sell more through organization and automations. These can be subscription services or software. They can be hardware devices or operating systems. They can involve complex coding language or be time savers. The sales tech stack is the term used for all of these resources as a whole. 

Ok, but will a sales technology stack increase actual sales and conversion?

Yes! Embracing technology that alleviates wasted time and effort for your sales teams encourages better sales productivity. Tools like marketing automations, lead intelligence and scoring, and the right customer relationship manager (CRM) can be absolute game-changers for your conversion rates and company growth. Improving efficiencies will directly impact your teams and your bottom-line outcomes. 

Having the right sales tech stack will also provide other advantages, including:

  • Better Customer Analytics
  • Real-Time Sales Performance Metrics
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Customer Service Improvement Opportunities
  • Less Time Organizing Funnels and More Time Selling

A company website can be a great first step toward building a solutions stack. Because there are opportunities for programs, frameworks, and databases integrated into your website, there are immediate-result efficiencies worth leveraging. 

Maybe you want to explore front or back-end tools to manage customer form submission or applications. Or you could implement unique software tools designed to help you track and manage web and landing page engagement across a variety of campaigns. 

As a startup, you can design your web platform with all the efficiency bells and whistles now that you can grow into over time. As a scaleup, reviewing your web infrastructure to ensure all the right software, metrics, and engagement solutions are in place for scaling growth will ensure you don’t face growth problems later. 

You can also look for tech stack improvements for your company operations. Improve company workflows and communication or adopt new ways to share valuable customer data without data entry hassles. And sharing customer data between your marketing and sales teams is an absolute must. While some of these communication and data-sharing upgrades are used internally, they are great collaboration and time-saving solutions for sales teams directly and others within your organization.

These basic operational resources help you run your business more effectively and efficiently and may include:

  • Email service provider (Gmail, Outlook, and others)
  • Office suite (G Suite, Office365, and others)
  • Team collaboration (Slack, Hangouts, and others)
  • Video conferencing (Zoom, Skype, and others)
  • Phone system (Line2 and others)
  • Growth platform (HubSpot)
  • Project management (Trello and others)

Another sales tech tool worth considering is the CRM. The customer relationship manager, as the name implies, is a software organization tool for managing the various stages of relationships with your customers. It may be the most important sales tech stack solution you should adopt, regardless of your startup or scaleup position. 

An effective CRM is essential to building and operating your sales operations with speed, optimization, and insights. The right sales CRM should be scalable, extensible, and flexible to meet your needs. The CRM is the foundational layer in the technology tools you need for integrated sales and marketing acceleration. It should integrate seamlessly with your marketing automation, customer success platform, and business management platform to support the entire customer lifecycle from end to end. The way you customize your CRM system will provide consistency, reflect your sales process, and give easy access to the insights you need to grow your business.

It can be used to:

  • Track customer interactions
  • Collect and disseminate data
  • Compile notes about customer potential
  • Share customer status with everyone in the company

Every company could find advantages with the right CRM. And a few criteria to solidify your decision to adopt one might include whether you have a sales team workflow to track, customer information to store in one consolidated platform, or customer contact with multiple departments.

When your company is young and in the startup stage, choosing the right CRM is mission-critical. There are certain features you’ll appreciate more than others, and making the wrong selection could present growth challenges down the road. Be thorough in your research of CRM products out there, as there are many boasting the “best” and “latest” benefits. Ideally, you’ll choose one with robust marketing automation capabilities, system integration with other software, and an affordability factor. HubSpot CRM is often a go-to for startups because these considerations are included.

Workflow and communication tools refer to the productivity and functionality tools used for administrative and business operations. It is important for startups to have consistency in back-office tools to create better system interoperability, user training, and system maintenance, as well. 

And you’ll also have the advantage of implementing new solutions quickly because you’re in an early phase of operations. Start with the sales tech stack that will help you grow, introduce your core offering, and inspire early adopters quickly. 

When you’re preparing to scale your company, you’ll likely need to consider a CRM upgrade. If you’re fortunate enough to already have a scalable CRM in place, great! But for most businesses, scaling plans involve introducing new users, new software, and other sales tech stack essentials. Make sure when evaluating your current CRM and shopping for a new one, that integration with your other platforms is seamless and automations are easy to implement. 

A technology stack can help you become more efficient in executing your sales process. But be judicious in determining what you need and what you don’t. There is a fine line between building for scale and overbuilding with too many tools or tools that are too complex for the stage of your business. Make sure your sales tech stack is scalable, easy to use, and aligned with your sales process.

Marketing automation tools enhance your ability to develop a personalized customer relationship by planning, coordinating, managing, and measuring your touchpoints across the customer journey. Marketing automation tools should be fully integrated into your CRM so that you can capture, coordinate, use, and share customer data for better insights. This unified approach to customer data ensures consistency, enhances connections, and engages each customer to meet them where they are along the customer journey.

Did you know?

HubSpot offers an integrated CRM and Marketing Automation Platform that works well for startups and scaleups.

As a final note on technology tools, know that “app sprawl” is real. Be careful not to overbuy or overbuild your technology. Tools should have a precise purpose that produces value for your business. Otherwise, you probably don’t need them yet (or maybe ever.) Tool consistency is important so that everyone operates from the same platform to create cohesiveness, save time and money, and avoid silos and outliers. Online tools are a great solution for small and medium-sized businesses only if they serve a purpose, are easily adoptable among your teams, and provide the results you need.

Additionally, make sure:

  • They provide better security and accessibility than you can reasonably develop on your own
  • They are more scalable both up and down for rightsizing to business needs
  • They are more cost-effective than procuring the software, hardware, and support required for “on-premises” tools

Remember, the right operating system is essential to optimize sales and marketing for your business. The right technology can support your customer relationships and make you more effective than you can be on your own. It’s not a replacement for your skills and abilities but rather an augmentation to make your skills and abilities better. 

Sellerant logomark

Sales Enablement

It’s important to follow up the sales tech stack decision-making with a sales enablement strategy. Sales enablement, as referenced earlier, refers to the processes and resources your sales teams need to close more deals.

But these support resources might extend beyond the tech and automations. Arming your front line with everything they need to be successful in converting new customers is your next order of business.

Your sales teams will need a library of assets, support, and information at their fingertips so they can keenly address every client engagement from a position of knowledge and confidence. And because interactions with your customers will vary depending on the stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll want to walk through each step and ensure that as those engagements change, your teams are prepared to change with them.

In addition to the sales tech stack, other sales enablement tools can support:

Standardized Reporting and Analysis – Tracking throughout the sales process will help you identify key areas of improvement. For example, standardized reporting of leads generated deals won and lost and qualified leads can enable your sales teams to quickly identify problems in the process and make necessary adjustments.

Sales Content Optimization – Provide your teams with the collateral they need to be effective during their customer engagements. These might include product demos, case studies, white papers, and proven email templates.

Sales Collaboration – Sales enablement strategies will remove friction between departments to ensure everyone’s role supports the sales process in a relevant way. 

Sales Training and Information – Sales enablement provides consistent training, support, and information that supports the official sales process. New and existing team members will always have the resources they need to troubleshoot their own performances and seek support.

Every individual member of your organization plays a key role in the company’s overall success. But the sales enablement strategy, involving people, processes, and tools, will be the glue that binds those objective efforts together.

To truly create an end-to-end, customized and frictionless experience for the customer, your marketing, sales, support, and customer service team members all need to be on the same page. When there is a clear communication flow between these essential team members, there is a cohesive sharing of information about the customer, breaks in the sales process, and emerging trends.

To implement a sales enablement strategy, determine what you have and what you need to better support the people involved in your sales process with the goal of moving a buyer along the buyer’s journey.

  • Audit existing sales documents for usefulness and relevance to the sales process.
  • Align existing documents to stages of the sales process and the buyer journey.
  • Identify content gaps in the alignment, including customer-facing and non-facing documents.
  • Create and optimize content to complete the sales process alignment.
  • Store and share files as searchable, with usage documentation for easy access.
  • Employ “push” and “pull” file distribution to get the right information to the right person at the right time.
  • Provide coaching and training on the systems, processes, and assets available.
  • Track the buyer journey with integrated workflow automation for CRM and marketing tools.
  • Review each completed buyer journey to continually optimize the sales process.

Effective sales enablement should significantly increase the sales conversion rate and enable a better correlation between sales actions and revenues. The results are greater scalability, better relationships, and more sales.

Sales enablement will consistently drive company growth. You’ll find you have more intuitive forecasting and problem-solving capabilities. Your teams will be set up for success. Sales enablement strategies will ensure that no matter how dynamic your sales process is, your teams will always be armed with the resources and support they need to be top performers. And these sales enablement efforts need to be replicable and scalable to support your company as it grows.

Sellerant logomark

Sales Metrics & KPIs

Sales, as the old saying goes, is a numbers game. But you can’t track your sales performance if you can’t track those numbers. This is where sales metrics, analytics, and KPIs come into your sales strategy. Tracking and collecting too much data will be overwhelming, unmanageable, and ineffective. Tracking too little data will increase the risk of losing sight of your sales objectives and poor performance. Identifying the metrics that matter and implementing the right tools to maximize those analytics is your next critical step in developing your best sales strategy.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the measures that demonstrate progress toward business objectives. Generally, KPIs should be simple, quantifiable, collaborative, and visible across the organization. Using data-driven analysis takes the bias out of critical evaluation toward reaching intended results and enables better-informed decision making.

However, quantitative data alone is not the only set of measures that should drive decision-making and determine progress. Soft skills can be very important, especially in the sales process. People tend to buy on emotion that is supported by data. Therefore, taking qualitative consideration into an overall analysis can be an important part of performance measurement. Consider both qualitative and quantitative indicators when measuring performance for your sales process.

When developing sales KPIs, make sure that what you are measuring is relevant to the business objectives you are working to achieve. 

Measures of your sales process may include:

  • How many people do you engage with?
  • How many touchpoints are required to reach a conversation?
  • How many conversations does it take to reach a “Yes, No, or Later and Why”?
  • How long is the sales cycle from first contact to a decision (time to revenue?)
  • What drives the decision?
  • Why is a contact engaged?
  • Why is a contact not engaged?

Some of these measures that ask “how many” or “how long” are easier to quantify, while other measures that ask “what” or “why” are more qualitative and result in open-ended answers or a series of quantified answers to reach a qualified finding. While not being able to assign a numeric value or a count defies the definition of a quantified measure, a qualitative measure provides valuable insight into analyzing the sales process and determining progress with useful information gathered.

Start by gathering information about your sales activities to use as an input source for developing your KPIs. Collecting information will better document progress along the customer journey and allow you to use data-driven analysis to make decisions on the best paths forward to reach your business objectives.

Define your target market prospects

  • How many can you find each month
  • Name, title, phone, email, LinkedIn
  • Needs to match your target personas

Track your outbound attempts

  • Per day
  • Per week
  • Per month

Map “attempts” to “connects” to “outcomes”

  • Attempts are measurable activities like calls, voicemails, emails, and texts
  • Connects are two-way conversations
  • Yes, No, Later, Why

Measures tracked over time create trends that provide insights you can use to continue along a strategic path or to pivot in other directions that better optimize your effort, energy, time, and resources. Trying to start with too much information and too many KPIs can be overwhelming, so start small and grow accordingly. Your KPIs should measure the critical factors toward reaching your business goals, as more than just serving as an all-inclusive data warehouse.

The goal is to streamline and optimize the buyer journey throughout the sales process to maximize each sales opportunity.

Sales enablement can often be grouped into:

  • Sales orchestration: sales process optimization, coaching and training, and client onboarding.
  • Sales communication: content, collateral and other client-facing and non-facing assets
  • Sales collaboration: people, tools, and technology that support the sales process.

To implement sales enablement, determine what you have and what you need to better support the people involved in your sales process with the goal of moving a buyer along the buyer journey.

  • Audit existing sales documents for usefulness and relevance to the sales process.
  • Align existing documents to stages of the sales process and the buyer journey.
  • Identify content gaps in the alignment, including customer-facing and non-facing documents.
  • Create and optimize content to complete the sales process alignment.
  • Store and share files as searchable, with usage documentation for easy access.
  • Employ “push” and “pull” file distribution to get the right information to the right person at the right time.
  • Provide coaching and training on the systems, processes, and assets available.
  • Track the buyer journey with integrated workflow automation for CRM and marketing tools.
  • Review each completed buyer journey to continually optimize the sales process.

Effective sales enablement should significantly reduce the amount of time a salesperson spends on building or finding content to help a buyer advance toward a sale. It should equip a salesperson with the information and tools to be more efficient and more effective at moving a buyer toward a sale. It should increase the sales conversion rate and enable a better correlation between sales actions and revenues. The results are greater scalability, better relationships, and more sales.

Sellerant logomark

Inbound and Outbound Sales

In a perfect world, your company will have a continuous flow of sales, both inbound and outbound.

But for more companies, the reality is either or both still need improvement. And depending on the type, nature, and stage of your business, how you strategize and develop your inbound and outbound sales plans will vary.

Nature has a funny way of working itself into the business environment. Natural ebbs and flows are apparent in many aspects of business and especially obvious in the relationship between inbound and outbound business-to-business sales.

While outbound sales is often compared to hunting by engaging in an active pursuit of an identified target, inbound sales is sometimes compared to fishing by using content to attract someone into the sales process. The truth is that there is a symbiotic nature between push and pull strategies that works well in most B2B businesses, based on your current situation, your strengths, your market, and your results.

Outbound offers distinct advantages over inbound:

  • Target your market based on personas to access leads that match your best buyers.
  • Control your customer engagement, including how many, how quickly, and how you reach out.
  • Create personal, two-way engagement with real-time feedback and learning.
  • Validate your solution and your message for a better market fit.

Inbound offers distinct advantages over outbound:

  • Attract warm leads who find interest in your content, your solution, and your company.
  • Extend customer engagement with “always open” availability and unfettered scalability.
  • Enable a buyer-centric sales process that electively fills the top of the conversion funnel.
  • Cast a wider net at a lower cost, with a data-driven optimization and measurable RI.

Startups should focus more heavily on outbound sales for many reasons. When you are just starting out, there are fewer buyers, if any, knocking down your door to buy your solution. In many cases, you haven’t even validated your initial assumptions about market needs, target markets, and pricing, among other factors. Creating content without validation can be costly and time-consuming, especially if your assumptions are not accurate. Startups can use outbound sales as a way to get market validation and inform the best path forward so your business can scale, pivot, or even fail with less cost, burden, and risk. And, if you do close sales at this stage, that is the icing on the cake.

By the time a company reaches the scaleup stage, it should already have solutions validated in the market with data and insights from evolving sales processes, existing customers, and expanding revenues.

With more information at your disposal, you can create more valuable and more targeted content for your target audiences. Better content used as the foundation of your inbound sales leads to attracting better leads with better engagement.

You should also have more time and budget available to develop a continual stream of high-value content to feed the inbound and outside sales machine that attracts and engages interested leads into the customer journey.

An inverse relationship between outbound and inbound should intersect along a path of maturity for most B2B businesses.

Use outbound conversations to validate your business and your solutions and accelerate the lower part of the conversion funnel. Use inbound “give to get” expertise to attract, engage and enable customers to join the funnel at the stage they choose. Outbound may have a shorter time to disposition (Yes, No, Later, and Why), while inbound may have a long tail. Sacrificing either approach completely is not likely the best strategy for your business. Instead, focusing on a stage-aligned and budget-aligned approach to the complementary nature of inbound and outbound can be the best strategy to accelerate your business growth.

Sellerant logomark

Hiring a Sales Team

With all the tools, processes, and sales strategies in place, it’s time to talk about finding and hiring the right sales teams. Building a salesforce is much like sales itself. It’s about attracting the right salespeople at the right time and closing the deal for onboarding success.

The sales function is core to every successful business. And the foundation of every successful sales organization is knowing who to hire, when to hire, and how to hire the right talent to build your sales team.

But what you need are downright sales assassins, not just transactional sales reps or run-of-the-mill account executives who maybe worked a customer service job before. You need master professionals for engaging customers, overcoming objections, and building relationships.

Hiring the wrong person can cost your business in compensation, resources, training, and time. It can also cost you in lost reputation, lost revenues, and lost opportunities. Building the team the right way can create new relationship opportunities, improve your company’s reputation, accelerate your revenue growth, and “put you on the map” as a legitimate business. It all sounds so basic, but there are strategic and tactical decisions around building your sales team.

The best salespeople will only consider your job offer if you have a clear roadmap and sales strategy, transparent expectations rooted in metrics, sales enablement tools, and can demonstrate a path to career success. Don’t try to hire salespeople into your organization until after you have a sales strategy and all the tools and resources in place. Get validation of the solution, the market, the demand, and the value proposition first, so you can share a roadmap with each new sales team member.

During the startup stages of an early company, you may not have the expansive budget to afford the top sales staff. And that’s ok because you can hire the right people, with experience and soft skills necessary for the role, for less. Look for sales candidates who have relevant industry experience or customer engagement histories. You will be able to train the right people on your sales strategy. But you can’t train people out of character flaws like being unreliable, having poor communication skills, or presenting clashing personalities. And don’t overlook the opportunities with hiring outsourced or remote sales teams, either. In today’s virtual landscape, staying connected to customers and internal company support is easy with all the right tools in place.

Now is not the time to hire executive-level sales staff. You need hungry professionals who can believe in your product or service just as much as you do. And they’re not afraid to immediately dive into the trenches and work your sales processes. A VP of sales isn’t necessarily going to help you with those acute needs for sales and engagement. Ideally, you can find more entry or mid-level sales candidates who are trainable and who can grow with your startup to become leadership potential.

Scaleup companies might be struggling to motivate existing sales teams to adapt to new scaling strategies and processes, requiring leaders to seek additional sales team members to hire. If your scaling sales strategy involves new products or services, new markets, or new engagement tools, you may want to start with a robust internal training effort with your existing staff. But ultimately, if you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you might be ready to do some sales hiring.

Consider engaging in sales performance reviews to evaluate your existing teams. Because you’re planning to scale, you’ll need to ensure that everyone leverages every available tool and follows your sales strategy of processes to deliver results. You might discern that some salespeople just need some additional coaching. Others might no longer be a good fit for your role. 

Because you’re ready to scale your company, now might be the perfect time to hire an executive-level sales leader or VP of sales. These candidates will usually have a proven record for developing and leading sales teams in new growth trajectories and can take the reins in improving your sales teams to meet these new goals.

Hiring a sales team also means creating a successful onboarding and training process to set your new members up for success. This will involve proper company introductions, product and service training, and sales strategy and processes training.

  • Make sure your hiring plan is aligned with your business strategy and actual company growth.
  • Provide a documented training and coaching program for sales success.

Incorporate realistic timelines and objectives based on the individual’s sales role. You can then use metrics and performance indicators to ensure each new hire is on track to becoming a full-fledged sales assassin. Metrics can be leveraged to sharpen your team’s overall skills ongoing.

Consider designating a sales onboarding team member to lead the training and support efforts in:

  • Introducing Sales Expectations
  • Making Sales Calls (scripts)
  • Managing the Sales Funnel or Flywheel
  • Lead Generation and Nurturing Processes
  • Setting Sales Goals
  • Overcoming Objections
  • Building Proposals or Presentations
  • Efficient Time-Management
  • Knowing When to Ask for Help

Reaching this stage of business readiness just to hire a salesperson is a big investment of time, money, and resources. If that sounds painful, consider the alternative of not preparing appropriately and simply hiring a salesperson too early. You’ll have recruiting costs, hiring costs, salary, taxes, benefits, equipment, office space, onboarding costs, and training costs, all before you are even sure what that salesperson needs to do to be successful. If that salesperson doesn’t meet expectations, you will need to let them go. Then, you will start all over again with another investment of time, money, and resources to get someone new in the door.

Are you at the right point to start hiring for Sales?

and get a free growth forecasting review to understand the right time to scale your sales team.

Sellerant logomark


What’s the secret to building a successful sales program for startups and scaleups? Here are some key takeaways.

  • Make sure you have alignment and validation for the market fit of your solution.
  • Know your sales cycle and develop a lead development strategy.
  • Build and follow a defined sales methodology for repeatable and scalable results.
  • Utilize technology tools to extend the capability and personalization of your sales process.
  • Measure progress with the most important KPIs for transparency and clarity.
  • Implement sales enablement to improve your efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Leverage and improve both outbound and inbound strategies to achieve better results.
  • Plan, validate, and evaluate your business readiness before hiring your next salesperson.

Successful sales programs are unique to each company, but following a framework for planning, developing, and growing your sales success can help you get there with more predictability and better outcomes. And if you’re interested in working with a trusted partner who’s successfully developed sales strategies for startups and scaleups across a wide variety of industries, let Sellerant be your guide to ultimate sales strategy success!