As a startup founder, sales must be a priority for you. Yet, you might struggle to make sales work especially if you are a technical founder. To get started, use these 7 habits of startup sales. 

1. Set sales activity goals for yourself 

In sales, it’s natural to focus on closed deals and revenue. There’s just one problem with that. You cannot control whether or not a prospect says yes. Therefore, you need a different focus. I recommend focusing on sales activity. Here are three examples of sales activity goals for a startup founder:

  • Outbound. Each week, I will contact 25 new prospects (i.e. 5 per business day).
  • Follow Up. Each week, I will follow up with 5 prospects.
  • Referrals. Each week, I will ask for 3 referrals.

When you first get started, you will need to play around with the numbers until you find out what you manage. The important point is to choose an activity level you can sustain.

2. Leverage your integrations to generate leads

As a startup founder, you’ll full of ideas to add more features to your product. However, there’s no need to build every feature from scratch. Instead, you can use integrations. In fact, adding an integration is a way to add more value to your product and get more leads. 

For example, JustCall.io offers more than forty integrations with other software tools including Salesforce, Intercom, Zapier and Zendesk. By offering these integrations, it is easy for JustCall.io customers to connect JustCall into their existing workflow.

To make this tip into a repeatable habit, set a monthly reminder on your calendar. Spend 30 minutes looking at other software companies and find a few possibilities where you could add features with new integrations. If you don’t see any promising ideas, look into Zapier who connects hundreds of apps to improve automation.

3. Stay organized with customer relationship management (CRM) 

Disorganization will kill your sales fast! That’s why you need to have a CRM in place. As a startup founder, you might have a limited budget. Fortunately, there are free and low-cost CRM options. For a free CRM, I recommend using HubSpot CRM. If you’re a spreadsheet wizard, you can also use a simple spreadsheet to track your deals. 

For the best results, treat your CRM like a habit. That means you have to use it each day. A CRM saves you time in sales because it indicates where you spend your time. You might have 20 customers you’re working on. Which one should you call first today? A good CRM will guide to the right choice.

4. Use founder flexibility to close more deals

As a startup founder, you have unique capabilities that a regular sales professional does not have. You can offer product discounts. You know exactly what new product features are in the pipeline and when they will come out. 

Take advantage of these capabilities during your sales conversations. Your company might have lost deals to the competition because you lacked integrations with Slack and Salesforce. As a founder, you have the authority to promise and deliver those capabilities.

5. Get more referrals by asking for them systematically

Referrals are one of the best ways to get easy to close sales leads. Yet, very few companies are systematic about requesting referrals. That’s not going to happen to you! Follow these steps to install the referral habit.

  • Overcome your referral resistance. Does your product help people and solve problems? Great, you need to share it with more people.
  • Use a referral request script. Don’t wing it when you ask for referrals! Use a script. As a starting point, check out this resource
  • Choose two times to ask for referrals. For example, request a referral after a user has signed up for a paid account.

Tip: Do you have some additional budget available? Consider offering a referral reward like an Amazon gift card. You can easily prevent abuse by limiting the reward to referrals who convert to a paying account.

6. Become a sales follow-up fanatic

In my experience, a small fraction of leads is ready to buy when they first talk to you. This happens for a variety of reasons:

  • Proposal/demo request. When a prospect asks for a demo or proposal, it is going to take some time to arrange that next step.
  • Need other stakeholders. In most companies, there are several stakeholders involved in most purchases. In your first sales call, it is unlikely that you will have met everyone.
  • Trust. Trust in business relationships is built over time through multiple interactions. Some people take longer than others to build that trust.

By mastering a follow-up habit, you can make this process much easier. Specifically, there are two types of follow up in sales to master. First, take note of cases where the prospect asks for a follow up (e.g. “in the demo, I want to see how fast your database runs..”). Fulfilling those requests is an easy win that you should be able to hit every time. The second type of follow up is up to you as the startup salesperson. No reply to your outreach email? Follow up again. No answer to your cold call? Call back again.

Resource: Not sure what exactly to say in your sales follow up? There’s a great resource from Close.io to help you with that: Master the sales follow-up with this proven formula (Tells you exactly when and how to follow-up for maximum results).

7. Use partners to get more signs ups for your webinars

Webinars are an excellent way to present your product in less time. However, getting signups for your webinar through online advertising is expensive! According to Monica Louie, a webinar signup can easily cost $1-3 per sign up if you are using Facebook ads. If you want 1,000 webinar sign-ups, the thought of spending $X on Facebook ads is intimidating. After all, show up rates for webinars are far less than 100%! You can usually expect somewhere between 20-35% of webinar registrations to show up. 

Fortunately, there is another way. SaaS founder Nathan Latka used partnerships to fill his webinars. Ask multiple partners to join your webinar and present their top business tips for 5 minutes. Using this structure, you can have 5-10 guests on your webinar all present. For this strategy to work effectively, make sure there is a unifying theme to the webinar. For example, if your startup offers digital advertising automation, make sure each guest is sharing digital advertising tips. 

Pick One Habit To Improve Your Startup Sales Habits

Don’t get overwhelmed! Just pick one habit from this article to implement into your startup sales. If you need an immediate short term boost to sales, I recommend you start with habit 6 on sales follow up.

About The Author

Bruce Harpham is a SaaS marketing consultant who helps companies get more demo calls and free trial sign-ups. Visit his website for SaaS marketing interviews with companies like Close.io, ClickFunnels and Phone Wagon.