Thought Hive: Top Inbound Sales Tips for Your Startup Strategy

Posted by Nate Ruttan Feb 13, 2017

For startups in all industries, creating a sales process is a crucial, yet daunting task. With all the commotion of a product launch, it can be easy to overlook just how you’re going to deliver the goods to your customers. But without a thoughtful and deliberate sales plan, it will be unnecessarily difficult to reach your target consumer. It’s important to take these things into account sooner than later, so to help you prepare for a successful year, we’ve put together 7 Inbound Tips Every Startup Salesperson Should Know.

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.―Arnold H. Glasow, Author, Glasow's Gloombusters

1. Walk before you run.

In the fast-paced world of startups, there’s nothing quite as exciting as the days immediately before and after a product launch. You’ve toiled for funding, strained through recruitment, and poured your time and resources into making something that will sell well and change the world. But it’s important not to get ahead of yourself. The rest of the world outside your startup has no idea you or your product exist, so revving up the sales engine without preparation could mean your company stalls before even taking off.

2. Know your audience.

When you think about your product, you probably have an ideal buyer persona in mind who is most perfectly suited to become a customer. (If you haven’t taken the time to envision your buyer personas, take a look at this previous post). It’s good to create the perfect buyer persona but in reality, there are dozens if not hundreds of nuances within that persona which could mean the difference between closing the deal or losing it.

How does one identify these nuances?

  • Research, research, research.
  • Check out your competitors’ websites and see how they market their products.
  • You can even reach out to competitors to see what pain points, expected or not, that they’ve experienced in regards to acquiring clients.

Another great learning strategy is to ask each member of your team to describe the perfect customer for your product. Often, the Chief Engineer will have details that are different from Head of Marketing and vice-versa. A deep understanding of your audience at the onset will help make sales natural and effective.

3. Resist the urge to sell.

This tip seems counter-intuitive. Isn’t the whole point of sales to obtain as many customers as possible? The short answer is yes, but the truth is that you must look beyond simple volume or acquisition rate. In today’s internet age, customers have all the power. They do their own research, and are increasingly intolerant of cold calls and unexpected emails. The last thing you want is for a potential lead to consider you “spam.” Don’t approach the sales funnel as just a numbers-driven quota; make it about telling a story. Your aim should be to help and inspire the public with what you do, and how you do it. The sales will come naturally after that. More tips on how to nurture leads can be found here.

Don’t interrupt what your buyers want to consume – BE what they want to consume.―Mike Volpe, CMO, HubSpot

4. Be willing to change.

This tip is probably nothing new to you. No one can accurately predict how a product launch will go, or how customers will behave in the coming weeks, months, and years. Adaptability is paramount to keeping up with a dynamic market. Make sure your Sales team understands this absolutely, as a simple phone script will not be sufficient to close leads. Maybe a competitor just released a similar product and you have to differentiate yourself from them. Perhaps you’ve received additional funding and can afford to be more patient with your lead acquisition. The point is, the only constant is change, and it’s important that everyone on your team knows this. Here are some ways you can help stay ahead of the curve:

  • Social Media Listening (A HubSpot tool)
  • Competitive Analysis (A Direct Images service)
  • Google Trends

5. Focus on being well respected, not well liked.

Obviously, this tip shouldn’t be construed as saying you shouldn’t be well-liked. Rather, likeability will probably take care of itself if you do your job well. But that’s just it: your job isn’t to make people like you, it’s to sell your product. And selling that product means that sometimes you need to skip the pleasantries and get down to business. You should have ideal buyer personas in mind, but when you reach out to them you might face varying personalities. Some people will be all roses, tell you about their day when you ask, and laugh a lot. Others are more serious, and want to either jump into the nitty-gritty or cut the cord and move on. With Inbound Sales, it’s all about reaching the customer on their own terms, so don’t let personal emotion get in the way of lead conversion. The marketing team creates content to bring leads in, and the sales team serves as a resource to reinforce and expand on that content. So, it’s important to align your sales and marketing teams!

6. Introduce your team to the world of “smarketing.”

Smarketing, a hybrid of sales and marketing, aims to increase the efficiency and efficacy of your business cycle by increasing collaboration between the two departments. Marketing should be producing high quality content that will attract people to your site. Sales should be weaning out the most qualified leads and reaching out to them. Both teams need to be cognizant of each other's’ process and typical problems, so that your company can have a transparent and cooperative environment. Everyone is on the same team, after all!

How do you know your content is relevant? Increased social traffic, social engagement, and higher quality leads.―Miller, Sr., Manager Content & Social, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

7. Engage, but be balanced.

Sure, you have the best company and the best product on the market. But how do you turn that into actual sales? You’ve got to market yourself in the areas where your ideal customers hang out. This can be through social media like LinkedIn and Facebook. It could be in person at trade shows. But be careful: you shouldn’t be out to tell everyone how your product solves a particular problem, you should first focus on explaining the problem itself. If the people hear that problem and identify with it, they will make their way back to you on their own. It can be a tricky push-pull situation because you want to market yourself and your product, but you don’t want to be overbearing or come off as spam. Really your goal is to be an industry thought leader in the eyes of the public. Be aggressive with your sales, but allow room for leads to discover you by themselves.

This list is, of course, non-exhaustive, but it serves as a great starting point. A common thread throughout these guidelines can be summed up in one word: preparation. It is much easier to plan for bumps in the road before you hit them, instead of trying to repair things later. Whether you are a CEO looking to form the perfect sales team, or a sales team member looking to excel, these tips will help align your business on the fast-track to success. For more information on how to have a phenomenal sales year, check out this related post:

How Can a Dynamic Website Increase Startup Sales―Direct Images Interactive

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Inbound Sales

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