Updated November 20, 2021
If you run a startup, consistently hitting your sales goals is essential to your long-term growth. Of course, that’s often easier said than done. That’s why we’ve put together this article for you. It highlights the best sales strategy ideas for startups, used by unicorns, among additional tips for getting more out of your sales processes as a new company.
Let’s get into it.
The real-world sales strategies of unicorn startups
One of the best ways to reach your sales goals is to understand what’s worked for the biggest startups. That way, you can mirror an approach that you know can be successful or adapt it to meet your startup’s unique needs.
With that in mind, here are four examples of sales strategies that some of the biggest startups in existence have used to grow their businesses.
Uber and Spotify
Uber and Spotify’s recent partnership is an excellent example of a company’s value from forming strategic partnerships.
Uber partnered with Spotify to allow riders to play their favorite tunes while getting a ride. This deal gives both Uber and Spotify competitive advantages over other rideshare companies and music streaming services, respectively.
Strategic partnerships like these are pure value. Neither company needs to sacrifice anything to enjoy benefits that can help them reach their sales goals. Your new company may want to consider seeking these types of deals out as well.
Houzz is a home design startup valued at around $4 billion. Its story highlights the importance of product-building to the sales process.
Founder Adi Tatarko says that spending the first few months of Houzz working on building the product instead of pitching to investors and seeking out clients was the best thing the company could have done.
The lesson here is that you shouldn’t jump into your sales process before you’re ready for it.
Even though you’re going to want to earn income as soon as possible, it’s important to take the time you need to create a really valuable product before working towards your sales goals. Otherwise, you risk dividing your attention and struggling to make sales because your products simply don’t stand out.
AeroLeads is a startup that helps companies track down more information about existing prospects. Its story is a case study of how using a soft launch, demo, or trial can produce outstanding results for a new business.
AeroLeads began with a soft launch of its product, which it offered to small businesses in exchange for feedback. This experience generated a lot of positive hype for AeroLeads and earned the company a deal with IBM without ever having to pitch to them.
The lesson here is that, sometimes, temporarily giving away your product for free is the best way to get a big sales win down the road.
Grab is a Singapore-based startup that’s a direct competitor to Uber. It’s managed to beat out Uber in the Singapore market by exhibiting a much better understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in this part of the world.
Uber has spent an incredible amount of time and money figuring out what Westerners want from a rideshare service. When it expanded to Singapore, it failed to dedicate the same amount of resources to figuring out the unique nature of that market.
Grab, on the other hand, was built by Singaporeans for Singaporeans. And that’s enabled it to outpace a competitor with many more resources at its disposal.
The lesson for your startup is that beginning with a strong understanding of your target audience can pay considerable dividends. You could even outperform a more-established company like Grab did.
Other sales strategy ideas for startups
Target small market niches
It can be challenging for a new company to gain a foothold in a big market. So instead of targeting your intended market as a whole, it often makes more sense for you to focus on specific niches within it during the early stages of your growth.
Niches are, by nature, smaller than entire markets. That means you’ll typically face less competition and may even be able to address a gap in your industry by building products and marketing materials directed at the niche.
Additionally, your startup may save time and money by targeting customers that share similar characteristics instead of needing to recreate pitches and marketing materials for prospects with multiple needs.
Highlight your unique value proposition
You launched your company because you believed you could provide something that was missing from the market. It’s essential to highlight whatever that is during your sales process.
You should express the differences between your product and the competition in ways prospects will understand intuitively.
For example, don’t say your software helps employees become more efficient. Rather, say it can free up an average of 10 hours per employee per week. Being specific makes it easy for a prospect to see why they should buy from your company instead of a competitor’s.
Before you can convince consumers that your product fills a hole in the market, you have to understand the product-market fit yourself. If you are unable to use your product, or there are competitor products that might be better than yours, this is the hard truth: Your product does not fit in the market.
Search online for questions that your product or service could answer, and make sure it’s ready to go to market. If it truly has a special place, it will be much easier to convince your consumers that your product is relevant.
Startups are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to reputation simply because they generally haven’t been around long enough to build one. Some prospects may be wary because of that. But you can get around that disadvantage by demonstrating your authority to a lead.
Generally, this means coming to a pitch meeting prepared with the facts. The goal should be to show your prospect you’ve done your research and know the ins and outs of the topic and your industry.
You can do this individually during pitch meetings and on a brand-wide level by creating and sharing blog content that establishes your company as a thought leader in your space.
Tell a memorable story
Storytelling is a vital part of the sales process. People are hardwired to connect with characters and narrative more than data and stats. If your startup is struggling with sales numbers, it could be because you haven’t crafted a memorable story.
The story that we’re talking about here is your company’s origin. Why does it exist? Who created it? And what specific event prompted its launch?
Create a narrative that answers these questions. Doing so should help the rest of your pitch resonate with your prospects — especially if you can back up what you talk about in your story with data.
Take some risks
In 2021, we point to Elon Musk and his out-there ideas and investments, like Tesla, SpaceX and Dogecoin. While playing it safe with standard social media ads might move your business forward, you might consider implementing more extreme marketing campaigns at the same time (like controversial videos or articles that could go viral).
As an added note, don’t be afraid to reach out to big names in your industry. Do what you can to forge those connections, and don’t be afraid of getting a “no.”
Ask for referrals
Seeking out customer referrals can be another great sales strategy for a new company. That’s because you may not have the marketing budget necessary to target large brands in your early days successfully. Referrals help you get around that by giving you an introduction to a company you might not otherwise be able to speak to.
Try the PAS strategy
Startups can also benefit from experimenting with various sales approaches to see which one gives them the best results. The PAS sales method is one such option.
PAS is an acronym that stands for:
- Problem – present the problem that the prospect is dealing with
- Agitation – amplify the problem to almost exaggerate its negative impacts
- Solve – present your product as the solution to the problem
The key to this strategy is the agitation stage. You want to sell the fact that the problem is a significant one. But you can’t go overboard, or else the prospect will view you as being overly sales-y.
Offer demos and trials
Demos and trials can be effective sales strategies for new companies as well. That’s because giving away your product for free can help you build up a base of customers, who you can later target with a pitch to buy the full or lasting version of what you sell.
With this strategy, businesses that wouldn’t have tried your product if it was behind a paywall suddenly will. And if the product is as good as you think it is, then a number of these companies should decide to stick around and pay for it so that they can continue enjoying the benefits that it offers.
Sweeten the deal
For some businesses, simply adding a cute catchline can be enough to attract masses of new customers; for example, Hotmail’s line “P.S. I love you” resulted in 12 million new email accounts.
In today’s day and age, attracting customers with a small gift or compensation may be more effective. PayPal offered $10 of credit to anyone who signed up for the service, and they have grown to become a multibillion-dollar business.
Even if your offerings don’t drive business by the thousands, they will slowly improve your company’s reputation. Giving away free stickers or magnets may make others perceive you as a friendlier business. Sending personalized emails will also go a long way in boosting your brand presence.
Invest in website visitor tracking software from LeadLander
Your startup can get more out of its sales processes by leveraging the right tools. That’s why you should take a look at LeadLander. Our website visitor tracking software can help your brand do more with its website visitor data.
With LeadLander, you can:
- Discover new leads
- Validate interest from existing ones
- Improve your pipeline accuracy
- Evaluate the performance of your website pages