90% of startup fail before achieving any success.
That means that for most startup companies, all that effort and time put into trying to make it work will amount to little more than valuable lessons for the future.
But what do the ten percent that survive and prosper do that makes them different?
Well, many factors contribute to a company’s success, not the least of which is simply luck and fortunate circumstances, but in the end, the survival of a startup depends on its ability to generate sales on a regular basis.
As any LTV SaaS fund will tell you, without an effective approach to making sales, it becomes almost impossible to sustain a business, even if the product and the offer are solid.
But how can you create a sales plan that generates results?
Well, in this article, we’ll explore four of the most crucial steps that you need to take when developing your startup sales plan if you want to increase your chances of making it.
Define Your Target Audience
Your ability to make sales startup largely depends on your ability to match your product with the audience that needs it the most.
Choose the wrong audience to market to, and you’ll be in for a challenging campaign, even if most or all of your other decisions are solid and you follow the best sales practices for startups.
But identify the right audience, and you will have a much easier time converting prospects into customers, even while you’re still optimizing your sales processes.
What’s more, if you don’t narrow down your ideal audience and try to appeal to a large market, you’ll end up creating a generic marketing and sales plan strategy that doesn’t appeal to anyone.
Instead, you must be as specific as possible and come up with a detailed customer avatar – only then will you be able to position your product in a way that will speak directly to the very best customers that you want to attract.
But where to get started when trying to define your ideal audience?
Well, the first step is to take a deep long into your product or service and consider the problems that it can solve. Then, start thinking about the ideal customer that you think your solution could help the most, and be very specific about who he is.
Try to identify his demographics, his biggest pain points, his interests, his objections, his online browsing habits, and anything else that you deem relevant.
You can also get ideas for how to best target your audience by looking at what your competition is doing – there are plenty of tools that allow you to monitor competitors and gain insights about what they post and how they interact with their audiences.
Although defining your ideal customers may take a long time, it could be the most critical factor in your startup’s success.
If you can understand who you’re trying to reach better than your competition and cater your sales plan accordingly, you will be well on your way to carving out a place for your business in the marketplace and gaining the upper hand over more established companies.
Set Specific Goals
Setting goals is at the forefront of sustainable startup success.
Without specific milestones for your sales team to aim for, it will be much more challenging to come up with effective strategies and figure out which approaches are best suited in the current stage of your company.
But by setting goals, you will gain a lot more clarity in terms of which sales methods you should employ in the immediate future, while at the same time ensuring that you can sustain growth.
But what types of goals should you set for your startup?
Well, when it comes to setting targets for your sales team and your company in general, you must take a multi-tiered approach because you need your short-term goals to line up with what you have in your sights over a more extended period.
So, while quarterly goals are important, they should serve as a stepping stone towards your yearly goals, and your annual goals should ensure that you can reach your five-year targets.
Don’t be afraid to revise your goals as you learn new information or gain more insights about your market.
Make sure that you’re accounting for your current performance and the changing landscape of the marketplace and adjust your yearly or longer goals, as there’s no point in maintaining them if the situation has changed, for better or for worse.
Figure Out How to Reach Your Ideal Buyers
Making sales is all about engaging your ideal prospective buyers at the right place and at the right time.
Luckily, with the endless possibilities of online marketing, you can now reach and engage your prospective customers where they hang out while positioning your messages in a way that is the most likely to generate a positive response.
For instance, with the help of a LinkedIn automation tool or an outreach automation tool, you can send relevant and engaging messages to multiple prospective customers at a time, scheduling messages in advance and eliminating the need to do everything manually.
Once you get a response, you can continue the conversation, knowing that he has already expressed interest in what you have to offer.
Some startups have found success engaging their prospects on social media – by identifying people who fit your customer profile, you can reach out to them directly and start a conversation about how your product or service could help them.
Over time, you should be able to optimize your campaigns in a way that allows you to engage more people in less time, significantly increasing the potential of how many sales you can make in any given month.
Keep Testing and Tweaking Your Sales Strategies
No matter which industry you operate in, one thing that you must avoid at all costs is allowing your sales process to stagnate.
New strategies and approaches are being successfully implemented every year, and so, if you don’t keep track and aren’t able to adapt to a changing market landscape, you’ll be facing an uphill battle trying to keep up with your competitors or ensuring that your company remains relevant in the eyes of your audience.
That’s why it’s crucial to test and tweak your sales strategies, trying to improve your current metrics – only by pushing yourself and your sales staff can you ensure that you’re staying ahead of your competitors and growing your company.
Luckily, when selling on the web, optimizing and testing doesn’t have to be complicated– there are numerous tools that allow you to split-test different messages, audiences, and anything else that could influence the result.
By staying consistent and testing out new ideas, you can not only keep up with the latest developments in the sales world but become a trendsetter yourself, turning your company into a success story others will be talking about for years to come.
Dave Schneider is the founder of LessChurn, churn reduction app. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.