Here’s a hard fact: not all startups succeed. In fact, 9 out of 10 startups fail, and that is mostly blamed on their inability to generate enough sales. Or, as some experts point out, there is enough sales, but they are undervalued, which basically means that the startup is still not generating the level of sales it needs to sustain itself and be successful.

Some say that there are people meant to be in sales, and they are likely to own that one out of the 10 startups that actually succeeded. What they don’t know is that that single successful startup may have used tools and other resources to ensure that it values its sales properly. These tools include startup sales tools.

The Ultimate Guide to Startup Sales Tools

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In this article, you can gain insights about those startup sales tools. We will explore 1) an overview on startup sales tools, 2) startup sales tools – before sales, 3) during sales, and 4) after sales.

OVERVIEW ON STARTUP SALES TOOLS

You might think that, as long as you have the drive, determination and initiative to go out there and reach out to your customers, the sales will simply come in. It is not as simple or as easy as that. The entire sales process can be quite complicated, especially for those who are just starting out. But not all hope is gone, since there are sales tools that can be utilized. Lucky for startups, there are sales tools that are specifically designed for their use. It’s just a matter of identifying what those tools are and how they will be effectively employed in the business operations.

We can classify startup sales tools according to their application, or the point in the business cycle when they will be used, into three categories:

  1. Before Sales or Pre-Sales tools are those that are geared towards helping with lead generation and sales and market intelligence.
  2. During Sales tools are used to aid the members of the sales team in their collaboration, how they deliver sales pitches, and eventually close a sale.
  3. After Sales or Post-Sales tools refer to the tools that are designed primarily for customer engagement and the cultivation of customer loyalty.

In the following discussion, we will be looking at the top startup sales tools that fall under the above categories.

STARTUP SALES TOOLS – BEFORE SALES

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools

Before you can expect to generate sales, you first have to address the issue on “who” will be buying your products: your customers. You have to find out who your customers are, establish a connection with them, and manage your relationship. This is where the CRM tools come in.

  1. Salesforce: This enterprise cloud-computing provider offers the utilization of its social and mobile cloud technologies to allow startups to connect with its customers. This tool allows a lot of room for customization, so startups can configure it to suit their particular needs. It is also flexible, since it is compatible with other product “Clouds”, as well as offering easy integration with other marketing and sales software. The main downside is that it can be quite expensive, with its Enterprise account charging $125 monthly.
  2. Zoho CRM: With this tool, startups will have a “complete customer relationship lifecycle management solution”, which covers the business’ inventory, sales, marketing and customer support systems. It is considered by many to be within affordable range and very user-friendly, doing away with the usual hoops and loops to put it in place. However, this simplicity makes it appear too basic and not as in-depth as many wanted or expected.

Predictive Sales tools

Two startups manage to identify a potential customer group. However, one startup is able to win more customers than the other, and the disparity between the number of deals they closed was also very high. What made that startup succeed where the other didn’t? The use of predictive sales tools.

  1. Infer: The strength of Infer is in how it offers rich profiles for leads and makes use of data science in order to identify which leads have the highest potential for conversion. It also provides measurement results rapidly, so there is no need to wait for months on end for results. Infer is also known for its excellent customer service, which is something every startup will definitely find appealing.
  2. Fliptop: The main function of Fliptop is the aggregation of social data and public web, and its leveraging data science for sales generation. It offers predictive lead scoring so you know which leads are worth paying attention to. Its campaign optimization feature also allows real-time monitoring of your campaigns. It’s easy to set up and navigate, although startups would have to work with the Fliptop team for a bit to fully implement it. Linkedin just bought Fliptop.

Lead Generation and Intelligence tools

Marketing and sales teams are tasked to perform lead generation activities, and this requires a lot of close attention. So you were able to generate leads; what next? You have to look into these leads and analyze them so you can get more useful information for your sales strategy.

With the help of the following tools, they will have a relatively easier time of it.

  1. ZoomInfo: If you want a comprehensive source of business data and information on companies, organizations and people all over the world, your best bet is the large database of ZoomInfo. The profiles it provides are detailed and updated, giving you all the information you want and need. Even the Search feature is very precise, so you won’t have to “wander around” aimlessly.
  2. Datanyze: Datanyze pays attention on the websites used by businesses and companies, particularly on the technologies that are being used. This tool allows startups to track websites, retrieve updated information on companies and businesses and their websites, and build a customized predictive model for leads and prospects. Unfortunately, it has still yet to be designed for integration with other outbound sales and marketing platforms.

Social Sales Utilization tools

Social media has certainly been instrumental in many businesses, particularly their sales strategies. Here are tools that will maximize your startup’s online presence, discover leads, and generate sales.

  1. TrackMaven: Using this tool will give startups a universal feed where they can access multiple marketing and social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, and email, among others. You can filter the content that will appear on your feed and customize the reports you want to see. TrackMaven is greatly commended for providing competitive and reliable data in real time.
  2. Socedo: Keywords have always played a crucial role in internet marketing, and that is what Socedo zeroes in on. It equips startups with contacts lists that are derived from keywords submitted by users, as well as a list and ranking of prospects for lead optimization. Unfortunately, this does not have a free version, which can be disappointing to startups that prefer testing it out first before dishing out money for the full or pro version.

Strategic Marketing-Sales Collaboration tools

The sales team and the marketing team have to work together, so they have to make sure that their respective strategies are aligned with each other.

  1. FullCircle: Startups will be able to perform funnel analysis, where they can see metrics in a single place. With its Response Lifecycle Management feature, each and every response generated will be analyzed and managed, and you will also get accurate campaign ROI. Although it is quite expensive, users find it very easy to use, especially with other marketing automation software.
  2. Influitive: Campaign management, marketing management and advocate segmentation are simply some of the benefits of Influitive. It provides startups an effective and efficient communication system for advocate segmentation and management. It boasts a superior customer support, although it needs improvement when it comes to its mobile interface.

STARTUP SALES TOOLS – DURING SALES

Phone Brigade / Calling tools

Getting in touch on a personal level remains to be the best way to engage customers. Conduct a conversation with them, and you have more likelihood of turning them into buying customers. Calling them with the following tools will help you generate higher instances of meaningful conversations with customers.

  1. BlitzFlow: Startups often do not have enough money to spend on a lot of sales representatives. BlitzFlow aims to fill that void by assisting sales reps, allowing them to maximize their workflow without the need to add more people. Its features include call queueing (cutting down call hold and waiting times), sending emails (to make way for multi-tasking), and customizing the calling dashboard to filter only the vital information required (to cut back on inefficiencies and delays).
  2. InsideSales PowerDialer: This tool’s sales acceleration technology allows users to filter through records and sort them in order to find the best prospects. Aside from list prioritization, it offers a load of other useful features, including one-click dialing, call routing, and pre-recorded voice messaging. It utilized a click-to-call format, and allows automatic syncing for those who are also using SalesForce.

Email facilities

Email intelligence is an integral part of online marketing, and startups should also take advantage of the tools available to them.

  1. LiveHive: If you are having problems with emails going unanswered, LiveHive is the ideal troubleshooter for that. It helps in the generation of new leads and actively tracks content y offering real-time alerts and notifications with respect to page views and email readouts. It also enhances a startups sales planning process by providing regular forecasts. The interface could do with some minor improvements, but it is still very easy to use and implement, which makes it a favorite among startups.
  2. FullContact: When getting in touch with customers during sales, you have to make sure you are fully involved. FullContact ensures that you are fully connected with customers and other relevant contacts. It allows users to manage all contacts (keeping them updated, in real-time) in one place. It also has the advantage of being self-correcting, avoiding misspellings, duplications and redundancies in the contacts and details list.

Content Sharing tools

Once you get in touch with customers and the sales process is underway, you have to deliver necessary information to them. These tools are your best bets:

  1. DocSend: When you use DocSend, you can track who is viewing the content that you are sharing and even the length of time that they are viewed by certain users. In some tools, the sender loses control after the document has been shared. In DocSend, the control remains in the hands of the sharer, and he or she can change the permissions of the other viewers or users. The only disadvantage is that the startup should choose the Enterprise plan in order for it to be integrated with SalesForce and the company’s telephone support.
  2. ClearSlide: In this tool, visibility and analytics are updated and available in real time. This allows the startup to have more and closer interactions with its customers and other members of the team. ClearSlide also had audio and HD video features for higher quality of communication. It might take a while for users to get used to the interface but once they do, working with it will be a breeze.

Mobile Connection tools

Thanks to mobile technology, staying in touch with your customers is made easier and more convenient. Engage with your customers using the following tools:

  1. Clari: When it comes to mobile-first platforms, Clari is one of the pioneers. It arms users with data science that will enable them to perform in-depth sales analysis. Risk management is also enforced, since it provides CRM updates, as well as lets you track your progress. Those data entry tasks that used to take a lot of time will now be performed quickly due to automation by Clari.
  2. Roambi: You can now turn any mobile data into a content or information that can be easily visualized and used for analytics and forecasting purposes. It is versatile in the sense that it can work with any data source, so there is no need to go through conversions of data just for Roambi to accept it for processing. The disadvantage, however, is that it only works for Apple products, which easily pushes Android users out of the picture.

Custom Contract tools

Finalizing sales often involve the creation of contracts as well as the drawing up of proposals for continuing partnerships or relationships. Fortunately, it is now easier to customize contracts to suit your business goals and objectives.

  1. Handshake: Gone are the days when contracts and agreements have to be written by hand, or typed on manual devices. This application sets up an order management central, where all orders are stored for review and confirmation. Even customer information are included in the system, and you can sync all information with other business systems. Again, when it comes to mobile use, it is only available for Apple products.
  2. DocuSign: You no longer have to personally hunt down the other signatories of the contract or proposal, because they can electronically affix their signatures using DocuSign’s facilities. It also has the capacity to handle multiple recipients of the contracts.

STARTUP SALES TOOLS – AFTER SALES

Sales Operations tools

The closing of a sale is not the end of the sales transaction. There is also the post-sales stage to consider. Businesses take this opportunity to get feedback so it can improve its business processes related to sales.

  1. InsightSquared: It gets easier to come up with a comprehensive set of reports, and it doesn’t have to take weeks or months, either. In mere days, sales reports are made available for analysis and forecasting. A sales dashboard will help simplify things, and it can be customized depending on the sales operations of the startup.
  2. CallidusCloud: The unique feature of this software is its Sales and Channel Enablement tool, which sets up a central content repository, where all information related to the sales of the startup are stored, organized and managed. Collaboration among sales representatives is also facilitated, so they can share whatever post-sales insights they may have that can potentially improve the company’s sales processes.

Coaching and Incentives tools

Sales representatives are the driving force of the sales process. Without them, there is no chance of a deal being closed. Therefore, it is a good idea for startups to have its own programs geared towards coaching of its sales reps, and providing incentives and giving credit when and where it is due.

  1. Rivalry: You need to have a complete documentation on all matters relating to your sales representatives and their selling activities. This is where Rivalry works best, since it provides a platform for documentation, viewing of rankings and performance evaluations as well as putting up a live leaderboard. If you have coaching plans you need to distribute to your sales reps, you can do that through Rivalry. This is a good fit with SalesForce, since syncing is automatic.
  2. LevelEleven: Keeping track of all the members of your sales team is one way to ensure that their performance is always up to par. With LevelEleven, you have a way to provide your sales team with a way to track their own performance, via analytics, metrics and peer-to-peer comparisons. It also gives alerts and notifications when even one member of the team is lagging in terms of sales performance. It is, however, very expensive.

Chat capabilities tools

Continue communicating with customers to find out what they think about doing business with you, whether it has something to do with your product, or the way you delivered the products or the service. Chat is one of these feedback mechanisms that you can use.

  1. Olark: This chat facility has the Targeted Chat feature, which allows the business to accept feedback only from recognized customers (for example, those who are verified buyers). It is also designed for customer relationship management, which is why it can be integrated easily with other CRM applications such as SalesForce, HighRise and even Desk.com.
  2. SaleMove: Every visitor to your website can be tracked – i.e. the pages he visits, the products he clicks or views, the duration of his visit for each page – with the help of SaleMove. In fact, it has been said that it can track even faster than Google’s Analytics, which is already fast. It also comes with an audio/video chat facility and it is embedded directly on the website, doing away with the need to download or install anything.

Pricing optimization tools

Studying your pricing should be a continuous process. While you have already performed price-setting beforehand, there is a need to always keep track of possible circumstances that can potentially increase or decrease the price you have originally set.

  1. Vendavo: The price-setting process requires a lot of data and information to be analyzed. With Vendavo, you get all that data in real-time, compiled systematically for you to retrieve later when you have to review your pricing decisions. Price changes can be tracked and adjustments may be made immediately. The dashboard is very clean, so working with it is painless, and the analytics returned are in-depth and highly reliable, giving you more confidence in your pricing decisions.
  2. Zilliant: What-if situations give rise of questions on whether you priced a product right or not. With zilliant, startups will have a pricing guidance that is designed to address various scenarios and circumstances. It also helps startups in their pricing decisions with its Predictive Price Optimization Model.

Customer Success tools

Customer success management is essential if you want to build a loyal customer base comprised of repetitive buyers or purchasers of your product or service.

  1. Gainsight: Sponsor tracking, NPS surveys, real-time data capture, and storage of quantitative and qualitative customer data. These are only a few of the many benefits that may be obtained when using the Gainsight tools. There are requests for the software to incorporate a Search feature, and once it is in place, there is no doubt that this is one tool that every startup should have.
  2. Totango: Profiling of customers does not end when a deal is closed. In fact, it is more important than ever that you stay abreast of any updates or information about your customers. Totango retrieves data from multiple system sources, so the profiles are more comprehensive and complete. Although this system is designed with larger enterprises in mind, small to medium businesses and startups should not have any problems applying it as well. Here is an interview with Totango’s founder.

Customer Engagement tools

How do you ensure that you continue engaging with your customers as well as other partners? Keep in touch with them. And use the following tools:

  1. Skilljar: With this tool, the business can come up with multimedia courses, using audio, video, PDF and other document files. Designing a course can be tricky, but with the help of Skilljar, it becomes relatively easier. You will be able to develop engaging trainings and courses while tracking detailed analytics as it is integrated with other systems.
  2. Intercom: This tool, which is primarily designed for web businesses, offers a filtering function that divides users into segments, depending on their goals. The four programs available in this toll are Acquire (which lets users talk to visitors into becoming customers, directly on their website), Engage (which talks new registrants to the website to become active in investing or buying), Learn (which derives product feedback from verified customers), and Support (which helps streamline the way support is provided by the company to the customers).

Many of the tools mentioned are relatively new, and so are still relatively unfamiliar to many users. However, with the wealth of features and functionalities that they offer, they are bound to be widely-used in the near future, especially by startups and small businesses.

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