Handy Sales Tools For Startups

by Kathleen Gilligan

Here’s a handy little list of sales tools, seasoned with some personal opinions, that I’ve assembled over my sales career. With a bow to all those who have contributed, knowingly or not, to my little body of knowledge.

Elevator Pitch: Much has been written on this topic, by me and others, but I’ll say again: everyone in the company should be able to give a 30 second description of the company’s essential value proposition.

Web Site: It’s an essential tool, but it’s an evolving one. Make it interactive. Make it serve your customer’s needs, not your own. Make sure it can be read, and navigated, on a phone’s browser.

Sales Presentation: This is for potential customers, not investors. Customers don’t care about your burn rate, and they surely don’t need to know every technical detail of the product. This presentation should show a customer, in 8 slides or less, why your product will solve a compelling problem that is hurting them.

Differentiators: Of COURSE your product is unique, and offers features that simply are not available elsewhere. Name those features, and the benefits that go with them, and the reason why they make your product superior.

Competition: Yes, there is some. It may be inertia, it may be far behind you, it may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, but there is definitely someone competing for the hearts, minds, and budget of your customer. Figure it out, and make sure you can competently describe why your product is the only one worth considering.

Sales Proposal: It’s pretty likely that proposals will be customized for each buyer, so there won’t be one standard proposal that covers all needs. But it’s a big time saver to have a template in your CRM software, or even in Word, that covers the basics, like terms, the company description, product or service descriptions, even pricing.

One-Pager: No matter how articulately you verbally describe benefits, a leave-behind, (or a send-ahead) one-pager that describes your company and/or product is essential. A well-produced piece keeps your name and logo in sight, is a reminder of the client’s problem and your solution, and reiterates the undoubtedly compelling conversation you had in the sales call.

Social Media: This is a tool that requires a strategy. Figure out which media is the best way to communicate with the customers you want to reach, and use it well. If your target audience is in the Twitterverse, you probably should be, too—but with the right messages, and some forethought.

These are basics, but they are classics. And of course it’s not a comprehensive list , but will get you started. I’d love to hear about tools or ideas that have worked for you. Share them with me here, or at [email protected], and I’ll compile them and publish in a later post.

Comments & Advice:
  1. Hi there,
    Great Article,I use sanityos.com, it’s a great sales tool for startups and growing businesses. It has helped me get a lot from my “lean” organisation. we also used to use Zoho CRM- That was pretty useful but ultimately we have been able to increase sales performance in our v small team of 5 by using Sanity OS. Our company has been established for just under 2 years but we are yet to latch on to the social media hype.