4 Ways to Bootstrap a Lean Sales Team for Your Startup

March 30, 2015

12:30 pm

Getting early customers is crucial to your company’s success. You need early adopters to prove out your model, get you some traction, and give you feedback. Unfortunately, this is hard to do in most industries. Dominant players have all the case studies, and you’re a riskier bet. Also, you have fewer resources. This means you have the cards stacked against you, so the only way you can succeed is through creativity and innovation.

One of the best ways to fight for market share is figuring out the cheapest courses of action that will produce results for you. In other words, what can you do to get a customer without spending a lot of money? Below are four pieces of advice for accomplishing this goal.

1. Cold Call

Cold calling gets an unfair reputation. While most people consider it inefficient and unpleasant, cold calling has its advantages. The first is that it can be done at a small cost. Second, you can reach customers fast without having to physically move. Finally, you have a much higher chance of getting a meeting through an answered cold call over a sent email.

Many people give a negative connotation to cold calling for the simple fact that they are scared to do it. You have to have tough skin, and tenacity is what separates success and failure. Remember that the worst your prospect can do is say no. Focus on your perseverance to get results from cold calling. When you get a rude prospect who hangs up on you, brush it off and keep dialing.

2. Don’t waste money on marketing until you know it’s successful

Before you put a bunch of money into social media, online ads, and digital marketing, make sure you test these traction channels first. Depending on your industry, you may discover cheap and easy ways that reach the same goal without using as many of your resources.

It’s important to think bullets, not cannon balls. You want to fire small resources at a variety of options, then find which outlet is producing results. Once you find one, you can begin to put more resources into it. You’ll be surprised at how far you might be able to get without having to spend a dollar on marketing.

3. Avoid travel if possible

With the innovation in online communication, most meetings can be done remotely. Many companies have proven this by having teams that are all remote based. The same can work for your company. Unless the customer is requiring you to meet in person, you’ll find that you can just as easily close the sale online. This cuts your travel costs, and gives you more time to find other customers.

4. Don’t hire until it hurts

Don’t hire people into your sales force until you are about to break from overworking. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also learn valuable skills. For instance, it’s essential for founders to speak with customers to build a great company. They need to know and understand the customer so they can build a product people want. Having employees in the way of this interaction can actually cause more harm than good. Also, most people underestimate the amount of work they can do. By being focused and organized, we can push pretty far without having to bring in help.


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AJ Agrawal is an entrepreneur, speaker, and writer. He is the CEO and Co-Founder at Alumnify Inc.