The five steps to building scalable sales and marketing systems

Sales and marketing are the engine of startup growth. In order to grow and achieve your potential, you need to put the systems and processes in place that can scale with you.

This article includes five steps that will help you implement the right sales and marketing systems to engage with prospective customers.

We’ve included examples of useful tools and first-hand accounts of what’s worked for other startup founders.

1. Start with your sales and marketing goals

Start by setting your sales and marketing goals. Base them on your company growth plans: what level of activity do you need to achieve your aspirations?

Think about the stages of your marketing and sales funnel, and identify three to five Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can measure progress. 

For example, a monthly coffee subscription business might have targets for:

  1. Website traffic
  2. New customers
  3. Retention after three months

Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of data to go on – targets will evolve as you learn more about your market. Just review progress regularly, learn and iterate.

Once you know your goals, you can start planning marketing activities and looking at the tools you need. 

2. Use marketing experiments to learn

It makes sense to experiment early on, so mix regular marketing and sales activity with tests to learn about what channels and messaging to use. 

New Kings Coffee founder Jason Nichols started targeting customers identified during a Lean Canvas business model planning session.

“The business model canvas identified luxury and subscription companies as being potential opportunities. So, before I even launched, I sold a load of coffee bags to a luxury handbag company because I’d approached a few on the off chance that it might be a good market for me,” he explained.

Here are a number of examples of startup marketing experiments to give you ideas:

  • Book subscription box: Offer vouchers to services offering complementary products
  • Baby clothing brand: Share free samples with antenatal course hosts
  • Restaurant: Run Facebook ads targeting people in the local area

The key is to track the impact, so you can figure out what’s going to be most effective. 

If the activity can’t be tracked automatically online, try giving people a discount code that’s relevant to a particular campaign. Another option is to ask where people first heard about you when they buy something.

3. Figure out what startup marketing tools you need

There’s lots of different marketing tools you can use and no one tool is going to do exactly what you need. 

“You can’t find a tool that does everything you want to do in the way you want to do it,” said Yatter founder Gavin Bell. “The most important thing is being able to find tools you can use consistently.”

These tools normally offer free trials and there are lots of YouTube tutorials and resources online to get you up to speed. 

Sales and marketing systems can be customised, so think about how they can be adapted to the processes you are developing.

The mix of tools varies for everyone. Yatter is a lead generation agency, so their team uses:

Think about how your team wants to work as you grow. People might be fond of particular tools and your personal workflow preferences might not be suitable for everyone.

Isobel Perl of PERL Cosmetics used the inbuilt features of Mailchimp to maximise her sales and customer feedback. In this video she explains how she uses the automation tools to welcome customers and to ask how their purchase went for them.

“The scalability issue comes from how you use the tools. The key is to be able to communicate with people,” said Gavin. 

Start by writing bullet point lists of how to carry out certain tasks. The approach can be developed and more detail added as you scale. Screen recording services like Loom allow you to easily make video explainers, which is an engaging way to start systemising processes.

Free startup marketing tools

There are a number of free startup marketing tools, including:

Free tools normally have usage limits. For example, Mailchimp’s paid plan starts once you have more than 2k email subscribers.

4. Make sure your sales and marketing systems work together

Whatever mix of tools you use, it’s important that they work together. Copying information from one system to another creates duplication, increasing the risk of error and wasting time.

When your tools work seamlessly together you can get greater insights from your data.

5. Start to scale your marketing efforts

The goal of scaling your sales and marketing systems is to identify cost-effective approaches to customer acquisition.

Your startup will grow as you identify those opportunities. It’s also easier to talk to investors when you’ve proven the fundamentals and can show how cash will help you scale. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how to approach scaling sales and marketing systems, and what startup marketing tools can help.

Did you find this blog post useful? The article is powered by Sage. Their accounting and HR software supports startups and growing businesses. It can help you understand business performance, get tax right and be more organised – find out more here!

ChrisGoodfellow

ChrisGoodfellow

Chris is founder and CEO of Inkwell, the company that runs The Pitch. He's a journalist and editor by trade, and his work has been featured by everyone from The Guardian and The Financial Times to Vice magazine.

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