5 Easy Steps to Develop Your Startup's Sales Strategy

Intro: Digital marketer and entrepreneur Terence Latimer is the founder of Los Angeles area platform Food Tribe.

Food Tribe just got done with its first-ever crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, raising 80% of its goal to launch the world’s first socially conscious restaurant review website. 

Communicating your value proposition is a challenge startup's face all the time.

If your customers don’t know what makes you different or unique from your competitors, or, more importantly, don’t see you as a solution to their problems, they’re not going to remember you when it comes time to make a purchase.

I founded Food Tribe as a blog over a year ago, and when I decided it was time to go out and find customers, I knew I needed to separate myself from the rest of the pack.

But how?

I took an honest look at my business and decided that I needed a plan.

Did you know that those who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them?

Why Do Start-Up’s Fail?

90% of startups fail: trouble building a customer base, unrefined business models, and struggling to create cash reserves are just some of the issues that can doom a new company.

Of the 82% of businesses that do fail, it happens because of cash flow issues.

DEFINE “Cash flow:"  the net amount of cash and cash-equivalents moving into and out of a business.

Symptoms of cash flow issues are things like:

  • Not enough cash on hand to pay bills

  • Disorganized accounting systems

  • The inability to achieve profitability

So, what’s the best way for your start-up to develop a steady reserve of cash?

By creating a solid sales strategy.

Creating Your Startups Sales Strategy

We all know the old business statistic that says “80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.”

What’s also important to remember is it's much cheaper to retain a current customer than it is to acquire a new one.

Depending on which study you believe, it's 5x cheaper.

“Harvard Business Review: The Value of Keeping the Right Customer”

Developing a well thought out sales strategy is in your startups best interests: it gives your sales team the roadmap and tools to acquire new customers.

With a well thought out strategy, you’ll also be able to keep and grow the old ones.

Getting Started

Before you can attack your startup’s sales strategy, identify where the sales team fits.

Questions to Think About

  • What function do Sales serve for your organization?

  • How does the Sales department work with other departments?

  • What role does the Sales team have in helping your startup hit business goals?

  • What resources do Sales require to get the job done?

  • What recommendations does  Sales leadership have?

These are some of the questions you need to ask before you can kick your Sales strategy into high gear.

Think about what the Sales team brings and how they’re being graded.

Next up, let's create business goals.

Creating Business Goals

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee

Creating business goals gives your startup a data driven way to measure its impact. If you’re hitting your goals, you’ve identified a way to bring all the different departments of your team together to achieve a shared vision.

If you’re not hitting your business goals, you may need to rethink your strategy.

Don’t be sad!

You don’t know what you’re capable of until you take a look under the hood.

Creating realistic goals is a process that’s going to take and your team time.

You have to feel confident you’ll hit your goals, but also don’t want to make them too easy.

Challenge yourself!

The goal creation process takes time to develop; it’s important that you write down and understand your startup's inner workings before you get started.

Make sure to include ALL internal stakeholders, from the CEO down to your customer service reps.

Goals should be reflective of your company and brand.

Ask Yourself Questions Like:

  • What are your startup’s core values?

  • Why does your startup exist?

  • What problems is your startup looking to solve?

  • Why are you the only solution to that problem?

Check out my Four Steps to Creating Business Goals That Matter post.


Business goals should be a combination of broad and specific.  I recommend figuring out what problem your startup is solving, and then creating a “best case” scenario that measures if you’re actually solving it.

Feel free to be a little ambitious; your goals should explain your reason for getting into business: your value proposition.

Your team and your customers need reminders as to why you’re the only unique solution to the problem you're solving.

Why You Should Be Writing Down Your Business Goals

Setting goals using the SMART system is a good way to put together solid business goals. They all you to create a realistic picture of how your startup’s different departments will have to come together in order to achieve them.


  • Specific: Goals that are specific

  • Measurable: Goals that you’re going to be able to measure

  • Achievable: Goals that you’re team is going to be able to achieve

  • Realistic: Using a Best, Medium, Worst case scenario and see how you land

  • Time-Based: Give your goals an end date. Then create new ones.

Marketing, Product, & Finance, and other divisions of your startup will need to work together to effectively hit business goals around Profit, Growth, and Service, etc.

Social Impact is another example of a business goal that companies develop strategies around.

It’s important to remember that your startup is an eco-system, each department supports one another.

Find efficiencies, and you scale. Ignore deficiencies, and your startup is doomed to fail.

So, how DO you effectively create a sales team?

The truth is, I’m still building my startup, so a lot of this stuff is a theory.

I’m using my businesses as test subjects… I form different hypotheses and create experiments I believe will help grow them.


Question Statements: What problem do you want to solve?

  • How can my startup hit its revenue goals?

  • How can I hit my 90 Sales Goal at my new job?


  • By implementing my 5 Easy Steps to Developing a Startup Sales Strategy, I will hit my revenue goals by EoY.

  • By implementing my 5 Easy Steps to Developing Your Startup Sales Strategy, I will hit my 90 Day Sales by Day 90.

In following posts, I’ll be sure to follow up and let you guys know the experiments went.

5 Easy Steps to Develop Your Startup’s Sales Strategy

Here are my 5 Tips to Creating an Effective Sales Strategy:

1. Figure Out How Its Being Done:

This is your chance for you to have a heart to heart with your business and measure the health of your Sales Organization. Identify your sale’s teams KPI’s: is it closes, lead’s generated? Does it mean picking a CRM system? Hiring new sales reps? Take an audit of your Sales team’s health by following these steps. Once you know where your team is, then you’ll be able to figure out a way to get to that next level of success.

2. Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Once you have an understanding of your sales process, you’ve probably identified opportunities for improvement: what hasn’t been working? What needs change? Ask yourself tough questions like has management been effective. This process needs to include ALL stakeholders, including departments outside of sales. Figure out ways to get your team to work together better.

3. Create Goals

Once you’ve identified opportunities for improvement, the next step is creating goals. The goals you should focus most on are the ones that are going to get your Sales team healthy. This directive should be guided by management and should be in line with your startups business goals. If your startup is bleeding cash, make sure your expense tracking and policy is up to par. If your startup is struggling with revenue, make sure that the Sales team has been hitting close and average deal value goals established.

T’s Tip: Try planning your goals using my 30 Years in 3 Minutes Worksheet post.

4. Test Test Test

Don’t be so married to your current Sales process that you waste your time. If a something isn’t working, scrap it and move on to the next one. If your team isn’t hitting your outbound lead numbers, measure the different channels they’ve used to acquire leads and figure out a way to mix it up. Hit an event. Hit a busy shopping area at lunch time with a pen and paper and ask to talk to people. The point is, start-ups don’t have the luxury of being married to any sort of process or routine, identify and keep inventory of the tactics your team is using, measure its effectiveness, get feedback, scale or shelve it.

5. Always Be Closing

Ultimately, the purpose of your sales team is to effectively communicate your startup’s value proposition. The greatest measurement of that is the number of deals closed. Always be closing in order to secure the financial health of your organization.

There you have it, my 5 Easy Steps to Developing Your Startup’s Sales Strategy.

I love feedback! Let me know if any of these tips and tricks are useful and add value to your startup.

These steps apply to any organization: start-ups, digital marketing agencies, or any place that requires a team of sellers.

The truth is, when I spoke about how creating business goals is like trying to hit a moving target, it also applies to developing your startup's Sales Strategy: it’s not a perfect science.

No startup is perfect, but by practicing perfectly, you’ll achieve excellence.

Address your sales strategy now. You don’t need to wait until the end of the year, or end of the quarter to start making your sales more effective.

Sales are important, so take the time to get your ship in order: figure out what needs to be done in order to to get your start-up’s sales organization “there,” wherever that might be. 

  1. Figure Out How It's Being Done

  2. Identify Opportunities for Improvement

  3. Create Goals

  4. Test Test Test

  5. Always Be Closing

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