How To Start A Sales Automation Platform

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When it comes to starting your sales automation platform, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.

You may be asking yourself:

  • What's the first step in establishing my business?
  • How much will it cost to start my sales automation platform?
  • How do I price my sales automation platform?
  • How do I market my sales automation platform?
  • ... so much more!

We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your sales automation platform.

The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!

market size
$4B
starting costs
$18.7K
gross margin
70%
time to build
12 months
pros & cons
10 Pros & Cons

💡 Introduction To The Sales Automation Platform

Is The Sales Automation Platform For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a sales automation platform.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros

• Flexibility

You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

• Ability to start your business from home

It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

• Rewarding work

Starting a sales automation platform can be really rewarding and fun work. After all, you're bringing joy and excitement into people's lives.

• Scalable

With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features and services within your sales automation platform. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of businesses.

• Traffic to your website

A sales automation platform gives people a reason to visit your website and to keep coming back to you!

• Little overhead + startup costs required

To get started, there is hardly any overhead. We will go over this in more detail in the startup section below.

Cons

• Crowded Space

Competition is high when it comes to your sales automation platform, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.

• Motivation of employees

If you plan to have a sales/content team on board, finding creative ways to motivate them can be a challenge. It's important that you're able to offer great incentives and a good work environment for your employees.

• Longer Sales Process

A sales automation platform can be a big time and money investment for your customer, so it's important you plan and predict a longer conversion funnel and stay in communication with potential customers.

• Security Issues

With any Saas business, data loss and security issues may arise throughout your process of building your product. It's critical that you understand exactly what you're responsible for and how to avoid potential issues down the road.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for sales automation tool over the last year:

How To Name Your Sales Automation Platform

It's important to find a catchy name for your sales automation platform so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your sales automation platform

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your sales automation platform so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your sales automation platform.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your sales automation platform:

  • Retailers Pro check availability
  • The Forced check availability
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  • Potential Retail Co check availability
  • ForcedGrossSales check availability
  • Direct check availability
  • The Domestic Retailers Trading Co check availability
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  • Actual check availability
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  • Corporate Revenues check availability
  • The Daily Purchases Pro check availability
  • Comparable Gross Sales Spot check availability
  • The Installment Revenues Pro check availability
  • InternationalCo check availability
  • Selling Works check availability
  • PotentialPro check availability
  • International Marketing & Company check availability
  • DoorPro check availability
  • The Total Purchases Place check availability
  • Retailers Group check availability
  • The Future check availability
  • RetailPro check availability
  • Overall Purchases check availability
  • Subsequent Marketing Chronicles check availability
  • Purchases Designs check availability
  • Interstate Gross Sales & Company check availability
  • Total Resales Designs check availability
  • Incremental Gross Revenue Pro check availability
  • YearlyGrossSales check availability
  • The Past check availability
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  • FutureMarketing check availability
  • Foreign check availability
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  • Comparable Market Spot check availability
  • CorporateSpot check availability
  • Installment Gross Revenue check availability
  • Global Retail Group check availability
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  • Extra Shipments Group check availability
  • The Yearly Selling Trading Co check availability
  • Actual Gross Sales Chronicles check availability
  • ForcedMarket check availability
  • Global Gross Revenue Trading Co check availability
  • The Future Resales Place check availability
  • Direct Gross Revenue Works check availability
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  • Door Resales International check availability
  • The Overseas check availability
  • Net Selling Trading Co check availability
  • Potential Resales & Company check availability
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  • The Profitable Resales Group check availability
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  • Market Chronicles check availability
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  • Quarterly Retailers Co check availability
  • TotalMarket check availability
  • The Daily Market International check availability
  • ProfitableGrossSales check availability
  • The Conditional Selling Pro check availability
  • Quick Marketing Pro check availability
  • Past Selling Group check availability
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  • Clerical Gross Sales Co check availability
  • Selling Spot check availability
  • QuickPurchases check availability
  • The Conditional check availability
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  • Conditional Market Place check availability
  • Short Gross Revenue check availability
  • Total&Company check availability
  • Current Retailers check availability
  • OverallSelling check availability
  • Marketing Works check availability
  • The Direct Gross Sales Works check availability
  • Quick Retail check availability
  • Worldwide Gross Revenue & Company check availability
  • Special Selling Trading Co check availability
  • The Comparable Gross Sales Trading Co check availability
  • Global Selling Pro check availability
  • Annual Retail & Company check availability
  • Overall Resales check availability
  • TotalChronicles check availability
  • Gross Sales International check availability
  • WeeklyDesigns check availability
  • Interstate Revenues check availability
  • Comparable Shipments Spot check availability
  • Market Place check availability
  • ConditionalWorks check availability
  • ExtraGrossSales check availability
  • The Monthly Resales Group check availability
  • ComparableRevenues check availability
  • Conditional Shipments check availability
  • Short&Company check availability
  • The Extra check availability
  • RetailRevenues check availability
  • Special Retailers & Company check availability
  • Installment Gross Sales check availability
  • Gross Sales Co check availability
  • Foreign Retailers Works check availability
  • The Yearly check availability
  • Potential Retail Spot check availability
  • Global Resales Works check availability
  • The Monthly Retail International check availability
  • Total Purchases check availability
  • The Past Shipments & Company check availability
  • Profitable Revenues check availability
  • GlobalMarket check availability
  • Forced Retailers check availability
  • Incremental Marketing & Company check availability
  • RecentCollective check availability
  • Online Resales Pro check availability
  • Installment Purchases & Company check availability
  • International Marketing check availability
  • SubsequentResales check availability
  • Selling Place check availability
  • Overall Shipments Spot check availability
  • Taxable Revenues Group check availability
  • Special Shipments Designs check availability
  • ActualShipments check availability
  • Future Retail International check availability
  • Judicial Resales International check availability
  • WholesaleCo check availability
  • AnnualRetailers check availability
  • Installment&Company check availability
  • Resales Chronicles check availability
  • Total Resales Pro check availability
  • The Judicial Resales Collective check availability
  • CurrentMarket check availability
  • Revenues Co check availability
  • The Corporate check availability
  • The Annual Retail Designs check availability
  • InterstateGrossSales check availability
  • The Total Selling Co check availability
  • Subsequent Gross Sales check availability
  • Substantial Shipments check availability
  • The Additional Shipments Designs check availability
  • The Actual Shipments Chronicles check availability
  • Future Gross Revenue Pro check availability
  • The Forced Gross Sales Pro check availability
  • The Additional Market Place check availability
  • Quick Retailers check availability
  • Retail Selling Spot check availability
  • Revenues Group check availability
  • Marketing & Company check availability
  • The Incremental Resales International check availability
  • Potential Gross Revenue Works check availability
  • Military Purchases Pro check availability
  • The Taxable Shipments Co check availability
  • Weekly Gross Revenue International check availability
  • Forced Selling Designs check availability
  • MonthlyGrossSales check availability
  • DomesticPlace check availability
  • The Total Marketing Spot check availability
  • DomesticPro check availability
  • Overseas Gross Revenue Trading Co check availability
  • RetailTradingCo check availability
  • Quarterly Retailers Chronicles check availability
  • Weekly Gross Sales Works check availability
  • Direct Selling check availability
  • The Forced Market Designs check availability
  • The Direct Purchases Place check availability
  • Conditional Purchases Spot check availability
  • The Average Resales Spot check availability
  • Additional Gross Sales Trading Co check availability
  • Special Retail check availability
  • Interstate Retail check availability
  • Overseas Shipments Designs check availability
  • MonthlyGrossRevenue check availability
  • Domestic Purchases check availability
  • The Direct Shipments Group check availability
  • The Worldwide check availability
  • WholesaleSpot check availability
  • Interstate Marketing Place check availability
  • Quick Gross Revenue Collective check availability
  • Wholesale Revenues Group check availability
  • TaxableCollective check availability
  • The Quick Gross Sales Pro check availability
  • The Quarterly Purchases Group check availability
  • Recent Retailers Place check availability
  • Special Gross Sales check availability
  • Conditional Retailers Collective check availability
  • Substantial Selling Collective check availability
  • OverseasPlace check availability
  • Substantial Retail check availability
  • AnnualInternational check availability
  • Military Retail check availability
  • Direct Shipments Chronicles check availability
  • Weekly Market Collective check availability
  • Recent Gross Sales check availability
  • Retail Co check availability
  • PastPro check availability
  • The Potential Marketing Place check availability
  • DoorMarketing check availability
  • Potential Shipments check availability
  • The Potential Retail Place check availability
  • Retail Trading Co check availability
  • The Daily Marketing Pro check availability
  • Substantial Retailers check availability
  • DoorSpot check availability
  • TotalTradingCo check availability
  • The Recent Selling Group check availability
  • The Corporate Resales Place check availability
  • Future Resales & Company check availability

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Startup Costs

If you are planning to start a sales automation platform, the costs are relatively low. This of course, depends on if you decide to start the business on your own or bring on a big team at first.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a sales automation platform and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $2,550
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $34,800
Startup ExpensesThese numbers are based off the average expenses incurred when starting a sales automation platform. Min Startup CostsDefined as an sales automation platform you have started and plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup CostsDefined as an sales automation platform you have started with one other team member. You decided to rent out an office space to set up the business.
Licenses and Business FormationThis refers to setting up your business license and establishing any legal contracts. $250 $1,000
PayrollThis number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary up front and the amount of employees you hire. The average salary for a full-time sales automation platform individual is $0 $4,000
Advertising/PromotionThis includes (but not limited to): paid ads, public relations, networking events etc. $200 $2,000
Website and Email HostingCosts to host website, domain names and email $100 $300
Website Design (Outsourced)Hiring an outside contractor to assist with design elements of your website $0 $5,000
RentThis refers to the office space you decide to work in. Depending on the cost of living, this number could vary. $0 $2,500
Liability InsuranceDepending on which state you live in, the costs and regulations vary for liability insurance. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Developer CostsIf you plan to outsource a developer, the cost is typically around $60-$100 per hour. Depending on the scope of your project and hours allocated to this freelancer, the cost can vary. $1,000 $13,000
Equipment and TechnologyThis includes (but is not limited to) any expenses such as: laptops, cameras, office supplies and technology platforms $500 $5,000
Total Starting Costs $2,550 (min) $34,800 (max)

Raising Money

Since the startup costs to start sales automation platform range between $2,550 - $34,800, there are ways you can raise money to cover these costs.

Here are a few ways you can secure additional funding:

Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your sales automation platform.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

Building an MVP (Minimal Viable Product)

When building a sales automation platform, it's critical that you first validate your product/service rather than rushing to build it right away.

This could save you months, if not years of building the wrong product/service.

If you're hoping to decrease any sort of risk that comes with launching your sales automation platform, designing a prototype can be a great way to de-risk your situation.

The point of your sales automation tool prototype is that it doesn't have to be perfect.

In the beginning stages, it doesn't matter how rough V1 of your prototype is, it's more important to just get started and you can always refine from there based on feedback from your network and most importantly your customers.

How To Build A MVP

Here are several different ways of building a prototype/MVP:

  • Start by building a landing page to see if customers actually need your product and if they are willing to pay for it
  • Build a very basic version of your idea and ask for immediate feedback from potential customers
  • Present a problem and solution via Facebook/Instagram Ads and see what the response is like

How To Find The Right Developer For Your Sales Automation Platform

If you (or others on your team) don't have the necessary coding/design skills to build the product on your own, finding the right developer for your sales automation platform is a critical piece to bringing your idea to life.

Prior to hiring someone, you'll want to:

  • Have a very clear understanding of what your product (or MVP) will look like
  • Understand what the details of the user experience will look like (pages, how users sign up, backend administrative details, billing, reports etc). It may help to draw out the prototype and UX experience on a design platform such as Sketch
  • Understand what features you want to implement now and even those in the future
  • Understand the costs and time associated with hiring a developer and set a budget (more on that below)

Here are some ways you can find a developer:

Arielle Frank, founder of Clout Collective talks about her experiences and lessons learned when hiring a developer as a non-technical founder:

My first attempt to find a developer was a massive failure. I was basically screaming to be taken advantage of with my lack of technical knowledge and a heart full of hope. I signed an extremely unfavorable contract with a developer based in Morocco who claimed to offer “discounted” development services in exchange for equity in the company. By “discounted” I mean that it would cost only $40K to build the MVP. At the time I had no frame of reference for whether or not this was normal and justified it to myself.

Luckily, after a lot more internet sleuthing, I found my current developer, Adeva. Working with Adeva was the opposite experience of my initial encounter in every way. At $8K, Adeva’s quote for my MVP was literally 1/5th the cost of the original developer! I decided to save money on a front-end designer for V1 by using a template and designing things where I could in Figma.

I was forced to figure out many of the details and features of the platform upfront since Adeva couldn’t give me a quote without detailed user stories.

When building out the prospective features, I tried to focus on the end result and work backward from there.

For example, the end goal was for a content creator to be able to read a review and know whether or not they want to collaborate with a specific brand. I used this goal to inform the questions I collected for the reviews and the best way to display this info. During this phase, I also relied heavily on my beta testers for feedback about which info would be the most useful for them.

It’s tempting to add a bunch of cool, slick features when you’re building your product, but my brilliant mentor encouraged me to focus on doing one thing extremely well.

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Wilson Hung, on starting ARPU (/month) full story ➜

Different Pricing Models

Tiered Pricing Model

You may want to consider having different pricing tiers to meet the needs of your customers.

With this model, there are typically 2 or more packages for a specific price that offer a fixed amount of features.

Each package should reflect the needs of the buyer persona - for example, a customer looking for a beginner package may have a very different use case than a customer looking for an enterprise package.

By offering different packages, you're able to target different audiences which will lead to increased conversions and revenue. Additionally, your chances of "upselling" existing customers are much higher as you have establisished trust with your customer and they're left wanting more once their use case evolves.

Per-User Model

Many sales automation platform businesses charge a fixed rate per user on the account (either monthly or yearly). This can be especially lucrative if you're targeting larger businesses where the user number will be much higher.

This model is not always preferred as it can be challenging to forecast revenue accurately when the user count within businesses is fluctuating constantly.

Flat Rate Model

If you decide to adopt a flat-rate model, this would mean that you offer only one price for every customer. All customers are treated equally and have access to the same amount of features.

This model is not as common as tiered pricing because it only meets the needs of one buyer persona and can limit growth and you're able to have multiple revenue streams.

Per Feature Model

This model charges customers based on the # of features they need. Customers add features "a-la-carte" which will determine the overall price of the product.

This can be a lucrative model, however, the number of different use-cases customers need can become overwhelming (making the sales process longer) and it can be challenging to find a price structure that works well.

The business model you choose depends entirely on your needs and goals as a company. To find what works well for you, you may want to consider testing several models and conducting market research to see what competition in the space is doing.

The Freemium Model

Offering free trials to your platform is a great way to gain exposure for your business and potentially get new customers!

Finding the right sales automation platform is a big deal for most people, so it can be important for customers to try a free version with limited features prior to making a big investment.

Once your customer reaches the limits of their free account, they're much more likely to invest in the premium version so they can gain access to all of the features your product offers.

There are a few different ways you can limit certain aspects of your product:

  • Usage quotas: Storage limits or limiting the number of times they can utilize a feature
  • Limited features: Only allowing your free user to utilize certain features vs all features - this is also a great way to upsell during the user's experience
  • Limited support: Customer support can be time-consuming, by limiting the level of support to free users this is a great incentive for them to upgrade (and will save you a lot of time and money)!

Here's an example of SEO website, Sanity Check offering a free version to their website:

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How To Price Your Sales Automation Tool

One of the most challenging and critical pieces to starting your sales automation platform is determining how much to charge for your sales automation tool

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your sales automation tool, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your sales automation tool so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your sales automation tool may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your sales automation tool, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your sales automation platform to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based off of your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your sales automation tool is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your sales automation tool fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your sales automation tool, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Launch Strategies For Your Sales Automation Platform

There are various different ways you can launch your sales automation platform successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your sales automation platform.

  • Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
  • Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your sales automation platform, and possibly even go viral
  • Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
  • Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
  • Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your sales automation platform is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.

Here are a few popular sites to launch on:

Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here

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Improve your SEO

SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."

Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your sales automation platform.

Publish Great Content

Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.

There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.

So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"

  • Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
  • Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
  • Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
  • Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
  • Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).

Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.

If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.

Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.

Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:

  • Trello
  • Airtable
  • If you prefer to keep it simple, your average spreadsheet is just as useful!

Backlinks

Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.

Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.

Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.

For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.

Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:

  • Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
  • Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
  • Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
  • Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
  • Leverage existing business relationships

Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here

Build A Blog

One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.

We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:

Consistency and Quantity

Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.

What’s more important is consistency and quantity.

Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.

This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.

Oversaturation

The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.

This is nonsense.

There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.

For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.

You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.

Patience & Persistence

Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.

The only thing you have control over is your content.

You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.

So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.

Where to share your blog content

Mailing List

I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.

Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.

Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.

An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.

Reddit

Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.

It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.

Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.

Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.

Facebook Groups

When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.

Attend A Tradeshow

Having an online presence is important, but showing face will always remain one of the most effective strategies for growing your business.

As traditional as it may be, tradeshows and conferences are a great way to get your product in front of your customers.

It all comes down to basic human interaction - prospects are much more likely to invest in your product if they've created some sort of relationship with you and can put a face to your product!

Brandon with Photobooth Supply Co talks the importance of tradeshows

A trade show is like having access to hundreds or thousands of hot leads, all at once, and while every competitor is right next to you. It’s brutal, and it’s exhausting, and it’s amazing.

You truly have to stand out as a product, and as an experience, and as a company. We might spend $10,000 on a space and another $10,000 on staff, setup materials, and experience. Then we still have to have a show special and use that to drive sales. The margins get a lot tighter, but if you’re picking good shows, the kind your current customers go to, you’re going to do well.

That’s the best advice I can give for picking shows—just ask your customers where they’re going to be, and go there. Partially to sell, and partially to meet your people in person. You can never spend enough time getting to know your customers.

Types of tradeshows we attend

We love attending photography focused trade shows. I think photographers are probably some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there. There is the business side, which takes a remarkable amount of creative skill, and there’s the actual photography.

When you get a chance to talk to them, they realize very quickly that they’re entrepreneurs at heart and we’re a great solution!

Trade shows don’t have to be your thing to be profitable. Your company should mirror your spirit and interests, but sometimes we all have to do the things that are necessary for success.

Moreover, there is a wonderful opportunity to iterate on your sales pitch. You are sometimes talking to dozens of people in person every day. By seeing their body language and how they interact with your product, you can immediately tell what aspects of your pitch are effective.

By the end of it, you should have some solid strategies for your sales reps, ads, and website.

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Brandon Wong, on starting Photobooth Supply Co. ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Alex Nerney, founder of Create and Go discusses how the key to growing your email list is through your email opt-in:

Along with being transparent, we put a lot of emphasis on building an email list. We knew the power of email marketing from our first blog and by collecting emails, we were able to really connect with our audience and build trust with them before ever promoting our products.

The biggest factor for growing our email list was finding the perfect email opt-in. By offering something to your audience, you’re able to entice them to sign up for your email list.

We offered a blogging bootcamp and not only did it serve as an awesome list builder but it also gave people a taste of what it would be like to learn from us. launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

article This is an example of our currently designed email opt-in for Create and Go

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Alex Nerney, on starting Create and Go ($100,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Customer Email Newsletter / Video Marketing

Example from Patrick Sullivan Jr, founder of Jigsaw Health:

The single most valuable tool we’ve utilized for retention is emailing our customers “edutaining” content, which is primarily video-based.

In 2017, we began a weekly series called #FunnyFriday, a video a week -- some sort of short, entertaining skit, song parody, etc. that features our products and/or culture in a unique and clever way. :)

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As of July 2019, we’ve published nearly 100 #FunnyFriday videos... We’re like the “Weird Al” of the dietary supplement industry. And we’re definitely the only dietary supplement company with a costume budget. ;-)

To date, we’ve not been able to make these videos work for new customer acquisition, and I’m ok with that. These are for retention, for showing our customers that real people work here. :)

80% of our monthly revenue is from returning customers, and that’s without forced continuity / auto-ship that so many other brands in the dietary supplement industry.

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Patrick Sullivan Jr., on starting Jigsaw Health ($1,000,000/month) full story ➜

Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to sales automation platform.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:

The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.

We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.

Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:

  • Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
  • Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
  • Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
  • Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

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How To Retain Customers

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your sales automation platform.

Often times, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer, than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your sales automation platform:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write hand written thank you notes
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

How To Crush The Sales Process For Your Sales Automation Platform

You may find yourself in a spot where you're ready to hire a few (or many) salespeople to support the sales conversion process.

Regardless if you have one or thirty salespeople, it's critical that you assign them specific roles and responsibilities to nurture the client and provide excellent support.

Mike Korba, co-founder of User.Com walks us through the entire sales process and which teams are responsible for what:

User.com Sales Process

Each user and account is qualified with a specialist. For business leads, they are handled by the sales team, and if they are qualified we give them a demo, more than often at the end of their fourteen-day trial. If they’re happy they’ll add a payment, and get an account manager, so a customer support and success team who will help implement the solution and to use the technology.

Sometimes, users will convert naturally on their own, after using the freemium product and finding it to be something that they will find beneficial.

After they convert, we help with onboarding, give them some personalized tips for their specific business or industry to grow plus all kinds of support, for whatever they need - something we take huge pride in.

The team is right now more than 30 people, with more than half working on the IT and product side, and the rest are in three teams: Support, Marketing, and Sales who all work together very closely.

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Mike Korba, on starting User.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

Provide Great Customer Service

Providing exceptional care and creating relationships with clients is a great way to build your reputation and retain customers.

Whether you are an online business or a physical business, it's highly important to communicate with customers and make them feel like they are the priority.

Just remember: customer service represents your brand, values, vision and YOU as a person.

Customer service is huge for us. Like I talked about, building a community has been one of the best bi-products in the shop.

We want everyone to feel loved, cared for, and appreciated.

If we have a customer that comes in quite a bit, we will begin to notice what they buy and reach out to them if something new comes in if we think they will like it. We also try to call people by name and greet them as if they were entering my home, not just the shop.

Another great way we retain customers is through a loyalty point system. When a customer gains enough points through their purchases, they are rewarded with a discount. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for having them be a great customer.

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Emilie Casseday, on starting Blush Boutique Co ($25,000/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your sales automation platform.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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