Trust Enablement

Improving Sales Performance with Enablement Recruiting, Consulting, Outsourcing, Coaching, and Insights on Strategies, Tactics, and Tools

The Best Marketing and Sales Tools for Startups

The best sales tools for startups

Operating and growing a business can be daunting for startups who have yet to reach their C round of financing and are struggling to make more than $50 million in annual revenue. The company is molded at this stage, and the most critical decisions are made. The biggest challenge is typically scale, and it’s during this period that maximizing efficiency in all departments is paramount.

While all teams must scale, we will focus this article on the sales, marketing, and customer success teams.

What Are The Major Scaling Challenges For Startups?

Let’s briefly examine the most common challenges across sales, marketing, and customer success during this growth period.

Common Marketing Challenges for Startups

As marketing scales, it is important to confidently estimate the investment required to generate a specific number of leads in return.

The major variables to be understood to be predictable include the following:

  • Generating traffic to your website, events, and so on. You must know if you spend $X in ads, content creation, or other programs, it will generate a certain amount of traffic consistently.
  • Converting traffic into leads. Traffic is only worthwhile when you know how to convert that traffic into leads for your sellers to work with.

In all cases, your goal is to have a predictable baseline of current behavior from which you can build your revenue plans, which you can use as you work to improve from your baseline.

There are many strategies and tactics to consider, many of which we’ll reference as we discuss the best tools for each.

Common Sales Challenges for Startups

As with marketing, sales teams need to understand how many inputs (leads) are required to reach their output targets (closed business, aka sales).

While there are tons of challenges, if we boil it down to basics, sellers are focused on understanding:

  • How many activities (meetings, phone calls, etc.) are required to move a lead to a decision point to buy or not buy?
  • How many leads are required to close a new customer?

There are many levers to be considered, and we will explore many of them as we dive into the tools below.

Common Customer Success Challenges for Startups

Customer success teams ensure your customer is happy and understands the value of the solutions they bought from you. This is vital to reduce customer churn and returns and to support your team’s efforts to sell them more of your company’s products and services.

The core challenges that exist for customer success teams at this stage include the following:

  • Understanding WHY each customer has purchased your products.
  • Delivering a customer onboarding process to each customer that maximizes their ability to achieve their WHY in a manner that is clear and easy to communicate.
  • Delivering ongoing support and reinforcement to ensure all customer stakeholders recognize the value of your solution and see that value as greater in value than the perceived custom of your solutions.

Technology Challenges

While we discussed many of the most common go-to-market challenges above, we haven’t yet addressed a challenge that consistently negatively impacts the companies in this category.

The challenge?

Too much technology.

To be more specific. Too many one-offs, point solutions are used by a small percentage of the team that doesn’t integrate its data or workflows with the rest of the technology stack.

However, before you dive in and start buying, deploying, expanding, shrinking, or retiring items in your tech stack, answer the following questions, then read our buying guide:

  • How will the business grow over the next 12-60 months?
  • How qualified is your IT team to manage and administer your technology stack?
  • How much time, money, and resources will you invest in customizing software or your existing processes to match each other? Does the need match the level of investment you are willing to make? If they don’t align, is the technology worth investing in?
  • Do you have an inventory of all software in use, which individuals and teams are using each, what problems they are solving with each, and what would happen if you no longer owned that software?
  • Related to the last, what other business challenges could you solve with your current technology? Often, your existing technology can solve many different business problems you have (or will have in the future. Your lack of awareness often costs you time and money evaluating other solutions when your current technology can already support new needs.
  • For each technology, how does it impact current staff? Is it eliminating portions of work? Is it opening the door for more advanced work for your team?

Note: Trust Enablement provides full-service solutions for marketing and sales for businesses looking to reduce risk and costs.  Learn more.

Note: Trust Enablement also provides software selection services for businesses wanting to ensure they buy the right solution for their current and future challenges.

Our Working Assumptions

For these recommendations, we are working under the following assumptions:

  • Your annual revenue is less than $20 million.
  • You have not yet received a C round of financing.
  • You have done fantastic work but have limited or no repeatable processes. You need to scale.

We will begin by looking at the foundational tools to create your scalable business.

Best Go-To-Market Tools – Summary

Here are the top marketing and sales tools, broken out below in more detail.

  1. Trainual for employee onboarding, ongoing training, and process standardization
  2. Pipedrive for CRM
  3. for Project Management
  4. ChurnZero for Customer Success
  5. Saleshood for Sales Content Management
  6. e4enable for overall Sales Performance
  7. Wiza for Sales Prospecting
  8. PandaDoc for Sales Proposals and e-Signatures
  9. Klenty for Sales Outreach (cadences)
  10. ActiveCampaign for Email Outreach and Overall Marketing Automation
  11. ConvertKit for email drip campaigns
  12. Surfer SEO for SEO Optimization and Analysis
  13. Frase for AI Writer and Paraphrasing Tool


Best Standard Go-to-Market Core Tools for Startups

As a startup, you must cover these core go-to-market capabilities, create standard processes, leverage frameworks, and plan for scale.

The most important tools for every startup at this stage include:

  • Process Support
  • CRM
  • Project Management
  • Customer Success
Employee Onboarding, Ongoing Training, and Process Standardization

Hard work, passion, and much caffeine can help you grow to a certain point.

But you will see it all fall apart if you begin standardizing processes and the ongoing training of your teams and individuals.

There are too many options, and many will charge you more than the value you will receive.

That’s why we chose Trainual as the best option.

CRM Solutions

Each of the following CRM solutions works excellent for your startup — consider our recommendations closely as they help you position the right solution for you right now.

Ideal for…An early-stage startup that will not be adding more than five additional sellers in the next couple of years. An early-stage startup adding more than 5-20 reps in the next couple of years and depends on inbound marketing to drive leads.An early-stage startup hiring more than 20 reps in the next two years must scale now.
Key DIfferentiatorSolid Contact and Deal Flow to manage the sales processes you are building out.Top of line Marketing Automation for Inbound Marketing, Including a Capable CRMThe top-of-the-line CRM for most businesses, certainly for any early-stage startup growing quickly.
IntegrationsMore than 250 integrations. More than 1000 integrations. Too Many to List, here is the list of all integrations
Top Verticals SupportedTechnology, Financial Services, ConstructionTechnology, Retail, Health CareTechnology, Financial Services, Health Care
ConsFewest Integrations — Use solutions like Zapier to close the gap.Free CRM is solid but the least robust of the three. Adding in paid features becomes expensive.Most complex solution to learn.
PricingFree Trial available.

Four pricing packages are available, but we urge buying the Advanced Package at $24.90/user/month as you will want the email and workflow capabilities available at this level.
The Free version of Hubspot is not the solution you can build your startup on.

You will need to build your own CRM and Marketing Automation bundle.

This will range from as low as $50/month through thousands per month, depending on team size and the number of marketing contacts in your account.
Sales Cloud Pricing ranges from $25/user/month to $300/user/month, depending on functional needs.

Most startups can use Essentials at $25/user/month initially.

However, collaborative forecasting is a powerful reason to upgrade to Professional at $75/user/month.
Try NowTry NowTry Now

Project Management ScreenshotWe know the startup world. It is magical, energizing, chaotic, and exhausting every day.

Too many teams run around, getting stuff done without documenting their processes, prioritizing their efforts, or measuring their results.

A great project management solution can help you document and prioritize.

That’s why our team uses for our work, and we highly recommend it to every business we work with. supports:

  • The project management capabilities you need, of course.
  • Managing internal documentation and building processes to update it as part of your projects.
  • And it comes with a free version that will work for very early-stage startups, teams of 2, for example.

For teams larger than 2, the paid version will cost anywhere from $8/user/month upwards.

Customer Success

If your business depends upon recurring revenue from existing customers, you must hire customer success early and arm them with the tools necessary to win.

Initially, the most important tools for this person or team will include the CRM and your Project Management platform. No additional cost there.

However, as your customer base grows, you will want to evaluate tools like Totango, Gainsight, and ChurnZero. This is how we compare the platforms.

Note: that you will want licenses for your Customer Success Leader and Sales Leader, at a minimum.

IntegrationsChurnZero has many integrations, including Hubspot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Outlook, and Gmail.Many integrations listed, including Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, SalesforceIntegrations: Salesforce, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Hubspot, Pipedrive, Zoho, Zoom, Gong, Google, Outlook, Google Analytics, Einstein Analytics, Segment, Tableau, Zendesk, Salesforce Service Cloud, Freshdesk, Zapier, Software AG, Workato, Celigo
Top Verticals SupportedTechnology, Human Resources, Financial ServicesTechnology, Higher Education, HealthcareTechnology, Healthcare, Financial Services
PricingPricing is not listed on their website.Community Pricing: Teams of 3, 1 product, and a max of 100 customers can use FREE

Starter Pricing: Teams of 5, 1 product, and 500 customers cost $499/month.

Growth Pricing: Team of 10 users, 1 product, $899/month.

Larger Plans and Enterprise Pricing are custom quoted.
Pricing pages are listed on the Gainsight website, but no prices are provided.
Try NowTry NowTry Now

Best Sales Tools for Startups

Content Management and Delivery Solutions

You need a platform for managing and measuring the effectiveness of your sales content.

The most important thing for these platforms is their ability to integrate with your CRM and mail clients. You cannot afford the content or the data produced by its usage to not integrate with your broader tech stack.

Digital Sales RoomsSolid capabilities, dynamic content (optionally), and security.Solid capabilities, dynamic content, but no security.Solid capabilities, dynamic content (optionally), security, chat/conversation capabilities.
Content PlaybackGood playback includes annotations and the ability to save notes.Basic, No Annotations or NotesBasic, No Annotations or Notes
SearchTitle, Description, File ContentsTitle, Description, File ContentsTitle, Description, File Contents
ReportingSellers can use reporting to identify customer engagement, who to contact, and what to discuss.Sellers can use reporting to identify customer engagement, who to contact, and what to discuss.Sellers can use reporting to identify customer engagement, who to contact, and what to discuss.
Email IntegrationsNoneNoneGmail, Microsoft Outlook
CRM IntegrationsSalesforceSalesforceHubspot, Pipedrive, Microsoft Dynamics
– Up to 25 documents
– Up to 5 users
– Basic theme
– Self-service onboarding
– Help Center and tutorial videos
– Virtual product training
– Community Slack support

– Up to 50 documents
– Up to 20 users
– Basic theme
– 1-to-1 virtual onboarding session
– Help Center and tutorial videos
– Customer support
– Community Slack support

No pricing published
– Unlimited volume & storage
– Unlimited users & admins
– Custom themes
– Onboarding program
– Dedicated customer success manager
– Premium support
– Showell community
Try Free
All Pricing
Try Free
All Pricing
Evaluate NowEvaluate NowEvaluate Now

Sales Enablement Performance

e4enable is the MUST-HAVE solution for businesses ranging from mid-sized through the Fortune 500.  

The e4enable team refers to its platform as a data-driven, competency-centered sales coaching platform — but that is too large of a mouthful and fails to capture the depth of value they have created in their product.

This product is the brain, heart, and soul of effective employee growth and amplification solution, finally providing a way to tie training and coaching efforts to business outcomes.

It cuts across employees at all levels, providing more insight than anything else on the market while almost spoon-feeding the users with the formula for their individual, their teams, and their business overall growth.

It is not an LMS replacement — it is the glue that finally enables you to deliver on the promised value of your existing LMS and related solutions.

Try e4enable now.

Prospecting Tools

Consider these two prospecting tools for startups based on your expected growth rate.

Key DIfferentiatorIf you are using LinkedIn for most of your sales outreach, Wiza is the best choice.
ConsIf you don’t prospect via LinkedIn, Wiza is unnecessary.
Try Now

Sales Document (Proposals and E-Signatures)
G2 Ratings4.7/5.0
(1547 Reviews)
Paid Pricing$49/user/month
CRM IntegrationsSalesforce, Pipedrive, Hubspot, Zoho, Copper, Sugar, Nimble, Zendesk Sell, Insightly, Microsoft Dynamics, Nutshell, Nimble,
CPQ SupportYes
Additional Add-onsYes
Set Signing OrderYes
Variables and Custom FieldsYes
Try Now

Sales Outreach Solutions

Once you’ve identified your leads using the abovementioned tools, you want to begin your outreach efforts.

Klenty and are our two recommendations in this category as the best startup sales tools.

Let’s compare a bit closer.

Note: As you compare pricing between Autoklose and Klenty below, note that the Startup pricing only provides email cadence support, not support for the broader capabilities.
G2 Reviews4.6/5.0 (161 Reviews)4.6/5.0 (816 Reviews)
Cadence SupportA complete sales cadence solution supporting defining and running cadences that are email, phone, and miscellaneous (e.g., social). It also integrates with popular CRM and email solutions.

Note: Startup pricing only provides email cadences.
A complete sales cadence solution supporting defining and running cadences that are email, phone, and miscellaneous (e.g., social).
Email IntegrationsGmail and Microsoft OutlookNone Listed
CRM IntegrationsSalesforce, Hubspot, and PipedriveSalesforce, Pipedrive, Zendesk Sell, Hubspot, Copper CRM, Freshsales, Salesflare, Zoho, Insightly, Nutshell, Bullhorn
– Email Cadences

– Cadence Playbooks
– Multichannel Outreach
– CRM Integrations

$100/user/month is very transparent with its pricing and has many choices.

Summary for Businesses

$50/user/month for 10+ users

$60/user/month for 5-10 users

$70/user/month for fewer than five users.

Review here.
Buy Now to Support Lead GenerationBuy Now to Support Lead Generation

Best Marketing Tools for Startups

Let’s begin the marketing tool discussion with email marketing.

Email Marketing Solutions

G2 Reviews
CRM IntegrationsMore than 870 integrations total – CRMs:
Dozens, including Pipedrive and Salesforce
Dozens of integrations total – CRM:
Many, including Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Salesforce
PricingActiveCampaign has four paid plans.
Full details for each package can be found here.




Price not provided
Moosend’s Free 30-day trial allows prospects to get comfortable with the platform.
Beyond the Free trial, there are two pricing tiers:

$9/user/month for up to 500 subscribers.

Pricing not provided
Custom Reporting
Dedicated Account Manager
Priority Support
Single Sign-on (SSO)
Try NowTry Now

Drip Email Marketing Automation Solutions

ConvertKit is the most robust solution for easily creating powerful email drip campaigns.

We use ConvertKit for all drip campaigns across Trust Enablement and other properties.

(Video) Using ConvertKit for Drip Email Marketing

Best Search Engine Optimization Tools

Content Marketing ToolsWhy do we use it?G2 RatingsProsConsPricingTry Now
ahrefsIn-depth SEO Research4.6/5.0
(386 Reviews)
Hands down the best overall SEO tool on the market.Pricing ranges from $99/month to $999/month.Try Now to Win the SEO Wars
Surfer SEOFor Content Planning and Web Page Analysis4.8/5.0
(263 Reviews)
Very easy to use and hands-down the best content planning and auditing tools on the market.Many tools are newer — not a negative as much as an observation that some of their growth tools are evolving.Paid plans range from $49/month to $199/month.Try now to Put your Website SEO on Another Level.

Best AI Writing Assistants
Overall Quality of AI-Generated Writing9/108/107/10
Ease of Use8/109/107/10
ProsPowerful engine for writing SEO-rich content.

Rapid engineering team, evolving this product quickly.
Very easy to use to generate content of any length.

High-quality content.
Does an excellent job at rewrites —
ConsThe tool is powerful, and it’s not always obvious to first-time users how to take full advantage.

It’s worth your effort.
SEO support requires using Surfer SEO, a great product but an additional purchase.Not a tool for writing from scratch.
G2 Reviews4.8/5.0
(205 Reviews)
(605 Reviews)
(15 Reviews)
PricingFrom $44.99/monthFrom $29/month.Free version and paid plans start at $19.95 per month
Try NowTry NowTry Now

What would you recommend we add to our recommendations?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Why Become A Subscriber?

The majority of our work is performed free of charge to support the enablement community. The work is time-consuming, and we are actively looking for subscribers to fund these activities.

Please consider a $10/month subscription as it supports our enablement-only job board, our free job seekers program, and all the content and reviews we create on Trust Enablement.

Individual Subscribers, in addition to other free services, receive (email [email protected], using the email address you support us with, requesting the following):

  • Quarterly Career Coaching. Each year begins wih a one-hour planning session followed by three 30 minute quarterly check-ups, and year-long annual support. Additional career coaching services are available for an extra fee.
  • Access to email addresses of contacts listed below (we know many of them and will share them with you).
  • Further analysis and insights for specific roles for which you request information.
  • A review of your outreach messages with suggestions on how to improve your outreach.


Corporate Subscribers who donate more than $200/month gain access to:

  • Quarterly Career Coaching. Each year begins wih a one-hour planning session followed by three 30 minute quarterly check-ups, and year-long annual support. This is available for up to 5 team members each year. Additional career coaching services are available for an extra fee.
  • Our recruiting support services for FREE. We can help you refine your job description, review candidates, and coordinate interviews for enablement roles.
  • An annual enablement program check-up. We'll provide a free one-hour consultation to ensure your team is optimized for success.


Venture Capital Subscribers who donate more than $1000/month gain access to the corporate benefits for every company in their portfolio. This includes:

  • Quarterly Career Coaching. Each year begins wih a one-hour planning session followed by three 30 minute quarterly check-ups, and year-long annual support. This is available for up to 5 team members across 5 of your companies each year. Additional career coaching services are available for an extra fee.
  • Our recruiting support services for FREE. We can help you refine your job description, review candidates, and coordinate interviews for enablement roles.
  • An annual enablement program check-up. We'll provide a free one-hour consultation to ensure your team is optimized for success.


When you subscribe, we'll send you a welcome email with more information (may take up to 24 hours). If you don't hear from us promptly, please email us at [email protected].