- What Are The Major Scaling Challenges For Startups?
- Technology Challenges
- Our Working Assumptions
- Best Go-To-Market Tools – Summary
- Best Standard Go-to-Market Core Tools for Startups
- Best Sales Tools for Startups
- Best Marketing 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.
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.
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.
- Trainual for employee onboarding, ongoing training, and process standardization
- Pipedrive for CRM
- monday.com for Project Management
- ChurnZero for Customer Success
- Saleshood for Sales Content Management
- e4enable for overall Sales Performance
- Wiza for Sales Prospecting
- PandaDoc for Sales Proposals and e-Signatures
- Klenty for Sales Outreach (cadences)
- ActiveCampaign for Email Outreach and Overall Marketing Automation
- ConvertKit for email drip campaigns
- Surfer SEO for SEO Optimization and Analysis
- 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
- 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.
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 DIfferentiator||Solid Contact and Deal Flow to manage the sales processes you are building out.||Top of line Marketing Automation for Inbound Marketing, Including a Capable CRM||The top-of-the-line CRM for most businesses, certainly for any early-stage startup growing quickly.|
|Integrations||More than 250 integrations.||More than 1000 integrations.||Too Many to List, here is the list of all integrations|
|Top Verticals Supported||Technology, Financial Services, Construction||Technology, Retail, Health Care||Technology, Financial Services, Health Care|
|Cons||Fewest 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.|
|Pricing||Free 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 Now||Try Now||Try Now|
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 monday.com for our work, and we highly recommend it to every business we work with. monday.com 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.
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.
|Integrations||ChurnZero has many integrations, including Hubspot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Outlook, and Gmail.||Many integrations listed, including Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce||Integrations: 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 Supported||Technology, Human Resources, Financial Services||Technology, Higher Education, Healthcare||Technology, Healthcare, Financial Services|
|Pricing||Pricing 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 Now||Try Now||Try 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 Rooms||Solid capabilities, dynamic content (optionally), and security.||Solid capabilities, dynamic content, but no security.||Solid capabilities, dynamic content (optionally), security, chat/conversation capabilities.|
|Content Playback||Good playback includes annotations and the ability to save notes.||Basic, No Annotations or Notes||Basic, No Annotations or Notes|
|Search||Title, Description, File Contents||Title, Description, File Contents||Title, Description, File Contents|
|Reporting||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.||Sellers can use reporting to identify customer engagement, who to contact, and what to discuss.|
|Email Integrations||None||None||Gmail, Microsoft Outlook|
|CRM Integrations||Salesforce||Salesforce||Hubspot, 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
|Evaluate Now||Evaluate Now||Evaluate 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.
Consider these two prospecting tools for startups based on your expected growth rate.
|Key DIfferentiator||If you are using LinkedIn for most of your sales outreach, Wiza is the best choice.|
|Cons||If you don’t prospect via LinkedIn, Wiza is unnecessary.|
Sales Document (Proposals and E-Signatures)
|CRM Integrations||Salesforce, Pipedrive, Hubspot, Zoho, Copper, Sugar, Nimble, Zendesk Sell, Insightly, Microsoft Dynamics, Nutshell, Nimble, monday.com|
|Set Signing Order||Yes|
|Variables and Custom Fields||Yes|
Sales Outreach Solutions
Once you’ve identified your leads using the abovementioned tools, you want to begin your outreach efforts.
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 Reviews||4.6/5.0 (161 Reviews)||4.6/5.0 (816 Reviews)|
|Cadence Support||A 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 Integrations||Gmail and Microsoft Outlook||None Listed|
|CRM Integrations||Salesforce, Hubspot, and Pipedrive||Salesforce, Pipedrive, Zendesk Sell, Hubspot, Copper CRM, Freshsales, Salesflare, Zoho, Insightly, Nutshell, Bullhorn|
– Email Cadences
– Cadence Playbooks
– Multichannel Outreach
– CRM Integrations
|Reply.io 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.
|Buy Now to Support Lead Generation||Buy Now to Support Lead Generation|
Best Marketing Tools for Startups
Let’s begin the marketing tool discussion with email marketing.
Email Marketing Solutions
|CRM Integrations||More than 870 integrations total – CRMs:|
Dozens, including Pipedrive and Salesforce
|Dozens of integrations total – CRM:|
Many, including Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Salesforce
|Pricing||ActiveCampaign 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
Dedicated Account Manager
Single Sign-on (SSO)
|Try Now||Try 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 Tools||Why do we use it?||G2 Ratings||Pros||Cons||Pricing||Try Now|
|ahrefs||In-depth SEO Research||4.6/5.0 |
|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 SEO||For Content Planning and Web Page Analysis||4.8/5.0|
|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
|TOP OVERALL – MOST ROBUST||EASIEST TO USE||TOP FOR PARAPHRASING AND PLAGIARISM CHECKS|
|Overall Quality of AI-Generated Writing||9/10||8/10||7/10|
|Ease of Use||8/10||9/10||7/10|
|Pros||Powerful engine for writing SEO-rich content.|
Rapid engineering team, evolving this product quickly.
|Very easy to use to generate content of any length.|
|Does an excellent job at rewrites —|
|Cons||The 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.|
|Pricing||From $44.99/month||From $29/month.||Free version and paid plans start at $19.95 per month|
|Try Now||Try Now||Try Now|
What would you recommend we add to our recommendations?