The Sales Stack: 9 Popular Tools to Grow Startups

Building your startup is an exciting and intimidating time. The truth is, failure and success are both equally possible. What determines success is the plan of action you have in place, the strength of your team, and the tools you have implemented in assisting you. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day - it took hard work, determination, and a strong team of workers, each with their own set of skills to contribute to the overall success. 

Scan the Internet and you’ll find that there are a plethora of tools at your disposal for virtually every aspect of running your business. But the best tools are not only affordable but are intuitive and user-friendly. At Stacklist, we’ve done all the legwork for you - we’ve asked over 400 startup founders which tools they have tried, which they abandoned, which worked best for them, and why. 

Because every business’ needs are unique, there is no magic recipe to follow for growing your business to its fullest potential. But by basing your decisions on the insights from others, you can lead yourself down the right path and save time and money. Here are some of the most loved startup sales tools you'll find in a sales stack that you can use.


Lead Generation

InsideView

The sales process starts with lead generation. In the past, businesses would purchase leads, hand them to their sales team and they would start cold calling. However, less than 2% of cold calls actually result in an appointment. 

As a result, many businesses are now shifting their focus to lead generation - the process of sharing information about your products and services with the intention of turning strangers into prospective customers.

But, how do you find those targeted strangers?  That’s where lead generation tools such as InsideView come in handy. InsideView is a CRM intelligence tool that can help you identify pertinent leads and nurture the relationships you have with current customers. It provides valuable data and insights into your leads’ connections and interests, assuring that every conversation is relevant to both parties. 

Price: InsideView is free for the Basic package, while their Essential package is $29/month. A great product at an affordable price - perfect for the sales team who’s just starting out.  


SumoMe

Have you ever visited a website and had a little window pop up asking for your email address? Even the most conservative person is tempted to provide their email address when taunted with a percentage off their next purchase or service. 

SumoMe provides you the tools necessary to customize your pop-ups, including the look and feel of it, as well as when the visitor will view the pop-up. It's very user-friendly, making it a superior option over the competition. Guillame Cabane, the former Head of Growth Marketing at Mention uses SumoMe and says:


"SumoMe is our favorite tool for collecting emails to deliver our blog newsletter to. It's simple and intuitive to use, and allows you to customize your pop-ups by time on site, colors, copy, and more."


Price: SumoMe is free for your first one million website visits, with a range of plans up to $119/month, depending upon your lead generation needs. 

 

CRMs

Streak

While there are a number of Customer Relationship Management systems out there, Streak is one of the most popular amongst seed stage and Series A startups. The feature that sets Streak apart from the rest is that the platform exists wholly within Google Apps, saving users the time and frustration of having to flip back and forth between external platforms and their inbox. 

So, if your team uses Google’s suite of tools, Streak will be the perfect complement to your arsenal of business tools. An added bonus is that Streak is a cloud-based platform, making implementation and management very easy. Marco Peluso, Founder & CEO of Qardio says:


"The sales team loves Streak. I think one of the issues with these tools is to find the right tool that people actually use. Streak, between ease of use and features, found the right balance."


Price: Streak offers a free plan for up to five users, with no limits on usage or email tools.  As your needs increase, you will want to upgrade to one of their larger packages, which start at $19/month.


Salesforce

It would be hard to talk about CRMs and sales tools without mentioning Salesforce. For teams looking into a robust, scalable platform with a variety of features and integrations, Salesforce is the most popular option. Salesforce is currently mostly used by later stage companies, but earlier stage startups may choose Salesforce because of its ubiquity and know it will scale with their growth.

Although it should be noted there is a learning curve to using Salesforce. Josh Weissburg uses Salesforce at Outbound and says this:


"I’m learning to like Salesforce. It is powerful. It takes a lot of investment and a lot of time. We had an external expert come in - that was required to use it correctly. I think it will be powerful once we have it set up. Learning to use it at scale is different than personally using it."


Getting the most out of Salesforce will mean sitting down and learning it's ins and outs. 

Price: Their CRM solution starts at $25/user/month and scales to $300/user/month. 


Email Marketing

MailChimp

With a focus on ease-of-use, MailChimp is the clear winner for email marketing campaigns amongst startup businesses. You have the ability to create email campaigns, automate what would otherwise be cumbersome processes, as well as generate newsletters.  

Even more advantageous is the software’s ability to deliver actionable data regarding sales, website activity, and revenue - a valuable tool for businesses as they navigate the intricacies of building a startup business. Dylan Baskind, co-founder & CEO of Qwilr says:


"We use MailChimp for our mass mailouts, like newsletters. For the purpose, MailChimp is certainly our favorite pick. It is very easy for non-technical users to setup (i.e. our business and marketing unit) and its analytics are well designed and implemented."


Price: Aside from ease-to-use, what attracts users the most is MailChimp’s fees. Until you reach 12,000/month or build a recipient base of 2,000 people, the tool is 100% free. Once you’ve reached that threshold, monthly packages are $5/month.


Content Marketing

WordPress

With the tech-driven world we live in today, the Internet is the fastest and most effective way of reaching both current and prospective clients. While generating quality content is critical for building trust and establishing your business as an authority figure in your industry, the content is nothing without an effective strategy and avenue for sharing it. 

23% of Stacklist founders find WordPress to be the best tool for managing online content. Simple in nature, Wordpress is a platform for consumers to build free websites and manage blogs. As with most things that are free, it does have some drawbacks. Many customers have indicated the updates are cumbersome and often require assistance from their IT department. Chris Bruce, Founder & CEO of Sproutling says:


"We host our parenting magazine on WordPress. WordPress is decent for a blog and you can buy a template and get it going very easily. It's got a lot of features to solve a lot of different problems."


Email & Collateral Management

SendBloom

Now that you’ve collected those emails, what are you going to do with them? Research reveals that 80% of sales require five follow-ups, yet 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up. When it comes to closing a sale, persistence is key. 

With SendBloom, you’re able to build and automate reusable emails, making it easier to reach out to prospects, allowing you to focus on more pressing matters. SendBloom also saves you time with their automatic segmentation capability, a feature that is invaluable as your leads list starts to grow. Joshua Goldstein, Co-founder of Underdog.io uses SendBloom and says:


"SendBloom is great for sales email automation. It was built by a small team in SF, and it's just a pretty, intuitive product. I highly recommend it."


Price: Contact for quote.

PandaDoc

No matter what industry you serve, your sales team will have documents to send out throughout the sales process. PandaDoc delivers quality, visually appealing documents at an affordable price.  For those businesses who have defined parameters for how these documents are forwarded, it has a wonderful feature that allows you to set up automated workflows.  

So, if your business requires all proposals to first be approved by the Sales Director before being forwarded on, you can automate the process, ensuring the document reaches its next recipient once approved. It even documents every action, allowing you to easily view who has opened the file, any changes made, who it was sent to next, as well as all signatures. Here's how Mike Oeth, CEO of OnSIP uses PandaDoc:


"We use PandaDoc for sales proposal and quote tracking. Instead of creating a quote, turning it into a PDF, and then sending it off, PandaDoc immediately creates a shareable document after I upload it. It also tells you when someone has opened a particular document, and even a particular page, along with how long someone spent reading that page. PandaDoc also allows the recipient to sign the document at the end. 


Price: PandaDoc is only $19/month per user, making this intuitive tool affordable for businesses just starting out.


All-in-one Solution

HubSpot

HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing platform that has been aptly called the “Swiss Army knife of marketing.”  While its primary focus is on assisting your business in collecting and nurturing leads, it includes a multitude of other capabilities: lead management, blogging, SEO, social media, landing pages, CTAs, marketing automation, email, analytics, and web support. 

They also offer a free sales CRM, leaving you with a full arsenal of business tools to carry you through the entire sales process. 

Price: HubSpot is a bit pricey for earlier stage startups. While HubSpot has made parts of their software free to consumers, their pricing plans for their inbound marketing software starts at $200/month.



Let's Recap

As you can see, there are a plethora of effective, intuitive and relatively affordable options for helping your sales team achieve greater success. To make a really efficient sales stack, remember to include these tools for different parts of the pipeline:

1. Lead Generation

Getting your customers contact information and aware about your product will help you set up your marketing campaigns. Tools like InsideView and SumoMe will help you generate leads and engage with potential customers.

2. CRMs

Closing deals takes time, so it's important to have a place where you can record the details of potential customers. Streak is an excellent tool for companies just starting out because it exists in Google Apps and provides an enriched spreadsheet view. Salesforce is the market leader and is a good option for startups looking for a very powerful CRM.

3. Email Marketing

Email is still a very strong marketing channel. Partly because it's easier to scale than cold calling, and campaigns can be automated based on user events. MailChimp is an excellent introductory email marketing tool that offers automation and ecommerce integrations.

4. Content Marketing

Creating great content via blogging will get potential customers aware of your brand and what you offer. WordPress is quick to get started and offers a wide variety of integrations and plugins that will help raise awareness of your product.

5. Email & Collateral Management

When reaching out to prospects, it's important to save time. Consider using tools like SendBloom to automate customer follow ups and PandaDoc for automating internal workflows for documents.