A trio of sales employees look at a computer monitor on a long desk in an office. The employee closest to the viewer, a woman, is sitting down and wearing a headset with a mouthpiece for talking on phone calls. The next person, a man with tattoos on his forearm, is sitting and holding a cordless phone to one ear. The person furthest from the viewer, another woman, is standing and looking at the two people sitting down.
To prioritize your resources and your team's time, try practicing lead scoring to determine which leads would be the most valuable to pursue. — Getty Images/anandaBGD

There are plenty of affordable marketing tools and resources that can help build awareness of your new business. But as your customer moves through the sales funnel, it takes a little more effort — and a solid sales strategy — to close the final purchase.

[Read more: What Is a Sales Funnel?]

Integrating a sales strategy as you grow your business can help ensure you’re building strong, personal relationships with your customers—the kind of engagement that will keep them as loyal fans for life.

Try these inexpensive sales strategies when your business is just getting started to improve lifetime customer value.

Focus on a niche group

When you first approach your market, the possibilities can seem endless. There are many customer segments along with steep competition in most industries. Rather than get lost in the crowd, ask your sales team to focus on small, niche groups where you can start to build momentum.

Think about the unique problem your product or service solves, and speak to those customers who most urgently need your solution. From there, you can expand your sales outreach once you have your pitch down and some sales under your belt.

[Read more: How to Set Sales Goals for Your Business]

Try lead scoring

Lead scoring is a technique that “ranks” your sales prospects on a scale from one to 10. The more points a lead has, the more value you feel that lead can bring to your business.

Lead scoring helps sales teams prioritize their time and energy. Ensure your team is spending time on the most valuable prospects, asking sales team members to address the concerns of leads in the eight, nine and 10 categories first.

Likewise, ranking your sales prospects allows you to hone your messaging for different audiences. You may find that your lower-ranking leads come from the same marketing channels: Facebook and Instagram, for instance. These leads often need slightly more product education (“warming up”) before you give them the hard sales pitch. Smaller teams can use this insight to reallocate money that would have been spent on Facebook advertising to selling on channels where leads are already red hot.

Rather than get lost in the crowd, ask your sales team to focus on small, niche groups where you can start to build momentum.

Automate where you can

There are plenty of tools that can help you automate elements of the sales process, enabling your team to spend time on high value-add tasks rather than repetitive processes. Try creating an automated email drip campaign — an email sequence that sends messages based on specific timelines or the user's actions. These actions could include a user subscribing to an email list, following up after a sales call or even opening up one of your company's emails.

There are other opportunities to automate sales via social media and chatbots. Make sure you have the right customer relationship management (CRM) tool in place to capture every interaction a lead has with your brand, across automated, in-person and digital channels.

Ask for referrals

Referrals are the holy grail of startup sales. Referral customers cost next to nothing, move through the sales process more quickly and often result in bigger sales, according to HubSpot. Consider these statistics from one survey by Social Media Today, summarized by Forbes:

  • 78% of respondents said that “referral programs generate good or excellent leads.”
  • 60% said that “referral programs generate a high volume of leads.”
  • 54% said that “referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead than other channels.”

There are different ways to increase referrals or encourage word-of-mouth marketing. Start with those in your immediate network and reach out for referrals. Incentivize your first customers to bring in others in their network for a discount or reward. Create a loyalty program that’s not just based on the frequency of purchases, but also referrals.

Affiliate marketing may also be a good bridge between your sales and marketing strategies. Affiliate marketers spread the word about your brand for a commission; your startup only pays once the affiliate has actually brought in a sale. This tactic may be more useful than running an influencer campaign on social media.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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