How to take your startup from $0 to $25M ARR with Scott Leese

I spent four years in a hospital bed, fighting for my life.

That struggle changed my life, and when I emerged from it, I had a better sense of the limited opportunities that we get.

Now, my sense of urgency is far stronger than a lot of people. I don’t waste time and I don’t squander anything.

And it’s this sense of urgency that’s helped me take 5 companies from $0 to $25 Million ARR in less than three years.

I’m here to share my process and my story.

Pro tip: Want to get one-on-one help for your sales org? Check out The Sales Consultants Directory, with 100+ consultants ready to help you drive more revenue to your business.

The unique sales situation of a new startup

As a founder, you’ve gone through the process of building a good product and getting a bit of traction. You’ve led sales up to this point through partners and VC connections, but there’s something you’re lacking:

A clear sales message for your organization.

When this kind of early-stage startup comes to me, this is what I normally hear: “We’ve got a cool product. We’ve got a few sales, but we don’t really know what we’re doing. Can you help us figure out how to sell this?”

I’ve lost track of how many companies I’ve worked with over the last few years, but I have at least half a dozen unicorns under my belt. While my consulting business is industry-agnostic and I work with companies at all stages, there is something special about the sales process of newly born companies.

It’s a unique sales situation I’ve grown to love.

6 keys for early-stage startups to go from $0 to $25M in ARR

My sales playbook is based on my experience as a VP of sales at several early-stage startups. Every time I went in, we had to build sales from scratch, and several of these companies were literally starting at 0.

Out of these experiences, I learned 6 key pieces of the sales approach that early-stage sales orgs need to work out.

These are the steps I go through to turn startups with 0 customers into companies with $25M in ARR.

Here’s the point: Get what works out of your head and onto paper. Documenting everything is the only way to make it repeatable.

That said, here are the 6 main pieces that you need to document:

1. Ideal customer profile

Who are you selling to? What’s their lingo? What channels do they use? What makes them a good customer for your business?

This is something I use in my own consulting business as well as helping my clients to do. Before I take on a new client, I know some things that would disqualify someone. That gives me the ability to say no when they’re not a good fit for what I’m offering.

The same is true with startups, even in the early stages. You need to define which customers will get the most bang for their buck with your product.

2. Outbound, cold call script

Outbound sales is essential when building a new startup, which is why having a cold sales script is a key piece of your early sales org. This fundamental component is further amplified when seamlessly integrated with modern outbound sales tools.

When bringing on new salespeople, they should have a clear message to convey to potential customers. This messaging can be used in cold emails or cold calls, helping them get to the point faster.

3. Inbound sales script and process

SaaS and software startups especially need a clear, easy inbound process. Following the same messaging worked out above, you can build inbound email sequences for new customers.

At this stage, you need to decide:

  • What should the email copy look like?
  • What’s the ideal cadence?

Pro tip: Set up a customized sales sequence with Close. Watch the real-time report to see what works best, and optimize each step of your sequence to get the highest-performing result. Try Close for 14 days, no charge.

4. Product demo process

How are you going to demo your product? You can’t showcase every little thing your product does, so which key features will you demo? How will you help your customers discover the features you don’t show? What needs to be accomplished by the end of the demo? Which next steps should reps set up?

5. Objection management

You need to determine two things:

  • What are the main objections/questions/concerns your potential customers will have?
  • How do you want sales reps to respond to those?

When you document this early on, you’ll set your sales reps up to manage objections quickly and effectively.

6. Setting up the right tech

A good process and strategy should always come before tech. Otherwise, you’ll be paying for a fancy machine your team doesn’t know how to use.

But even once they’re ready to invest in tech, far too many startup sales leaders lobby for sales ops as a full-time resource. This is a fatal mistake and can lead to a lot of headaches down the road.

Work with a sales ops pro, and the result will be a clean, optimized tech stack that empowers your sales team while staying out of their way.

Where to learn more

If you want to learn more about sales for startups and improving your process, you can follow me on LinkedIn or join me at my weekly virtual sales happy hour, Thursday Night Sales.

And of course, you can find out more about my consulting services on the Close Sales Consultant Directory.

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