Marketing and Sales strategy planning is the heart of business planning. Startups need to have a low cost or zero cost-marketing efforts, initially, to promote their products/services. Well  planned marketing and sales activities is imperative for the success of the venture.

“You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”Patricia Fripp

Image Courtesy: Stuart Miles

The marketing plan is about what are the right lead generation tactics (Fishing Hole).This will help you to attract the right type of customers. It will be a misconception if startup entrepreneurs think that they can achieve very high conversions once this activity is done right.

One of my least favorite things is when a startup tells me that they need to wait on doing marketing until they are selling something- Ali Powell

Business is a like a human body where each part is critical and the link between parts is equally vital.

Sales and Marketing is vital for a business and is the heart of business.

Startups  to formulate their S&M Strategy need to gather information on Sales and Marketing plans of competition and what are their tactics.

Myths about Marketing and Sales Strategy

  • The startup focuses on acquiring customers in the beginning through known contacts and they are stuck after this initial success. This is mainly due to lack of planning strategy of sales and marketing.
  •  "If I charge below the market rate, people will buy from me"
  •   If you market to everyone you are bound to succeed.

Startups cannot afford to hire marketing experts and sometimes, even a sales person. The owner wears the cap of sales and marketing person. How the startup entrepreneur spend his time is critical. In reality, unplanned activity results in waste of efforts.

 Examples of Successful Startup Sales Strategies

  1.  A startup entrepreneur was clear of her channel strategy right from the beginning, for her ready to eat food business and she chose a single channel of selling through super markets.
  2.  The second Entrepreneur used exhibitions only to sell her products for the same ready to eat food.
  3.  A   health expert offered courses only online.
  4.   A coffee trader decided to sell only seeds sourced from  a single plantation as customers were willing to pay 2X price compared to blends.

Common Issues faced by Startups

There are really only three primary issues startup entrepreneurs face.

1.    Not Enough Traffic (Top of the funnel problem)

2.    Not Enough Leads (Middle of the funnel problem)

3.    Not Enough Sales (Bottom of the funnel problem)

Sales & Marketing Elements 

The business plan should contain following elements of Marketing and sales strategy.

Ø  Products features for different market segments

Ø  Pricing of products/services (value pricing/skimming strategy/penetration strategy)

Ø  Distribution channel (Internet/Franchising/Wholesaler-Retailer network/Own sales staff/Direct marketing/Own stores

Ø  Promotion (Internet/Direct mailing/Advertisement/Trade fairs)

Ø  Strategic Partnerships

Ø  Sales targets and assumptions 


Ø  Everybody is waiting for my product/service

Ø  Lack of clarity on dimensions of dissatisfaction and product or service positioning accordingly

Ø  Insensitivity to potential competition – underestimating response or reaction from incumbent players

Ø  No clear appreciation of the entry barriers

Ø  Inability or lack of planning in creating entry barriers

Ø  Under-rating bargaining power of distribution chain

Ø   Underestimating implication of seasonality on the supply chain

Ø  What stage of product life cycle you are entering

Ø  Starting before obtaining order

Ø  Planning and action based on analysis of industry competitiveness (Porter`s Ananlysis)

Nuggets- Marketing and Sales Strategy

1.       Startups need marketing strategy to keep business going

2.       Study of  Competitors tactics

3.       Marketing precedes Sales

4.        Formal S&M strategy Planning vital even when not seeking external funds