Software is designed to improve your productivity so you can focus on what matters most. For salespeople, this means more time with customers and less time doing admin.
We wanted to understand what tools sales teams chose in start-ups. To break this down, we analyzed 50+ start-ups with less than twenty employees from Australia and New Zealand. We wanted to surface SaaS intelligence from our data to understand where start-ups spend money.
The sales SaaS stack is the collection of tools to generate leads, store customer data, create proposals, sign documents and review customer communication.
The role of the SaaS stack is to automate low-value or administrative tasks. Salespeople are expensive to hire, so they must focus on activities that will generate revenue. To understand the importance of each element of the sales SaaS stack, we've broken it down into the following categories:
Your CRM is your source of truth. It's where you store all your customer conversations, sales activities and manage pipeline.
Hubspot is a CRM to manage your sales, marketing, and operations efforts in a central place.
Popularity: Hubspot is the most popular CRM with our customers. 26% of Hudled accounts paying for it in 2023.
Cost: Hubspot has a forever free product where you can access marketing, sales, service, and support in one place. If you're a growing start-up, you will likely outgrow their free product quickly. Sales Hub Starter starts at $5/m (with a 90% discount). When you upgrade to Sales Hub Professional, the cost will increase to $144/m, but it's common to receive a discount of 50-90% in the first year.
Discounts and credits available: Hubspot has a start-up program where eligible companies can get 30-90% off in year one. After year one, start-ups can receive a 25-75% discount depending on their contract size. If you are looking for pricing insights on Hubspot and other CRMS .
Alternatives: The most popular alternatives to Hubspot are Pipedrive (15%) and Salesforce (4%).
Lead generation and prospecting tools play two key roles. They help you find prospective buyers, and their contact details. LinkedIn lays the foundation for a start-up sales teams, and enrichment tools like Lusha or Hunter.io help personalize the sales teams' efforts.
Lusha is a sales prospecting tool that helps you find the email addresses and enrich your CRM. B2B companies use Lusha to automate their prospecting process.
Popularity: 7% of start-ups are paying for Lusha. However, most start-ups don't pay for CRM enrichment tools at this stage. This is primarily because they can get by without reaching the paid thresholds.
Cost: Lusha starts at $39/m per user on a monthly plan. You get access to 40 credits, which costs approximately $1 per lead on the Pro plan. As your volume increases, you can expect to pay ~$51/m (paid annually) on Professional or ~$85/m (paid annually) on the Scale plan.
Discounts and credits available: Lusha doesn't offer start-up credits. They have a free version where you can get five monthly credits to access emails or phone numbers. If you are purchasing more than five licenses, it's worthwhile reaching out to sales as you may be able to get a discount. If you are looking for pricing insights on Lusha, you can access.
Alternatives: Hunter.io (6%)
Hunter.io helps you find and verify professional email addresses from domains and companies.
Popularity: 6% of start-ups are paying for Hunter.io. Based on our data, most start-ups aren't paying for CRM enrichment tools yet. This may be because they can get by without reaching the paid thresholds.
Cost: Hunter.io starts at $49/m, which gives you access to 500 monthly searches and 1000 monthly verifications.
Discounts and credits available: Hunter.io doesn't offer start-up credits. They have a forever free version, with 25 monthly searches and 50 monthly verifications.
Alternatives: Lusha (7%)
LinkedIn is one of the best free tools for B2B companies to prospect and engage with potential customers. Many sales teams use LinkedIn Sales Navigator alongside Hunter.io and Hubspot to enrich their CRM data automatically. The caveat is that you'll need to upgrade to Sales Navigator Advanced Plus to access the integration.
Popularity: LinkedIn is the most popular lead generation tool with our customers. 63% of Hudled accounts are paying for LinkedIn's suite in 2023.
Cost: Individual Sales Navigator licenses start from $99/month. When you grow to the Advanced plan, it will cost $149/m. If you pay annually, licenses cost as follows: Teams (~$959) and Enterprise (~$1,600).
Discounts and credits available: LinkedIn offers discounts when you're buying their Sales Navigator licenses. Based on our data, we've seen companies negotiate up to 45% off Sales Navigator Advanced, Team, and Enterprise plans. If you are looking for pricing insights on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and other sales tools.
Alternatives: There are no solid alternatives for start-up sales teams.
The way sales teams collaborate with prospective and existing customers is quickly evolving in 2023. The email was once crucial. Now it's a mixture of video conferencing, Slack collaboration, and asynchronous video recordings that help sales teams engage and inform their stakeholders.
Zoom is how you host high-quality and secure video meetings with your customers. It has become an essential piece of tech for any sales team to host virtual meetings or webinars.
Popularity: Zoom is the most popular meeting platform with our customers. 54% of Hudled accounts are paying for it in 2023.
Cost: Zoom Pro starts from $14.99/m per user.
Discounts and credits available: Zoom is primarily a self-serve product for the SMB market. Unless Zoom offers a special, you're unlikely to command any substantial discounts when you're first starting. When your licenses grow into double digits and you deal with an account manager, you will likely be able to command an additional discount. If you are looking for pricing insights on Zoom, you can request access.
Alternatives: Google (76%) and Microsoft (54%) both have competing video products which compete directly against Zoom. We didn't separate Meet and Teams users from our analysis.
Everyone has heard of Slack. It's where conversations happen internally within your company. You can also create private groups and invite your customers to collaborate.
Popularity: Slack is the most popular internal collaboration tool with our customers. 54% of Hudled accounts are paying for it in 2023.
Cost: Slack Pro plans start from $7.25/m per user.
Discounts and credits available: Slack does not discount its Pro plan. If you upgrade to a paid plan, you can get 25% off on your first year with JoinSecret. In year two onwards, you can expect to get 10-30% (depending on the volume) on their Business+ or Enterprise plans. If you are looking for pricing insights on Slack, you can request access.
Alternatives: 54% of our customers are paying for Microsoft. Microsoft Teams is part of the Office365 bundle, and it directly competes against Slack. We didn't separate Microsoft users who may be using Teams in our analysis.
Loom allows users to record asynchronous messages to their customers. It's great for salespeople to record demos, reply to messages or create a more personalized experience.
Popularity: Loom is the most popular video recording tool for our customers. 35% of Hudled accounts are paying for it in 2023. We anticipate that many more companies may be using Loom on their free tier. At Hudled, we love using Loom, and we are on the free tier.
Cost: Loom has a starter tier where you can create up to 25 videos per person. If you don't plan on revisiting these videos, you can delete them and remain on the free plan. The Loom business plan starts from $8/m if you pay annually.
Discounts and credits available: JoinSecret has a Loom deal where start-ups can get 25 users for free in the first year. If you are looking for pricing insights on Loom, you can request access.
Alternatives: Our data doesn't suggest a strong alternative to Loom. We expect many companies to use alternatives such as Vidyard but on their free plan.
Booking a meeting used to be an arduous process. People used to have to coordinate with multiple parties over email, but now it's done seamlessly with tools like Calendly. The market has noticed this, and now many established CRMs like Salesforce and Hubspot are incorporating this functionality. For a start-up worried about cost, you should see if this functionality is available in your CRM before buying.
Calendly is a modern scheduling platform that allows you to share your availability with others.
Popularity: Calendly is the most popular meeting scheduling solution for our customers. 37% of Hudled accounts are paying for it in 2023. We anticipate that many more companies are using Calendly's free tier.
Cost: Calendly Essentials starts at $10/m per user
Discounts and credits available: Calendly is essentially a self-serve product for the SMB market. It's unlikely you'll command any substantial discounts when you're first getting started unless Calendly is offering a special. If you're looking for pricing insights on Calendly, you can request access.
Alternatives: Meeting schedule software is available within most popular CRMs. Hubspot, Salesforce, and Pipedrive have this functionality. You may not need to pay for this separately. At Hudled, we decided to stop using Calendly and incorporated the meeting scheduling feature from Hubspot.
eSignature software enables teams to automate the signature process, send reminders and build powerful workflows to store the documents securely.
DocuSign helps organizations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements. It pioneered the eSignature space and is the go-to solution for enterprise. This doesn't translate for start-ups because they haven't yet created a compelling offer for start-ups. There is currently no free tier, meaning companies with simple requirements e.g. no integrations or require only eSignature can get by with free alternatives like Pandadoc or HelloSign.
Popularity: DocuSign is the most popular eSignature solution with our customers. 25% of Hudled accounts are paying it in 2023.
Cost: eSignature Standard starts from $25/m per user. When your volume increases and you upgrade to Business Pro, expect to pay $25 - $40/m (if paid annually).
Discounts and credits available: DocuSign doesn't have a start-up program, and they don't offer any credits. If you're looking for pricing insights on DocuSign, and other sales tools.
Alternatives: There are many free alternatives available to DocuSign. 16% of start-ups pay for PandaDoc, and 12% pay for HelloSign. We expect many more teams use alternatives like these on their free plan.
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Please note that all currencies are in USD, and we excluded free tools from our analysis.