Many new companies, ours included, can get away with a cavalier sales model. Sales are the necessary afterthought: “We built it, now let’s figure out how to sell it.” Since you start your new company with $0 in sales, you have nowhere to go but up. For example, we sold our Bees Knees Spicy Honey wholesale shortly after our launch just because there was demand, despite our plans at the time to be an online-only business.

When my co-founder left his job to focus on our company, MixedMade, we knew we’d have to boost our sales to support the cost of a salary. We’ve implemented plans to make our sales model more efficient, more dependable, and better suited for growth.

Your business, too, will excel with a strong predictable sales model. Many new companies face the same sales issues or missed opportunities. Focusing on these three basic types of sales can have a substantial and quick impact on your business.

1. Existing Traffic Conversion

We invest a lot of effort to get visitors to the MixedMade website to learn about our product or read our startup journey blog. For a niche, single-product company our traffic is fine. But look at this 30-day snapshot of our conversion numbers:

2,727 unique visitors →
115 (4.2%) added our spicy honey to their cart →
42 (1.5%) purchased

73 people added our product to their cart, but didn’t purchase. If we could figure out why they abandon their shopping cart and help them place an order, our sales would jump.

You spend thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to get people to view your website, services, or products. While acquiring more potential customers is good practice, you should maximize the value of those prospects who have already walked through your door. Call, e-mail, or talk to the ones who abandoned a purchase and determine the reason. If you can address the most common reasons, your sales will grow.

Tip: Check out AbandonAid, a tool that helps you convert people who abandon their shopping cart to paying customers.

2. Existing Customer Reorders

About a quarter of our customers have written reviews for our spicy honey, a rate we consider impressive. As these reviews average 5/5 stars, we believe our customers love our product. Yet, our reorder rates were dismal--only 3.7 percent of customers placed multiple orders. While there are some logical explanations, it doesn’t take much effort to remind or incent our customers to order again.

If you’ve treated your customers well and your product or service is good, then your existing customer base is a gold mine. Existing customers already understand the value of your product and the quality of your service. They might need as little as a reminder to order again. Better yet, repeat orders are typically larger than the initial order. You’ve already spent money to acquire that customer, so repeat sales come at little extra cost.

Tip: Offer a repeat order coupon with pre-scheduled MailChimp e-mails

3. Customer Referrals

Study after study proves the most valuable way to get a new customer is from the recommendation of an existing customer. There is inherent trust and relationship in a friend’s referral that even the best salesperson or website cannot replace. We weren’t asking our key customers for any referrals, nor did we offer them any incentive to do so. As a result we missed out on many sales.

A good referral strategy starts with a solid product and great customer service. If you have those on lock, then it’s time to ask your customers for referrals to other customers. You need to make the process of referring easy and authentic. You should offer an incentive to both your current customer and the prospective customer. A monetary benefit like a discount or free product can seem prohibitively expensive, but might work best. Since a referred customer is more loyal and has a higher lifetime value, so you will earn back your investment.

Tip: Check out ReferralCandy to set up a referral program.

With a few quick changes to our website, the implementation of a shopping cart abandonment app and outreach to our key customers, we were able to get quick results. Our purchase rate more than doubled to over 3 percent, our total number of reorders doubled, and we’re making headway on customer referrals.

Taking a deeper approach to your sales model will not just lead to higher revenue and growth. It will lead to better predictability, better understanding of what your customers actually need, and a more sustainable business.

Think we missed anything? Let me know in the comments.

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