Trying to earn your first customer can seem like an impossible challenge. However, as any business owner will tell you, once you make that first sale, the rest seem to come a lot easier.
Five Tips for Earning Your First Customers
There are dozens, if not hundreds of strategies companies use to attract prospects and drive sales. Those that work for one company are anything but guaranteed to work for another. However, some core principles lie at the root of all these strategies. If you can uncover these values and apply them to your own company, then you’ll do just fine.
Once you gain 100 customers, you can establish repeatable processes that will ease the burden going forward. In this article, you’ll find some tangible tips for making those first 100 sales.
1. Remember, You’re Always On Display
One mistake startups frequently make is thinking they can mess around in the beginning stages. Well, just because you don’t have a billion-dollar brand with millions of customers tracking your every move doesn’t mean nobody’s watching. Even if you’ve yet to make a single sale, you’re on display.
As growth marketer Buckley Barlow points out when explaining the marketing funnel, “The buyer’s experience with your brand starts long before he or she becomes a customer. Thanks to television, the Internet, and the 24-hour news cycle, people have incredible access to information about whatever they want – whenever they want it. So if your brand is out there, people are forming impressions about it well before they think about opening their wallets.”
With that in mind, you have to deliver a consistent message at all times and avoid letting your guard down. You never know who is watching.
2. Know Who Your Customer Is
Do you know who your customer is? Even if you don’t actually have any customers, you need to know exactly who you’re targeting. Demographic information such as gender, age range, location, and income isn’t enough.
You need to conduct so much research and spend so much time monitoring your target demographic that you know where they shop, what they do in their free time, how they choose to spend their discretionary income, where they vacation, etc. Once you understand exactly who your target customer is, selling will become natural.
3. Use Your Referral Network
“The most important customer acquisition channel for a new business is referrals,” entrepreneur David Smooke says with confidence. “Seven of the first eight customers of my marketing agency have been from referrals. The why is simple: past work drives interest in future ventures. The talent and experience of the founder and team play a huge part in the customer’s decision-making process because an early stage startup does not have much…of a business record.”
The best place to find customers is via your own personal referral network. This might include past customers from previous places of employment, connections via social media such as LinkedIn, and mutual business relationships. Your best chance of getting someone to take a chance on your business is by finding a connection.
4. Study the Competition
Do you know what your competition is doing? You don’t want to mimic them, but you do want to be aware of how they’re coming across to customers. Once you know their approach, you can work even harder and smarter.
In the initial stages, consider doing a weekly competitive analysis of your three closest competitors. This may be as simple as browsing their websites, setting up a Google Alert, reading their social media pages, and making calculated assumptions. The goal is to be aware of your surroundings rather than operating in a bubble.
5. Use Free Trials
If you can’t get anyone to take a chance on your business, the best thing you can do is offer a free trial. Assuming that you believe in your product and know it’s useful, free trials are a low-risk way to attract prospects and show them firsthand why they should become customers.
Trey Gibson, founder of a SaaS startup, gained his first 10 customers this way. As soon as customers’ free trials ended, Trey was sent an automated text so that he could call them and encourage them to keep using the product as paying customers. His company gained a sizable user base in a short amount of time.
Be Proactive and Commit to Sales
There’s no such thing as a successful reactionary approach to sales. Sales is all about being proactive – especially when you’re trying to reach your first few customers and establish some brand equity in the marketplace. By implementing these tips, you can ensure you’re taking a proactive approach that gives your business the best chance of thriving.