One of the most intimidating tasks for many entrepreneurs is finding your first customer. When you are passionate about the business you are building it is easy to stay focused on creating the product or service you want to bring to market. But at some point you will put the finishing touches on your offering and it will be time to actually offer it to someone and close your first sale. Here are three simple steps to move your company from concept to customer.
Savvy job seekers know that informational interviews are a fantastic way to start building a relationship with hiring managers they are interested in working for. You can use the same approach in the early stages of your business by interviewing people in your target market. By involving potential customers during the concept phase of your company, not only do you get invaluable data on what these customers really need, you create engaged advocates that want to see the results of their feedback. Now instead of having to hard sell new prospects on your solution you can simply circle back with your original interview candidates and ask if they’d like to be the first to use the products they helped to mold.
Many innovators fear that in order to sell they need to transform their personality into that of the stereotypical salesperson. I’ve found that the most effective sales tool entrepreneurs have is passion for their business. Remind yourself that you set out to help people by creating a solution to their problem. Focus on why you decided to start your business and that authenticity will come across to your prospective customers. Demonstrate your understanding of their challenges and then explain how you created your product to change their experience. Simply be yourself and allow your dedication to shine through.
A wise woman once told me, “If you don’t ask the answer is always no”. It is hard to put yourself, your company, and your brand new product out there for the world to see. But in order to win customers you have to ask someone to use your solution. So what if someone tells you no? As I like to say, every ‘no’ leads to a ‘yes’. Each time a prospect tells you why they don’t want to use your offering you get information to help you improve your product and message. Rather than be afraid of hearing ‘no’ use each negative response as an opportunity to refine your approach and try again. You’ve heard that sales is a numbers game, so just keep on asking and sooner rather than later you will hear a resounding “YES!”.
So there you have it, three simple steps to your first sale. What is your best piece of advice for new business owners to win their first customer? I’d love to hear what has worked for you in the comments below.