One of the key questions that founders keep asking me is how can we make our first sales. One of the traps that first time founders fall into is that they start to think of their perfect product and their killer features, and after that they stat looking for their first customer. WRONG!
This may work rarely for very limited startups. However, your first sales as a first time founder actually starts way before you start your business or even have a working product.
When you are thinking about your startup idea, you need to simultaneously think of your potential customers and market as well. Actually, you can even start the conversation with some people and get their feedback on how they are solving this particular problem now and how your product can fix their problem in future.
You can even o above and beyond and see how much they are willing to pay in future to have your product in their organization.
Then you can have a better understanding on how your idea can evolve into a real business. At this stage, you are probably working on different aspect of the business, business model, how to monetize your idea, some key features and benefits etc.
Best practice is to be in touch with your key target market and potential buyers as you develop your solution. There will be always early adapters that are willing to risk and try your MVP (minimum viable product). This is a point of debate that these people may not be your first customers. However, you get a great insight into your potential buyers head and how they think and how you should evolve your startup.
In fact, your fist sales starts way before you are having a product and as you move forward with your idea, your potential buyers are evolving as well.
One of the key tactics that you can use to spread the word is to ask for referrals. Believe it or not, referral is still a great and strong tool in sales and business and one of the fundamental techniques to develop your product market fit. Don't be shy. Be aggressive and ask for referral from your existing network and start build a new network of people who you may think can benefit from your product.
You can even think of a SPIF (Sales Performance Incentive Funding) program and even go further and start your primitive channel sales business by setting up a referral fee. If the referral result to business, or even if it ended up to meeting with your prospect, pay a fee to people who are spreading the word.
Another important tactic is go digital. Set up all digital channels that are relevant to your potential buyer and go heavy on spreading the word. Use blogging to write about the problems that you are solving, potentially twice a week. Go massive on social media. It is absolutely free! You should update your target market every hour!! No excuse...
If you think video and podcast can work for you to educate your potential market, go heavy on those as well.
One key steps that you can use as a startup founder is to set up a landing page and use Google Ads to capture leads. Share your white paper and see who is interested to download and know more about your offering.
Linkedin campaign is another great tool that you can run and see who will be interested.
Email campaign can still be something you can use. Either if you buy a list or have your own list, make sure that you are delivering value to your potential market and send them updates on what you are doing and how you are evolving every week.
Never underestimate the power of influencer marketing. Find the influences in your niche and start the conversation on what it takes for them to talk about you. I am a big fan of this strategy. There is a reason that influencers charge you for their services. Commit and spread the word in your target market.
There is a mis-conception about sales which founders think it is all about pushing. You can read about this here.
To be able to make your first sales, you must have think about your brand as well. Here you can read more on how to build a strong brand for your startup.
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