How to Land Your First Customer

The old way of landing your first customer does not work as well as it once did: you create a product/service; you identify a prospect; you try to close the sale through persuasive sales copy. Why does this approach generally fail? You’ve failed to recognise the complex decision-making process a prospect goes through:

  1. They don’t know you;
  2. There may be other decision-makers involved;
  3. They want to see what others say about you or your product;
  4. They want to consider alternative solutions;
  5. They may have price resistance;
  6. They want to be sure they’re making the right decision.

Given all these hidden factors, it’s clear that landing your first client is not a simple sales page away.

7 ways to land your first customer

  1. Solve a smaller problem for them first. Help your prospect solve a smaller, related problem free of charge. This is an opportunity to build vital trust. Your prospect also has an opportunity to assess your expertise or quality of your offer. For example, you sell swimming pool filters. You could produce a downloadable guide (i.e. a lead magnet), 7 Expensive Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Swimming Pool Filter. You would build a landing page offering this guide to prospects in exchange for their email. (The email allows you to market to the prospect again in the future).
  2. Chat with a prospect over coffee. It may be that you have a solution looking for a problem. Ideally, you would test demand for your idea before you create it. However, if you did not do that, all is not lost (although you may need to change your offer slightly to match what your market wants). Invite a prospect for coffee to ask them about the problem they’re experiencing, the solutions they’ve tried and what the ideal solution looks like to them. Don’t mention your product. Take copious notes: what is the prospect looking for? What will make them buy? What would stop them buying? Ask neutral questions. Thank the person for their time (again, don’t talk about your offer).
  3. Present your solution. In the previous step, you interviewed a prospect and gathered valuable feedback. Now you use the information to improve your offer and your marketing. By incorporating what you learned from speaking to your target audience, other prospects will feel you understand their problems and concerns at a deep level. This further strengthens their trust in you. Now you present your product, i.e. “We’ve been thinking about the problems you face and we think we have a solution…”.
  4. Ask for feedback, not a sale. You’re still only having a conversation at this point. Once you’ve presented your offer to your target audience, ask for feedback. Ask for beta testers. Offer trial versions/free copies in return for honest reviews and testimonials. If you have a product of real value to your customers, you will likely land your first paying customer at this point.
  5. Promote your product on Facebook. Once you have collected testimonials for your product, promote it using Facebook ads. Why Facebook ads? They are, at time of writing, one of the most cost-effective methods for reaching your target audience and with almost 2 billion active users, your target audience is on there. Combined its vast coverage with highly detailed user demographics and you can target prospects with pinpoint accuracy.
  6. Be transparent. Be open about what your product is and isn’t; what it can and cannot do. Be transparent about its limitations. Explain why it has some features and not others. Products and services evolve over time. Your goal is to create a dialogue and community around your offer. The more you do this, the more trust you build which translates into more sales.
  7. Don’t be pushy. Throughout this process, the focus is on encouraging communication and building trust without expectation. You’re not selling, you’re having conversations. You’re gaining feedback and communicating like a human being. Of course, you ultimately want the prospect to place a sale but it’s a gentle process of drawing prospects’ attention to the valuable benefits your product/service provides and letting them make their own decision. If you have a good product that solves a pressing problem for your audience, a prospect will practically sell it to themselves.

Takeaway points

  1. Forget about making a sale: build trust first.
  2. Don’t try to sell anything. Instead, adopt a zero-pressure approach with your prospect: “What problem are you experiencing?”; “Look here, I have something that might help you…” and “What do you think of it?”
  3. If you’ve listened to what your prospect wants and you can deliver a solution, the value is self-evident and it should be relatively easy to sell. If it’s proving hard to shift, it may be that your solution is slightly off-the-mark. Speak to more prospects and ask for their feedback.

Action steps

  1. Identify a small related problem you can solve for your prospect. Your free service leads to your bigger, paid-for solution but that comes later. There is no selling here at all. Your goal is just to get on your prospect’s radar and leave a positive impression. We like those who help us and are more likely to help in return. Use some initiative. Don’t wait to be asked for the solution. If you can help your prospect quickly and easily, just do it. They could turn out to be a fan who will tell others about your product or service.
  2. Invite a prospect for coffee. Promise them you’re not selling anything. Ask them to give you their expert opinion. Pick their brain. Tell them what you’re doing and ask for feedback. What do they like about your product/service; what don’t they like; would they buy it? If not, why not? What do they think you’re doing right/wrong? You can get a hundred times more valuable data by just leaving your office once in a while and talking to your audience, face-to-face.
  3. Network. Start making connections and make connections before you need them. You can cold email (so long as your considerate and genuine, this works well). Attend meetups. Offer feedback and advice on related forums and social media. Start leaving “breadcrumbs”.

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