The former AT&T CEO Jim Barksdale said it best, “Nothing happens until a sale is made”. For new business owners, it often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities, mainly because it’s one of the most hated item on the to-do list.
Your first sale validates your product or service offering, it makes your business real. Getting your first client can sometimes be the hardest part of running your new business, and it can also be the most rewarding. 18 years of corporate sales, selling to other businesses of all shapes and sizes and closing £1million deals didn’t feel a fraction as rewarding as securing that first client for my own business. It makes your dream a reality.
First, you need to be super clear who is your ideal client. Without an aim, you’re aimless, you chase multiple chickens and catch none. Also, think of meeting potential customers and turning them into happily paying clients as a journey of reducing their worry, eliminating their anxieties, building trust, developing a relationship, and creating excitement of working with you. One thing I know from experience, people only buy from people they know, like, and trust.
Here are three proven ways to land your first sale.
If your new business is something similar to what you’ve done in your “employed” life, and if your previous employer is a target customer type, then let your ex-boss know what you’re doing. Since you’ve worked with him or her, they will already know and trust you and should be an easy decision for them to outsource projects to you.
Here’s what you could say:
Hi Sarah, hope you’re well. How’s your son getting on with piano lessons?
Just to let you know, I’ve started my own Health & Safety Training business, something I’ve always wanted to do. If you’re stuck or find yourself short-staffed, drop me a line, I’m available for contract work, it would be a delight to work with you again.
One of my clients landed their first customer this way. Biggest risk of this method is getting too comfortable and not proactively seeking further potential clients.
Speak for free to your target audience
Speaking instantly positions you as credible, an authority and trustworthy, essential ingredients for creating buying opportunities for your customers. Also, since public-speaking is ranked above fear of death, for humans, you will stand out when you speak, because so many are fearful of it. First identify meetings and expos where your audience hang-out, then contact the organisers to offer a taster talk or workshop. The talk must add value and share useful insight that will benefit the audience.
If public-speaking rattles your knees, like it did for me, join Toastmasters, a fabulous non-profit speaking club. Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, TED Talk has over 16.5million views, and she credits Toastmasters for preparing her
Toastmasters also helped me leap over my paralysing fear of public-speaking. When you crush the fear, and after your talk, people come flocking to you, instead of you having to work the room.
Attend networking events
Look at Meetups.com or Eventbrite to find events near you. This is how I landed my first client, and so have some of the new business owners I coach. The trick is, focus on quality instead of quantity, which means, make your objective to have deep and meaningful conversations, rather than brief intros and trying to hit as many people as possible. You can detect those sorts of people, it’s an unpleasant experience for your potential customers.
One time I attended a Meet-up, standing amongst a huddle of four new business owners, when a lady thrust her arm in our group to give each of us her business card. Then scurried along to the next huddle, and did the same. No hi, no, how are you, just, “Here’s my business card”. We exchanged looks, thinking, how odd. Does that build trust and likeness? Instead, be curious about the person and get to know them, like you’re making a new friend.
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