How do we approach customers as a new startup?
I am planning to start a company where we will be providing business solutions. As a new startup with no track record, how I we approach customers?
Great tips are included in all previous replies.
I really can't find much to add but I might ,If you allow me, to share some top tips that are working for me:
1. Understand what your target customers are doing, how do they do it and why do they do it. Then help them do it better. Then you are in business.
2. List all people who can benefit of what you are offering. Rank them according to the speed of starting business (Keep the size of opportunity for later). Go for the lowest hanging fruits
3. make your self visible, network and use social media
4. Ask for refferals, even if some customers are not ready to give you business, ask them to refer you to someone else
5. Never focus on making profit first. Focus on building customers, then profit will follow
Well my very first question for you is, what business solutions are you specifically looking to provide and focus on? Start-ups, small to medium size businesses or are you looking to address challenges large enterprises. The answer to these questions, will in many ways shape the thrust of your startup marketing launch, and ongoing advertising of your new business value propostion. After that you need to decide the specific market segment focus within the business community. Is it IT, aerospace, internet and technology, equipment, financial services, etc. Again, this will shape your messaging, as well as your offering and introductory pricing to garner customers. Do not under estimate the power of traditional marketing techniques: postcard, follow-up letter; follow-up email; and yes; the old fashion telephone call. In the era of social media many folks neglect the value proposition of connecting on an individualize personal basis. And finally, the old fashion face-to-face activity of human networking at chamber of commerce and close past and present business friends and assocates.
If you have friends working in your target market segment - talk to them and use their connections for introduction. You can try using professional networks such as Linkedin specific groups and post some typical challenges that you are trying to solve. The comments on your discussion thread can be used to network and take the next step. This is slightly long drawn but gives you good indication of response. Finally, step out and reach out to some prospects who may be looking for your kind of solution - please dont try to sell upfront. Try to create interest and curiosity and follow a collaborative approach to prototype a solution. Hope this works for you - all the best
Richard Stern-Suggest researching the category. Decide if you are going to be a local company, national company, or international company.
Then research the competition. Find out what they do best and find services they di not provide, or customers to small for them to service.
Then create a Sales and Marketing Plan and budgets.
It always helps to have something of value to provide the other person, like bringing wine to a new neighbor for a house warming event, for example. You will also find out that in most cases, people are willing to help a new business if you simply ask for it, and I do this sometimes by asking survey questions for a report I am putting together. Be brief and make the effort to show value to the other person.
Hi Avinesh, be a start up is not a minus, the main element that will be under the eyes of people deciding about your success is how you present your solutions to support clients. It must be done professionally, in the way that shows that you're a start up but you've all the know how to manage activity in the best way.
- Prepare yourself for appointment, give you 30 minutes, try before several times with someone else all the points you would show, try to asnwer to hard question, put yourself - in advance . in the worst condition in order to train yourself.
Convince yourself first of all before to try convince someone else.
- A valid presentation to support your speech with graphics ( please avoid to write too much as people will not have the strenght to read all and will be bored listeaing you reading it) , make it interesting but not too long, if you plan to talk for 30 min then presentation should only give main points to audience and give you suggestions to go deep in details
- Don't be scared, be energetic, always stand up and speak loudly, see people in the eyes, be always polite, never aggressive and listen to all, especially if there is something negative, it would be good to learn from it.
- Consider always that NO is normal, don't be afraid, just improve yourself and skip to next, if you've trained, you've right solutions, you will win and it is sooo nice to challenge!
At the outset, try to create the credibility among customer through your best services in initial days of organization start-up. Referrals can work out here because it will be very difficult for you to get the customer at the moment. Start writing blogs, online marketing and ask your friends to follow your company page on linked-in, twitter, facebook etc. Foremost have tempting and attractive website for your company.
Hope it helps !!
All the points related before are very important and I suggest you to make a list of recommendations with it. As you are leading a startup company I would like to talk about one step back, and try to work customer development that will be used to validate your offer. To do this, I recommend you to go to market through people you know from your network. After this you will be more confident about your services and you will sell this much better.
someone already pointed you to the "start-up owner manual". I would only add this:
Do not approach them directly.
Ok, put like this is a bit strong, but the concept is :
1) you need introductions.
2) from field experts
3) to whom you ask advices, feedback, suggestions
4) and if they know someone to whom you can learn more.
5) so while you will have shared your value (proposition)
6) In this process you will meet people that will refer you as "solution provider" to potential Clients.
Hope this helps
Some great answers here, especially about building a reputation. A few points to hit the ground running:
1.You might need to leverage other work experience. Have you solved business problems before at other jobs/careers? Don't be afraid to say "when I was with company x, I solved problems like this. I started my own company to improve the way I solve this problem..." or "...I saw a more cost-effective way to solve this problem and that led me to start my company".
2. Demonstrate a competitive advantage. You need to differentiate yourself from similar solutions or products. Put yourself in a business decision-maker's role and ask yourself "Why would I hire me?"
3. Be human and connect as a human. People buy other people, not companies. Show that you and your products/services can do the job AND that you're someone who is worth investing their trust and engagement.
From your profile, I Understand that you are from Chennai...I can point out the strategies I had followed
Get local technology / business meet up information from google / any friends referrals
like the below one.
With full confidence, participate it, network more.
Get ready to take up any task ( Don't expect more on monitory side). Get fully involved.. Results will come for sure
All the best
You could even look to get a loss leader client, someone who may need your services and offer a free trial period to them, this may give you a chance to get honest feedback and eventually referrals from them.
Avinesh, is your offering a product or a service? since you are building business solutions, clearly identify who the decision makers are going to be. Speak to as many of them as possible, in identifying if what you are offering is better than what they already have. Show them the benefits (lower cost or convenience or time saver) of your product or service offering.
Well since you don"t have previous record ,you have to approach your customers with confident to show your services you can introduce to them , let them know what type of services you can give them , compare with other competitors , may be its difficult at the bigenning but by the time you can gain lator on on the long run , you need time to build up your reputation , as long as you work hard you will finally reach your goals .
It depends on (1) who your customers are, (2) what you want to sell, (3) how you want to differenciate your product/service from you rcompetition. The only universal advice is - with passion! Watch Steve Jobs presenting his products :)
I have a free short e-guide : http://www.lulu.com/shop/c-k-yap/1-million-business-ideas/ebook/product-21920607.html
Running through it will help you gain confidence that your business plan is scientific and sound. That helps a lot with promoting your startup to the public as they will know you did the Math.
Some great answers and valuable advice. Going through this process myself I have a few things to emphasize.
1. Focus on the problem not the solution. What are the pain points you are solving and how will it make your customer's lives more efficient and effective. I have an SaaS start up and nobody wants to here about my elegant coding or what stack I used to make the application faster. Although I am very proud of the accomplishment it doesn't relate to the customer's needs.
2. Network, network, network. If your B2B industry has trade shows attend them. If there are groups on LinkedIn join them. If a customer offers trading free services for contacts, case studies, beta testing, etc. seriously consider it because just like applying for a job it is much easier to get an interview when referred rather than throwing your resume in the pile.
3. If you are looking for potential customers I suggest getting information from industry websites. A good way to acquire a potential customer list is to look up a business that is a great target on a site like http://www.melissadata.com/lookups/business.asp. Get the SIC and NAICS codes for the businesses you are targeting and purchase a business listing for your target territory based on these codes. Don't solely rely on email, find the decision maker and get them on the phone or a face to face.
4. Don't defend your product, believe in what you are selling. At first I was asked, "Well who are you working with currently?" and I didn't have a confident answer because it was no one. I know potential clients lost confidence in me and I lost the sale. Then somebody gave me the lightbulb - "You show me a new company and I will show you someone who doesn't have customers." Seems simple, but I realized I needed to position it as a positive. My explanation now is to focus on our points of differentiation and how we will make the customer more efficient and effective in a way they never could before.
Happy selling and good luck!
Focus on your unique selling point(s) and how you will add value to the customer.
Seek out information at local trade shows related to your field. See what your competitors offer. Business Solutions is a very broad term, you need to create a simple way to explain what it is that you are doing and then build a foundation of WHY what you do works. That's the ''in sentence'', or what's formally called ''mission statement'', that's going to provide you with the meat to start out. Once you formally define yourself, then take a step forward and start making warm contact with clients. Sometimes just finding out why clients are disappointed with previous business relationships is a good place to start, see how you can fit the bill and I find that a lot of those clients are worth picking up as customers, even just to get you the starting point you need.