Selling The Startup

What do you do when you are starting a new business and need sales?

Jeb Blount
3-minute read

Last week we received this message from Val. He writes:

I discovered your podcast 3 days ago and I’ve listened to over 20 episodes already. I have a question that I hope you will address in one of your podcasts. I’m a math/stats expert working for a large investment bank. Although I’m still employed, work is slower due to the recession. I’ve decided to use this time to try to start my own business building sophisticated statistical models to help businesses improve their marketing. I’m convinced that the first step to starting a business is sales. If I can convince someone to give me a contract, I can build a great product for them and get my business started. The benefit for my first few clients is that they will get my service a relatively low price. What approach should I take to get my first client?

Val, as a person who has started multiple businesses I understand your challenge. Getting your first customers is one of the biggest hurdles your startup will face. Fortunately for you one of my very good friends is Karl Goldfield, The Startup Sales Mentor. Karl makes a living helping folks just like you get those first crucial customers on board and turn those customers into profitable business. I gave Karl a call and this is what he had to say about your question:

Karl Goldfield: Well Jeb, that’s a great question, and one Entrepreneurs ask me all the time. There are really two answers and neither is better than the other. What your listener needs to determine is if they want to have an innovator - a risk taker - pay them for the product, or give a thought leader - or an early adopter - the product for free and create a Customer Evangelist.

The challenge in getting your first customer is that people who are willing to pay for something that has no proof of concept are innovators.