How to find and keep your first customers

Finding your first paying customers can be a difficult task, but those early adopters can make or break your business, so it is important to get it right. How many customers you need to find to get your company off the ground will depend on whether you are selling your product or service for £1 or £100,000, but here are four tried and tested methods of finding your first customers and strengthening that relationship for long-term success.

1. Use every personal relationship you have

Cold-calling to drum up new business is hard at the best of times, but when you are a new company with an innovative product and no track record it can be incredibly difficult.

Luckily, you already have relationships with hundreds of people – just look at your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections – and these are often the best people to get on board with your first product release. It is obviously important only to target your connections that you think would genuinely benefit from your product, but these people are already trust you and are prepared to hear your pitch, so make ideal early adopters.

2. Create partnerships

If you are a startup with no proven results you can use to woo customers, then it can be helpful to tie in your offering with that of complimentary companies, possibly other startups, to deliver a combined partnership that will address a wider array of problems faced by your potential clients and improve user adoption for both companies.

A simple example of a complimentary or symbiotic partnership would be for a warehouse storage firm and a delivery/logistics company. On their own, these companies provide valuable services to customers, but together they can provide a more complete suite of fulfilment services for online stores.

3. Don’t neglect your onboarding experience

Convincing new people to try you product or service is expensive and time-consuming, so it is critical that once you have them on the hook you can convert them into paying customers – and that means making sure that your customer onboarding experience is friction free.

Whilst it would be great if every new customer had a deep understanding of your product or service from the outset, in reality many will need significant help in getting started. Tutorials, video guides, and more should be easily accessible to help people find their own way around your products themselves, but a webchat plugin that offers support along the way can also help new customers feel appreciated as they get started.

Happy customers are not just the source of return business, but can also be your greatest cheerleaders, so keep those early adopters on-side.

Photograph by Geralt