This is Post No. 15 in How to Start a Business Series.
“Build and they will come”, is what a first time entrepreneur thinks.
You can do what successful entrepreneurs do – even when you are a first time entrepreneur. This is what this series is about – helping you do it right first time.
To increase your chances of success, it makes sense to go out and find buyers for what you sell.
Here are few basics to get you started.
Basics of Sales
1. Customer Contact
First step in sales is customer contact. (I am assuming that you have done the prospect list building and organizing contacts of those you want to sell to).
Customer contact can be in person, over phone, or via email. It can be cold (when you reach out to a customer without any initial connection) or warm (when initial contact between you and your customer has already been made).
2. Presentation Meeting.
Later you may do a presentation in person or online. During this meeting you,
- Present information.
- Answer queries and close (bigger projects may take longer to close).
- Set up the customer to use your product or service with a free trial.
3. Relationship Management
After the meeting is over, stay in touch with customer, support and be there when the customer needs you.
4. Closing the Sale
Ultimately you ask the customer to buy. Some of those who signed for a free trial will agree to buy from you. If your product is really good and your relationship is superb, customer asks you to buy from you, on her own.
Voila, you have now made the sale.
Building Social Proof to Drive More Sales.
During the initial days of building your business you need to be seen as someone who can be trusted. Social proof can help you in this trust building.
One very good way of building social proof is having high profile customers.
1. Sign up big brands (universally recognized) as customers – even for free or for a very low cost.
2. Focus on doing small projects.
It takes time for a large brand to trust a small company. Also the closing cycle for enterprise level projects is long – it can be as long as 6 months to a year. So, initially do not pitch for big projects with these companies. Pitch for small work that big suppliers/vendors may not be interested in. Such projects are easier to get than large scale projects.
Once you do it, you can mention these companies in your presentations and website etc under “clients we have worked with” section.
If they are not ready to pay you – then offer to work for free initially. If your work is good and delivered timely, often free projects make way for paid work. Do not make this end all and be all of your existence but pay attention to it. Keep on doing small projects that pay on side to keep your ship moving.
You just do not need any social proof. FB likes and Twitter followers are also part of it. This helps more if you are in a consumer focused business. But for a B2B business big name customers are always better than a million facebook fans.
Social media based social proof can be built quickly by advertising. So spend some money (not a lot) on facebook advertising. In some countries where Twitter Advertising is available you can use it.
Action for the day: Build a customer contact list and pick names/numbers that you will use for customer contact next week. Also identify 5 customers that you need to serve to build social proof.