Principle 10: Race to (1st) Revenue

Sales & Growth

How do I find and secure my first customers?

Why is this principle important?

Sales is the most important function in any business. Without it you just have a glorified project. And yet, so many of us hope that it will take care of itself or we find constructive ways of procrastinating and focusing on other areas of our business. You need to learn how to sell and the best way to sell without fear is to sell something you passionately believe in.

What should you focus on at this stage?
  • Understand the basics of a sales pipeline, negotiation and customer service.
  • Assess which best practice sales techniques could apply to your startup.
  • Find and convert your first paying customers (actual cash or payment commitments).
  • Engage with key sales metrics that will demonstrate the health of your business.
Core Concepts

Build and measure your sales funnel

Understand funnels
How many people do you need to get interested and engaged in your idea in order to convert into a sale? How can you move people down the funnel from ‘interested’ to ‘customer’ as quickly and cheaply as possible?

Design a customer flow
What does that process look like? What marketing activities will you need to do to get your first sales?

Go manual first
You are the janitor. Until your startup is earning well you do everything. The advantage of this is that you can pretty much do everything manually (you don’t need that expensive website or prototype or huge amount of stock), you just need a first version. You’ll also learn everything about how it works (and doesn’t) and this is vital as you grow.

Contact and convert customers

Test different approaches
You’ll be very lucky if your first effort to sell works. You will need to try multiple ways and different content marketing ideas.

Ask for the sale
Too often (especially in the UK) we’re shy about being direct – would you be interested in buying this? Selling online helps overcome this cultural politeness. The best kind of sale is the one that’s made before the product exists, a ‘pre-sale’, most crowdfunding campaigns are done like this.

Retain customers
A one-off sale is good, a repeat customer is so much better. Subscription business models thrive because the effort that goes into one sale often leads to multiple payments.

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