Nothing is more exhilarating than getting your first customers.
And in your haste to sell, you may think that buying ads is the best way to make your first sales. That may certainly be the fastest way, but sometimes, slow is better.
When you launch a new product, you’re still testing the market, and the indicator you’re measuring is actual sales. I recommend a slower but more insightful way of getting your first customers: getting into conversations with your prospects.
Connect with prospects and get their feedback on your offer. Exactly how you do this will depend on how much existing access you have to your market, and how reputable of a person you are in their eyes.
How to Sell Through Conversations
If you don’t have an audience, then you’ll have to draw from family, friends, colleagues, and social media connections, as well as anyone they might refer.
Get on the phone with them and ask them what they need (in relation to the problem your product addresses), what their challenges are, and so on. Eventually, shift to questions (not statements) about how you can help them.
Finally, ask if your product is something they’d be interested in. Tell them what it is, what problem it would solve for them, and what outcome they can expect from using it. Then ask if they want to buy it.
If they say “yes,” then tell them the price and close the sale. Congratulations, you just got your first customer!
If they say “no,” ask them why not. Reassure them that you’re not pressuring them into buying, but you’d really like to understand and get feedback on your offer.
And if they say, “maybe,” then push back. Get a definite yes or no.
Sales conversations are high-touch and not scalable, but that’s fine for your first 50 sales, because at that stage you aren’t just selling, you’re also figuring out what the effective messaging for sales is comprised of.
How to Sell through Email
If you do have an audience, such as a list of at least 2,000 email subscribers or a group of engaged followers on a social media platform, then you have a few more options.
You can still conduct person-to-person sales conversations. But if you want something more scalable, then you can “converse” through email or a series of blog posts.
Passive Email PS
If you’re in semi-regular contact with your ideal customers, a really easy approach can be to just add a P.S. line to your email signature, such as “Did you know that I offer [benefit/outcome]? Ask me about how I can do that for you.”
This is a good dialogue starter. You can then get them on the phone with you and proceed as described above. Or, you can give them more information through email and eventually make your offer.
This can be done through email, your blog, or social media posts that introduce the idea to your audience and bring them to the point of buying your product. Here’s what to include in this email or blog sequence:
1) Float your pilot idea.
Float your pilot idea by telling your audience your story so far. Share the origin story of the product, what specific problems and desires you learned about in your research, and why you are uniquely able to help them solve those problems.
2) Ask your audience if they want it.
Talk about your product as a modality for a solution. Ask questions like:
Would you be interested in a product that does [X]?
What would be the most important thing for me to include in such a product?
What would be your biggest hesitation, concern, or fear around using a product like this?
3) Announce your product.
Declare that you’re going to create and offer your product. Follow up by giving people a sense of how the product is going to work, what outcomes it delivers, and roughly how much it’s going to cost.
4) Open your cart.
Officially announce that your product is now ready for purchase.
Email people and remind them to buy as many times as you can come up legitimate reasons to be reaching out. And if you decide to close the cart after your first 50 customers so you can get feedback and iterate, then give your audience plenty of warning about that.
If getting your first customers becomes too much of a struggle, that tells you that your message-to-market fit isn’t quite right.
Otherwise, you can use what you learn from your first 50 sales to make your next 100, 1,000 sales.