Business Magazine

Get Early Customer Sales To Validate Your Business

Posted on the 23 November 2012 by Martin Zwilling @StartupPro

dog-robot“Will the dogs eat the dog food?” This rather crude expression weighs heavily on the mind of all good startup founders, no matter how confident they appear. We all know the products they give away, and the ones purchased by family and friends don’t count. The real milestone, proving the business model, is that first product sold for full price to a total stranger, leaving him happy.

So what can you do to expedite this event, or even improve the odds that it will happen at all? Of course, one sale isn’t really enough, so you need to get the first customer to recommend you to a second, and make sure rate of sales ramps up quickly enough to keep the business alive and growing.

This whole process is particularly worrisome to many startup founders, since their expertise and background more likely technology than sales. If you are one of those, here are some basics principles you should follow and live by until that milestone is behind you:

  • It’s the market, stupid. I still see too many entrepreneurs who build a product and spend lots of money because THEY are in love with the idea or technology. There is no substitute for good market research, talking to experts, analyzing the competition, and listening to potential customers from day one.
  • Sell what you have, not what you dream. Customers don’t buy the impossible dream. I believe in pre-selling and early marketing, but make sure you don’t oversell what you can deliver. I recently knew a founder whose sales pitch was always the next generation of his product, and he never understood why customers always decided to wait.
  • Your revenue model has to make sense. If you lose money on every sale, it’s hard to make it up in volume. On the other hand, if your price is over the moon, even the best product features probably won’t sell it. Many of the Internet business plans I see these days say the service is free, and revenue will come later from a huge user base. You need deep pockets to make this one work.
  • You need a sales channel that works, and one you can afford. Even with the global reach of the Internet, selling your first product from your website will likely not be much of a business. To get the reach you need probably requires one or two levels of distribution, partnerships, or joint ventures. Direct sales are too expensive, and word-of-mouth is too slow.
  • A product, without customer support, is not ready for sale. Remember that your ultimate goal is satisfied customers, not just the best product. The sales process has to be smooth, the customer support impeccable, and the customer-facing people delightful and empowered.
  • Selling is a learned skill, and takes effort, just like building a product. Everyone in your startup needs to understand sales, and needs to be a salesman. Don’t assume that only “fast talkers” are good salesmen, or that you can hire a good salesman at the last minute to sell your product. The best salesmen know their products and their customers better than anyone else, and they believe in both. That should be you.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you wait until all these items are perfect before you open your doors. If you do that, you will never achieve this milestone. The real job of an entrepreneur is to manage the right variables, with the right level of risk, to get and stay just one step ahead of their competitors.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Metaphor and Call to Mutual Respect Betwee...

    Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Metaphor Call Mutual Respect Between Catholic Leaders LGBTQ Community: Critical Commentary

    I have not read Father James Martin's new book Building a Bridge, which calls on the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church to collaborate with the LGBTQ... Read more

    6 hours, 46 minutes ago by   William Lindsey
    LGBTQ, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Caution: This Can Cause Addiction

    Caution: This Cause Addiction

    I opened my low-carb/keto clinic with Nurse Sylvie in February 2017, inside the medical clinic where I do my regular general practice. To get people to enroll,... Read more

    7 hours, 5 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Review - Vichy Mineral 89 Skin Fortifying Daily Booster

    I'm always battling with dry and dehydrated skin.. even when I do nothing different, my skin will... Click for Read more

    7 hours, 6 minutes ago by   Chantana
    HAIR & BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE
  • Talk Show Host: Not Here to Make Friends

    Talk Show Host: Here Make Friends

    photo: Harley Haskett Toronto based Talk Show Host are quick to release a new EP. Not Here to Make Friends sounds cheerful and angry at the same time,... Read more

    7 hours, 48 minutes ago by   Hctf
    ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC
  • The Human Design... Not All Bad!

    Human Design... Bad!

    Whatever or whoever it was that designed the human, had to have been at the least, a sadist. Now the design isn’t all that bad, it’s just that there were a few... Read more

    7 hours, 51 minutes ago by   Skip1957
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Citrus Marshmallow Sundaes

    Citrus Marshmallow Sundaes

    We all know what a Sundae is, and I am sure we have all secretly had one at some stage in our lives even those of us who are now on the healthy no sugar […] Read more

    7 hours, 53 minutes ago by   Shadesofcinnamon
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Konkani Style, Hog Plum Pickle…

    Konkani Style, Plum Pickle…

    Summer is full of Sun, fun, travel yumminess.. For those who love Mangoes its the season.. The kids have vacations... The markets are filled with an amazing... Read more

    8 hours, 8 minutes ago by   Anithanayak
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES

Magazines