How do you get that first customer when you’re just starting out in business.
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I’ve started a travel company, and we provide luxury holidays and honeymoons to destinations around the world. This is the problem: I’ve never had to start with no customers before, and I have a real hard time cold calling. Any thoughts on getting my first few customers to start the ball rolling?
Marissa, congratulations on taking that first step; but I gotta tell ya, you haven’t really started a business until you actually make a sale.
A lot of people at one time or another complain that they hate cold calling and avoid it totally, but I tend advise clients to take a balanced approach to marketing and do not discount ANYTHING because it kinda pushes you out of your comfort zone a bit. – which I sense is what cold calling does, and that’s why you’ve made a point to mention it in your email.
Lucky for you, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so cold calling is not the only way to get the customers in. The key here, is to implement strategies that will be to get people to CALL you
1. Introduction letter to your existing contacts
You already know people right now that can use your service or they know of others that could use your service. You need to let them know you’re open for business, so they can REFER business to you.
Chances are, you already have contacts from your previous profession before opening up your business as well as friends and family. Write your letter of introduction to these people…let them know you’re open for business. Send out your brochure to them and tell them all about your business and who your ideal clients are and then Ask them to please TELL others about your business.
They already know, like and trust you. If your professional contacts have dealt with you in past (regardless in what capacity) – they will be happy to deal with you again and recommend you to others.
Yah, I know. I can hear you groaning already. Networking has got a bit of a bad rep but tit really is very effective once you know how to make it work. The problem people have with networking is that they don’t know how to make it WORK for them. It’s not about collecting as many business cards as you can and then pushing your services on these people…It’s about building relationships with people who have access to a large group of your target market.
Get clear on how you can create VALUE for each person you meet at a networking even. How can you or your business be of use to each of these people or their organisations.
Pay particular attention to people who have ready access to a large group of your target customers. For example: it’s better to go to a networking even that will put you in touch with companies that have a large number of staff likely to use your services rather than networking with one person that can only bring you one or two clients at a time. – I’m not saying small people don’t help but if you want to put your networking on steriods, you’ll want to focus on the former rather than the latter.
So in this case, you may want to connect with those in the corporate world.. accountants, lawyers, financial advisers etc. And you want them to connect you to their HR directors or marketing directors. You want a connection to these people because you can then sponsor an event they may be hosting or offer up customised packages that they can offer their executives during the holiday season etc.
THere’s so much you can do here, you just have to creative about it.
3. Trade Fairs
Trade fairs and exhibitions are a great way to get instant access to a large group of your target customers in one place. Though these can be quite pricey, they do deliver results as long as you know what you’re doing.
Make sure you have a lead magnet. when you go for these. Don’t expect people to make a concrete decision right there on the spot. You’re going to have to offer them something to part with their details which you’ll then use to FOLLOW UP later
The point here is that these events are for collecting warm leads which can then be converted into sales at a later date.
You can take this one step further and get a lot of PR for your company by offering a FREE holiday as a prize in the competition these exhibition holds.. Trade Fairs such as the National Wedding Show and the Designer Wedding Show are a hotbed of your ideal clients all in one place…looking for ideas for their honeymoon… you should be in a place like this, and donating a prize means the show organizers promote your business all through the 3 day event…so rather than looking at it as spending extra money, look at it as spending for PR and buying new and hot leads that want what you have to offer NOW.
4. Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances:
Who is it that shares the same customers like you? You say you offer honeymoons to destinations around the world. Your strategy here should be to partner with as many wedding industry partners as possible. They share the same clients are you do – can they recommend your service THEIR clients and vice-versa?
5. Develop your online presence
I think it’s safe to assume that you WILL get Googled. make sure you’ve got a reputation online that enourages people to get in touch for that consulation you’re offering. The important thing here is to manage the information they get when they find you. Set up professional profiles on the major social networking engines like Facebook, LinkedIn and make sure your website matches the image you’re trying to put other there…. you’ve got to walk your talk and play your own game.
There are so many other things you can do to get that first customer, but It’s not about having endless strategies but actually IMPLENTING them. THAT’s what gets the results. – Oh and by the way, cold calling does get RESULTS. If you can’t hack it, I suggest you get someone else to do it. No point in losing potential customers because you find it HARD to implement. alright?