Getting your first few customers
When you’re just starting out building a SaaS company, getting your first few customers is astoundingly difficult. Pretty much everyone we asked to try our product wouldn’t give us the time of day and gave us a flat “no.” There simply seemed like there was no market in sight. Harder even, we had to differentiate from a non-competitor that was ubiquitously used - we had a marketing problem too!
We could’ve easily given up but we soon learned, when it came to convincing customers, “No” doesn’t mean “no”, it just means “not yet.”
Here are some tips to get your first few customers:
- Give away your “paid” product away for free - people will value it more.
- Rather than trying to close a sales prospect, ask for help in the form of trying out your product - people are willing to do favors for others.
- Be willing to consult your customers instead of just providing them a product - do something that won’t scale for now.
- Find a common network of people that can get to know and trust you - for example, you can join Y Combinator and convince people to use a product that nearly every startup would need anyway.
- Mass cold email startups that are in the same boat as you to try you out.
- Engage with Twitter and follow tons of people in other companies - they will notice.
- Always appear bigger than you actually are (that doesn’t mean lie) - nobody will know the difference.
- Have the best customer support in the world - your happy early customers will evangelize you to no end - this is your biggest driver of future growth, so invest.
- Remember all those people who said “no” to trying you out 9 months ago? Ask them again.
- When you talk to your potential customers over email, make sure you add them on gchat - you can constantly bug them for feedback and gauge their happiness.
- Once you’ve made a customer happy, get them to intro you to another company you’d like to get.
Good luck and remember that enterprise companies typically grow very slowly in the beginning but then dominate towards the end.