In the first phase of your startup, adding each customer is both a challenge and a milestone. It requires you to put in extensive research to identify various techniques, tools, channels of acquisitions, etc. that might help you attract targeted customers and develop a strong foundation. Thankfully, I’ve compiled a list of info that’s extremely helpful to get your first customers in a B2B market.
Leveraging your existing connections is one of the primary and easiest ways to get your first customers in a B2B market. Start by creating a list of every individual you know. This includes friends, family, relatives, business acquaintances, etc. who might be interested in your product. Then, reach out to them and pitch your new business. Also, ask them to share the idea with their friends. The word-of-mouth strategy plays a critical role at this stage.
Additionally, LinkedIn is a great platform to reach out to your connections. It also ensures that you have exhausted your personal network in a structured fashion. However, don’t restrict yourself to merely your connections. LinkedIn also shows your immediate connect’s connections or ‘2nd level connections’. So, simply shortlist companies in your target audience and search them on LinkedIn. Then, reach out to these first or second-level connections.
Lastly, LinkedIn is, in itself, a community-driven platform. This platform promotes networking and helps you build a strong brand for yourself. By utilizing LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can identify and start conversations with people from targeted companies. This, therefore, streamlines the entire sales process. Overall LinkedIn is a great B2B market to gain your first customer and future sales.
B2B Market: Product Listing Platforms
Popular product listing can help you showcase your product to a large & relevant B2B market audience. Another bonus is that these websites can help drive traffic to your website. Personalize the launch by sharing your product story. This allows users to connect to the product and the story behind it, giving extra impetus to your launch. I suggest using Capterra, Product Hunt, and/or Beta List. You never know. Using these sites for B2B marketing could grant you your first customers.
B2B Market: Approach VCs, accelerators, and incubators
Looking for new customers? Try liaising with institutions. They can give you access to customers on a large scale. Such institutions include venture capital firms, accelerators, incubators, etc.
Finding these institutions is just the first step. Next, you’ll need to find a good connect in these organizations and pitch your product or service. If they like what you’re offering, they can connect you with portfolio companies. Furthermore, since their referral is reliable, portfolio companies are more likely to be receptive to your pitch.
B2B Market: Networking Events
While networking events can be a time drain, they’re an effective lead generation technique in the B2B market. Ensure that you take time to choose the right events, in order to obtain maximum value for your time. Since networking events are face-to-face, you can build more meaningful relationships than virtual exchanges.
Make sure to always have your business cards handy. Only give out your cards to people who you think would be a great addition to your business network. You never know when these leads might need your offering. And hey, they might very well be your first customers!
B2B Market: Competitors’ Customers
Your competitors’ customers can help you build a good roster of companies that are looking for your product and services. So, list down your competitors’ customers and after finding the right contact in those firms, make your pitch to them. Your pitch should include how your product or service is better while also offering them discounts.
A subset of the above-mentioned list would consist of disgruntled customers. These firms are absolutely ideal targets, as they not only need your offering but are also dissatisfied with the existing options.
B2B Market: Customer Referrals
Your customers are your best marketing personnel — their word counts for much more than any of your internal marketing campaigns. Therefore, encourage your customers to give referrals by firstly, giving them a great experience. But, don’t stop there. Advertise your success stories on your website and market them diligently on social media channels too. These get a lot of eyeballs and will drive the right kind of traffic to your website.
B2B Market: Utilising Influencers
Influencers are not only celebrities but also other content creators or senior professionals from your industry with a large following (a ‘micro-influencer’ is typically anyone with greater than 3000 followers). These individuals engage personally with their audience and hence they are respected and trusted. Similar to referrals of your own customers, the word of such an individual will be trusted more by potential customers than a branded message by you.
Therefore, reach out to such individuals. They could very well help land your first customer in your B2B market. This could include someone in your immediate network whom you could request a favor from or others who would require some monetary incentives. Even in the latter case, since they need to be true to their followers, they would expect to be convinced of your offering to endorse it.
Find the best course for your company
The right channel to acquire customers varies from business-to-business. Above are some of the most effective ways to land your initial customers in the B2B market. Do try each of them and then choose the avenues that offer the maximum return on your time, effort, and capital. Eventually, these channels and the process that you set for them will lay the foundation for your first customer and future sales.
Karthik Sridharan is the Co-founder & CEO at Flexiple, an exclusive network of the best freelance developers & designers. A big believer of remote working, he is building Remote.tools for the remote community.