Growing your Startup – building your client base
Having a successful startup requires more than just a good idea, or a product that fills a gap in the market. If you can’t find a way to grow your business, it’s unlikely that your startup will progress very far. That’s why it’s important for founders to have a good grasp of the fundamentals of growth.
For most startups, there are two general markets that you should be looking at; investors and customers. For tips on dealing with investors, have a read of our article Finding Funding. In this article, we’re going to be talking about some essential tips for taking your product or service to market without coming off as overly “salesy”.
Reaching out is the first stage of this process. It’s an important process in which you will be:
- Making your first impression on a potential client;
- Bringing your offering to a potential client’s attention; and
- Working towards building a long-lasting relationship.
A good reach out can yield a return ranging from making a new relationship, to creating long standing client. A bad reach out might ruin your relationship with someone all together, so it’s important to make sure you put thought and attention into this process.
Step 1 - The lead
The goal of reaching out is to arrange a meeting or conversation with the person you’re contacting. Your message should be put together with that goal in mind. The first decision you will have to make, is who you’re reaching out to, and why.
You should be looking for leads who have a problem that you can solve. By this stage in your startup’s life cycle, you should have a solid understanding of who your target market is. What you are looking for are key players within that market who could form the foundational customer basis for your business.
Step 2 - The opening
Once you have decided on a person with whom you would like to connect, you will need to craft your message, and that starts with the opening sentence. If you’re writing an email or a message, this will be the opening line. If you’re talking in person, this will be the conversation starter. If they are interested by the opener, chances are they pay attention to the entirety of your message. As a general rule, avoid saying “My name is X and I work at X”. This approach is stale, and too often associated with students or graduates looking for their first job. Instead, try talking about the person you are reaching out too. It’s a safe bet that they will find themselves more interesting than you, and it is a good opportunity for you to showcase the research you have done on them prior to reaching out. Further, it personalises the message, preventing it from reading like a copied and pasted email blast or rehearsed speech.
Step 3 - The body
Now that you have nailed your opener, it’s time to get into the meaty details of why you’re contacting this person at all. This is the part of your message that will vary the most depending on the nature of your business, but there are still some fundamental rules to remember:
- Be authentic! No one knows your product better than you. If you’re a founder, you’re passionate about your offering and that passion should come through in your message. Use your own voice to describe what your product or service does, and why it’s important.
- Tell your story. There’s an actual person on the receiving end of this message, and storytelling is a fantastic tool for developing human connections. What is the history behind your offering? What events transpired that placed you in the position to develop it? This will both present your audience with a better understanding of your offering and make them feel as though they are already building a relationship with you.
- Relate it back to the other person. You’re trying to add value to this person by demonstrating that they should be interested in what you have to say. Talking about what your business does isn’t enough – you also need to explain why its valuable to them.
Step 4 - The call to action
This is your close off, and it is where the overall goal to land a further meeting culminates, so you will want to use language that is authentic and inviting. Minor wording changes can go a long way here. For example, instead of saying “would you like to have a meeting…”, try saying “we would love to talk with you further…” or “we believe there is value in exploring this relationship”.
As a general rule, it is a faux pas of reach outs to try and aggressively set the time and date of the meeting. Instead, ask what time would suit them best and work around their schedule. The purpose here is for them to want to meet you, so avoid any language which will make you seem aggressive, needy, or pushy.
Landing your first client
Amongst all the challenges presented by the COVID-19, many startups are finding that there has never been an easier time to land a meeting. With people working from home, and with Zoom and other video conferencing platforms becoming a normality of working life, people are more willing than usual to meet you online for a conversation.
Here at Allied Legal our business growth advisory team is dedicated to helping your startup develop and grow. That means that you don’t have to prepare for or go into meetings alone. If you want someone on your team to help your startup scale, give us a call on 03 8638 0888 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to have an ally on your side.