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Chinedu Ozulumba: What’s Next After Winning Your First Customer?

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Winning your first customer is like hitting the bull’s eye in the game of dart. It’s your breakthrough point; someone has found your product worthy of attention, and is willing to part with money in exchange for value.

To make this happen, ask these questions:

  • Do I have a ready market waiting to try out what I have to offer?
  • Who will that first client be?
  • Where can I find them?
  • Will my product(s) meet their needs?
  • What’s the right price?

A few years back, I took out time with my partner to visit a business district in Lagos where we could find names of companies we could send business proposals to. We explored each street and copied down names of big corporate organisations. We collated about thirty corporate names, prepared proposals and sent out to each and every one of them.

I wouldn’t say that gave us our first breakthrough customer, but it perhaps did months later. Unpredictably, my first breakthrough customer was from a company bottling water for commercial use. Luckily it was a pastor friend in my former parish, with whom I enjoyed a cordial relationship that had now blossomed into something much better and profitable. He was willing to take a chance on me and asked me to render services even without sending a proposal.

Make a list of ten people you know closely, and who you think would be interested in your product. Afterwards, reach out to your prospects on a personal basis, while remaining professional.

When you get your first customer, go for the second. The ability to sell and sell fast will determine how fast your business will progress though the start-up life cycles.

In your first year, test the market by producing samples of your product and giving some away for free with the intention of getting feedback. Giving out free products or services at the beginning works for businesses with stiff competition and many available substitutes, for example Barbing and Hair dressing, car wash services, gym courses, Home and office cleaning, laundry, waste disposal services are incentive driven.

You’ll need baits to pull them in.

Offer bonuses and other extras attract customers
Who wouldn’t want to stick with business owners that care? You’d need to sustain such freebies and improve on your services to keep them.

Not only will you create a healthy publicity for yourself, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to know the perception and reaction of the market to your new products.

In your first year, it’s also important to factor in the number of customers you need to sell to and at what price inclusive of production and distribution costs before you breakeven and make profit. For example sell:

10 shoe polishes @ $1.14 (N350) /piece

50 shoe polishes @ $0.49 (N 150) /piece

100 Shoe polishes @$0.16 (N 50) /piece

The N50 per piece looks most affordable and most likely would generate more sales but it may be unprofitable as it appears to attract more operational costs.

Are you concerned about the numbers or you’re interested in growing a brand that will sell highly priced items in the future?

It depends on your perspective and what kind of business you want to build. You can bootstrap a big brand, yes you can.

The early years of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak starting Apple in a garage is a story well known. After they dropped out from college to develop their computer devices in the Job’s garage, it got to a time they knew they needed more financing. Job later had to find a co-signer to get a bank loan of $250,000.

Be conservative with what you have while remaining realistic with your profit expectations. Work towards covering your costs and thereafter, break even.

Once you’ve considered your figures and how you’ll make money, then you can go out and start talking to people about your products while you prepare to launch your business.

Photo Credit: Kadettmann | Dreamstime.com

Chinedu Ozulumba is a portfolio risk manager and content writer. He’s the founder of Aspire by Force Blog; For Aspiring Entrepreneurs & Business Owners. He believes desired results are born out of creative thinking. Visit www.aspirebyforce.com for more resources.

10 Comments

  1. Pearl

    May 14, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    The excitement of making the first sale is usually shortlived. Making sales on a consistent basis is what really matters and its all about strategy. I’ll also add that once you allow your customers in, close the back door.

    Nice one Chinedu

    • Chinedu Ozulumba

      May 14, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      To the close the back door concept is a strategic concept, it still majors on customer retention as a strategy. Thank for checking Pearl.

  2. Kenny Nwakanma

    May 14, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Freebies and jaw dropping discounts invite and intice more clients, but if mismanaged will tell on the business.

    In this case it is wise to employ the’Dangote strategy’ which quotes, after provision of discount and freebies to clients, provide them with quality products and services because, more clients troop in via the ancient form of advertising; your clients. At a later time you can go back to your normal price and even higher without them complaining’….

    Nice one bro

  3. Saheed Oladele

    May 15, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Turnover has being a great deal to business success. After getting the first, get the second, then third … till you lose count.

    Nice one, Chinedu.

  4. Obi

    May 15, 2017 at 11:42 am

    As rightly noted, getting that first customer or client can be difficult. What is more difficult however is getting the clients to come back repeatedly after the first interaction. This is where “quality” is key. Great read

    • Chinedu Ozulumba

      May 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      You’re right Obi

  5. Chinedu Ozulumba

    May 15, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you so much for your insight Kenny.

  6. Theresa Doghor

    May 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you.
    I am building my business and so I am on a learning train
    I learn, practice and return the feedback,

    • Chinedu Ozulumba

      May 15, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Good to know Theresa, keep the spirit alive, learning should be an ongoing process. Thanks for stoping by.

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