Landing that first big customer
When you are in the early stages of starting a small business you look for ways to get your name out there to really constitute your product or service offering. You look for ways to get the people that you talk to about your business to say, “Yes!” Not only does getting those first few customers give you the energy to keep moving forward with your business idea but it also legitimizes all of the time and money that you have already spent on the company.
You have tweaked your product or service and you have received valuable feedback and testimonials. A big customer with a large order or contract would really make your business prospects soar. How do you make your business the best choice for big customers?
Make sure that you can handle large orders.
Getting a big customer wont matter much if you do not have the capabilities to handle the order or the staffing needs. If you are selling a product and do not have the equipment to fill the product order you have no hope of meeting a delivery date. If you are providing a service you may burn out your employees in order to meet the needs of the large customer.
With each big customer you have to provide that large customer with great products and superior customer service so you can continue to build your base of large customers. Have realistic goals and available numbers to provide yourself and your potential client of what they can expect.
Choose the right target.
You need to be able to market your business’s product or service to the right client base. Find clients that would find the most value in your product or service then complete some research on those companies. Find out who controls the purchasing power and attempt to set up an appointment with them. If having a face-to-face meeting is not possible then consider a videoconference or interactive DVD or website.
When you begin planning a message in order to pitch the idea, be certain that you are planning the message with the receiver in mind. Start with a problem or a big picture illusion. Your message is to answer the problem or how your business applies to the company’s big picture. Spend time defining ways to best communicate that your business will fit the needs of the people hearing the message while staying true to your business model and vision
Have your business proposal end with a clear win-win scenario.
Apply the big picture concept with several reasons of why a company should hire your business. State the many benefits of hiring your business and how it will positively affect the bottom line. Show the effects clearly, in several formats, that the company will save more time and money as well as developing their personal brand for working with your product or service.
As a small business owner you usually eat, breathe, and sleep your business. Your passion is your work and you need to be able to tell anyone. Practice your idea pitch before your big meeting with people who are unfamiliar with your company, but are candid enough with you that they will tell you what is wrong with your pitch. You have already done the research on the companies that you would like to make a pitch to, so hone every pitch that you deliver to have a personal element just for that company.
Recruit your previous customers.
Use the connections that you have already built to be able to drive more traffic to your business. A viable avenue for expanding your personal network into the larger companies are your past customers, they can tell their friends and family of your business. Ways that this can be accomplished is by offering past customers a discount for future purchases if they refer someone to your company.
Also, reach out to past professional connections and ask if they know someone that may be interested in what your product or service. Professional connections may include people who have employed you in the past, your current suppliers, or even those people who provided you a business loan.
Build reputation and experience.
You need to build your portfolio. Not just with other services or product offerings but with people who can attest your product or service. Ways that you can improve your base is by offering your product or service for free such as helping a nonprofit or volunteering with a charity.
Working with nonprofits or volunteering time and resources not only builds a reputation in the community that you are in but most originations will offer a place in their marking or event space to display your logo or specifically state that they are sponsored by your business.
Being part of event planning of a charity event will often allow you to meet representatives from larger companies. Event representative are not usually the people that you would pitch your idea to, however they could provide you the name of the correct person in the company to contract.
Get into the market.
Even if you don’t have a large customer yet, you can still develop your business as becoming a reputable source of information. You could present at a business trade show booth or an industry wide conference. Hone your public speaking skills and pitch skills with the people at the trade shows. Provide the people that you speak with information that they can take with them along with a small but useful item to remember your business.
Find blogs or magazines that you can become a contributing author, which allows people to follow you to your website once they have read the article. If you are in a highly specialized industry you may want to consider submitting those articles to industry journals to get the opinion of your peers.
As with any business its success will reflect the hard work that you put into it. The first large customer that you pitch your idea to may not say, “yes” to idea. The point is to get keep trying and enhancing your skills as you learn more about your industry.