Successful Startups | Feature

Five Ways to Jump Start Sales

In our consulting business, one of the questions we are most often asked is, "How can I quickly get more customers to use my product?" Here are five strategies we encourage all our customers to consider.

  1. Create an enticing early adopter program that offers discounted pricing and added value. Pricing is one of the hardest tasks companies must tackle, especially when launching a new product or service, but early adopter discounts don't lock you into permanent pricing. They create an incentive by signally a limited time reduction and appealing to the buyers who like to be part of something new.
  2. Identify the typical buyers and influencers for your product and develop relationships with the associations they belong to. For example, if your product is used by elementary schools, talk to the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Don't just exhibit at their conference. Get to know the key people, let them know you're willing to support them, brainstorm with them how to get your company in front of their constituents, and find out about any special programs that could help you reach buyers. This is both a short- and long-term strategy—the longer you build the relationships, the better your opportunities will be.
  3. Target a small geographic area that you can cover more easily. Limiting the size of the area allows you to identify the thought leaders and influencers who care about the problem you're solving. Then you can stretch your marketing dollars by using local referrals, which are highly effective. With limited sales and marketing dollars, it's more effective to build momentum in a few regions—through marketing communications, relationship building, and attendance at regional conferences—than to try to cover a large area.
  4. Create an advisory board of educators who are leaders in your market segment, and enlist their support. Your board members will provide sales and product guidance, function as advocates and referral accounts, and probably become your first customers. Remember to request referrals, and ask them to speak on your behalf at appropriate events and conferences.
  5. Work with groups that provide introductory meetings with decision makers. As a new company, you may find it difficult to get meaningful high-level meetings, but certain organizations can facilitate the process. Check out the BLE group, Amprey, and ERDI. Or you can hire a former superintendent to help with introductions if you know one who is willing to open doors for you.

These strategies should help you break through the barriers and build your customer base more quickly. Best wishes for your continued success!

About the Authors

Farimah Schuerman and Mitch Weisburgh are co-founders of Academic Business Advisors (ABA), a consultancy firm that helps large and small companies succeed in the education marketplace. Schuerman and Weisburgh work with senior managers on strategic planning, product development, sales and marketing, business development, market research, and investor due diligence. Weisburgh writes the PilotED blog.


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