Photo credit: NaPix — Hmong Soul
Within the first 3 minutes of my conversation with a business owner, I can if he is a first-mover (my target), a mainstream-adopter (save for later), or if he will never adopt new technology (a waste of time).
As the sales person for your startup, it’s your job to not only close deals, but to effectively spend your time on the potential clients that are most likely to close; therefore, it is of vital importance for you to distinguish between a first-mover and a mainstream-adopter.
Who should read this post: The sales lead of an internet startup looking for the very first customers for launch.
What you will learn: How to quickly identify first-movers so that you can spend your time wisely on closing them
1. Ask the right questions
“People hate to be sold, but people love to talk about their problems”
I’m not at the initial meeting to sell; rather, I’m there to learn about what problems the business owner has and how I can solve them. I am on his team, the trainer looking to give my player an edge over the competition.
After a careful analysis of my company and a lot of trial and error, I have identified the following 4 questions to be the best at probing into a potential client and figuring out the best approach:
1. What are your biggest challenges as a business owner?
I have found this to be the best opening question which sets the tone for the conversation. I’m looking for business owners that say, “More business!” When I find these business owners, it leads me to the question, “What are you doing to attract more business?”
2. How do you spend your marketing and advertising dollars?
This question is important for two reasons: 1) I find out if the business owner is pro-active and if he is open to new ways to increase business; 2) I find out if the business owner is willing to invest money to make money.
3. What is your current customer demographic?
Mobile applications target the younger generation, usually between 20 – 35 years of age. If the business gets a lot of customers within this age range, then it’s perfect. If the business gets customers older than 35, then I need to reposition my value proposition. My value prop then becomes, “We can get more 20-35 year-olds to notice your business and become repeat customers.”
4. How do you encourage repeat and referral business?
This last question is designed to get them thinking about repeat customers, referrals, and customer loyalty. The usual answer is, “We provide great food with excellent service at an unbeatable price!” I am quick to make them realize that EVERY business believes they have the best food with the best service, so they need something more to stand above the competition. This plants the seed that will lead me to loyalty programs and our product.
2. Pitch a customized pitch
My pitch is customized on the fly based on the answers to the questions above. Here are some common business owners that I’ve identified and how I modify the RewardMe pitch:
1. A business owner who wants more business, advertises on local papers, and has tried or is looking to try Groupon
RewardMe can optimize your advertising campaigns and group-deals. Groupon users love deals and have a smart phone. RewardMe can capture their repeat business by offering them ways to continue to earn great rewards at your business. They already love deals and are savvy to new technology; give them a way to play a real-life game at your business by earning points and rewards.
2. A business owner who has a punch card (buy 10 and get 1 free)
RewardMe takes the traditional stamp card and makes it secure, interactive, and easier to track. More and more people are buying smart phones, and it’s only a matter of time until everything goes digital – especially stamp cards. People don’t want to carry them around, they get lost, and they’re too easy to cheat. Furthermore, RewardMe allows you to get creative and create incentives beyond a “Buy 10 get 1 free” reward.
3. A business owner whose customers are over the age of 35
RewardMe targets a user base of 18-35 in age. Though the majority of your customers do not use iPhones, we can get the iPhone users aware of your business and to start coming here on a repeat basis. We have partnered with X, Y, and Z businesses here in this area that are heavily populated by 18-35 year-olds. If you’re in our system, they’ll find you via our nearby search option and give your business a shot since they can earn points here. Once here, you can capture them with your great food and excellent service.
3. How a first-mover thinks
Once you have delivered your pitch, it’s time for the business owner to respond with some questions of his own.
I have found that first-movers ask the following questions:
- How does it work?
- Do I need to train my employees to do something new?
- What kind of security does it have?
- How kind of analytics do I have?
- Can I send messages to my customers via the app?
First-movers are interested in how the product works and how it will benefit them. The gears in their heads are already turning, trying to see how it would fit in their business.
I have found that mainstream-adopters ask you the following questions:
- How many businesses have you signed?
- How many users do you have?
- How much will it cost me?
They’re more focused on social approval, minimizing risk, and ultimately making sure that this is a proven technology. It’s a very distinct difference, and it’s important that you identify first-movers from mainstream-adopters so that you can focus your attention accordingly.
It’s hard to find the first-movers, but once you identify them, spend all of your time closing them as a client. They will be the springboard you will use to get the majority of the mainstream client-base.