Winning Your First Customers – Eventually.

Keeping Customer Conversations Alive

Let me paint the picture: You’re an excited founder – and you’re following the recommended Lean formula: you’ve hatched an idea you think could be big: tick. You’ve validated your concept with some initial customer development interviews: tick. You’ve designed & coded up your initial MVP: tick. Now you’ve come back to those potential customers with whom you first validated your idea with a functioning prototype. Its time for them to actually start using the product. Great right? But suddenly some of these folks seem hesitant; there are nuances, nit-picks and issues which they didn’t voice before and it’s hindering their conversion from warm-lead into your first customers.

Sound familiar? Well don’t despair. This is entirely normal when hatching a fresh business and it doesn’t necessarily mean your idea is dead in the water. It means your product might need some more work and a little more gestation. If a customer development interview didn’t result in a flat “No, I’d really never be interested in such a product” – then its probably worth keeping that conversation alive.

“Keeping a conversation alive” doesn’t mean pestering them with daily updates. Rather: as major milestones are reached in the business and product (shipping of serious new features; investment; new hires etc) you can fire off a quick email to fan the flames. Think of your customer-leads as a newspaper audience – and only share what’s truly newsworthy.

This kind of light touch, but semi-regular contact, achieves two primary outcomes:

1: Demonstrates Product Here To Stay

Updates let the potential-customer know that you and your company are not just a gang of wantrepreneurs (o what a great and precise term); it says that you’re serious about the business, and you’re building something that will last. i.e. One of the major hesitations in an established company switching over to your new whiz-bang SaaS system is that they’re afraid that after going through the considerable time & energy cost of switching over their business systems, you might run out of money, or enthusiasm, shutdown the product and disappear – leaving them in the lurch. Hence: occasional updates, demonstrating your significant and on-going progress towards legitimacy and longevity as a business will help alleviate this “Flash In The Pan” fear.

2: Own The Problem Space

Updates also keep you and your solution front-of-mind in the problem space. If you had one half-hour meeting with a lead 3 months ago; they’re really quite likely to forget you. Not because you aren’t a brilliant person with a great idea, but because, as you know from being in a start-up yourself, running and building a business is a never-ending Everest of consuming busy-work. So the occasional email, containing updates on the progress of the product and new features that are better helping to solve their pain-point helps to lodge the product and its value proposition front-of-mind in the problem space.

Quick Tips On Crafting Effective Customer-Lead Updates.

  • Personalise: – No one likes getting bulk emails. Tailor your emails enough to demonstrate that you are actually addressing the recipient and not just kludging in names from a CRM. While you’re user base is small (or non-existent!) you can afford to do totally un-scaleable things.
  • Keep It Short: Just the headlines. These are busy people you are addressing. More than likely they’ll skim over your email if they read it all. So leave the Tolstoy-length passages on product design for the product blog.
  • Importance = Longevity-Of-Campaign: Since you’re so carefully crafting personalised emails to each contact lead list every email on the list represents a time loss. So when should you give up? Its a simple calculation: the bigger the potential upside from converting a lead (i.e. social proof value, network effects, revenue potential etc) the longer you should persist.
Dylan Baskind is a Co-Founder & CEO at Qwilr

Dylan Baskind is the CEO and co-founder at Qwilr. He is also a designer, engineer, artist, musician and writer. He plays in this band. Sometimes he makes business focused helpers like like this. He chats with fellow artists and industry here and very, very occasionally posts articles here.