Getting Your First Customers: Your Free Guide Based On Research

Creating your first sales as a startup founder, especially for a SaaS (Software as a Service) business, can seem like climbing a mountain. But with the right approach and mindset, it's entirely achievable. Let's break down some practical steps to help you start generating sales and growing your business. Getting Your First Customers: Your Free Guide Based On Research

Table of Contents

Understand Your Product Inside Out

Before you can sell anything, you need to be the expert on your product. Know its features, benefits, and especially how it solves problems for your customers. For a SaaS business, understanding the technical side, as well as the user experience, is crucial. Your product is not just software; it's a solution to a real problem.

5 questions to ask yourself to understand your product in-depth based on research

  1. Who is our product for?
    This question helps you identify your target market. Understanding who your product is for (e.g., small businesses, large enterprises, specific industries) enables you to tailor your marketing efforts and product development to meet their specific needs.
  2. What problem does our product solve?
    Every successful product addresses a specific problem or set of problems. Identifying the problem your product solves helps you communicate its value proposition more clearly and makes it easier to convince potential customers of its necessity.
  3. How does our product solve this problem in a way that's different from the competition?
    This question dives into your unique value proposition (UVP). Understanding what sets your product apart from competitors helps you highlight these differences in your marketing and sales efforts, showing potential customers why they should choose your solution over others.
  4. What are the key features of our product, and how do they benefit the user?
    Knowing the key features of your product and the benefits they offer helps you move beyond technical specifications to how your product makes your customers' lives easier or better.
  5. How have users benefited from using our product?
    This question is about gathering evidence of your product's effectiveness. Collecting case studies, testimonials, and data on how users have benefited from your product not only helps you understand its impact but also provides you with valuable marketing material.

Key takeaways

Answering these questions requires thorough research, including market analysis, customer feedback, competitive analysis, and user testing. The insights you gain from this research will not only improve your understanding of your product but also enhance your ability to market and sell it effectively.

Identify Your Ideal Customer

Not everyone is your customer. For a SaaS business, your ideal customer might be other businesses (B2B) or individual consumers (B2C), depending on your service. Create a profile of your ideal customer - what industry are they in, their size, their needs, and where they hang out online. This will help you target your marketing efforts more effectively.

5 Tips on how to identify your ideal customer

  1. What specific problem does my product solve, and who is most affected by this problem?
    This question helps you understand the pain points your product addresses and who experiences these pain points most acutely. It’s a direct route to identifying the individuals or businesses that will most likely benefit from your solution.
  2. What are the demographic characteristics of my potential customer?
    Demographics can include age, location, gender, income level, education level, or company size and type (for B2B). Understanding these characteristics helps you narrow down your target audience and tailor your messaging to resonate with them.
  3. What are the psychographic characteristics of my potential customer?
    Psychographics delve into the attitudes, interests, behaviors, and values of your potential customers. Knowing these can help you understand why someone might seek your product and how it fits into their lifestyle or business operations.
  4. Where does my potential customer spend their time online and offline?
    Identifying where your ideal customers gather information, seek entertainment, or communicate can help you figure out the best channels to reach them, whether it's through specific social media platforms, online communities, industry publications, or events.
  5. What triggers my potential customer to start looking for a solution like mine?
    Understanding the triggers or events that lead your potential customers to seek a solution like yours helps you anticipate their needs and position your product as the answer at the right time and place.

Key takeaways

Answering these questions involves gathering data from market research, customer interviews, surveys, and analyzing your current customer base if you have one.

The insights you gain will be invaluable in developing your marketing strategies, product development, and sales approach to ensure they're all aligned with the needs and preferences of your ideal customer.

Build a Compelling Website

Your website is often the first point of contact between your SaaS business and potential customers. Make sure it's clear, compelling, and speaks directly to the needs of your target audience. Highlight the benefits of your service, include customer testimonials, and make it easy for visitors to sign up or request a demo.

5 must haves for an attractive landing page

  1. Clear and Compelling Headline
    Your headline is often the first thing visitors see, so it should clearly communicate what your product is and the value it offers. A compelling headline speaks directly to the visitor's needs or problems and hints at how your product can solve them.
  2. Engaging Visuals
    High-quality images or videos that showcase your product or its benefits can significantly increase engagement. Visuals help visitors quickly grasp what you're offering and how it works. For SaaS products, consider using screenshots of your software, explainer videos, or animations that demonstrate the product in action.
  3. Concise, Benefit-focused Content
    Your landing page content should be succinct and focused on the benefits of your product, not just its features. Highlight how your product solves problems or improves the user's life or business. Bullet points or short paragraphs work well to keep the information digestible and to the point.
  4. Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)
    Your CTA is critical for guiding visitors towards the action you want them to take, whether it's signing up for a free trial, scheduling a demo, or making a purchase. The CTA should be prominently placed, visually distinct, and use action-oriented language that encourages immediate response.
  5. Social Proof and Trust Signals
    Including testimonials, customer logos, case studies, or media mentions can significantly boost credibility and trust. Social proof helps reassure visitors that others have successfully used and benefited from your product. Trust signals, such as security badges or money-back guarantees, also help reduce perceived risk.


In addition to these must-haves, ensure your landing page is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and provides an intuitive user experience. A/B testing different elements can also help you refine your landing page over time for better performance.

Leverage Social Media and Content Marketing

Social media and content marketing are powerful tools for generating interest and leads. Share content that adds value to your target audience, such as how-to guides, industry insights, and case studies.

Engage with your audience, answer their questions, and become a trusted resource in your industry.

5 steps to leverage social media and content marketing

  1. Identify the Right Platforms
    Research where your ideal customers spend their time. Different social media platforms cater to different demographics and interests. For a B2B SaaS, LinkedIn and Twitter might be more effective, whereas Instagram or TikTok could be better for B2C products. Use this information to focus your efforts where they're most likely to pay off.
  2. Create Valuable Content
    Develop content that addresses your audience's needs and challenges. This could be blog posts, infographics, videos, or podcasts that provide solutions or insights related to your industry. The goal is to establish your brand as a helpful and knowledgeable authority in your field, which attracts potential customers.
  3. Engage with Your Audience
    Don’t just broadcast; interact. Respond to comments, participate in relevant conversations, and engage with other users' content. This helps build relationships and trust with potential customers. Social media is a two-way street; engagement from your side can encourage engagement from users, increasing your visibility and credibility.
  4. Use Social Proof
    Showcase customer testimonials and case studies. Sharing success stories and positive feedback from your current users can greatly influence potential customers. It adds credibility and can help alleviate any concerns about the effectiveness of your product. Make sure to highlight these stories in your content and on your profile.
  5. Run Targeted Social Media Ads
    Invest in social media advertising to reach a broader audience. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer powerful targeting options that allow you to reach specific demographics, industries, or interests. Start with a small budget to test different messages and see what resonates with your target audience. Use the insights gained from these tests to refine your approach.


Track your results and adjust your strategy accordingly. Use analytics to see which types of content, platforms, and advertising strategies are driving engagement and conversions. Social media and content marketing are dynamic; what works today might not work tomorrow, so be prepared to pivot based on your findings.

Key Takeaways

Implementing these steps requires patience and persistence. The key is to consistently provide value, engage genuinely with your audience, and refine your strategies based on performance data. Over time, these efforts can significantly contribute to building your customer base and growing your business.

Offer Free Trials or Demos

For a SaaS business, offering a free trial or demo can be a game-changer. It lets potential customers experience the value of your service firsthand, reducing their hesitation to subscribe. Make the sign-up process easy, and follow up with helpful tips on getting the most out of your service.
  1. Simplify the Sign-Up Process
    Reduce friction in the sign-up process. Research shows that a straightforward and quick sign-up process increases conversion rates for free trials or demos.

    Request only essential information (like name and email) to get started. Consider allowing sign-ups through social media accounts to speed up the process further.
  2. Set the Right Duration for the Trial
    Choose an optimal trial length. The duration of your free trial can significantly impact its effectiveness. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, a 14 to 30-day trial period is common and gives users enough time to evaluate the product without dragging on so long that urgency is lost.

    Your trial length should give users enough time to experience the value of your product but also create a sense of urgency.
  3. Provide Support and Guidance
    Offer guidance throughout the trial. Users who understand how to use your product are more likely to see its value. Providing tutorials, onboarding emails, and accessible customer support can help users get the most out of their trial.

    Personalized onboarding has been shown to significantly improve conversion rates from free trials to paid subscriptions.
  4. Use Engagement-Based Emails
    Engage users with targeted emails. Automated emails based on user behavior can encourage engagement and guide users through the product's features.

    Send welcome emails, tips on getting started, and reminders towards the end of the trial period. Research indicates that personalized emails based on user activity increase conversion rates by keeping your product top-of-mind and demonstrating its value.
  5. Offer an Incentive to Convert
    Incentivize conversions from trials to paid plans. Towards the end of the trial, offer an incentive for users to convert to a paid plan. This could be a discount on their first month or additional features unlocked upon subscription.

    Such incentives can be the final nudge needed for users to make a purchase decision.

When you implemented these strategies

It's crucial to measure and analyze user behavior during the trial. This data will help you understand what works and where there might be barriers to conversion.

Continuously refining your approach based on user feedback and behavior analytics will help you maximize the effectiveness of your free trials or demos, turning more trial users into paying customers.

Network and Build Relationships

Building relationships with other businesses, influencers, and potential customers is crucial. Attend industry events, webinars, and meetups (even virtual ones) to network. Consider partnerships with complementary services or products to reach a broader audience.

5 proven tips to use to network and build relationship

  1. Attend Industry Events and Conferences
    Make the most of events. Industry events, conferences, and meetups are excellent opportunities to meet potential customers and partners. The key is to be genuinely interested in conversations rather than overtly selling your product.

    Focus on how you can help others and listen to their needs; this approach can naturally lead to opportunities to introduce your product.
  2. Leverage Online Networking Platforms
    Use LinkedIn and other professional networks. Platforms like LinkedIn are invaluable for connecting with potential customers, partners, and influencers in your industry.

    Share insightful content, engage with others' posts, and participate in industry groups. Direct messages can also be a powerful tool if used thoughtfully and sparingly, focusing on building genuine connections rather than making immediate sales pitches.
  3. Offer Value Before Asking for Business
    Give before you take. Providing value upfront is a powerful way to build trust and goodwill. This could be in the form of sharing expertise, offering helpful feedback, or connecting people in your network with each other. When you've established a relationship based on giving, your contacts are more likely to become customers or refer you to potential customers.
  4. Follow Up and Stay in Touch
    Nurture your connections. After meeting someone new, follow up with a personalized message or email. Mention something specific from your conversation to remind them of who you are.

    Keep the relationship alive by checking in periodically, sharing relevant articles, or congratulating them on professional achievements. Consistent, thoughtful follow-ups keep you top of mind.
  5. Collaborate with Complementary Businesses
    Seek partnerships. Partnering with businesses that offer complementary products or services can open up a new customer base for both parties.

    For example, a SaaS business could partner with a consultancy firm that specializes in helping businesses implement digital transformations. These partnerships can be a source of referrals and joint marketing efforts.

Key Takeaways

Implementing these tips requires a consistent effort and genuine interest in building meaningful relationships. Networking is not just about what you can get from others but also about what you can offer.

By focusing on mutual benefits, maintaining regular contact, and providing value, you can turn your network into a significant source of early customers and long-term growth.

Focus on Customer Service

Exceptional customer service can set your SaaS business apart from competitors. Be responsive, helpful, and proactive in solving customer problems. Happy customers are more likely to recommend your service to others, leading to more sales.

5 tips to focus on customer service

  1. Personalize Your Customer Interactions
    Treat each customer as an individual. Personalization can make a big difference in customer service. Use the customer's name, understand their specific use case, and tailor your solutions to their needs.

    Personalized interactions show that you value your customers and are invested in their success, which can encourage them to commit to a paid plan.
  2. Be Proactive in Communication
    Anticipate and address issues before they escalate. Proactively reach out to customers to inform them of updates, offer help with potential stumbling blocks, and check in on their satisfaction with your product.

    Proactive communication can prevent issues from becoming deal-breakers and shows customers that you're committed to providing a seamless experience.
  3. Offer Exceptional Support
    Make it easy to get help. Ensure that your customers can easily find and access support when they need it. This might include offering a comprehensive FAQ section, live chat support, or a responsive customer service email.

    Quick and effective support not only solves immediate problems but also builds long-term trust.
  4. Gather and Act on Customer Feedback
    Use feedback to drive improvements. Regularly solicit feedback from your customers through surveys, feedback forms, or direct conversations.

    Act on this feedback to make continuous improvements to your product and service. Customers who see their input valued and implemented are more likely to feel connected to your brand and continue their subscription.
  5. Create a Customer-Focused Culture Embed customer service in your company’s DNA. Encourage every member of your team, regardless of their role, to prioritize customer satisfaction. When the entire team understands the value of customer service and is empowered to make decisions that enhance customer experiences, your business is more likely to deliver consistently high-quality service.

Key Takeaways

Implementing these customer service strategies can help you not only acquire your first paid customers but also turn them into advocates for your business.

In the early stages of a startup, every customer interaction is an opportunity to build your reputation and refine your product. By focusing on delivering outstanding customer service, you set a strong foundation for growth and long-term success.

Collect and Act on Feedback

Feedback is gold. It helps you improve your product and service, making it more appealing to new customers. Actively seek out feedback from your users, and show that you're committed to making changes based on their needs and suggestions.

5 tips to collect and act on Feedback

  1. Make It Easy to Give Feedback
    Provide multiple channels for feedback. Use surveys, feedback forms on your website, social media, and direct emails to make it as easy as possible for customers to share their thoughts with you. The easier it is to give feedback, the more likely you are to receive it.
  2. Actively Ask for Feedback
    Don’t wait for feedback to come to you. Reach out to your customers actively through follow-up emails after purchases, pop-up surveys on your site, or direct conversations. Ask specific questions to guide the feedback you receive and make it more actionable.
  3. Acknowledge and Thank Your Customers for Their Feedback
    Show appreciation for feedback. Whenever someone takes the time to provide feedback, acknowledge it. A simple thank you can go a long way in showing your customers that you value their input and encourage them to continue sharing their thoughts in the future.
  4. Analyze and Prioritize Feedback
    Not all feedback is created equal. Take the time to analyze the feedback you receive to identify common themes or areas for improvement. Prioritize actions based on what will have the most significant impact on your customer experience and business growth.
  5. Close the Feedback Loop
    Let customers know how their feedback has been used. Follow up with customers to share how you’ve acted on their suggestions. This not only shows that you take feedback seriously but also demonstrates your commitment to improving and can turn customers into loyal advocates.

Refine Your Sales Pitch

Your sales pitch should be concise, compelling, and tailored to the person or business you're speaking to. Highlight how your SaaS solves their specific problems, and be ready to answer any questions or concerns they might have.

5 practice tips to refine your sales pitch

Drawing on research and methodologies like those from Professor Marc Gruber's and Sharon Tal "Where to Play," here are five practical tips to sharpen your sales pitch:
  1. Tailor Your Pitch to the Customer's Needs
    Understand and address specific pain points. Before crafting your pitch, research your potential customer's industry, business, and specific challenges. This allows you to tailor your pitch to highlight how your product directly addresses their unique needs and pain points.

    According to Gruber's approach, understanding the market segments deeply can significantly increase the effectiveness of your pitch by making it more relevant to the listener.
  2. Focus on the Value Proposition
    Clearly articulate the benefits. Your sales pitch should succinctly communicate the core value proposition of your product. Instead of just listing features, focus on how these features translate into real-world benefits for the customer.

    Explain how your product can save time, reduce costs, increase revenue, or mitigate specific risks they face. The "Value Proposition Design" suggests aligning your product's benefits with the customer's jobs, pains, and gains for a compelling pitch.
  3. Use Storytelling to Engage
    Incorporate customer success stories. Storytelling can make your pitch more engaging and memorable. Share brief stories or case studies of how your product has helped similar customers.

    This not only provides social proof but also helps potential customers visualize the impact your solution can have on their own business. According to research, stories can significantly increase retention and persuasion by making information more relatable.
  4. Keep It Simple and Concise
    Avoid jargon and keep your message clear. It's important to communicate your pitch in a way that's easily understood by your audience, regardless of their technical background.

    Use simple language and avoid industry jargon that might confuse the listener. A concise pitch ensures that your key messages are communicated effectively without overwhelming your audience with too much information at once.
  5. Prepare for Objections
    Anticipate and address common concerns. No matter how well-crafted your pitch is, objections are inevitable. Prepare responses to common concerns in advance.

    This preparation shows that you've thought deeply about potential hurdles and have solutions ready, which can increase the credibility of your pitch. Engaging with objections positively also demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

Implementing these tips requires practice and feedback. After refining your pitch, test it with friendly contacts who can provide honest feedback. Pay attention to what resonates with them and where they have questions or objections.

Continuous refinement based on real-world reactions will help you develop a compelling sales pitch that effectively converts prospects into customers.

Be Persistent and Stay Positive

Sales is a numbers game, and rejection is part of the process. Don't get discouraged by the nos. Learn from each interaction, refine your approach, and stay positive. Persistence and a positive attitude are key to breaking through and making those first crucial sales.

5 practical tips to be persistent

  1. Set Clear, Achievable Goals
    Break down your larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. Research suggests that setting clear, achievable goals increases motivation and persistence because it provides a roadmap for action and makes progress measurable.

    Celebrate small victories along the way to maintain motivation and momentum.
  2. Understand and Embrace Rejection
    View rejection as a learning opportunity. Rejection is often not a reflection of your personal worth but rather a mismatch between what's offered and what the other party needs or wants at that time.

    Researchers like Carol Dweck highlight the importance of a growth mindset, where challenges and rejections are seen as chances to learn and grow, rather than insurmountable barriers.
  3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
    Stay optimistic and resilient. Optimism is a key trait of persistent individuals. A positive attitude helps you to see beyond temporary setbacks and maintain focus on your long-term goals.

    Techniques such as visualization of success, affirmations, and reflecting on past successes can reinforce a positive mindset.
  4. Cultivate Discipline and Routine
    Develop habits that support your goals. Discipline and routine are the backbones of persistence. By making certain actions habitual, you reduce the mental effort needed to get started.

    Research in behavioral psychology indicates that habits, once established, can drive consistent effort toward achieving your goals, even when motivation wanes.
  5. Seek Feedback and Adapt
    Be open to feedback and willing to adjust your approach. Persistence doesn't mean doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

    It's about continually learning from experiences and feedback to refine your strategies. This adaptability is crucial for overcoming obstacles and finding new paths to your goals.

Key Takeaways

Implementing these tips requires self-reflection and self-discipline. It's also important to balance persistence with empathy and to listen to feedback from others.

By being persistent, learning from each experience, and staying adaptable, you can overcome many of the challenges you face and move closer to achieving your goals.


Getting your first sales is just the beginning. Use these successes as a foundation to refine your sales process, expand your reach, and grow your SaaS business.

Keep learning, keep adjusting, and keep moving forward. With the right approach, you'll not only achieve your first sales but also build a thriving business.