How to get the first 10 customers for your B2B SaaS startup

by Steli Efti

If you don’t have buyers, you don’t have a business.

I see startups all the time that are so afraid of selling, they never get their first customer.

They spend all their time building their website or designing their logo, and no time actually seeking prospects.

Don’t get me wrong: Logos and websites are great, and it is important to represent yourself professionally. But in the beginning, it is more important to just get customers!

Stop stalling, stop planning, and start selling. Here are four proven strategies to land your first ten customers.

We're putting together an actionable guide to grow your B2B startup from zero to thousands of customers. Claim your copy now and be among the first to get it for free!

Step one: Create a landing page

Start by buying a domain name and building a basic web page. And I mean basic.

At this stage, your website should just be a landing page with a form for users to provide their contact information. Include a couple social media links, drop your logo, and publish it online. You can add to your site later; right now all you need is a web presence.

Step two: Reach out to your immediate network

Is there anyone in your direct network who would find your product valuable?

Friends or family? Coworkers?

What about pre-existing customers? If you run another business, would any of your current buyers benefit from your new venture?

If you don’t personally know anyone who would use your product, I guarantee that someone in your network does. Ask around for referrals and introductions.

Step three: Start a blog

You’re going to need presence and credibility if you want to sell to prospects outside your network. The easiest way to do that is through a blog. With a well-run blog, you can:

  • Discover and develop relationships within your market
  • Pitch your solution and receive immediate feedback
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader
  • Increase your online searchability

You don’t need to be a great writer to provide valuable content. Just start generating content and see what kind of response you get.

Not sure how to start? Check out Quicksprout’s Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience.

Step four: Hustle

Sales is the only way you can test the market validity of your product, so pick up the phone and boot up the computer.

Reach out to as many qualified prospects as you can and pitch your service. If they’re interested, close the deal right then and there. If they aren’t, find out why.

First time selling? Don’t go in blind. Check out our cold calling and cold emailing sales scripts.

Click here to secure your free copy of our soon-to-be-released B2B customer acquisition guide for startups!

Early sales FAQs

I’ve worked with a lot of new startups, and these are some of the most common questions I get about acquiring customers.

What if I don’t have a product yet?

You don’t need to wait until you have a finished product to get customers.

Wouldn’t you rather know if there was a market for your product before you built it?

Follow the same five steps listed above, but pitch your product as a preorder.

Offer it for a steep discount to those willing to pre-purchase, and include free setup and support. Remind them that, as one of your first customers, they are going to get a lot of one-on-one attention.

Keep in mind that you can always refund them if you need to.

How much should I charge?

Most new entrepreneurs have a tendency to undervalue their product.

Here’s to avoid making this mistake:

  1. Ask yourself: “What’s my service worth?”
  2. Write down the first number that comes to mind.
  3. Multiply this number by three. That’s your price.

If you think your product is worth $15/month, charge $45/month. You can always change your pricing if you need to.

Besides, if you never lose a deal over price, your product is too cheap.

How do I actually sell my product?

The key to selling effectively is to play to your strengths. Identify your authentic competitive advantage and leverage that.

To identify your advantage, ask yourself: What am I really good at?

Writing? Speaking? Design?

Write down your strengths, whatever they are; even if they seem to have nothing to do with sales. Those are your advantages. How can you use them to pitch your product?

Stop planning, start selling

You’ve spent enough time preparing. You need to start selling. Today.

In the next 24 hours, ask at least 10 people to be your customer. It doesn’t matter who they are and it doesn’t matter what they say. The important thing is that you train yourself to take action.

Then come back tomorrow and tell me how it went (go ahead and send me an email: steli@close.io!) What did you learn? What went wrong? How could you do this better next time?

And if you closed a deal? Congratulations!

Want more actionable advice on getting B2B customers? We'll soon release a guide that covers all that! Click below to secure your free copy!

Claim your FREE B2B customer acquisition guide

Recommended resources:

Podcast: How to get your first ten customers
This post was inspired by a conversation Hiten Shah and I had on our podcast, The Startup Chat. Listen to it here!

Early B2B SaaS growth: How to go from 10 to 100 customers
10 to 100 is one of the first real test of a startup’s sustainability. Learn to pass the test here.

5 metrics B2B startups need to focus on to scale from 100 to 1,000 customers
The leap from 100 to 1,000 is all about metrics, KPIs, and segmentation. Learn how to use data to fuel growth here.

From 1k to 10k customers: 4 steps to scale your B2B startup in new markets
Get ready to go further than you've ever gone before. This is how you achieve 10x growth, or scale your B2B startup from 1k to 10k customers.