How Do I Get My First Customer Without a Reference List?

How Do I Get My First Customer Without a Reference List?

I have developed an amazing product which will take the market by storm……. Made in India, wide & customizable range of colours & sizes. It has better features than the import options available, easy to install and 40% lighter on customer’s pockets.” Aniruddha told me in the coaching session. “The only reason I am stuck is….. I don’t have reference installations and all my prospects are asking for one, as they want to play safe”

It reminded me of my own frustration when I was promoting ‘Remote Monitoring System’ in our water treatment plants we used to manufacture about a decade ago and although it was a great feature, no one wanted to adopt it since it was not an established product in the market. However within a couple of years, everyone started using RMS.

In our business we often come across a situation that you bring in a different technology or innovation which is yet to become popular in the market. While you know it is the best solution, buyers are not willing to try it out because it is not established. Consultants do not approve it either (in fact they vote against it to be on safer side) and you are stuck.

There are multiple ways to handle this challenge and eventually you will succeed. What I am going to share with you are some tips on how you can get your first customer early so that you start creating reference installations to help you capture the market faster before everyone jumps into the race.

You need to look for early adaptors.

Let’s look at where can you find early adaptors;

First choice is to look within your existing customer list for the ‘Favourite Customers’

Favourite Customers

We all have some favourite customers, or the customers who might have trusted you earlier with your innovations and the best option in such cases is to reach out to your favourite customer and say “You are my best customer and I want to offer this to you before I offer it to anyone else”.

We all have such customers with whom we have very good rapport and partner like relation. They are the best people to approach because they know you well and they trust you.

Smaller customers

The second category of prospects to target are slightly smaller customers or influencers (e.g. consultants) who are establishing themselves. Usually they have a need to differentiate themselves from rest of the other stalwarts in the industry. They may not go too much into certification / consultant approvals and they decide independently.

So target smaller customer, with probably smaller order value in little remote places. There are people who continuously look for alternatives of better designs, better features and better prices.

Once you identify such targets, you will need to reduce their resistance to change (resistance to try out new things)

Reduce Resistance

We all love our comfort zones and want to avoid risks of trying out unknown. Resistance has to be countered with a strong, tempting offer and you will make a break through.

I don’t support discounting in normal situation, however this is about launching your product and is a marketing investment. E.g. offers like Use Now Pay Later. Please understand that sooner you do this, you will have better chance of capturing more market quickly. Hence consider this as a marketing investment and offer some samples or demos at highly attractive price or even for free if that is commercially feasible. Once you have reference, you can sell to the world aggressively at a premium and recover the investment.

Aniruddha’s face lit up. He said, “I have already started making a list in my mind as we talk and I have about 10 of them whom I can approach right away. I am sure they will be my first buyers as they take independent decisions, they like something new. They are much better prospects for me right now as against the ‘Big Guys’.” He added, “I can even ask these big guys to try out a small section of their project where I can demonstrate my product and that will be my live advertisement.”

Try out this approach if you are in a similar situation and let me know if it worked..!


The tips we share are a small part of what we do at our coaching sessions.

If you’d like to take the whole framework and install in your business, then do drop an email at [email protected] with subject line as “Scale Session” and we’ll reach out to you with all the details quickly.

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