It doesn’t matter whether you sell a product or offer a service: If you become self-employed and set up your own, initially small company, you have to acquire new customers . After all, in order to make sales and be successful, you first have to land orders that bring in income and, ideally, lead to long-term customer relationships. However, customers will not come to you on their own – you have to actively approach the acquisition. However, there is often a lack of knowledge and experience as to how exactly new customers are acquired and what needs to be considered in order to find suitable orders. We explain how you can acquire new customers and what options are available to you.
Acquiring new customers: A necessity for survival
Acquiring new customers is often a tiresome topic that the self-employed don’t particularly like to deal with. Anyone who becomes self-employed has a clear product or service in mind that they want to produce, offer and sell. This can be the creative output of a designer, a craft operation, consulting and coaching or perhaps the manufacture of clothing.
What exactly is involved is initially of secondary importance. What unites many founders is the desire to concentrate on this core competence. However, that alone is not enough in the beginning to build a successful business. To stick with one of the examples above, you can be among the best designers in the country, with skills and qualifications that impress and outperform the competition, but if you don’t acquire new clients to begin with, you will still find yourself in financial trouble.
At a later point in time, when you have already made a name for yourself and are known in the industry or in your region, potential customers will also become aware of you in other ways, but if you do not invest enough energy to acquire new customers at the beginning , you will usually a big mistake.
It is a sobering insight , but it is important for the success and survival of every company: the acquisition of new customers is often a more important and larger part of the work for founders than the actual activity itself. However, the logic is simple. Only when the order situation is right can you work profitably and really use your skills.
Acquiring new customers takes effort
Most founders and self-employed people do not particularly enjoy taking care of new customer acquisition. However, this is not because it is not the actual work they want to do, but rather because it can be a great effort and at the same time requires a lot of perseverance to approach potential new customers, contact them and about your own offer to inform.
Many self-employed people have a particularly big problem with possible rejection . After all, wanting to acquire new customers always means taking the risk of receiving one rejection after the other. Instead of a good order situation, there are suddenly only doubts as to whether your own business model really works or whether you are already heading for a dead end.
In addition, the self-employed often take a rejection personally, which affects their self-confidence . For example, anyone who presents a product but does not receive an order because it is not of interest to the other person feels attacked and takes the rejection very seriously, even though it is of a purely professional nature.
Acquiring new customers is an ongoing challenge
New customers have to be acquired at the beginning in order to get a business up and running at all. Once this often rocky start has been made, regular customers can be built up, who also ensure corresponding sales through recurring orders. However, it is wrong to rely completely on it and to stop acquiring at a certain point.
Quitting completely with the active acquisition of new customers can work, but it is the better strategy to build on winning more customers in the long term and then also include them in your own regular customer base. In this way you can work in a targeted manner on the further and sustained growth of your company.
Tips and methods for acquiring new customers
It may not always be easy for you, but there are several good ways to acquire new customers, build up and expand your customer base. It is up to you which one works best for you personally, where you feel comfortable and what you ultimately decide on. For starters, however, it is advisable to try out different things and use them to develop an acquisition strategy .
We have listed various methods that you can use to acquire new customers and explain how they work and what needs to be considered:
The cold call
It’s the classic when it comes to acquiring new customers and almost everyone has heard of cold calling. At the same time, however, it is particularly hard and exhausting to make your own offer known and to generate possible orders. In addition, cold calling is sometimes controversial.
Basically, it’s about picking up the phone (sometimes writing an email) without prior contact and addressing potential prospects directly. This can be done through research, but often contact data is also purchased. If there is no interest, such cold calling usually ends very abruptly and it can be very frustrating to make countless phone calls without even getting an order.
The Referral Network
A completely different approach leads to the goal of the recommendation network. Instead of rushing in, putting your product or service in the spotlight and bringing about cooperation as quickly as possible, the first thing to do here is to build up a real network, make contacts and create mutual trust, from there serious recommendations are given.
Through the contacts you make, you get into conversation and thus have the opportunity to acquire new customers to whom you have been recommended. Of course, such a network also works in the other direction, so you too recommend the members of your network.
Feedback and ratings from existing customers are an important tool for gaining additional clients. How this works can be clearly observed at online retailers such as Amazon. Here the reviews and ratings of other customers are often the decisive argument for or against a purchase – and thus for or against an order for the company behind it.
As a self-employed person, you too can take advantage of the positive feedback and recommendations from previous customers. For example, add a rating option to your homepage or integrate quotes from satisfied customers that are visible to other visitors.
The online acquisition
Of course, as a self-employed person, you should also be found online, preferably via your own homepage, which leads directly to you, your offers and all the information. That can help, but is often not enough to acquire new customers. If you have the appropriate budget, you can place additional advertising to be found even more easily and to build up a larger reach.
In addition to your own website, you should also find out where you can reach potential customers online in order to draw attention to yourself. For example, Facebook groups or other networks and forums can be particularly interesting. However, it is advisable not to just do clumsy advertising, but to attract attention with useful and good comments. This is not only better received, but also has a greater effect.
The customer information
You can only acquire new customers if you are given all the important information. After all, you want the other person to decide on your product or service and invest money in it. However, this will only happen if the other party is sure that they have made a good decision and made a sensible investment.
To do this, you need to clearly communicate what makes you different from others. What is different from the competition? What are you doing better? What can you score with? The more credibly you can answer these questions, the greater the likelihood of acquiring new customers.