Early-stage founder shares how she went about getting her very first clients.

By Chitra Rakesh (Founder, Chitsie)

I’m shy. Sometimes being social is hard. I have to confess I did not have the guts to start a company until I started meeting startup founders for work. Then the energy gets to you. And before you know it, you want to do it too!

So here I was at the crossroads looking for my beta customers to run an online contest on my brand new website, Chitsie, and sponsor $1000 in user prizes. I kept tailoring the offering and reworking my pitch as I went along. I’m happy to share some of the things that have worked well for me:

  • Know that selling is tough. Get creative. Think beyond.
  • Be prepared for a lot of No’s along the way. It depends on how hard you want it.
  • Knock on doors. I was able to meet the VP of Marketing of a pretty smart firm this way. I gave him a demo and the meeting lasted an hour!
  • If you’re up for cold calling, timing is important. You need to get past the front desk. Afternoon breaks are a good time to catch executives.
  • Get LinkedIn. Leverage your existing network. Make new connections. You’ll be surprised to find out that most of your prospects live here.
  • Explore. Ask. Network.
  • Offer value. Give specials. Make it easy for your clients.
  • Walk up to people. Start a conversation. Get them interested. Follow up.
  • Did you know that Facebook company pages let you “Message” the page admins? I found a client on Facebook just like that.
  • Know where to stop. Don’t be a pain in the neck. Or sound like the telemarketer you always want to hang up on.
  • A lot of times people will leave you with: “I’ll get back to you.” Sometimes they will but most times they will not. They don’t have to. It is alright. Go to next.
  • If a meeting goes really well, don’t think it’s a done deal till you actually close it. Keep looking. Have a back-up plan.
  • Be on the look-out for an opportunity. I found my newest client at a birthday party!
  • Once you sign-up, don’t disappear. Be there for your clients at all times.
  • Be genuine. Don’t fake it. Smile, and smile often.

While you’re at it, do check out my website, Chitsie, and hopefully win a prize. The current set of brand contests end on Friday, August 31, 2012. So get your entries in.

Happy selling!

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Chitra Rakesh is Founder of Chitsie, offering a cool marketing solution to startups to promote their brands and build user traction in a super fun way via contests and games. Users get rewarded for smartly engaging with brands. She is a marketing and brand professional. She has worked in the software, financial services and e-learning space. Chitra also writes for Patch, an AOL online news resource. She has written for Hindustan Times and Times of India.