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Finding first customers and increasing sales - Indiehackers followup

by Alex Yumashev · Oct 6 2017

I have received dozens of emails after my recent IndieHackers interview and this is just awesome. Nothing I like more than chatting with fellow entrepreneurs.

But there's clearly a pattern. The two questions asked the most were:

  1. How do I find my first customers?
  2. How do I increase my sales?

The answers are easier than you think (though the actual solutions aren't).

Finding first customers

Bad news: that's something you should've done before you even launched. Good news: it's still OK if you haven't. We've all been there. Releasing something into the open and hearing crickets.

If you are getting traffic - improve your conversions. Define the leakiest stage of your funnel. It can be anything. But in my experience, in the early stages it is always about the product simply not fulfilling expectations. The product is not something people expect based on your copy OR the traffic source visitors are coming from. A good starting point would be - assuming you're selling a web-based SaaS app - to start "recording" the trial user actions and actually look what they do in your app right after they sign up. There are several solutions like HotJar or Inspectlet

If you are not getting traffic, the good news is that the answer is still simple. In the end it all boils down to defining who you're selling to ("everyone" is not an answer) and finding where they hang out. Bad news - you will have to actually go out and talk to them. Meetups (or even conferences), Facebook groups, Subreddits, private Slack communities, online forums, cold emails... Paul Graham calls this "things that don't scale". If you have absolutely no idea where to start - find someone who does. Having a friend of a friend who works in the target industry does wonders. Sitting in front of your laptop reading my stupid blog certainly doesn't.

Increasing sales

To increase sales you either have to (1) put more people into the funnel - or - (2) improve the funnel's conversions. Period. Kind of resonates with the previous paragraph, huh?

Putting more people into the funnel almost always boils down to one simple thing: finding out what already works and doubling-down on that. While increasing conversions usually comes down to heavy A/B testing (assuming you already have some traffic). There's a reason Patrick MacKensey refers to A/B testing as "printing money". Just don't limit your A/B tests to your site only, keep running it inside your app too.

Anyways, finding answers always requires data. So measure everything. I know you must be sick and tired of this advice, but you kinda have to. Which traffic source generates the most sales? How many days (on average) before a trial user decides to become a paying customer? Which stage of your funnel has the lowest conversion rate? What is your average customer lifetime and what is the churn rate? How does the churn rate varies depending on the number of months they've used the app?