The Three Immutable Laws Of Customer Acquisition 

I guess we have all been there.

You desperately need new customers to sustain your business. 


I certainly have. Many times.

Especially at the time when I started my own company.


No pay checks were coming my way any more.

Everything I earned would have to come from the customers I managed to get.

So I jumped right in without much thought

The first thing I did, of course, was to create a large excel-file filled with company names. Companies I thought would be perfect customers for me. 


There were really no deeper thoughts on why certain companies ended up on my list.

They belonged to certain B2B industries, had a significant size and were close to my home.


Then I started cold calling them. One by one.

I did this for two weeks. Day in and day out.

And the result?

Zip. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

Not one meeting. Not a single lead generated.


I was devastated.

Would I be forced to abandon my own business before it even had started? 


There just have to be a better way

But what was it?


I realized I didn't know enough about how to get customers.

So instead of making more cold calls I started learning.


I read several books, research papers and lots of free advice from consultants like my self.


And slowly but surely, I started to understand what I needed to do.


It was time for another attempt.


My first trials failed. But I didn't give up.

I tinkered and adapted until I finally made a breakthrough. 

I now had my first customer.

It was at least a start (sigh of relief).


I could do this. 


But if you think it was all downhill after that you couldn't be more wrong.


It took me many years to really understand what I was doing and why certain things worked while some others didn't.

Many year of hard work and perseverance.



What I'm about to share with you works for me and many clients I have been training and coaching over the years.


But it requires your dedication.


And it's by no stretch of the imagination easy.


But what is the alternative?

Cold calling?


Don't think so. 

Are you ready? Ok, here we go.



Build your Customer Dream Team


When I compiled my big list of customers in my excel sheet, I wasn't very selective.


In fact, I was greedy. I thought everyone could be, or wanted to be, my customer.


Boy, was I wrong.


At the time of my failing attempts to get my first customers, I had a meeting with one of my mentors who ran a very successful start-up.

(Yes, I have several mentors. You can never get enough of smart people offering to help you.)


Anyway, as I complained about my misfortunes, he told me how he created his customer target list.


His starting point was this: Which companies will benefit the most from our service?


Sounds like a logical straight forward thing but also easier than it is.


To answer this question properly you really need to understand how your product or service create value for your customers.


Once you understand that, you have to understand what type of companies that have the potential to maximize the usefulness of your product or service.


The Perfect Customer 

Let me give you an example from my own business.


Which companies would benefit from increasing their sales reps competence?


All of them, right?


Yes, but that doesn't help me much.

I need to be a lot more specific.


I only want to work with companies that can afford me and allow me to make a big difference. 


Ok, so here's the criteria for my perfect customer:

  • It's a B2B company
  • The company has to have 10 or more sales reps employed and at least one sales manager
  • It's not a start-up rather it's been around for a number of years
  • It belongs to an industry where the competition is high with increasing price pressure
  • The product or service they offer is relatively expensive
  • The product or service they offer is complex, meaning it touches many parts of the value chain
  • Their customers are typically medium-to-large sized companies 
  • The sales cycle is between 6-18 month

You can make as many points as you like, the key thing is, they have to help you identify a smaller set of potential customers all of which would greatly benefit from working with you.


Timing is everything


Ok, now we have the starting point of our customer target list.

Time for step 2. 


Let's say I have 30 companies on my list and all of them fits my criteria.

It's still a lot for companies to manage. I need to refine it further.


So I read up on all of the companies.

I study their websites.

I try to get a feel for where they are right now in terms of focus.

Any ongoing mergers? Acquisitions? Capital raising?

I look for major initiatives I know will get in the way of what I do - disqualifiers.


I'm aiming for a target list of ten companies. No more, no less.

This is my dream team.


These companies, I have decided, will be my customers.

They just don't know it yet.


But once they get to know me they will love what I can do for them.



Know Who Has the Power


Ok, we're making some headway.

Time for law number two: know who has the power.


What this means is, who are the people working in your dream

team companies that would be most effected by what you are selling?


You can call these people your point of entry.

They are the gatekeepers deciding weather you are qualified to move on to the next level.


You have to understand your customers value chain

You know what a value chain is, right? 


In short, it's the building blocks companies are made of, put together in a way that allows them to produce products or services in an efficient way and make a profit.


Large companies have many blocks and smaller ones have few.


What you need to decide is which part of the customers value chain you are impacting the most.


This is not to disqualify all the other parts of the value chain, but they come into play later.


Now, in the beginning, we need to focus on the one you have the biggest impact on. 


For my business it's sales and marketing.

That's where the users of my service resides.


But I also impact HR, service and support and all other units that interact with customers.


My point of entry

So my point of entry is always sales and marketing.


Who has the power in these units?
Depending on how they organize themselves, it's usually the head of sales and marketing.


So these people I really have to know who they are.

Perhaps even more important for me is the level below where the sales managers operate.


These are the ones that feels the pain more acutely every day.

They are also not as busy as the big boss and therefore easier to get hold of.


Google and LinkedIn

I use google and LinkedIn to uncover the identity of the power people.


And I want their email. I never bother to call them (see law number three).


Some useful Google search tips:

  • Separate you search words with "+", f.ex. [company name] + [country] + sales manager. This limits the number of hits and speeds up your search.
  • To quickly find an email address once you know the name, search for: [name of person]@[company].com (or any other domain.


I continue to complete my dream team list with names, positions and email addresses until I'm done.


This may take you a while but trust me, it's worth it.


Now it's time to put the list into use.

And it's time for law number three.



Giving Is Better Than Taking 


One of my key insights I discovered early on trying to get new customer was this: It's not about you. It's about them.


What it means is this:

99,9% of sales reps that contacts me requesting a meeting, are doing it with a selfish agenda. They have a great product or service to sell and therefore want a meeting.


It could very well be that they are offering would benefit the me greatly.


But by defining themselves by the product or service, warning lights go off in my head. 


You see, I get tons of calls and emails every day. Each one of them promising heaven and earth. Each one of them with a selfish agenda.


It's really not about me.


It has to be about them


If you want to cut through the noise and present something that will get your customers attention it has to be about them.


Think for a moment. What do you know about your customer that tells you what they are interested in knowing more about?


It really doesn't have to be directly connected to your product or service. 


Let me give you an example from my own business.


As you probably know by now, I train and coach managers and sales reps.


The traditional approach for me would be to send an email to a sales manager saying: Hey, I got a fabulous training program that would kick you sales reps into high gear.


But that would only be about me.


So I don't do that.


Instead I give something away I almost for sure know a sales manager would be interested in.


For example: Hey, did you know that there's a new novel approach to assess sales rep performance that would render established KPIs less useful? Here's the original report. Let me know if you have any questions.


It's important to understand what's important 


The KPI thing isn't part of what I do. But I know it's a hot topic among sales managers. 


What I'm trying to do is to establish trust by giving away something of value for free. I'm not even asking for a meeting.


Crazy, right?


But I don't have to. After a couple of interactions like this, what usually happens is that they ask to meet with me.


They've seen what I know.


I have proven that I can provide them with value.


What of value can you give away for free?


Think about what you know. Think about what your customers are occupied with. Is it digital transformation? Increased market

share? Competence boosting?


Whatever it is, what do you know about this? What can you find out?


Share this with your prospects.


Don't ask for anything in return.


Let them come to you.



To Summarize:

  • If you are serious about getting new customers, there are three laws you need to follow.
  • Law number one: Build your dream team of customers by applying a set of strict criteria.
  • Law number two: Know who has the power by identifying the people that would feel the positive effect of working with you the most.
  • Law number three: Giving is better than taking, so invest the time needed to understand what you can provide for free that would be of great value to your customers.


Now it's up to you.

Remember, we learn most effectively by doing.

So don't put this on hold.

Start immediately.

Build your customer dream team and take it from there.


Good luck and let me know how things work out for you.


Mats Fogelqvist

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