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Simple Sales Tips for Growing Your Customer Base

June 27, 2012

Editor's Note: This is the final excerpt from The Startup Owner's Manual, a recently published step-by-step guide for building companies.

Every startup needs to get, keep and grow customers. We outlined customer acquisition in "How to 'Get' Customers" and how to retain them in "How a Lean Startup Can Keep Customers." Now, we look at how a startup can expand its customer base.

There are two ways to grow existing customers: Get current customers to spend more money, or encourage them to send more customers to the company. Both are detailed below.

1. Get Current Customers to Spend More
To start, make sure your customers are satisfied with the product, performance and price. Then you try to sell them more product, upgrade their service or extend their contracts. These activities are important for the long-term, so test at least a few during customer validation. Some of the basic approaches to grow customers include:

Beyond these basic approaches, you'll also want to develop a hypothesis about how your company will grow its customers, and test those ideas with--who else?--customers.

Related: Don't Neglect Customer Service on Facebook

Some simple "grow" techniques to consider for your web or mobile startup:

Related: Seven Tips for Coping with Customer Questions

2. Get Customers to Send More Customers to the Company
Customer referrals are the most honest source of new business. There are lots of different viral marketing tools and tactics that can help you get customers to refer other customers to your company.

Viral marketing stimulates referrals of customers from other happy customers. Here are the six most powerful viral marketing techniques to consider:

Published March 1, The Startup Owner's Manual is in its third printing. The book will be available later this year in an interactive version and multiple languages. Steve Blank also maintains a blog at