For all of the young entrepreneurs out there who dream of seeing their product or service on billboards and TV spots, first thing\u2019s first: You need customers before you can even consider spending a cent on marketing.\r\n\r\nFor this reason, startups often reel in new business by way of direct selling. After all, you have to get people using your service before marketing it can be fully effective. Plus, a big component of marketing is bragging about who your client base already is.\r\n\r\nSo how do you do this? Here are three proven ways to get your products or services into the hands of people who you know will benefit from them:\r\n\r\n1. Send emails from real people.\r\nEmail marketing can be an incredible tool for your direct-sales needs but it can also be a major waste of time. First, here\u2019s what you shouldn\u2019t do: Email selling is not about using an automated email marketing program and sleazy HTML emails. It\u2019s also not about long sales pitches with affiliate URLS. And it\u2019s certainly not about the \u2018Spray and Pray\u2019 method of SPAM marketing.\r\n\r\nSo here\u2019s what you should do: Direct selling via email should be done by a team of real people. They can of course use services like Amazon\u2019s Simple Email Service, Mail Merge or software to aid in the sending of high volumes of emails.\r\n\r\nBut under no circumstances should there be traces of spam characteristics. For example, emails should be a couple of sentences at most. They should also be personalized, in plain text and ask for a brief chat with the recipient.\r\n\r\nToo many sellers make the mistake of asking a potential customer to \u201cmarry them\u201d on the first interaction, however. You must build rapport; you must show that you\u2019re looking to deliver value to their lives and\/or business. And as far as finding contact information goes, lose certain lists. If you\u2019re selling your services to other professionals or businesses you can find almost all of your potential customers using LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Zoominfo.\r\n\r\n2. Host webinars to boost interactivity and cull feedback.\r\nLots of folks are experimenting with live webinars. Akin to infomercials or live cooking demonstrations, this platform is similarly demonstrative. But note that today\u2019s services for webinar creation like ClickWebinar and Cisco\u2019s Webex allow for ever more audience participation, as well as provide tools for engaging viewers throughout the presentation.\r\n\r\nThis is a way to get your message in front of thousands of potential customers, all while making them come to your platform. This is also a great way to get real-time feedback about your services and watch engagement scores fluctuate as the presentation is delivered, knowing you can analyze them later. It\u2019s more personal than email, but doesn\u2019t put pressure on an individual to interact with you.\r\n\r\n3. Give your product away.\r\nFor startups especially, it\u2019s much easier to sell a free evaluation period for a service than it is to seal the deal on a long-term contract. Give your customers access to your service free of charge and utilize the opportunity to solicit their feedback. By crowd-sourcing ideas for your product or service from people already using it, you can make bolder bets that when they do begin to pay you can iterate on making the service even better.\r\n\r\nPeople like non-commitment based services, and so should you. What you miss in conversions, you\u2019ll make up in volume. If you\u2019re a web service, offer a free trial. If you\u2019re a coach, give complimentary coaching sessions and so on.\r\n\r\nNo one gets paid right out of the gate. You\u2019ve got to let people help you improve your product or your craft and only once you\u2019ve got real sales can you consider marketing.\r\n\r\nWhat\u2019s your best low-cost sales\/marketing tip? Let us know in the comments section.