Times were tough.
I was bootstrapping the business and the economy was on the verge of collapse.
This was long before cold email was a thing. Cold calls were still how you made cold contact.
But, I needed to figure out some way, somehow to get clients.
There was one thing I knew for sure:
I hate cold calls. I hate receiving them and I surely hated doing them.
So I wasn’t going to get clients that way.
Cold Email vs Cold Call
I had to get scrappy if I wanted to avoid cold calls.
I tried several different things (Craigslist scraping, filling out contact forms, looking to see what clients didn’t rank well, etc).
Because, did I mention, cold calls suck?
The one consistent thing that worked was cold email lead generation. Besides, what do you think is better in the fight between cold email vs cold calling?
I had developed a little process:
- Track businesses online — I would track businesses down in search results and in various business directories.
- Look for contact information — I would review their website and look for contact emails. If I didn’t find any on the website, I went to who.is and looked there.
- Email them and Follow up — I created various cold email messages (which I butchered at first by making them too long, too self promotional, etc). Eventually, I realized I was missing the follow-up so I created reminders to follow-up with the people I emailed.
Sometimes I would even call these people and then reference the cold email.
For some reason, this felt MUCH softer than traditional cold calls. I referred to this as “Warm calling“.
Here’s a visual look at the process:
This worked decently well, but it was very time consuming.
I found myself spending almost half my day working through this process.
Building Software to Automate Lead Generation
Usually, where there is a manual process like this and it involves data, you can automate it. So I started to look at my process systematically.
By this point I had a couple developers I had used for various client projects and I began mapping out what I needed the software to do.
It would go to directory sites and use things like Google Maps to pull in as many businesses as possible. It looked through the website automatically to try and find email addresses and then it would go and pull in other third party resources (like who.is, social, etc) to find more contact information.
I had it to where I could batch send cold emails with my email template once I filtered through the emails.
…and it was working!
Now I still needed to input the search queries and filter through the emails, but my 4 hours per day was down to about 30 minutes per day.
I was regularly getting interest from people, calls were getting lined up, meetings were taking place, and more importantly deals were closing.
After 3 years in business, I was finally hitting the $1M in revenue mark. It wasn’t solely done through cold email outreach, but it was a large majority of our business. No cold calls required.
The Rise and the Fall of a Startup
A couple of years ago, I brought on two partners and we started a company that provided newsletters to apartment communities.
The newsletters would have community news from the apartment complex as well as special offers from nearby businesses.
It was at this business where I had learned the power of follow-ups. We used a similar version of my original software, but added on an automatic follow-up email component.
The follow-ups would let them know time was running out, we were going to print, remind them they needed to sign the contract, etc.
This led to automatic sales. It was unbelievable.This led to automatic sales. It was unbelievable. Click To Tweet
Projections were over $50 million a year. We were having day long meetings trying to map out how to make this digital so that we could scale more efficiently.
Then, as fast as it took off, it came crashing down. The one thing we didn’t validate came back to haunt us. Residents didn’t care about the special offers. They had their Groupons, LivingSocial, etc and that’s all they needed.
Taking What I Learned About Cold Emailing
I knew I had a pretty magical process that basically just made hot leads and sales appear out of thin air.
So I began thinking about how I could apply this system to other startup ideas I had in mind.
I had never thought about offering up my contact gathering and cold emailing system and process to other people to help them grow their business until recently.
I wanted to challenge myself to launch a brand new business from the ground up in 24 hours.
I decided to launch this lead generating cold emailing outreach strategy as a productized service.
If you’re interested, I documented the whole 24 hour launch process.
LeadFuze has since evolved into a software solution to help customers build lists of accurate leads automatically, while integrating with sales outreach tools to allow you to contact those freshly verified leads.
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