Today, on The Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Justin McGill, the Founder and CEO of LeadFuze, automated lead generation software built to help you have more conversations with interested prospects.
In our chat, we’re going to dive into Justin’s decision to bring in a co-founder to help with sales after the company was already off the ground. We discuss when it was clear his startup could benefit from outside help, how he found his new partner, what they’ve done since he joined, and how they overcame a nearly catastrophic mistake in their sales process.
Justin doesn’t hold anything back and we really dig into how he and his team used trial and error to identify any problems and iterate to success.
Whether you don’t yet have a sales team or you already have a profitable and growing team, Justin’s mindset when it comes to approaching these questions is something every founder can learn from.
Background leading up to today
What is LeadFuze and how did you get started?
Where is the business today
Building a Sales Team
When was it clear that you could use outside help for sales?
How did you find Damian?
What went into the decision of making him a co-founder?
What were the first steps once he joined your team?
What have you learned since then?
Why was driving users to a call / demo so detrimental?
When did you realize something had to change?
How has having the sales team rely exclusively on the product helped?
Challenges going forward
What are your plans for using sales automation to scale your efforts?
What will your next hires be and why?
Parting advice for founders
hat advice do you wish somebody gave you when you got started with sales?
Where can listeners go to learn more?
Where to learn more:
Andy Baldacci: Justin, welcome to the show.
Justin McGill: Thanks a lot, Andy, appreciate it. Haven’t seen you I guess since the craps tables in Vegas.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, and there wasn’t a lot of seeing going on at the end of that night. I woke up to an alarm going off that my flight was taking off in literally like 10 minutes. And luckily though with Southwest you’re able to cancel it until the door shuts on the plane. My fiance wasn’t too happy, I was stuck an extra day in Vegas, but at least I got the money back from the flight.
Justin McGill: Nice. It was good times.
Andy Baldacci: It was fun. MicroConf, always look forward to that trip every year.
Justin McGill: Me too.
Andy Baldacci: But to kick things off with this chat though, I want to just for listeners who aren’t familiar with you, with your craps game, with your company, any of that, why don’t we start off with, what is LeadFuze and where did the idea come from?
Justin McGill: Yeah, so basically LeadFuze is a sales and market tool that helps B to B companies discover new leads, and have more sales conversations automatically. The idea of that came back when I first got started as an entrepreneur, I was running a digital market agency. This was back in 2008. And so I knew I need customers, but I was not going to be spending my time cold calling all day. So I had to get a little more creative. So I built some systems to pull in email addresses from different sources, so the website, or who is … and then later I added this functionality to send one email to them at that time. It was a really a clunky interface and everything else, but it wasn’t something that was customer facing, so it was just for me to use. And so that led to business, and that way I was just spending time talking with people that responded favorably to that outreach.
And so that worked out pretty well, and so fast forward several years, I ended up scaling out that agency and handed that over to a partner, so now I just am an advisor, whatever that means. Basically I spend about an hour answering questions a month with those guys, and so it worked out really well. I decided I wanted to get into the software game, and I started off with something I’d built already, and wanted to see if there was a business around that. Actually even before that I had started a separate software company that didn’t take off like I had expected it to within the first 60 days, so I just moved on at that point. And so I decided to look again at some other things I’d built over the years, and that was what came from it.
I didn’t want to spend 10 months, and I spent like 10 months and 60 grand on this other software company, and I didn’t want to do that again, and so I decided okay, let me start off with just wrapping a service around this, and using this old crappy software myself to pull in local businesses and everything. And so I did some outreach and got some customers that way, and that started to validate that people would buy this, and so then from there I just set out to automate all of that work that was going into it. And we’ve slowly but surely started to release those into the front end software. That’s where we’re at today. Now we’re just mainly a software company. Although we’ve transitioned a little bit into providing that done for you service as well.
Andy Baldacci: Interesting. We’ll talk about that in a second, but what year was it roughly that you would say that LeadFuze actually launched? That was a business you were treating as a business.
Justin McGill: Yeah, so it was literally the week before Christmas 2014, which I learned is probably not the best time to launch a business. It went about two weeks before we got our first customer in the door, because everyone wanted to wait until after the new year. I didn’t know if this was going to work or not at that point. But yeah, at the beginning of January, literally within the first week of January I had some calls lined up from the outreach that happened that Christmas break, and those led to the initial deals, which helped.
Andy Baldacci: And so what does the business look like today a few years later? Because I know things have grown since those first early pre Christmas days.
Justin McGill: Yeah, man. It’s interesting, obviously we started completely as a done for you service, and then we transitioned entirely over to software, and just literally within the last two months we realized that for people to have the best chance of success with their outreach and their cold emails and everything, we needed to be more involved. We’ve kind of come full circle here and we started to add a service layer back on top. Right now I’m actually doing initial onboarding calls with new customers that come through, and learning about the business, and starting to get some ideas for an email sequence that we can put together. And then my team will put that sequence together for them in their account, we get everything set up for them, so it’s basically like a turnkey solution. But this was something that we realized we needed to do in order for people to have more success with their outreach, so … We come to that realization lately.
Beginning of this year we opened an office. We were fully remote initially for the first couple of years, and then we’ve opened an office, we’re starting to now recruit people here locally instead of remote, which has been interesting. My agency started remote, and then we had an office, and then we did a hybrid, and then we went fully remote, and it was fully remote with LeadFuze, and now we’re back to an office. I’ll just say, you just can’t convince me that there’s a better way to build a team and a culture and just overall momentum than from a centralized office, so we’re pretty excited about that. We still have a few members remote.
Andy Baldacci: One thing I want to dig into there though is, do you think it would have been more helpful to start out in a centralized location? Do you think you gained something from being remote initially and then there was some inflection part where you said all right, now let’s go into the same place, let’s have a team that can literally see each other, and start building it … how did that transition affect the business and why do you think that was so important?
Justin McGill: Yeah, it’s interesting. The cost savings initially made a lot of sense. I was still trying to recruit people, and so especially I needed a developer to rebuild everything, and so you can’t get too picky I guess initially with that. And so found a good one, and so we had enough there to build on and so that worked out. He was in Canada, and didn’t have an option, but as we started to grow, you kind of start to realize, everyone feels a little isolated. If you go through a rough patch, which in the startup world that’s probably every other day, they wear that stress, and it’s just them, and so they don’t have someone else that you feel is in it too, that’s feeling the same pains you’re feeling and sharing the same successes. Everyone’s going to do it a little differently, because they’re in their own little world. I know I’m absolutely in the minority right now in this in the startup culture and probably most people listening, but I definitely feel like for you to take that next step beyond the early stages, I think an office is almost going to be inevitable. Obviously there’s the base camps of the world, but those are actually few and far between.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, when you really look at companies that scale, you have automatic which had a few offices, I think recently shut them down, base camp, and buffer, but those are all different orders of magnitudes of businesses. There’s very few that are fully remote, truly at scale, and I think there is a reason for that. A groove we’re fully in on the remote culture, but that’s not to say we don’t see downsides to that, and it’s all about figuring what works, and it seems like for where you guys were at it did make sense to really build a real team all in one place. And for listeners who are curious about more of the journey leading up to this part, I had you on my other podcast Agency Advantage almost a year ago. It was, let me look, it was episode 66, so if people want to hear some more of the backstory about originally starting out as a service business, then going into software and all the decisions around basically shutting down a 30K MRR business, tune into that. I’ll link it up in the show notes.
But today I want to fast forward a little bit and really dive into some of the more recent decisions that you’ve been made. You decided to go all in on software and you’ve since shifted a little bit from that, but you knew that you had to change how you were selling because, as anyone who’s tried to do both knows, selling software is a lot different than selling a service. And so at what point was it clear that you could use some outside help to really tackle this problem?
Justin McGill: I knew for us to get to the next level I couldn’t be doing all of the sales conversations. One of the first things I always try to do is offload the actual deliverable or the actual work, especially when LeadFuze it was a done for you service. My agency started, it was providing SEO and website development and everything else. The first thing I always try to do is offload the work being performed, and then that way I can take over sales. Obviously as the founder you’re naturally going to be the best sales person anyway, and if not you definitely should be. And so that worked. That worked for a while, and then you get to a point where it’s like, okay, you need to have more sales conversations, you need to be doing more things to generate those conversations, you can’t just be the sole person handling sales entirely.
And my background is in marketing, and digital marketing, and concept marketing and everything else, and so if I’m doing those things then … if I’m doing all the sales calls then I’m not doing all those things to try to grow the business, and you reach a point where it makes sense. Yeah, so it’s actually kind of interesting, I had a sales coach, Damien Thompson, and he come to me, he had listened to the zero to scale podcast, and we were in similar circles, and so he come to me about this new sales coaching program he was rolling out, and I thought that would be interesting, because I always am about advancing my own skill set. But it was going to be a pilot. And so I decided to take him up on the offer, and a couple months into it I realized he really knew his stuff when it comes to sales and software sales in particular, and so I decided pretty early on that my angle for this was going to be when I was ready to tap out on the sales side I was going to see if he would be interested in coming on board with it. And so about a year later, that moment came, and we had a discussion, and 24 hours later we signed an agreement, and he came on board. Happened really fast at that point.
Andy Baldacci: And he came on board as a co founder, right?
Justin McGill: There were a couple of things. I had asked him essentially had he thought about getting back into software sales, and he’s like, you know, it’s fough, because it’d have to be a business I’m interested in. They’ve got to be just the right stage where I can come in and get a little piece of it too. I don’t want to just be an employee at this point. Which I had known and expected, and so I was ready for all of that. When I said okay, what about you coming on to LeadFuze … it was funny because for the first time ever I had heard him not be able to speak. So he kind of hemmed and hawed around it, and we had a good conversation, he talked to his wife about it that night, and next morning had a five paragraph email to me about coming on board, what his next steps would be, all this good stuff. It happened really quick.
Andy Baldacci: And it’s something where everyone, especially in the bootstrap world, everyone is really trying to keep as much equity as they can so that they have more options for exits, and just more options for their business in general. But in those early stages when you’re trying to find a strategic partner, you need to hire people who have some level of seniority in terms of their sophistication, in terms of what they’ve done before, and you often don’t have the cash, and you want them to be involved, you want them to have incentives that are aligned with yours to really grow the business. And I know a lot of people want to just outsource everything without really giving up much equity, but if you want to get good results you need to hire the right people, and a lot of times in the early stages this is the right way to do it. And when you bring on a co founder like this, it’s not a simple decision at all, and it did take you a while getting to know him, working with him, to really come to this decision. But it’s something that I think a lot of people need to consider more, because it’s not just as easy as going onto [Upwork 00:13:36] and hiring someone to do sales for you. It just doesn’t work that way.
Justin McGill: Yeah, it’s a good point. And to that point, my original co founder, it didn’t work out. He was the original developer, and he had an equity stake in the business as well, but what was … I guess, luckily I’ve been down this path before, and so I had an operating agreement put in place, so it’s not like he just had full equity, right?
Andy Baldacci: Right, it was vesting.
Justin McGill: Yeah, exactly, so we had a one year cliff period where he didn’t have anything, and then it was a four year vesting schedule after that where we would release 25 percent. And then when it didn’t work out, we were able to just buy that back, which worked out as well. You definitely want to do some things to protect yourself if you’re going to bring on a co founder, for sure.
Andy Baldacci: And you want to make sure though that you’re at least willing to see that as an option in terms of investing in building out that right team, because it is so important in the early stages. But what I want to talk about now though is some of those first steps that happened once Damien came in. Obviously you wanted to offload some of the sales work onto someone else so that you could get back to your wheelhouse of marketing, but a lot I know has changed. You’ve learned a ton in the process of building out your sales process, and so what happened once he came on board? How did you guys start approaching the question of sales?
Justin McGill: Yeah, it’s good … the very first thing he did, he wanted to come in and just know everything. Top to bottom. So he really just took charge, took ownership of the sales process, understanding the systems we were using, things we were trying to implement. But more than anything he had a huge focus on product knowledge. So because of that, he wanted to know what every single button did, the shortcomings of the product at the time, just wanted to know everything. It was great, because he just dove in. I didn’t have to hold his hand for weeks or months. He came on and just took charge in that regard. Obviously has a lot of experience with sales processes and everything else, and so he began creating new systems, new processes, utilizing some of the things we were already doing, but looking for improvements.
I even want to say the first week, he was actually doing demo calls and everything else. It was 10 days at most. I think literally within five, seven days he was in, just totally took over all of the demo calls and everything else. Which was great. I could get back to focusing on the marketing side of things, still kind of managing the actual product itself, so it was nice to just offload those things.
Andy Baldacci: And then those early leads, those demo calls, where were those coming from? Was that inbound, was it outbound, was it a mix, or what did that look like?
Justin McGill: Essentially just 100 percent inbound at that time. I didn’t have the time, and I didn’t even want more leads at that point. It was nice, but yeah. Very early on, again this is my background, so I knew that this was going to take some time, but concept marketing has always been a focus of ours, and because of that we’re able to reap those benefits now and even then. And so all those trials were coming inbound. And so that worked out.
But we had some challenges with that process. We had them come in inbound, but then we were driving part of the first sales implementation that we worked on together with, Damien and I, we were like okay, when we build out a sales team, we’re going to change the flow to where it’s not just self serve on the onboarding experience but we’re actually going to drive them into discovery, call first to make sure they’re a good fit, and then if they’re a good fit we’re going to drive them into a demo call, and Damien would do the demo calls, so our reps would be doing the discovery calls. And so we implemented that, and it … And this is best practice, and it’s something he’s done for years and years, and for whatever reason for us that just did not work. We wouldn’t even exist if we were still trying to do that process.
Andy Baldacci: Where were you losing people in that process?
Justin McGill: Early on … it was a bottleneck, so we weren’t selling to people the way they necessarily wanted to be sold. Mind you our software is hands off, complete automation, and so that kind of lends itself to people that want to do it themselves, like a set and forget, so it might just be-
Andy Baldacci: They don’t want to have to get on the phone, they don’t want to do all of the standard more [enterprisey 00:18:48] sales stuff, they just want to buy it and just let it go.
Justin McGill: Yeah. We’re not an automated cold calling system, we’re an automated cold emailing system, which is something that they’re more comfortable with. We’re trying to make them do something they weren’t comfortable with. They would get on a discovery call, it wasn’t the demo that they were expecting, so we had to set some better expectations there, and then they might have to wait four or five days to get a demo with Damien, because his calendar is getting filled up with other calls. And so that wait time was tough, and so we were getting … our no shows were just, it’s like 40 or 50 percent of no shows by that point, because they’ve already probably moved on. It was a very, it was a difficult stretch. Luckily we recognized it. We’ve got our thumb on the pulse, and so we’re always kind of evaluating … probably a little too quickly at times, but in this case we let that process run for about a month, month and a half, and we’re like, this is not working.
Andy Baldacci: Was it something specific, or was it just obvious when you looked at it that something needed to change?
Justin McGill: In hindsight it’s always 20/20, right? But when we stepped back and evaluated the process, we realized that we’re trying to force everybody down this path that they just really didn’t want to go down. And so we literally just went completely back to 100 percent self serve at that point, and tried to start from scratch again and rebuild the sales process. And now we’ve got one that’s working really well, so we’re excited by that. We’re still making tweaks and adjustments to it, but it’s all lessons learned I guess.
Andy Baldacci: And so what does it look like now? What is that process that you’ve found that is at least working better than that?
Justin McGill: We’ve gone through a more robust, just like our onboarding emails are more specific, it’s heavy, I want to say we’re sending like 20 emails in the first 28, 29 days. So we’re hitting them pretty regularly. And that’s on the inbound side.
Andy Baldacci: This is all during the trial, or is this pretrial?
Justin McGill: It’s interesting. We don’t have a 30 day trial per se, because they come in and they get like 25 sample leads, and they can come in and use the tool, and they can purchase within 30 minutes; it might be 30 days. But yeah, just a lot of heavy education, a lot of social proof, everything else initially. And then we’re doing biweekly webinars, and we’ve had a lot of success with the webinar sales process that we’re doing. We’ve got a killer offer at the end, and we time that based on when they joined the trial, so to speak. So that’s on the inbound side. And then the big thing is, we’re using our own tool. Our reps actually do outreach to our target market, and we just recently … because we were doing a lot of calls in between, everything like we’re calling all opens, calling all clicks, and doing social media outreach and everything. And so we decided to take a step back and say let’s only do what our tool allows you to do, and that’s cold email.
And so we’ve just hyper focused there on massive personalization. We’re doing a lot of research on the leads, we’re adding in all those leads, and so we can use that custom data in our outreach, and the response rates to that. It’s literally like, there’s a positive response for every eight opens.
Andy Baldacci: Oh wow.
Justin McGill: It’s going really well, and so we drive them into the trial, and then if that doesn’t work, we try and invite them to a webinar as well, so we kind of always have something to invite them to.
Andy Baldacci: That initial email, can you give us an example of what that could look like, that first touch you’re sending to them?
Justin McGill: Yeah, I could tell you, in our case, and it’s interesting because it’s like our fourth email in the sequence that actually has the highest response rate, and that’s because we’re asking for someone else on their team, but we’re naming who that person is, so that works really well. The other things is that we’re talking about their time at their company. So if they’ve been there for four years … So right now right now for us agencies are a good customer, and so that’s one of our target markets, and we’re saying in your five years at XYZ agency, I see you’ve worked with clients like, and then we add a notable client from their website, and we ask if they thought about utilizing outbound as a channel for their clients or for themselves. It’s just a really [crosstalk 00:23:34]
Andy Baldacci: And you’re just trying to get a yes, you’re just trying to get something back from them.
Justin McGill: That’s the thing, we just want to get the conversation started. The goal for us is to go from cold to conversation, as we like to say. It’s not cold to close. That’s just not going to happen, but sometimes people have that expectation, and so they’re trying to go right for the kill, and it’s like hey, you don’t know me, book a time here to talk to me. And it’s nonsense, you know? We typically lead in with very simple, easy, quick hitting email that asks a question that they can easily respond to, and that gets the conversation started.
Andy Baldacci: But you’re not trying to get them to do something other than that right away, you’re not trying to say, check out this webinar, sign up for this trial, you’re literally just trying to open up a conversation.
Justin McGill: Yeah, that’s exactly it, that’s all we’re trying to do, yep.
Andy Baldacci: And then after that I’m guessing you have, when the conversation opens I’m guessing through yours and Damien’s sales backgrounds that you have a general idea of how to move the conversation to where you want it to go, but how personalized and unique are those conversations after they open up?
Justin McGill: Once they’ve responded, now they’re taken out of the automated outreach, and so now it’s on the rep to respond and to … and they have one goal, and that goal is, get them in to try the 25 sample leads. Because once they’re in, now they’re in our funnel, and so we have it all connected to where LeadFuze connects to the CRM we’re using which is Hub Spot, and so all … the rep automatically gets assigned to their lead, because it’s automatically sinking, and so then we have it connected to intercom, so when they sign up into the software, now the deal stage advances, now they’re a sales qualified lead at this point, because we’ve already done all the research and know they’re qualified. So now the deal stage gets updated. It’s still assigned to that rep, and now the activity’s happening in their inbox, and so they’re going back and forth. Some might want a call, but the goal is always the same, and that’s to get them into the trial, so that way they can be educated.
Andy Baldacci: That’s really interesting, because … a few different things. First, I weirdly obsess over cold email, and collect all the cold emails I get, because having done some of it, it’s just amazing to me how bad most of it.
Justin McGill: 90 percent plus.
Andy Baldacci: And it’ll be like, you’ll just see someone who … one that I get all the time is, Hi AndyBaldacci.com, and it’s like man, if you spent two seconds looking over your list, you’d realize one that’s not a name, but two, you could just remove the .com and there is my name. It’s just not that hard. But I actually did get an email, I think it was from someone at Hub Spot, and I’m guessing they’re using a lot of their own tools for this, but they talked about my past, where I’d worked before, results I had gotten there, and what I’m doing now, and I was like wow, this got my attention, I actually read this entire email because I knew they weren’t writing this all out by hand, but it was clear that they had at least looked into this-
Justin McGill: Yeah, that’s the thing. Even if they’re using software to power that outreach, someone still did research on you. They edited your record so that it felt completely personalized, because it is. They spent the time doing it. Yes, they’re using a system to automate all of the followups that go to you, and the outreach, and when it’s going out, but that’s what you should do. It’s all about consistency, and so when you can personalize it at that level, you’re exactly right, you’re going to look at that email, you’re going to be more likely to respond because you know this person didn’t just pull from some random data source and just plug it in. They spent the time actually researching.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah. And it’s something where so many people, they like the appeal of cold email because they probably don’t want to get on the phone, because cold calls scare the hell out of them, because they just don’t like talking on the phone in general, whatever it is, and they go too far with the automation, and they just send out the same email to everyone. And they say well no, I personalize it. And it’s like, yeah, but having one field that just shows their website or the most recent blog post that you published isn’t really personalizing it at all. And so the other thing that they go too far with is that they almost want it to be a set it and forget it thing where, send out these emails, trials will start pouring in. But you do need to have some human element in there. So it’s interesting to hear how you’re having a conversation and moving them towards a trial where the real automation takes over at that point. And honestly it’s just impressive to see that in practice, because I know on the receiving end of a lot of cold email just how effective that can be.
Justin McGill: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s the thing too, I hear people like, oh well I don’t respond to cold emails. It’s an objection that I’ve heard, and it’s like, you do, but you remember the spam ones. The ones you don’t … The ones that were hyper personalized to you, you don’t think of them as being a cold email. It’s a different mindset when the emails are actually researched and personalized like that. And it’s highly effective. We literally get, like I said, a positive response for every eight people that are opening. It can absolutely-
Andy Baldacci: Right, and these are entirely cold, so those are very good numbers.
Justin McGill: Never heard of you. That’s powerful.
Andy Baldacci: You mentioned a bit about having the sales team use exclusively what they have in LeadFuze itself. How has that helped your team, how has it helped develop the product, what has come from that?
Justin McGill: Yeah, that is exactly it. By us hyper focusing on just the feature set available of LeadFuze, now we can see, okay, this rep is really having this challenge, or this rep could use something like this to help them improve their result. Because we’re true power users of our own software, because of that we’re able to ensure that we’re building the right product, and adding the right things, and not spending time on things that sound great in theory, but aren’t as helpful. And so, like right now, our rep, basically we’re spending too much time doing all this research and then editing the individual leads, so he’s exporting all of the data and then updating everything in Excel because it’s all, you can go one by one real quick, and then reimporting. That’s not as ideal, and so something that we’re rolling out here in the next few weeks actually is complete custom email sending. So for each individual lead, you can go in and queue up all of the emails that are going to be in the sequence, and completely customize everything right then and there.
The other thing would be, for people that click on links that maybe don’t sign up for their sample leads, they need to be called. Phone numbers, we had it before, had some issues with the quality of those numbers, and so we decided to take it out, and so now we’re in the process of rebuilding all of that and drastically improving the accuracy there. And so that’ll be something we roll out. Why? Because it’s more of a priority now, because it’s something that we’re seeing ourselves as a necessity. So yeah, it absolutely helps.
Andy Baldacci: Are you planning, or maybe you already do. Are you planning on teaching, showing behind the curtain and teaching any of these strategies that you’re developing to use your software effectively? Because I know that you mentioned before, it’s important to … there’s some hand holding that needs to happen, because if people aren’t using it right, aren’t doing it right, they’re not going to get results [inaudible 00:31:40] customers, so in your content marketing side of it, are you going to be sharing some of these lessons to help them do it right without as much hand holding from you?
Justin McGill: Yeah, so it’s awesome. Quickly, yes. Basically we’re realizing, the goal of a concept marketing strategy is to help educate people into becoming a potential customer. And so we’re actually going to be centralizing our content strategy around different features of the app, and so for us we do quarterly road maps essentially, so we know from a development standpoint the features that are going to be available say quarter one of next year, and so we have a content plan to be focused on those features. If we’re adding numbers for example, a lot of our content we’re actually going to be talking about cold calling, or what we would prefer to call as warm calling, because we don’t do cold calling, right? But that’s what people know, at the same time. That’s really helpful.
We just did a master class webinar as well where it was just advanced level features of the software and how you can use them to improve results. And so yes, it can be completely hands off if you want it to be, completely automated, but if you want to dive in a little more and you want even better results, then you’ve got to spend some time doing that extra level of personalization. So we show them all these different strategies, we show what we’re doing, and so we’re doing those quarterly, because we’re talking about the previous quarter and the new features that got implemented. We’ll do a demo of everything and then walk through some advanced strategies and everything that we’re doing and seeing. And then we talk about what’s coming up in the next quarter at the end. We do those on a quarterly basis just to help customers see that value as well.
Andy Baldacci: I think honestly that’s huge, and to me a lot of the future evolution of content marketing is going to be focusing even more on what’s more on the success side, of how we can get people to actually use our software the right way, and what is the right way to do that? Because so many companies don’t really have an opinionated stance on, this is the right way to do whatever we do with our software. And you can say there are other options, but here’s one way to do it, here’s how we can do it, and so many times we see that groove all that time. They come and like, your software is simple to use, we get it. We understand how to respond to customer support requests with your software. But we don’t know what the best practices are. We don’t know how we should set this up to do more than just the basics, because their job isn’t just managing customer support team, it’s to build their business. And so having that last piece of the equation where you really help people come full circle and understand how to get the value of it I think is a really untapped market for content marketing, so it’s cool to see that you guys are really going after that.
Justin McGill: Yeah, it’s big for us. Content up to this point has been a huge needle mover, and now as we start to really get more focused on it, I anticipate that being just a huge driver of growth for next year.
Andy Baldacci: And one thing that you had mentioned, I just want to touch on it quickly. You had mentioned that if in the initial email sequence, if you’re not able to get them into the trial, you’ll then often pitch a webinar, is that webinar the same webinar that they’d get if they were in the trial, or are they different ones?
Justin McGill: Yeah, so the webinar we’re doing on a biweekly basis is actually not one that we’re necessarily promoting in the trial, because we actually do a couple different webinars that are replays that they get access to during the actual trial. One is about all these different offers that they can create, and then another one is our master class, so the last quarter’s master class webinar, they get a replay to that as well. So they get those. And then the, kind of like our automate your lead gen webinar is going out to the audiences of different partners and affiliates and everything, and so we’re educating them with the different webinar. Now that said, we’ll invite cold leads that we’re reaching out to, we’ll invite them to that webinar as well. It’ll be a completely different webinar than they’re seeing through the trial experience, so it works out in that regard as well. It’s a nice thing.
The first email we’re trying to start that conversation, the next one we’re trying to drive them in to test out the sample leads, and then I think it’s email four where we’re actually starting to talk about … and we’re testing this, and we’re changing, literally on a weekly basis we try new things. And then we’ll invite them to like a webinar. And then on the call as well, if they want to call, our rep will talk to them, try to push them there, and then if they’ve done that than now a follow up can be to invite them to that webinar personally. It’s always this concept of, always have some thing to invite them to. It works really well. Especially in our case where it’s a recurring webinar, too.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, and a lot of it too is that depending on where they’re at in that funnel, in the buyer’s journey, they’re going to have different things that they care about and that they’re going to respond to, that someone who’s already signed up and is using their 25 free leads, already has a little bit of buy in. They get the value. You don’t need to sell them as much on that, it’s more on showing them how to get the most out of the software, about how to do it right, that sort of thing. But someone who is hesitant to even get that far, you really do need to sell them on the idea, and a lot of times that’s going to take very different content than what you might talk about during the evaluation period.
Justin McGill: Yeah, there’s no doubt. And it comes down to, just going back to selling them the way they want to be sold. So if they want to just get direct emails, awesome. If they want to see replay webinars or videos, we’ve got that too. If they want to join live during webinars, we can do that. So that’s kind of the big lesson that we’ve learned this past year is, let’s not force them down any one particular path, and put all of our eggs in that basket. Let’s have multiple paths for leads that are coming through, and they can choose which way works for them.
Andy Baldacci: Yeah, and honestly there’s so many different ways I could take this conversation. I would love to have another hour of your time, so hopefully we can reconnect down the road and see how things have been going and what you’ve learned from today until then. But for today though, just to tie it all together, and obviously this is a very broad question, but what advice do you which someone gave you when you first really started pursuing sales for LeadFuze?
Justin McGill: Oh man, probably a few things. I think just overall, it’s consistency, in whatever that you’re doing. If you’re going to do cold calling, then be consistent and do it every single day. If you’re going to do direct mail, do that. Do one piece a day if you need to. If you’re going to be doing concept marketing, maybe it’s one post a week, or two a month or something. Just do it every time. But something a little more tactical was something that I discovered from Grant [Cardone 00:39:06]. They way he ends every sales call, I implemented this and started to have a lot more success with it, and the closing question was always, is there any reason why you would not sign up? I just found that that one question just did so many good things, and uncovers any potential objections that maybe weren’t discussed during the call, and you can address it then, but you can also address it in your follow up. Obviously you should always be following up. But if there’s not a reason to sign up, it essentially gets them to psychologically commit to that sale.
Damien actually, he would take this a step further. Okay great, get out your credit card. Go from here. I didn’t get that aggressive with it, but I think the good thing is that it works either way. And it might feel uncomfortable to ask the first few times, but after that it feels more natural. Yeah, other than that, just I think probably scripting your sales calls. I used to, literally I would … again, I’m a writer at heart, so I would write everything out. And then it got to a point where it’s just making sure I had all the key touch points. Didn’t need to be word for word, but I had that open on every single call. I did hundreds of calls, and to the very last one, I always had that script open because I wanted to make sure I had that flow every single time. Those are a few pieces of advice I would give.
Andy Baldacci: Well that was awesome advice, and before we wrap up I like to ask all my guests a few rapid fire questions, and I’m going to go through them quickly, but your answers don’t need to be too short. And the first ones just, right now what do you find yourself spending too much time doing?
Justin McGill: I would say just looking at my daily task list, I would say it’s actually customer onboarding calls. It kind of goes against the grain a little bit, and everyone talks about talking to your customers more often, and I’m doing that pretty regularly there right now. Like I said earlier we introduced the done for you component to the software, so we’re more the software with a service, and so with that I do that front end call. And you know, they take time. You’ve got to prep for them. I literally have one right after this, so, got to prep for them and set some expectations there. They’re 30 minute calls. And it’s fun. It’s great. We’ve learned a lot, and everyone should do it. I think now we’re at that point where it’s like, okay, we need to start thinking about a customer success manager type role where they’re taking on that responsibility.
Andy Baldacci: What do you wish you were able to spend more time on?
Justin McGill: I would say probably building relationships. Obviously not just with customers but beyond that, just from a network standpoint. I’ve got a great network, and it’s always expanding, but I think I need to probably get back into doing some more things here locally I think in the community to start building those relationships, at least on a larger level.
Andy Baldacci: And then the last one is just, who do you learn from, or who have you learned from?
Justin McGill: Oh man-
Andy Baldacci: Obviously it’s a long list, but if any just jump to your mind.
Justin McGill: The moment you asked that I would say the first thing that came to mind is Rob [Walling 00:42:31]. I’ve just got a huge man crush on Rob. He’s an investor of ours as well. But, [inaudible 00:42:41] for the rest of us was the very first podcast I ever listened to, and it just had such value and meaning to me. And it inspired me to launched zero to scale, and because of that just opened up so many doors and avenues, so I always love podcasting, but Rob’s brought a lot to the table for sure.
Andy Baldacci: That’s awesome. He was one of my favorite chats on this show. It was someone where I was like, I have a bit of a man crush on him as well, and so I’m like oh man, I’m going to get to talk to Rob. Got super nervous, but no, it went really well and he’s a super nice guy. But really deep thinker about this stuff too.
Justin McGill: Yeah, he really is. He’s super knowledgeable. And it’s funny too, because it’s like if you bring up something or an idea that maybe he doesn’t think is the best, he’ll not tell you that. But he gives some indicators, but such a nice guy that he’s just going to say, if you think that’s best, then go for it. One of those. But yeah, he’s awesome, man. Love that guy.
Andy Baldacci: Honestly Justin this was a great chat. We covered a lot. I know there’s a lot more we could cover, but thank you so much for the time. But before we say goodbye, if listeners want to hear more from you or just learn how LeadFuze can help them have more conversations with interested prospects, where are the best places for them to go?
Justin McGill: LeadFuze.com, and then you can reach out to me directly on Twitter. It’s jus10mcgill, so Justin McGill.
Andy Baldacci: Awesome. Well Justin, thanks so much for the time today, it was a lot of fun chatting.
Justin McGill: Thanks Andy, I appreciate it.