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When it comes down to it, SaaS businesses are valued on their ARR, but surprisingly, some still choose to manage the metrics and analytics that come as a byproduct of their order to cash process themselves. What they need is a platform, because having a single source of truth that drives all these metrics can’t be understated. Today’s guest is Tim McCormick, CEO of SaaSOptics, a platform that provides this very service. Specifically, SaaSOptics is a subscription management platform that provides early-stage and growth SaaS businesses with subscription billing, revenue recognition, financial reporting, and robust SaaS analytics. In our conversation with Tim today, we get into his career in tech running SaaS businesses in the security and energy management space, and the multiple exits he has orchestrated. He then dives into what SaaSOptics does and how they run their business to keep seeing such big growth. He gets into how SaasOptics automates the order to cash process, effectively sitting between the CRM and the general ledger. Tim talks about the metrics SaasOptics provides, their value-based pricing model, and how they balance marketing and sales in order to grow. We hear about the structure of their sales team, and their model of product cycles based on market changes too. There are around 30 000 B2B SaaS businesses globally thus the services SaaSOptics provides can’t come at a better time, so tune in to find out what it’s all about!


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HubSpot has grown into one of the most credible names in the marketing and sales game in the last few years and we are lucky enough to have Kieran Flanagan, their VP of Marketing on the show today! If you listen to this podcast it is more than likely you know a lot about HubSpot already as we often refer to them, as happy customers of the company and having had a few of their team on the show already. The focus of today’s conversation is Kieran’s work on the freemium project at HubSpot and the impact that this initiative had on the company and their progress going forward. We speak about freemium and who it might work for; Kieran believes it is not a surefire way to success for every kind of company and links its usefulness to HubSpot to their product-led model. We also get some great insight into the company and how they approach tasks and challenges and Kieran breaks down their pod method for creating teams. Tune in to get it all!


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Steli Efti Close

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Hey everyone! This week, I share the mic for the second time with with Steli Efti, Founder and CEO of Close, an inside sales CRM.

Tune in to hear to learn the kind of feedback you should be looking for, how to ensure the best product-market fit and how Close relies on content marketing and podcasting to help them grow and be successful.


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Myles Anderson, the founder and CEO of Bright Local

Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Myles Anderson, the founder and CEO of BrightLocal, an all-in-one reporting platform for local SEO.
Tune in to hear how Bright local went from being a CRM for SMBs to the B2B solution it is today, how they rely 100% on inbound marketing to get leads, and how they average about 30% a year.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Myles Anderson Reveals How BrightLocal Gets 100% of Their Leads via Inbound Marketing TRANSCRIPT PDF

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

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Melody McCloskey

Hey everyone, today I share the mic with Melody McCloskey, CEO of StyleSeat, the largest marketplace for beauty services.

Tune it to hear Melody share how she encountered a problem in the marketplace and then set out to solve it, how someone with no background in tech built a booking company for stylists that did $1.6 billion in transactions last year, how StyleSeat acquired 10K clients with essentially no marketing, and why she chose an equity-based model for her employees.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How First-Time Founder Melody McCloskey Built a $1.6B:Year Salon-Booking Empire TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. Teach people how to think by asking questions and letting them come up with their own answers—this will empower them to find solutions themselves.
  2. Find yourself an adviser who has walked this road before you and learn from them.
  3. Tenacity and resiliency are the two most important factors to becoming a successful founder.

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How to Close More Deals More Often When You’re Just Starting Out

Let’s talk about how you can close more deals.

First and foremost, I think most people think that prospecting, following up, doing sales calls, and closing deals can be pretty daunting, right? Most people don’t like to think of sales. “Oh, I’m just not good at sales” is something I hear all the time.

In fact, I’m still like that, to this day. I tend to avoid wanting to do sales calls, but you kind of have to if you’re running a company, especially in the early days. You have to close the deals. In the agency situation, like with Single Grain, if it’s a big deal, I’m going to come in and close it myself.

But the question is—how do you go about closing deals if you’re just starting out?

How to Close Deals When Your Business Is New

If you’re starting out, I think that the one thing you have to realize is that you have to look at your sales activity. How many deals is it going to take for you, or how many calls do you have to make, to eventually close a deal? Then you can work backwards.

Make a list of your sales activities. What you can do is figure out, on average, how many proposals you have to send before you close a deal. For example, let’s say I close at 25%. That means that I need to send out four proposals to close one deal.

Well, how many discovery calls do I need to get on to eventually get to one proposal? Let’s say 1 in 10 calls that I get on actually results in a closed deal. So, to close four deals, I need to speak with 40 people over discovery calls. But how many prospects do I need to reach out to in order to get one discovery call? Let’s say 5% of my total calls will lead to discovery calls. In this case, that means I need to reach out to 800 prospects every month to get four closed deals.

There are about 20 weekdays in one month, right? That means each and every day I need to reach out to 40 brand new people and then we also need to follow up with old clients or prospects, too.

Now, let’s say you’re starting out fresh and you don’t really know how you’re going to end up converting. Let’s say you are actually not that good at closing yet. In fact, let’s say you convert at 10%. You convert 10% of your proposals into a closed deal, 10% of your discovery calls will turn into proposals, and 5% of your prospecting will turn into actual discovery calls.

That means that instead of having to reach 800 per month, you actually have to reach 2,000 per month. That means you effectively have to send 100 messages per day. Which is why prospecting is hard.

Sales Books Everyone Should Read

One book I would recommend reading is The Ultimate Sales Machine. In this book, there’s a concept called your “dream 100.” In other words, who are your 100 dream clients?

The Ultimate Sales Machine

Well, you can prospect for them by setting filters with SaaS sales software (like LinkedIn), or you could have sales development representatives reaching out. More likely, it’s going to be you doing it. Ideally, it’s you and your business partner tag teaming your ideal leads with hand-to-hand combat techniques.

I would also recommend reading From Impossible To Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue by Jason Lemkin and Aaron Ross.

From Impossible to Inevitable

Jason Lemkin is the founder of SaaStr, which is one of the biggest software as a service (SaaS) conferences in San Francisco. I’d recommend reading that book and all of Jason’s articles on software as a service.

Those two books are going to be gold for you, especially if you’re first starting out with sales. Then you just keep doing it over time and you’re going to get used to it.

Learn More: The Sales Process that Grew EchoSign to $100M in Revenues with Jason Lemkin

Think About Content Marketing Ahead of Time

I would also recommend supplementing your sales efforts with things like inbound marketing where you’re building goodwill with people over time.


You’re doing YouTube videos, you’re doing Facebook Lives, you’re creating a lot of content out there. You’re going out there, you’re speaking at events, you’re doing podcasts, and you’re creating all this content. That’s going to take a lot of time to get that going, but ideally you get that going so that a couple years from now, you’re not going to have to rely completely on sales and ads.

Related Content: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy if You Are a Beginner

Thankfully, the majority of the leads that we get are from inbound marketing. We get them from podcasts and we get them from doing things like this. Yes, actually doing Facebook Lives like this and rebroadcasting these or re-targeting our audience helps a lot of people who are on the fence make a decision and commit to work with us.

You can definitely do the prospecting thing, but you can see that having to send out 100 brand new emails per day and trying to personalize each and every one of them can get really tiring. So as soon as you can, I would recommend delegating the prospecting to two other people so that you can compare them side by side, and then perhaps you can focus on closing your best prospects.

Eventually, you can hand off the closing to the other people, too. At that point, you just have to focus on growing the business and making the right hires.

Using the Right Tools

There are so many different tools out there. Use tools like SalesforceIQ or some kind of CRM, like HubSpot CRM.  I highly recommend using Mixmax to follow up with people automatically. You can see who’s opening emails, when they open it, where they open it from, how many times they open it, etc.

Long story short, everyone I’ve interviewed on Growth Everywhere gets their first 100 and even 1,000 customers by doing hand-to-hand combat.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

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André Siqueira cofounder RD Station in Brazil

Hey everyone, in today’s episode, I share the mic with André Siqueira, co-founder of RD Station, a digital marketing software company based in Brazil.

Listen as André discusses how they were able to secure significant investments (the largest amount in Latin America) despite the political state of Brazil, their struggle with customer retention and their bold decision to do event marketing—something that is not very common in Brazil—and the fact that their biggest competitors in Brazil are businesses who don’t understand inbound marketing.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How RD Station Continues to Double Its Growth Rate Each Year (After Raising $19M) TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. Providing value to your audience can be the gateway to acquiring customers.
  2. You don’t have to do BIG the first time you try – start small.
  3. Do not go after every person – know the kind of customers that you’d like to target.

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This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Acquiring your first customers is more art than science.

You don’t have spreadsheets full of data to pull from, you don’t have existing segments, and you’re not even sure who specifically will buy your product.

You’re just testing out different methods to “see what sticks” and what you should double down on.

The tactics you should be using to get your first 100 customers are a mix of both marketing and customer development. With each tactic, you should aim to not only get a new customer, but also find ways to dig deeper into who they are and what they’re interested in. You need to really know who these people are that are buying from you more than anything else and then use that information to increase your ROI.

Most entrepreneurs reflexively turn to paid advertising when trying to get their first customers. But in reality, there are a variety of ways you can get initial traction, including leveraging other people’s audiences, using online communities, targeting the right social networks, and more.

Here’s a comprehensive list of tactics you can use to get your first 100 customers:

1) Reach Out to Your Network

A quick way to do some customer development is to reach out to your existing network and ask them specific questions about your product and market. If you’re creating a product for a specific niche, then chances are you know people who are in that niche already.

You can also run through your existing LinkedIn contacts, find people who are in your industry, and send them an e-mail like this one:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: GrooveHQ

You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help.

One of the biggest reasons new businesses fail is that founders don’t talk to customers. It’s easy to believe that you already know everything about your target market and convince yourself that they definitely need your product. But the best marketers are humble enough to talk to their market and validate their hypotheses, even if they know they’re correct.

For example, Hiten Shah did many hours of customer interviews for a project he was working on around helping startups raise money. As a prominent entrepreneur in Silicon Valley who has raised money from some of the biggest venture capitalists, he’s already talked to hundreds of people who have asked him for advice on the topic.

But he still did customer interviews.

Though you don’t want to sell anything during your interviews, you can ask the people you talk to whether they would like to be added to a private e-mail list where you send out updates every now and then on the progress of your venture.

Down the road, they could turn into your first customers.

2) Use Twitter for Market Research

A good way to find potential customers who are experiencing the pain you want to solve is by searching online complaints. Social networks like Twitter are an easy way to do this.

For example, if the product you’re looking to create competes with Salesforce, you could for search something like “Salesforce is complicated” in Twitter. Here are a couple of comments that come up:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

You could reach out to those users directly, and ask them to chat more about why they think Salesforce is complicated so that you understand how to make your product better.

Other online forums can be good for this as well. If you search “Salesforce is too complicated” in Google, you’ll find a lot of forums and blog posts on which users discuss why it’s hard to use. You’ll get a better sense of the problems that your product will need to solve and the features that will have to come with it. You’ll have a clearer understanding of the words that your market is using to describe their problems, so you can write perfect high-converting sales copy when the the time comes.

When you do searches like these, you also can either confirm or disprove your hypothesis. For example, if people aren’t searching for solutions to Salesforce problems, or you’re seeing a small amount of search results in Twitter or Google, then there might not even be a big enough pain point to solve.

Once you get on the phone to chat with these potential customers, be sure to ask them whether it would be okay for you to stay in touch and send updates every now and then on your future product. This way, you can both do your market research and build a list of potential beta customers.

3) Use Quora

Another customer development tool that’s at everyone’s disposal is Quora. Quora is a site where you can browse and post questions on a virtually any topic. It can be a great way to gather a large number of answers from people in your target demographic about the product you’re trying to sell.

According to Adweek, Quora’s demographics consist mostly of college educated professionals. Because Quora got its first users through tech news sites like TechCrunch, many of its users work in technology. Some of the most followed topics include investing, computer programming, mobile, and software engineering – so companies such as IT partner in London could definitely find some business here.

For example, check out this question where a Quora user asks “What are the biggest pain points with Hadoop?” Here’s an in depth answer to the question by an ex-Cloudera employee that received 100+ upvotes:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

If you were trying to create a product to solve pain points around Hadoop, an answer like this would be invaluable. You can find similar, in-depth answers across topics like personal finance, CRM systems, sales, marketing, and more.

You can measure how much an answer resonates with people by the number of comments and upvotes it receives. For example, the answer to the Hadoop question above received over 100 upvotes and a few positive comments. That shows that other Hadoop users are likely facing the same problems.

If you find an insightful answer to a relevant question in your industry, you can message that user and ask to set up a phone call in order to uncover more details about their problems, then add them to your beta list.

4) Customer Development Tools

Most marketers know that tools like Qualaroo and SurveyMonkey can help you understand your audience better. But did you know that they can also help you generate more leads and customers?

If you already know what your ideal customer profile looks like, then all you need to generate more leads is to create a survey that qualifies your prospects. For example, GoodBlogs used Qualaroo to boost registrations by 300% for one of their clients.

GoodBlogs helps businesses create user-generated content. One of their clients is the largest livestock trailer manufacturer in North America, and they launched a site for horse lovers through GoodBlogs. When visitors landed on their site, they were shown a Qualaroo pop-up that said “Do you own a horse?” If they answered ‘yes,’ they were asked to input their e-mail address to receive special offers.

Read More: 5 Important Landing Page Elements You Should Be A/B Testing

You can do the same thing for your niche. For example, here’s an example of how Qualaroo used its own service to generate leads:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: Qualaroo

For this process to work effectively, all you need is just one leading question that qualifies your prospects. It could be as simple as asking them “Do you need [X solution] to [Y pain point]?” If they answer yes, immediately ask them for details like their name, e-mail, and/or company name and treat them like a lead.

You’ll only have to set this up once. From there, you’ll have a steady stream of qualified leads coming in from your site directly.

5) Launch to an E-mail List

One of the best ways to virtually guarantee sales when you launch your product is to launch through an e-mail list.

There are many ways to build an e-mail list from scratch. For example, you could reach out to people one-on-one through social networks like Quora or Twitter to do your customer development and then add them to your launch e-mail list. We’ll get into some other tactics you can use to build your e-mail list below.

Learn More: Cold Email Templates that Get Responses

For now, let’s dig into how to craft your launch sequence to get as many sales as possible.

A profitable launch sequence usually consists of adding value to your subscribers in the first few e-mails, then persuading them to buy your product in the last one or two e-mails. Nathan Barry used the following launch sequence formula to get $16,000 in sales from just 1,200 subscribers:

This outline covers all the basic elements of a profitable launch sequence — building anticipation, adding value through educational material, and providing a sales message asking readers to buy your product.

6) Use Betalist

You’re probably aware of sites like Product Hunt or Reddit that feature products or posts that get a lot of upvotes from the community. But there are also sites like Betalist, where you can pay to be featured in front of a large technology audience.


Many startups have used sites like Betalist to rapidly generate a list of early bird signups. Take FrontApp for example, a product that helps teams work more efficiently. They used Betalist to generate 400 high-quality signups in just a couple of days.

FrontApp wanted to get beta users for their product, so they decided to go directly to the source and test out some “beta user” communities. Sites like Erlibird and help startups get their first signups by featuring them in front of a targeted group of users, so FrontApp submitted their product to these sites.

FrontApp got the best results from Betalist: they paid $49 to get their product featured on the front page and received about 400 signups (from a total of 832 direct visits). And because many Betalist users are early adopters in the startup world, several of them wrote articles about FrontApp after seeing it featured on Betalist, which resulted in even more inbound links.

These sites typically work best for a consumer product audience. But if your product resonates with the community, you could get hundreds of qualified signups in a matter of days.

7) Leverage Other People’s Platforms

One of the quickest ways to build an audience of your own is to find other brands that have an audience similar to what you’re trying to build and bring them over to your own platform. Trust is a big factor when persuading people to buy, and if you leverage someone else’s platform to build your own audience, you’ll be able to “borrow” the trust they’ve built with that audience as well.

Pipedrive is a sales management tool that helps sales teams close more deals.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

They used these two tactics to get their first 1,000 paying customers:

It takes a lot of work to build credibility and trust with an audience, so one of the most efficient ways to get sales is by leveraging other people’s audiences and borrow their credibility. You can do this by going to conferences and industry meetups like Pipedrive did, or leveraging existing online communities (which we’ll talk more about later in this article).

Related Content: How Landon Ray Took ONTRAPORT from a Dozen Customers to 1,000 Customers in Just 2 Months

8) Guest Posting

At its core, guest posting is basically another way of leveraging other people’s audiences to build your own. It’s a tried and true approach that has worked for many businesses.

Buffera social media automation tool, used a guest blogging strategy to get over 100,000 customers within nine months.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind in order to get the most success from guest blogging:

If you make content marketing a priority, it can be incredibly profitable for your business. Buffer grew almost entirely through content marketing, as did KISSmetrics, HubSpot, and other similar companies.

9) SEO

Search engine traffic can also be a good, reliable source of paying customers.

The problem is that for many industries, it’s becoming harder and harder to rank high for competitive search terms because there’s growing competition. If you’re targeting marketers or entrepreneurs, you’ll be facing tough competition for search terms in your niche. In fact, influencers like Neil Patel, Noah Kagan, and companies like HubSpot and KISSmetrics already own the top spots for many relevant keywords in the industry.

So how can you still generate traffic and leads through search despite all these competitors?

One way to do this is by focusing on long-tail keywords. So instead of trying to rank for “SEO tools,” try to rank for something more specific like “The best SEO tools for B2B startups.”

If you consistently publish high-quality, long-tail content over time, you’ll generate a significant amount of traffic.

Learn More: Effective SEO Techniques that Work in 2017

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: HubSpot

A simple way to generate long-tail content ideas is by looking at the most viewed questions on Quora for your specific niche. Let’s say you’re selling a product in the marketing niche. You could start by going on Quora and typing “marketing” into the search box.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Next, click on the topic “Marketing” and then select the “Topic FAQ” tab.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Under this section, you’ll find a list of some of the most commonly viewed answers within that topic. For example, here are a couple questions under the “Topic FAQ” section for Marketing:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

This gives you a bit of insight into what potential customers are looking for. You might want to create content on how entrepreneurs in specific niches (i.e. family therapy, medicine, law, etc.) can optimize their marketing, or write content on how major companies structure their marketing efforts.

Long-tail keywords can help you generate a large amount of monthly traffic that can convert to leads. For example, Tamal Anwar boosted his search rankings and traffic by writing content around longer variations of existing keywords.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

10) Cold E-mail

One of the most straightforward ways to get your first customers is through cold e-mail. It’s relatively easy to find the email addresses of your prospects, and it’s easy to reach out to a high volume of people relatively quickly.

Learn More: How to Get More Responses From Cold Emails

Here’s an example of a cold e-mail template that got one B2B company over 16 new customers.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

According to HubSpot, this e-mail template generated a 57% open rate, a 21% response rate, and 16 new customers.

There a few reasons why this e-mail worked so well:

According to the article, you should be getting a 10% response rate through your cold e-mails. If you’re below that number, chances are your e-mails need some improvement.

Once you know how to craft your cold e-mail, you have to find a list of prospects and their e-mail addresses. If you’re familiar with your niche, it’s usually not too difficult to find a list of prospects. For example, if you’re in the tech space, you can use sites like AngelList and Crunchbase to find a list of companies and filter them by criteria like number of employees, location, and more.

The problem typically lies in finding their actual e-mail addresses. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools available to help you do this.

Email Hunter lets you find e-mail addresses by company domain. You just have to input the company’s domain name, and all publicly available e-mail addresses associated with it will be shown below.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: Yesware

Email Hunter lets you search 150 domains for free every month and has plans that start at $49/month if you want to search more.

Another tool called EmailBreaker provides you with the e-mail formats for a variety of companies.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: Yesware

Not all domain names will have their e-mail formats listed, and some e-mail formats might be incorrect, but EmailBreaker is able to correctly identify e-mail formats for most domains.

11) Run Paid Advertisements

Most new entrepreneurs turn to paid advertising as their main source for getting their first customers.

However, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about using paid ads as your first channel of acquiring customers. Some people like Kristian Tanninen say that paid advertising should only be used by companies that have existing products on the market. Other entrepreneurs believe that paid ads should only be used to scale a sales process that has already been proven through other lead gen sources.

But other marketers say that paid traffic is the fastest way to drive leads when you’re first starting out.

When you do run paid advertising, you want to make sure you’ve got a high-converting landing page where you can drive your prospects. Here are key elements of a high-converting landing page:

Learn More: How To Drive ROI Using Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP)

You can run paid ads on a variety of channels when you’re first starting out, but these are the most tried and true channels:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: Neil Patel

12) LinkedIn Messages

LinkedIn messages are an alternative to cold e-mail that can yield a higher conversion rate for your business.

There are a few inherent problems that can make your cold e-mails convert at a low rate, but a big part of it is how impersonal the medium is. Although it can be done, it’s harder to communicate your credibility, your offer, what your company does, and still sound human.

If you reach out to people on LinkedIn, your message could have a more “human” touch because of the fact that they can see your full profile.

There are two ways you can reach out to people on LinkedIn:

LinkedIn Inmails

Inmails are private messages that you can send to anyone on LinkedIn who is not your connection, but you’re only given a certain amount every month. After you exhaust that amount, you have the option to purchase Inmails individually, typically around $10 each. Inmails are different from regular messages that you can send to your connections on LinkedIn — regular messages are free, but Inmails can be quite expensive. 

Sponsored Inmails

Sponsored Inmails are different from regular Inmails in that they let you send out your message to thousands of professionals at a time, whereas regular Inmails can only be targeted individually.

LinkedIn actually recommends this feature for lead generation specifically, and recommends promoting webinars, e-books, etc. to boost conversion rates. For example, check out how LinkedIn used sponsored Inmails to promote their marketer’s guide.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Source: Formstack

Duke University also used sponsored Inmails to boost their conversion rates. According to this case study, they weren’t able to communicate the value proposition of their Cross Continent MBA program (a program that lets professionals across the world get their MBA without leaving their jobs).

They used sponsored Inmail to target prospects by their seniority level, education and location. They used LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities to only target professionals who would likely be qualified for the program. Duke was able to tell prospects about their Cross Continent MBA program and have a call to action that encouraged readers to sign up for more information with their email address.

They saw a conversion rate increase of 400% in certain geographic regions. As an added bonus, their cost per lead was 10% lower than on other marketing channels. They also were able to reduce their closure speed from 18 months to just six months, a 300% boost.

LinkedIn Messages

Another approach to lead generation you can take is messaging your connections directly, which is completely free. You can use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find a list of targeted prospects, connect with all of them, and then message the ones who accept your connection request.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Adding prospects as connections is one way of “warming them up” before reaching out with your pitch, and could boost your response rates.

While you’re likely to get more quality leads from LinkedIn, their cost per lead is also relatively high compared to other social networks like Facebook.

13) Interact with Your Subscribers 1-on-1

While you might not have a lot of money when you’re first starting to get customers, you do have one big advantage over more established companies: you have more time. And that means you can give your subscribers more 1-on-1 attention than a big company can.

The best way to develop a long-term relationship with a subscriber and build a deeper level of trust is by interacting with them on a more personal basis. According to Forbes, recipients of 1-on-1 interactions are more likely to share their positive experience on social media and stay loyal to your company over the long term.

In fact, Gary Vaynerchuk took this exact approach to building his audience over a span of many years. For example, he once asked his followers whether they needed anything, and one fan named Daniel replied that he needed eggs.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Most entrepreneurs wouldn’t have have continued the conversation. But Gary went on to ask for the Daniel’s address. An hour after sharing his address, Daniel received several cartons of eggs at his apartment.

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

Daniel went on to write about his experience on Medium, and became a fan for life.

While you don’t have to go out of your way to send your subscribers groceries, you should ask them to respond to your e-mails, and try to respond to as many as you can.

14) Leverage Online Communities

Online communities can be a great way to get your first customers. Online communities are essentially scalable versions of industry conferences — you’re able to interact with likeminded people, offer something of value to them, stay in touch, and potentially get some new paying customers.

When you go to a conference, you don’t want to go in and hard sell everyone you meet on the first interaction. If you do that, chances are you’ll turn off everyone you talk to and close the door for a mutually beneficial relationship. A better approach is to get to know them, understand their problems, and follow up later.

Similarly, you don’t want to spam an online community with promotions and links to your website before they get a chance to know who you are. You have to add value to that community first, and the way to do that depends on the community you’re trying to get involved in. Here are some targeted online communities you could join:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

The best way to add value to an online community is by first getting a feel for the kind of topics that resonate within that community. What kind of posts are getting the most engagement? What’s getting the most upvotes or likes?

One easy way to add value to virtually any group while also building a list of potential customers is by offering free “office hours” to help people solve the pain point that your product solves. For example, if you have a SaaS product that helps people improve their sales process, you might post about a “Sales Process Q&A session” where you let others in the group schedule a time on your calendar to chat about improving their sales process.

This way, you can get a better understanding of your market and their pain points on the call, and also ask them in a non-pushy way whether they’d like to be part of a beta user list.

Check out how this Facebook user is offering free office hour sessions to help people dismantle their fears and mental barriers around public speaking:

14 Ways to Acquire Your First 100 Customers

If you offer to give your time to help members of the group, you’ll both build a deeper relationship with members of the group (which could result in more paying customers) as well as credibility within the group.


The strategies that will take you from zero to 100 customers aren’t the same strategies that will take you from 100 to 1,000 customers.

At the beginning, you might be putting in a lot of your own time sending out cold e-mails, LinkedIn messages, or crafting paid advertising campaigns. You might be interacting with your subscribers one-on-one, asking questions and responding to every e-mail. You might be going on sites like Quora to source long-tail keywords and writing content around that to generate traffic from search.

There are a variety of different ways to acquire your first 100 customers. And they’ll all typically involve some form of doing things that don’t scale.

What tactics have helped you generate the most customers? Let us know in the comments!

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

What if I told you that you could automate a lot of the $10/hour marketing and sales tasks that you do every day?

How much time would that save you? How about money?

Zapier is a tool that makes it easy to automate tasks between web apps. (Note: I have no affiliation to Zapier.)

To paint a little context on just how many web apps we use today, let’s just take a look at what private companies valued at $1B (also known as unicorns) and above use:

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

In a group of 50 unicorns, over 976 web applications are used. 

That is a ton.

Obviously, there’s utility to using one web application. But if you could have them talk to each other, what would that mean for your business?

Even better, what if you could create a rule where multiple applications talk with each other? Think of it like a marketing funnel—where users are continually moved through a workflow based on their behaviors.

For us, Zapier has been indispensable. We consider it one of our secret weapons, and I’ll show you why.

Here are 15 time saving Zapier workflows to create if you want to save time (and money):

1. Marketing – Push new blog posts to Slack

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues(2)

We create a decent amount of content and for us, it’s important that we spend 80% of our time on promoting vs. producing it. As our content production calendar continues to get more aggressive, it’s hard to keep track of new content as it comes out.

Sure, we have a checklist that our content promotion specialists follow, but it always helps to have a quick alert when a new piece of content is published.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 insanely actionable first steps to building your own sales team – advice not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

We use Slack as our chat program and use the Zapier RSS Zap to hook new posts into Slack.

Here’s what it looks like in our channel:

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

Read this post here: How To Write Blog Posts that Actually Convert Readers into Customers

Bonus tip: We also have other channels dedicated specifically to marketing topics such as Pay Per Click (PPC), content marketing, and more. Pick one or two top industry blogs and have those RSS feeds pushed into Slack so that your team can continually be updated on the best posts. Don’t put in too many, though, as it can get unwieldy pretty quickly.

Main benefit: Get your team to take action on new blog posts as they go live.

2. Marketing/Sales – Find out who your new leads are

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

Your e-mail service provider and CRM might differ, but the concept is still the same: you want to know as much as possible about your new leads.

We connect our ESP (E-mail Service Provider) with Full Contact to scour the web for information such as:

After Full Contact pulls the information, it’ll automatically load it into our CRM, which is SalesforceIQ.

Main benefit: Find out more information about your leads.

3. Operations – Create a client onboarding workflow

If you’re in a service-based business, you know that the process for onboarding a client can be tedious. What if you had a workflow that could do everything at once?

Here’s the workflow we put together:

Here’s what it looks like:

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

Main benefit: Reduce human error in your onboarding process and collect cash faster with automatic invoicing.

4. Sales/Marketing – Have your new leads texted to you

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

If you have a ‘free consultation’ type of form like we do, it’s helpful to get these leads texted to your sales team on the fly. We use Gravity Forms for our forms and it plays well with Twilio.

Read More: The Ultimate Recipe for Effective Lead Generation

Whenever someone fills out a lead form, we’ll get a text within a few minutes so we can act on it quickly. This is especially helpful if you’re not looking to shell out a few hundred bucks a month for sales technology.

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

Bonus tip: You can also have these leads sent to your chat program (like Slack or HipChat) for quick access.

Main benefit: Act on warm leads faster to generate more revenues. Remember: time kills ALL deals.

5. Marketing – Create a content bank automatically

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

If you’re investing in content marketing, it makes sense to have a content bank to keep track of all the material that you’re putting out there. By doing that, your content team can reference past links and cite all the great stuff you’ve published. It’ll also keep your managing editor on top of what has or hasn’t been created by your team already in order to eliminate redundancies.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 insanely actionable first steps to building your own sales team – advice not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Here’s an example of what our spreadsheet looks like:

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

Main benefit: Creates a content bank to help drive your content strategy.

6. Marketing – Automatically create new transcriptions

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

If you’re producing video or audio content and you’re interested in driving more organic (SEO) traffic, transcriptions might be of interest to you. In my opinion, if you’re spending 30+ min talking, you’re already creating long-form content. Why not max out on the benefits?

Transcriptions used to be another tedious step in the content creation process, but with Zapier, it’s now much easier.

And what if I told you that you could automate that process?

Here’s the workflow:

Main benefit: Save time and gain more organic traffic by utilizing transcriptions.

7. Sales – Scan a card and automatically add that individual on LinkedIn

How many of you go to conferences and eagerly collect a bunch of business cards only to throw them away afterwards?

*slowly raises hand*

Well, I used to.

But what if you could simply take a picture of a business card and have the following happen:

That’d be a lot more valuable, right?

When someone sees you make the move to actually add them on LinkedIn and sees what you’re all about with your LinkedIn updates, you start to build a relationship.

Much better than just throwing a card away (a.k.a. throwing a potentially fruitful relationship into the dumpster).

15 Time Saving Zapier Workflows That Will Generate More Revenues

Main benefit: Saves you time by adding contact information and sending a LinkedIn request by just snapping a photo.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 insanely actionable first steps to building your own sales team – advice not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Additional Ideas

With over 500+ apps, the combinations you can create with Zapier are endless. Here is some additional inspiration:

8) Automate social media posting – Imagine taking one more thing off your social media manager’s task list. Simply hook in your blog RSS feeds with a tool like Buffer to put social media posting on autopilot.

Main benefit: Save time.

9) Twitter lead generation cards auto-responder – If someone fills out a Twitter lead generation card, have Twitter send an auto reply to engage with the new lead. You can also add in a delay with the new Zapier workflows so it doesn’t seem so automated.

Main benefit: Save time and build a more personal relationship.

10) Follow up with new leads via Gmail – If you aren’t using an e-mail service provider, a simple way to instantly follow up with new leads is to hook in your lead form with an e-mail zap to stay on top of the communication. Remember: the fortune is in the follow up.

Main benefit: Close more deals.

11) Nurture webinar/event registrations – Let’s say you just finished a webinar and you want to put attendees and registrants into two separate e-mail auto-responders. No problem. Just connect a tool like GoToWebinar with your e-mail service provider (e.g. Drip, MailChimp, AWeber) and load them into the proper sequence. A lot more effective than sending canned e-mails from GTW.

Main benefit: Increase your funnel conversion rates.

12) Build a social media advocate list – Automatically populate a Google Spreadsheet with a list of people who are engaging with your content (e.g. liking, sharing, etc.). Sort through this list once a month and identify the influencers who can really help move the needle and see what you can do to help them out. In return, you might just see some benefits in the future!

Main benefit: Build a list of your most rabid fans and create a deeper relationship that will pay dividends down the road.

13) Chat widget to CRM – If you’re using a chat widget like or Olark, it’s helpful to load the leads directly into your CRM (e.g. Salesforce, Pipedrive, Chat leads are especially warm because they’ve taken time out of the day to engage you for a few minutes (sometimes more).

Main benefit: Close more deals.

14) Trello to Dropbox – Let’s say you’re having a meeting and you’re responsible for taking all the notes. You might house these notes in a tool like Trello (or Evernote or Basecamp), but you also want to keep the notes for safekeeping in a folder that everyone can access. It’s simple: just connect your project management tool with Dropbox and your whole team can have access to the notes.

Main benefit: Save time.

15) Send calendar reminders to your chat program – Let’s say you have an all-hands meeting every Monday sitting in your calendar. You can hook in Google Calendar with Slack/HipChat and remind the group every week.

Main benefit: Keep your team on track.


Connecting your web apps by using a tool like Zapier (or IFTTT) can be an amazing way to gain back lost time, increase your revenues, and save money.

My recommendation is to make a list of all the critical web apps you use and figure out how to get them to play nice with each other. In fact, get your team together and brainstorm possible workflows that you can create. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

One more thing: If you liked this, you might like our growth marketing agency Single Grain, which focuses on scaling customer acquisition.

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Mark Roberge

Hey everyone! Today’s episode is with Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer of the HubSpot Inbound Sales Division. He is also the author of The Sales Acceleration Formula, a book on how to build a winning sales organization.

Today we’ll be talking about how Mark helped grow HubSpot from zero to $100 million in revenue by coining the term inbound marketing, how he successfully applied his data background to sales, and why you should start blogging before you build your product.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How HubSpot Skyrocketed from $0 to $200M By Combining Inbound Marketing + World Class Sales Training TRANSCRIPT

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