An Easy Way to Fill the Online Lead Pipeline That Nobody Does

Importance of Lead Validation Study

by SEO marketing services company Straight North.

In lead generation marketing, it’s often the simple things that get overlooked, the simple things that make the biggest difference.

Here’s an important example. Ninety-five percent of companies running lead generation marketing campaigns such as SEO and PPC track website conversions (form submissions usually and phone conversions hopefully). They use this conversion data to determine how well their campaigns are doing, and also to run A/B tests to improve keyword selection, offers and other variables.

What these companies probably don’t realize is that their conversion data is off the mark by a factor of about 50 percent, so their decisions are very flawed. Why? Because about half of all conversions are something other than sales leads.

By implementing lead validation, this serious problem can be corrected. Lead validation is a process of separating true sales leads from non-lead conversions, accomplished by listening to recordings of phone inquiries and reading all website form submissions.
It takes time, but wow, is it worth it. For a thorough understanding of lead validation, read our in-depth presentation now. Aaron Wittersheim is a partner and Chief Operating Officer at Internet marketing agency Straight North. The agency specializes in lead generation marketing for middle-market and large organizations.

My First Quarter Selling at SellHack

roddy sellhack prospectingI joined the sales development team at SellHack a little over 3 months ago – I love it.

It was actually a cold email that got Ryan’s attention and ultimately led to him making a surprise offer.

I have a pretty eclectic professional background, and many of those positions have included varying aspects of sales. However, these past few months with SellHack have been the first time in my professional career that I would consider myself a salesman, and I’ve learned a lot.

My intention with this post is to provide a few of the most important pieces that I’ve picked up so far. I’ll be reflecting on these myself as I move through Q2. For anyone who is about to enter a similar role, read closely. The rest of you can take the TL;DR. I’m not into wasting anyone’s time….which leads me to #1.

#1. Respect Everyone’s Time

When speaking to a prospect on the phone or during a demo, realize that this is just one interaction among the many, many, many others they need to tend to that day. In short, you are definitely NOT their top priority.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and to qualify your prospect before you invest the next 30-60 minutes in a conversation. If it’s not a fit, explain why, listen to their response, and clearly define next steps. Thank them for their time, be cordial, but be quick. Efficiency is the name of the game, and it will benefit you both.

Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and qualify your prospect before you invest time in a call!… Click To Tweet

Respect your own time – others will inadvertently waste it. Your prospect took the call because they recognize the possible need for your offering and an opportunity to learn from an expert (i.e. – you). Regardless of the rapport you’ve built or how well you like one another, you need to recognize when it’s time to move on to the next call, demo, or even your lunch.

Offer a deep dive or 1:1 once they come on board.

Only commit to what you can fulfill, but don’t take your pants off on the first date.  pantsoff

#2. Know your ideal prospect

First, you need to know whether or not they’re a fit for your product. You should have your segments clearly defined and documented somewhere to review when you are building your prospect lists.

Then you need to know if they’re the decision maker for your product – if not, see if they can direct you to who is. You’ll need to provide enough value for them to be willing to do this, but remember #1 as you go about it.

Pro Tip – don’t be afraid to experiment. Segment your segments and test responsiveness for each group. When you find something that works, double down.  If it’s not working, stop.  Increasing dealflow is your top priority.

#3. People are busy – so follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.

In sales, a frequent follow-up isn’t annoying; it’s encouraged. Remember, people are busy – if you have a service that they’re interested in and is going to help them, you’re actually doing them a favor by checking in often.

Pro Tip – don’t send a ‘just checking in’ email.    Offer value, ask direct questions, and demonstrate that it’s your job to keep this opportunity moving forward and not their job to remember why you or your service are so great.


That doesn’t mean every day (in your case, it might) but it does mean much more frequent than a strictly social relationship

You’re enthusiastic, not aggressive – and you’re busy too.

Too busy to have someone hanging out in your funnel for weeks on end. Follow up until you get an answer.

The worst they can say is no, and that’s better than not knowing.

#4. Create a system: optimize, refine, optimize.

You’re going to have to find your own flow to deal with your day to day tasks. Track the results, identify the bottlenecks, refine your system and launch v2.

It doesn’t matter how good you are, a random approach to your sales process, or lack thereof, will have you leaving money on the table…or somewhere in your inbox.

A random approach to your #sales process will leave money on the table. Click To Tweet
Create a system that allows you to handle all of it effectively. Bite off just as much as you can chew thoroughly, and if your jaw hurts a little bit that’s a good thing. It means you’re hungry – and your jaw will get stronger.

#5. Look beyond the direct sale.

Genuine sales professionals know that there’s tremendous benefit in making an authentic connection with others. You’re products and companies aren’t always going to be a direct fit – that doesn’t mean they won’t be down the line, or that you can’t refer each other to the right people.

Don’t burn a bridge by being too narrowly focused on your quota for that day. Take enough time (while respecting time) to see the potential for the long term, and make connections that will last for more than 5 minutes.

These are the 5 areas that I’ll be focusing on for Q2. Completely novel realizations? Not at all. Worth a refresher? Absolutely. I’m curious to hear from the novice to seasoned sales pros: What were some of your main takeaways from your first sales role?

Leave a comment or send me a note – you can find my contact information with SellHack ;)

ps – ready for a new challenge?


What to do when prospects don’t respond to emails

Guest Post by Jake Jorgovan, founder of Outbound Creative and Prospect Scout.

We’ve all been there.

We find a prospect who would be a perfect fit and craft the perfect email sequence to catch their attention.

We reach out with confidence that they will respond, and then…




We follow up once, twice, three times, eight times or more with still no response.

You could give up, but for you this prospect means something.

Maybe you are in a finite industry with a limited number of prospects.

Or, maybe this is a dream client that would be your largest sale of the year.

In this post, I am going to share with you the lessons I have learned from running an outbound sales company and what to do when your prime prospects are unresponsive to your emails.

1) Analyze your approach

The first thing you must do before considering any of the other suggestions in this post is to evaluate your approach.

Chances are, if you have gone through a full series of follow ups and are still getting no responses, then your approach may be flawed.

To analyze your approach, first check out Ryan’s book on Cold Emailing.

Also, I would recommend Jill Konrath’s incredible book Selling to Big Companies to give you more insight to how these decision makers think.

Open up your email you sent to prospects and read it from the prospect’s viewpoint. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this email catch my attention from the first subject line?
  • Does this email come from someone credible?
  • Is answering this email going to benefit me or the salesperson sending it?
  • Does this email clearly and concisely demonstrate the value that I will receive in my business?
  • Is this email short enough that I will actually read it amidst my busy day? (Less than 160 words)
  • Does this email intrigue me?
  • Does this email sound canned?
  • Is the request at the end of this email clear and simple to fulfill?

Analyze your email against these questions in the eye of your receiver, and you may just find the lack of response has been in your approach all along.

2) Try other forms of digital connection

The truth is that in today’s busy world, many people have grown to hate their inboxes. Recently, I sat down for a working session with one of my clients who is the CEO of a rapidly growing company.

Inbox (3,452)

Yep, over 3,000 unread emails in his inbox.

Seeing this gave me insight into his world. As the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, he was simply overwhelmed and only had the time to answer the absolutely essential emails.

He is what Jill Konrath calls ‘A frazzled customer’ and in today’s digital world, more and more customers are becoming just like him.

This means that sometimes, email just doesn’t cut it.

So what does work then?

Well, it often depends on the client so you may have to try several different avenues.

Try a LinkedIn message

This is an obvious one and it is where most salespeople start. Sometimes this works, but the truth is a lot of people aren’t active on their LinkedIn.

As salespeople, we struggle to believe this because we are on LinkedIn everyday, but for decision makers who are not in sales, they may only check this platform once a month and have turned off email notifications.

Linkedin is a powerful tool, but be aware your message may never even make it to your decision maker.

Engage with them on twitter

It is pretty easy to tell if your decision maker is active on twitter. If so, this can be a good channel to build some initial name recognition and get in the door.

Start by browsing through their feed and look for tweets you can favorite, retweet, or reply to.

Look for something that you can play off of to start a conversation. Asking a question is always a great way to get engagement.

There is no magical script to this, just try to get them engaged and start a conversation that you can eventually grow into something bigger.

Direct Messages with Instagram Videos

If your prospective customers have Instagram accounts for their company or they are publicly active with their personal accounts, then direct messages on Instagram can be extremely powerful.

With Instagram, you can record a 15 second video for the prospect, and send a message of unlimited length. The prospect doesn’t even have to be following you.

When you do this, it does go to an ‘Other’ inbox for messages from people they don’t follow, although they still receive a notification and will get your message.

I have used this tactic time and time again to break into consumer facing brands and up and coming startups.

Facebook Messages to Brands

Especially if you are in marketing, this can be a great way to get through to the marketing team. Often you will find that a marketing manager runs their Facebook page and is responsible for many different aspects of the company’s marketing initiatives.

It’s worth a shot as you will be surprised as to what comes from it. When you send your message, refer back to the same cold email practices I mentioned earlier in this book.

If you don’t catch their attention, then it will still fall on deaf ears.

Oh, and don’t send your decision maker a personal Facebook message unless you already know them, that’s just creepy.

Text their cell phone

This method should only be used in the case that you have had some engagement with a prospect and they have now gone cold. Warning: Do not do this with a prospect who you have never spoken to yet or they have not given you their phone number.

Texting should be reserved only for situations where you have had a phone call or been given the prospect’s phone number.   Warning: If you jump the gun on this contact method, you may come off as a bit of a stalker.

But for prospects with whom you’ve had contact, this can be a great way to cut through the clutter and get their attention.

Send them a personalized video

Turn on your webcam and record a short 30-90 second video that clearly explains your value proposition. When leaving these messages, a great framework to use is Jill Konrath’s voicemail frameworks from ‘Selling to Big Companies’

  1. Establish credibility in the first 1-2 sentences.
  2. Demonstrate the value you can bring to the prospect by projecting what you believe you could do based on your research, or by sharing success stories from past clients who were similar.
  3. Make a simple ask for a 5-10 minute meeting to talk further.

These personal videos take time, but this is a step above and beyond that can win the decision maker over.

Have fun and send them an eCard

I had a prospect go cold on me after some initial interest. Ten follow ups and I heard nothing back from him.

So one day, I sent him the card below.


Within 20 minutes he had replied and introduced me to the person I needed to talk to in order to move the sale forward.

Sometimes you need to do something a little different to catch your decision maker’s attention.

3) Stand out, be unique and send them a physical package

If this prospect really means that much to you, then you may have to go above and beyond digital outreach. At Outbound Creative, this is what my company specializes in, and it works wonders.

We operate on one core principle: If you want to get someone’s attention, stand out and be unique.

How we won the business of a client who was completely unresponsive to digital outreach

For one of my clients, they had a prime prospect who was unresponsive to emails, LinkedIn and social media.

So we sent them a cake. On top of that cake were the words ‘Go to [custom url].’

That custom URL took the prospect to a personal landing page with a personal video made just for them. We used the script described above from the Jill Konrath’s voicemails, and it worked wonders.



Within 48 hours of receiving the cake, we had a positive response from the CEO of the company and were introduced to the individual they would be working with.

Digital didn’t work for this prospect. In a world of so much noise, their messages didn’t cut through the clutter.

But a personalized cake and video, well that did…

Think outside of the box

One of my best clients to date came because I had a bit of fun with reaching out to them. The client was an expat living in Japan who had a very profitable and growing business. I wanted to win him as a client and knew he had a decent sense of humor.

So I sent him a message in a bottle…


Inside the bottle was a piece of paper with a custom URL.  That URL took him to this humorous video that features a personal message from me with some absolutely amazing intro music…


Keith was blown away. This video lead to a great phone call which lead to Keith becoming a paid client of Outbound Creative.

The bottom line

There are many reasons why your prospects may not be responding to your emails.

First, check your messaging to ensure that your value proposition and messaging is worthy of a response.

If you are confident in your emails and still see no response, begin trying other forms of digital engagement.

And lastly, if you still have no response but want to win their business, try a physical package and stand out and be unique.

Some clients will still resist, but if you hit them from all of these different angles you have a better chance than just relying on email.

Break from your normal routine, and try something different this week.

Because if you want to win someone’s attention, stand out and be unique.

Jake Jorgovan is the founder of Outbound Creative and Prospect Scout. Outbound Creative helps agencies win their dream clients through eye-catching outreach. Prospect Scouts helps sales leaders close more deals by researching prospects for them.


Develop a Process for Finding (ie – stalking) Prospects

Wasting time on the wrong prospects is the original sin of sales.  


“You’re just not right for me.”

Or executive decision making process

“We just don’t have budget for this now.”

Or (worst ever)

“Thanks for the demo.  We don’t (do the thing your company sells) now, but I’ll reach out when we start in the future”

Time is the most valuable asset you have during the course of your working hours.  Wasting time on the wrong prospects, is the original sin of sales.  Assuming you are building prospect lists that meet your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), the only reason you should hear any of the responses above is if there is a breakdown in your qualification process, or worse, you don’t have a qualification process (more on this in a future post).

Time to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate your ideal customer profile (ICP).  I see a lot of people get caught up here following traditional, prescribed ICP practices of spending (IMHO) too much time on the wrong aspects of describing your personas that make up your ICP.

Channel Your Inner Therapist (or fake a High EQ)

Your inner-therapist must deduce the ins and outs of what problems plague your prospective customers.   A VP at a 10,000 person company cares about different things than a VP at a 50 person company cares about.  They need to be segmented into separate buckets and your messaging strategy needs to be adjusted to each group.

Let’s break down each into key components to help you decide which segment to target to maximize your time.

Vice President of Sales at a 10,000+ person company

  • Comfortably earning $150,000+ and a healthy retirement plan
    • Your impact to their total compensation may not justify the risk of failure of a new initiative
  • 5-10 Direct Reports and total headcount of 100+ in their org
    • It’s a consensus sale.  They can pull the trigger, but need buy-in from their Directors who are burgeoning VPs themselves and often times focused on growing their direct report count to demonstrate they could be VP material
  • Spends a lot of time reporting up to a SVP or C-Suite to manage cost while tracking on plan
    • Lots of internal meeting, specifically around planning.  Getting their attention is a challenge
  • Authority
    • They can pull the trigger on the expense of your product, but probably need to route you through an internal procurement process to cover their ass
  • Desire – Probably have an existing process you are disrupting, replacing or augmenting
    • Want easy to add, reasonably priced, and complimentary to what they are doing ideally with significant cost savings so they can spend their limited budget on more things that can have an impact
  • Timing –  Longer sales cycle
    • Working with a fixed budget approved by the CFO and you may need to wait until next budget review
  • Opportunity
    • Bigger revenue opportunity if you can weather the storm and less risk of churn since they are going out on a limb to ‘approve’ your offering and there are significant internal time investments that must take place to roll this out.

Vice President of Sales at a 50 Person Company

  • Earning $100,000+ and working at a small company to realize upside
    • Open to risk/reward and can swing for the fences to
  • 5-10 Direct Reports which include their total org head count
    • Their direct reports will be your end users or see direct impact
  • Direct pressure from the CEO to beat plan
    • Looking for ways to get their team more efficient and producing more
  • Authority
    • Probably has budget approval for your product, may need CEO’s blessing but if it has a chance to beat plan and doesn’t carry a lot of risk, chances of getting approves are high
  • Desire – Does this move the needle and have a clear ROI?
    • Motivated by growth and helping the team become more productive as the organization matures
  • Timing – NOW
    • Immediate revenue opportunity if your business case is compelling
  • Opportunity
    • Limited, but immediate revenue opportunity and higher risk of churn since their budgets and attention can change very quickly

A common problem we see in sales, is picking the wrong segment and not realizing this until it’s too late.  We encourage our SDRs to constantly optimize their outreach campaigns to avoid this mistake.  It’s like asset diversification.  Spend the majority of your prospecting time on what is producing results.  Dial up or dial back on time spent and campaign strategies with  each segment(s) until you have consistent short and long term achievement of your objectives.

If you want to sell, you need to know what you’re selling and, just as important, why someone else would need it.  Beyond your value proposition, you need to understand the common problems of your target customer.  After completing an exercise like we outlined above, we know each segment is motivated differently, and we need to write different email campaign messaging for each.

Stalk Your Prospects (legally…of course)

Conduct research through every available avenue — from online resources to relevant industry comparisons to first-hand accounts.

Even after you have a thorough understanding of what your ICP should look like, remember that everything depends on the almighty dollar. You must follow the money.  So who has money? Since most companies are not inclined to simply flaunt their wealth, you’ll need to know where to look. Here are some examples of prospects who have cash and publicize it:

google alert sales stuff

*Now find the decision maker’s email.

Once you can match your ICP with the appropriate financial resources, you have the makings of a relationship that could go the distance.  Need more information on identifying your company’s ICP, or how you can then compare that ICP to your existing customer base? Check out our eBook or keep reading

cold email playbook for sales
It used to be that researching a prospective customer required real-life detective work. Nowadays, though, the Internet had made personal information so readily available that companies have been founded for the sole purpose of monitoring online reputations.

For all the drawbacks associated with social media, when used properly, it can serve as a phenomenal tool for studying the professional and personal lives of those with whom you aspire to conduct business.  Once you have your ideal customer profile (ICP) identified, it’s time to rely on readily available web based tools for in-depth analysis of your prospects.

Pro Tip: Start with your BEST existing customers.  Look for common attributes that could be used to find others who ‘look’ like them.

You can start with the basics: Conduct a simple Google search for a broad overview, then delve into individual social media sites.  Whereas Facebook will likely provide more personal-life details, LinkedIn and Twitter may offer insight into your prospects’ professional worlds.  These can all be used to your advantage.  It’s much easier to personalize an email or build rapport on a call when you share uncommon commonalities like having gone to the same school, members of the same fraternal organizations, have kids or have a bucket list of the same golf courses.

Once you have completed preliminary research, it’s time to get interactive. Engage your prospectives virtually using the following methods:

  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Join their LinkedIn groups
  • Like their posts
  • Target ads to them (more on this later)
  • Study their profile. Are there any uncommon interests you share?
    • Tool: Google, Facebook,, LI
  • Create Alerts for key activities

ps – Watch the webinar replay where we dig into prospecting & share 5 growth hacks you can try today.

By entering their social landscapes, not only can you confirm whether prospective prospects truly fit your ICP, but also you can achieve an ice-breaker of sorts through a virtual introduction. Be subtle but make your presence known.  Remember, you can’t go into the weeds on research for every prospect.  Hedge your time investment by mixing up the amount of research you do on one segment vs. another.  Experiment.  This is sales hacking!

Ready to get started?  Here’s How to Get a Meeting with Anyone!


How To Write Cold Emails That Get Responses

You have 2.7 Seconds to get to the F#cking Point with your emails.

There’s not much that can be accomplished in under three seconds. A spoken sentence, a sneeze, maybe even reaching in your back pocket to grab your phone.

Yet according to email provider ExactTarget, people only take 2.7 seconds to decide if they will read, forward or delete a message. It’s a product of both efficiency and short attention span. In fact, by now you’ve probably already decided whether this blog post is worth your time.

From your standpoint, 2.7 seconds has two implications:

  1. Your prospect’s time, like life itself, is short. Skip the BS and get right to the point with your email.
  2. A hasty decision plays right into your selling wheelhouse.

2.7 seconds to decide if your email gets deleted.

If you’re like most people, chances are you start each morning by sifting through emails on your phone (possibly with coffee in hand), getting caught up on what you missed overnight. 2.7 seconds multiplied by the number of unread emails gives you that first hit of dopamine in the morning and a sense of accomplishment before you’ve even stepped foot in the office.

Creating your sales playbook (or just stealing ours – this is link to ebook) starts with recognizing cold emailing as your ally. Cold emails let you reach anyone, are easy to set up and cost you almost no time or money. They become even easier over time with templates and automation. When done correctly, this method identifies people who are truly interested in your value proposition.

Within 2.7 seconds, your email reader’s mind is likely made up. You’ll learn in short order whether you have a legitimate prospect or whether you should move on to the next opportunity. No maybes or beating around the bush. Now that’s time well spent.

Did you know cold emails can even trump warm referrals? Check out SellHack’s eBook to learn why cold emailing is the key to increasing your sales pipeline. Believe me, we’ll get right to the f#cking point.

Write Emails Than Don’t Suck

You were taught many valuable lessons in school. But the ability to craft incredibly effective emails wasn’t one of them. Some of the best cold emailers I know learned their craft out of necessity. You can’t always buy your way out of a problem, especially when it comes to growing your business. Whether it’s you vs. an incumbent or you vs. other sales reps in your company, know one thing…become an effective emailer and your odds of success will go up.

Since the art of cold emailing isn’t a course offered by any formal schools (at least that I know of) we’re forced to master this ever-important skill while on the job through trial-and-error. Yet, many sales emails prove to be too long and off point, leaving prospects to assume that’s what the salesperson-customer relationship will be like if they decide to engage in a follow-up or actually doing business with you.

Thankfully, SellHack is here to help. The following fundamentals of a sales email are battle-tested and ready to be put to use for contacting your prospects:

Good Cold Email Example


5 Tips You Can Implement Today To Increase Response Rate

  • Make your email less than 90 words: Don’t forget the 2.7-second rule — the length of time it takes for a recipient to decide the fate of an email. Brevity rules the day with sales emails. Address the prospect’s pain points, explain your value proposition and press send.
  • Use two-sentence paragraphs so your email can be scanned: While lengthy paragraphs are appropriate for some types of writing, keep email paragraphs concise. This helps ensure the content will actually be consumed rather than glossed over.
  • Never include more than one link or attachment: While a hyperlink and supporting attachment can serve a purpose, moderation is key. Don’t let your email’s content appear cluttered and distracting.
  • Write like you talk – skip the sales jargon: A conversational tone will put your recipient at ease. Don’t use jargon that could intimidate or confuse, and don’t talk down to your email audience.
  • Proofread before you send: Double check all prospect names and company names. This will save you from embarrassment and prevent you from emailing in vain.

Looking for more advice for improving your email writing skills? You’ve come to the right place.The remainder of SellHack’s cold email essential tips are available here in our eBook.

5 Tips You Can Implement Today To Increase Response Rate. Click To Tweet

Create a Pitch Worth Giving

A literal elevator pitch is crowded, uncomfortable and cluttered with noise…usually it’s you rambling about how great you are. In other words, it’s the polar opposite of your effective email pitch.  Don’t be that person. Get out of the elevator pith mentality.

You’ve committed to growing your business through email. So what happens next?

Admit it: We’ve all shot down numerous pitches in our day, pressing the delete button without hesitation. You’ve likely said “no” to someone personally within the last day or week. Just yesterday, I hit delete on what could possibly be one of the worst emails I ever received. I recovered it from my spam folder and redacted the sender’s information.

Deleted Email Example

Sending emails like this demonstrates three things to the reader:

1) You haven’t taken the time to learn how to write effective email copy.

2) You’re probably a spammer because the sheer volume of emails you have to send to get a response signals you’ve done no research or personalization.

3) Since the email lacks obvious attention to detail, how could I ever trust you or pay you to be responsible for a component of my business?

In order to succeed with your pitch — email or otherwise — you need a unique selling proposition that positions your company’s offering and benefits in a concise, understandable way.

It’s brainstorming time. Write down the No. 1 way you help customers, what problem you solve for them and what outcome you can help them achieve. Hone your valuation proposition such that it’s more specific to a particular prospect.

A spot-on pitch will evoke a perception of value from your email recipient, thereby eliciting a response and the start of what you hope is a productive sales process. It will address your prospect’s pain point while offering a call to action designed to kill the pain.

cold email funnel

The perfect pitch will leave your prospect thinking, “This might be the person who can help me with my problem. I should find out more.”

If your emails are written in a way that can elicit this single thought in your prospect’s mind, you’re on the right path…a digital route that steers clear of claustrophobic elevators.


Ask Yourself: “Would I Reply To This Cold Email?”

When I sit down to write a cold email campaign, I like to write emails that I would respond to. A key component to convey if you want to get me to reply is that ‘there’s no better time than right now.’ Maybe prices are going up significantly or the opportunity cost of my non-action is costing me more money than what I’d be paying for a product or service you offer.

When you prepare to craft your first-point-of-contact email to a prospect. Instill a sense of urgency.

It’s no secret that urgency makes people act. So what is it about the offering you’re going to make to your prospect that will make them act? It might be a temporary pricing discount, it might be the ability to work with you now will put them ahead of their competition, it might be the ability to get exclusivity with you. Whatever your offering is, figure out why your prospect can’t afford to buy it six months from now instead of now.

Your urgency should be matched by your persistence. How often do you intend to email or otherwise reach out to an unresponsive prospect before giving up? Most email marketers wave the white flag too soon, as research indicates many people don’t respond until the sixth time they’re contacted.

Even if your individual email response rate suffers due to persistent efforts, it’s worth it to ensure an eventual close. Response rates for each email in a campaign is a vanity metric. It may help you gauge whether the A/B variant is better, or if the email should be moved up or back in your campaign, but for the most part it means nothing.   Look at your response rate in aggregate. Meaning, evaluate the number of responses you received over the lifetime of the campaign compared to the number of prospects you contacted.   Most of us give up to early, expecting a prospect to reply after the first attempt. But, as more and more professionals adopt a cold emailing strategy, the bar is going to get raised if you want to be effective.


drip cadence email


If you made it this far, we have a special offer for you.  Get more traits of an effective sales pitch, as well as analysis of the various audiences you may encounter for pitching, read on within SellHack’s eBook.

sales prospecting ebook linkedin leads

7 Ways to Stay CAN-SPAM Compliant

For those of us who send unsolicited emails and wonder or have been accused of sending SPAM, here’s 7 ways to ensure your are NOT sending spam.

There are more details in a post I did on LinkedIn here:

tl;dr below

  1. Don’t use false or misleading contact info
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines
  3. If your email is an ad, then label it as such
  4. Tell the recipient your address
  5. Give recipients a way to opt out
  6. Honor opt outs
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

For more info, check out this PDF from the FTC.  Now, go find some emails and try this out!

– Ryan O’Donnell

8 Ways to Hack With SellHack

1. Hack Your Industry Conference

Ever go to a conference where they give you a list of attendees but no contact info? Or worse yet, did they give you a list of companies and people’s titles from the companies then try to sell you the contact info for more than you spent on the conference in the first place? If you have a list of attendees, you can upload the list here to automatically find all the valid email addresses.

2. Mine Twitter for Leads

Most people stick to LinkedIn for prospect list building, but our most creative customers are starting to use Twitter as a place to find fresh leads. You can search twitter and build a list of prospects by going here . Pro Tip: Have a conference or event coming up that you may or may not attend? You can search the #hashtag, build a list of people who are using the #hashtag and email them without ever having to set up a booth or scan badges.

3. Clean Up Your CRM

Ever caught yourself saying something like: “the data in our CRM is old”, “this phone number doesn’t work” “the company got acquired” or “I just called someone who’s been retired for a year.” CRM contact data decays somewhere in the vicinity of 2.8% to 5.5% per month. You can upload your CRM contact data to SellHack. We’ll automatically 1) find email addresses if they are missing for a contact and 2) verify all existing email addresses you have on file. 

4. Test a New Market

Have a hunch about a new market segment that would be perfect to sell in to but you don’t know where to get started? Go build a new prospect list in List Builder then write an email with a simple/low-commitment Call To Action while we automatically find all the email addresses. Then send individual emails or use a marketing automation tool like If you don’t hear back after your first email, keep following up with the prospect every few days.

5. (re)Segment Your Prospect List

Do all of your prospecting emails have the same value proposition or Call To Action? Think about the company where you work for a minute. Does the CEO have the same concerns or motivations as an Account Executive or even a VP of Marketing? Probably not. So why are you emailing the same thing to all of these people. Re-segment your prospect lists to get really granular on the target company and job title profile you are targeting. Figure out what scares each prospect group, create custom emails for each, and watch your response rate increase.

6. Automate Your Email Verification

If your business is expanding and it’s time to step increase the number of prospects or leads you produce on a weekly basis, it’s time to look at List Builder or our Batch Upload. Need more help? Send us a note if you want to learn more about our custom list building service. ps – we even help some clients write, send, optimize and track their emails.

7. Look For a New Job

Earlier in my career, my job search process looked like this. 1) Find a job posting that looked promising. 2) Search for the Executive or Manager in the group you’d be reporting in to. 3) Research the company, position, and come up with a creative solution to present. 4) Find the execs contact info, tease them into a meeting where you can present the work you’ve done and like a rockstar for taking the initiative. Don’t do what everyone else is doing unless you like being average.  So, if you are bored in your current job, you can use SellHack to find the email addresses for hiring managers.  Happy Hacking!

8. Never Pay For SellHack Again

There are SellHackers out there who pay us $0 a month and have over 500 free emails a month. Want more emails for free? Refer your colleagues today! 

My First 7 Days on LiveChat


First, LiveChat is a game changer!

At the suggestion of a friend Ryan Schmidt, we implemented LiveChat on July 17.  Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with 144 different people around the world.  Some customers, some prospective customers, some tire kickers and one troll.

What we’ve learned…

 – These are people on our website that are engaged and may not have otherwise sent an email with their comment or question.

– Our onboarding sucks and we didn’t realize how bad until we saw how many people were asking how it works and how to get started.

– Our name is polarizing.  Some people love it but it scares others.

– 50% of the questions are about pricing and we didn’t display a pricing link on page.  We’re going to run A/B tests for a few of the scenarios we have.

– 25 of these conversations led to direct signups and subscriptions.

– Managing these conversations take time and I don’t know if it will be sustainable for me to be the only one managing our queue.

– A lot of our traffic is stemming from articles written on us back in April.

– People aren’t patient when they start a chat and I’m not able to reply within a few seconds.  Managing expectations here with a queue is important.

My wishlist for LiveChat:

– I wish there was an easier way to share a file or screenshot.

– I wish there was a way to do country level targeting.

– I wish there was a way to initiate a voice call or screen share.

I can’t think of a single business that wouldn’t benefit from having LiveChat installed.



Growth Guy at SellHack

Asking For an Email Introduction


I get asked by lots of folks to make intros to others in my network.  With more connections to nurture than physically possible, I actually enjoy making intros.  Why?

  1. Introductions give me an opportunity to check in with a connection without sending a weak ‘just checking in’ email that wastes everyone’s time.
  2. Introductions give me a chance to position myself to either party as a benefactor.  Unquantified reciprocity is the new quid pro quo.
  3. Introductions are a way to demonstrate my understanding of a potential market/opportunity/problem for the recipient solved by something the requestor is bringing to the table.

On a daily basis, my inboxes fill up, and while I try to get back to every email within 24 hours, there are some that get parked for later.  Introductions can sometimes fall into this category especially when (respectfully):

  1. We haven’t talked in a while (or ever) and I can’t remember what it is you actually do.
  2. You don’t have any social capital built up with me and I don’t want to risk a losing social capital with the person you are requesting an intro to.
  3. I’m busy and don’t want to stop what I am doing to research you, your company, or try to remember how we actually met and what I thought of you or your company.
  4. Timing isn’t right.  For example: if you want an intro to an investor and I’m raising money from them, your ‘new and great’ opportunity could get in the way of mine.  Same is true for a biz dev deal where a partnering company only has bandwidth to engage with one or two new projects/startups in the next 3-6 months.
  5. This is the most selfish reason and one I wouldn’t suggest, but it can happen.  Did you ever ignore or refuse an introduction that I asked for?  Maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to see if there is anyone you are connected with that I could benefit from meeting.  

Depending on how well I know the person you are trying to meet, I may ask for permission to make the intro before actually making it.  Save me a step, when you ask for the intro, make it forwardable.

So, how do you actually compose the best forwardable email intro?  I’ve broken down the optimal structure (from my experience).

Subject Line: Intro Request: Jeff Lebowski

Intro or Introduction doesn’t really matter here, but I take into consideration the character length limitations for a mobile email client and usually go with Intro.  

First Line of Email:  Hi Ryan, I can’t believe it’s been two years since we sat across from each other at WeWork.  I hope you, Corrie and Jack are enjoying your new home in Cleveland.

Whether I want to admit it or not, the face that you remembered personal details about my family indicates that you a) know me well b) are thorough and detail oriented and/or c) interested enough in the intro to track down the information you think may sway my judgement or time to respond.  You can sweeten this intro with something like, “I have Cavs season tickets and I’d love for you to be my guest at the home opener.”

Next Line: MyCompanyName ( works with widget makers like Widget Express and Widget Emporium to automatically scan for defects.  We just did something great and our new product (http://linktonewproduct) is driving some tangible metric that will agitate or excite the intro recipient.

Play to the intro recipient’s interests or motivational points:

  • We work with Competitor A, Competitor B, & Competitor C.
  • We’ve helped a company in this space increase some metric by x% or better yet x dollars.
  • Some other tangible or vanity metric that is going to make your prospect look like a rock star for ‘discovering’ you or at least like a super connected and relevant person for someone to have brought him/her your introduction request.

I see on LinkedIn that you are connected to Jeff Lebowski, VP Operations at WidgetsRUs (http://linktosocialprofile).  Would you please connect us via email?

I like asking for an email intro because, in my experience, automated intros via other ‘social networks’ tend to get lost in the shuffle, ignored, or responded to much later than email.  When I get asked for intros, often they are to people I don’t know incredibly well or haven’t worked with in a while, and I may need to do a quick refresher on how I know that person. I like to include the link to the person’s network profile, so, if the person is like me and wants to do quick research, they have a link at their fingertips.


 Ryan O’Donnell                                                                

Growth at                                                                        

Rest of Contact Info

I prefer not using ‘Thanks in Advance’ as it’s an assumptive close and runs the risk of being negatively perceived.  Your personality can really be summed up in the words you choose in the sign off.  I don’t read a ton into it but some folks do.

Ultimately, know who you are reaching out to for an intro and who the end recipient is.  You are a person, not a robot.  People buy from and invest capital in people they know like and trust (capital comes in many forms – time, money, attention).  

The last intro I requested was blocked when the recipient declined an intro.  It happens and I have thick skin.  I also hack SellHack to get his email address, so there will be a politely persistent follow-up a few weeks from now to the gentlemen with a better approach and value proposition.  

*This post has no scientific basis other than my own personal experience.  Please share your tips, tricks, advice and hacks in the comments.


Ryan (& the SellHack Team)

Why We Built SellHack

SellHack started as an internal email finder tool for us to use when prospecting. As a sales professional, I know the value of a warm intro and the opportunity cost of a non-connect. A non-connect happens when you do nothing more but make note of a decision maker’s Social Profiles profile since you don’t have a credible mutual connection for an intro. Sure a cold Social Profile connection request could work, but what happens after you get the notification that Mr. or Mrs. prospect just accepted your request? Do you send them a message through Social Profiles? What happens if they don’t respond? How do you know if they even received the message or if it’s lost in the cluttered Social Profilesinbox? Even worse, what if your request is ignored? Either way, your leverage is gone.

There is a ton of information, a burgeoning conference scene, and many tools in the Biz Dev playbook that help with moving a prospect through the funnel, but getting to the person’s inbox is a challenge. Social Profiles specifically does not opine the email address of their members unless you are connected. Even then, my network profile observations suggest that a lot of emails listed are actually the member’s personal email address they used when registering for Social Profiles.

SellHack is an browser extension (Chrome for now) that uses magic and JavaScript to render a ‘HackIn’ button on a Social Profile’s member’s profile page next to the Connections, Message or InMail buttons below the profile picture (depending on your relationship to that person). The magic happens when you click the ‘HackIn’ button. You’ll notice the page slides down and our system starts checking publicly available data sources to return a confirmation of the person’s email address or our best guesses. I love getting an email verification, but even when we can’t verify the email address, SellHack still saves me a ton of time. I don’t have to manually create the different permutations of what the person’s email address could be (ryan@, ryano@, rodonnell@ etc). There is always an option to copy our best guesses to your clipboard where you are free to check these against Rapportive or send your intro email to the addresses we provide as BCC.

This is a beta version and best yet, it’s FREE. We’d love your feedback on how to make SellHack a more productive tool. Tweet us @sellhack or send a note to

Think this is cool?  Add SellHack to Social Profiles here.


– The SellHack Crew