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Hey Growth Hackers, I'm Chris Marin, the founder and CEO of Convertist, which runs outbound lead generation sequences for YC companies to enterprises like Microsoft and Adecco.

I also assist these companies with hands-on training, which runs at a price tag of $30,000 or more. For the first time, I agreed to open up about some of his lead generation tactics to everyone with a new course on GrowthHackers. Prior to starting Convertist, I was the Head of Growth for JobHive and OrderWithMe, companies that raised $2.5m and $40m, respectfully. Feel free to ask me anything about: 

  • Email copywriting
  • Call scripting
  • B2B lead generation
  • B2B Sales
  • Acquiring your first 100 customers
  • Any other burning questions you might have!

Excited to chat, make sure to connect with me on LinkedIn as well to keep in touch. 

🎓 New Growth University Course: For the first time, Chris agreed to open up about some of his lead generation tactics to everyone with a new course on GrowthHackers: Generate B2B leads with winning outbound sequences.

 

  • AC

    Anton Cherkasov

    about 1 month ago #

    What's the best strategy to get first customers to B2B SaaS startup? Focus on outbound or inbound? How would you like to promote team management software for small and medium startups with 10-100 people?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      I have yet to see a startup focus TOO MUCH on their ideal customer profile. Get very very (very) specific on your buyer persona and really build your marketing to speak directly to them.

      Most founders will try to appeal to everyone, and in the end they end up looking like everyone else and burning through their first chance to make a good first impression and market a solution that anyone could use.

      I'd use outbound at first to approach people. If you're super early stage and you're a founder, you can even be vulnerable about it. Cold email people as the founder with something like ("admittedly I'm just getting started on this projects - given your background in {title summarized} would value your insight on whether we're solving the problem of {problem being solved").

      I acquired our first few customers this way 6 years ago, since I wasn't hyper connected and didn't have a network. If you do have a network, do that instead. Then do outbound. Then do inbound by writing content and amplifying it.

      My 2c

      2 Share
  • AC

    Alexandre Contador

    18 days ago #

    What was for you the moment you saw that your project would be successful in revenue growth?

    3 Share
    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      When my immigrant parents finally stopped bugging me about getting a salaried job. :)

      In all seriousness, I extrapolated the little data that I had to know I was sitting on a sustainable business. The simple math was I had X sales calls, closed Y%, and knew my market was Z0,000 companies.

      That gave me the confidence to take the plunge.

      4 Share
  • TD

    Tyler Durman

    18 days ago #

    Hey Chris, what are the most effective ways you've seen growth marketing partner with outbound SDR teams? We're talking about ABM and have an ICP, but do you recommend any tactics or methods that marketing can help with to help SDRs yield more meetings booked? Currently, have thought of retargeting against their outbound list and emailing opted-in folks on their outbound lists, but that's about it.

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      
Yes: add value. Sounds trite but it works.

      You're probably familiar with the light version of what everyone else does in their prospecting: offer cases studies and ask for 10-15 mins to hop on a call (translation: get hard sold by a quota-carrying sales representative).

      That does work and it works fast, but if you want the most leads and you are OK with a week or two of extra lead time to get to the appointment, you can actually offer up substantive value that they would otherwise pay for to get a reply. This establishes a degree of trust, rapport, and expertise (not to mention it signals a general willingness on behalf of the company to help out).

      One step above that are industry reports and white papers. A step above that may be a trial for unlimited use of the software for the whole team. I have a list of these in our course that might help as well. 



      And yes, retargeting your list using custom audiences (or a pixel on your site) works great especially if you are running ABM campaigns and have a finite, narrow base of potential customers to sell into.

      3 Share
  • JG

    James Gibson

    18 days ago #

    Hey Chris, a lot of people are talking about dips in the effectiveness of cold email inside of the US (non-GDPR applicable). Have you seen similar results and have you been able to discover any reasons behind it and/or ways to combat it?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      It's no secret that you have to be more resourceful than ever before to make cold emailing work. Outlook, GMail, and other Email Service Providers are getting more aggressive by the day, sending emails to spam, promo, updates, etc. Even $B companies like Brex and Canva are struggling to get their email to the main inbox.

      Beyond that, even if you can get to the main inbox... Your prospects also get no shortage of emails. You can write like Vonnegut and still struggle.

      How do you hedge? Pick up the phone, message on social channels. Email definitely still works for all our clients, but no company should use it as their single channel to grow; there's too much platform risk. You're at the mercy of Google and Microsoft. Unless the SEC determines that you can't cold call business prospect (unlikely), picking up the phone will continue to work well.

      That said, there are a few best practices for cold email:
      -Warm up your account. Sign up for newsletters, reply to them.
      -Have a group of a friends on the ready to reply to emails, move them out of spam, mark as important, and grow the group over time.
      -Verify your email list before sending out any emails to reduce bounces
      -Monitor your deliverability to make sure your emails are getting sent to the primary inbox
      -Personalize emails and rewrite your campaigns regularly
      -Pick up the phone :)

      For more: https://convertist.com/the-definitive-guide-to-email-deliverability-in-2020/

      3 Share
  • GF

    Gustavo Fonseca

    17 days ago #

    Hi Chris, I have a Tea company (evah.com.br) in Brazil. We produce 100% natural tea and we sell our product to natural food stores, crossfits and coffeshops. Whats is the best way for me to generate B2B leads for us? Thank you!

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      This isn't really my lane but I'll try to help. I'd go outbound: find the stores and distributors on all the lists you can find (directories, social media channels, scrape yelp, etc. etc.) Then message them, offering to send a sample or initial batch for them to put on the shelves to see if they'll move. I would find others who've done it and ask for their insight here — there's a known playbook here and there's no need to reinvent the wheel with these type of branding plays.

  • AA

    alezozov alezozov

    17 days ago #

    What is you advice on building marketpalce of publishers/advertisers.
    How to reach them and onboard without ads. Should be short video messages be attached to emails or just plain text? Who to onboard them the best way you would do? What funnel you whould use? Also there is no case study yet + no users to prove smth.

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      If you're building a marketplace, use hacks to get an initial base of people on one side, and then use that to get people on the other side.

      One example of a company we worked with was a Yelp for hiking reviews. What they did was incentivize hikers to make free accounts and leave reviews of hiking trails where for each review, they'd get a ticket to a type of raffle to get selected for a bunch of free gear. Once they had, say 50,000 reviews, then they were able to cold sponsors on the other side (the side of the marketplace that had the most demand and really paid the bills).

      The messaging wrote itself: "we have a marketplace of hikers and amassed 50,000 reviews on our network. Would you like to buy ad space to showcase your outdoor gear in front of them?"

      Hopefully that helps. Be long term oriented, marketplaces are notoriously difficult to build but hard to replicate but that barrier to entry is an advantage once you get traction. Check my other replies here on how to get customers without any case studies or testimonials. Stick with it!

  • JY

    Jibran Yousuf

    20 days ago #

    A B2B company is getting 50 leads per from its landing page. They hire someone for CRO. However, they are a bit concerned that A/B Tests with 50% traffic on Control & Variant might negatively affect the number of leads; how can the CRO Specialist handle this situation?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Make both tests really, really good (said in a Derek Zoolander voice). Kidding aside —

      If you want to be super careful, and are OK waiting, you can send a small small subset of uniques to the B test but it will take longer to conclude a winner. Make sure to get the ~50 conversions per test to determine a winner (and of course make sure the results are statistically significant with a p<.05 or less).

      You don't have to split traffic 50-50. You can distribute them 90-10 if you'd like but it'll take weeks longer to iterate on your site. If you aren't trying to test something new each month, that can be a good way to keep the leads flowing while running new experiments.

  • PS

    Peter Solway

    18 days ago #

    What shifts/changes need to be in place to double you average deal size?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      One of my favorite topics. I started at a $3k/mo deal size, doubled it, doubled it again, and then doubled it once more. The way to do it is get success with other startups willing to take a shot on you, get great testimonials and case studies and happy customers you can refer new leads to, and then leverage that to win the next account and move upmarket.

      Some of it is luck, a lot of it is grit and perseverance. Not everyone is wired to punch above their weight class and take the no's in stride. It took a couple years and many attempts to break into the Fortune 500 before I finally got it done.

      The good news is once you've gotten your foot in the door, you derisk the investment for other Fortune companies to sign on. It gets easier.

      Then, you can rinse and repeat - leveraging one F500 case into the next.

      1 Share
  • AB

    Aristide Basque

    18 days ago #

    How would you write an initial cold email script for an outreach of a digital marketing agency to a client in an industry where we have a case study?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      I would highlight how you focus on their Ideal Customer Profile precisely. You want them to know that they are squarely in the bullseye for the type of customers you help. You can use your case as social proof to back up your point.

      Additionally, add value that goes over and beyond the types of messages everyone gets (see my other answer where I highlight a few ways you can do this). I expand on this in the course as well, with a hierarchy of value add you can bake into your messaging, from least to most impactful.

      1 Share
  • BT

    Brad Thompson

    17 days ago #

    What are a few good software/technologies for mapping out and architecting sales sequences?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      I'd lean heavily on g2 crowd and free trials to experiment and see what works for you. Depending on your CRM and market (and the channels they're receptive to) my answers would vary a lot here.

      We routinely test new tools all the time so I don't want to suggest a tool that in 2 months we up swap out for something better.

      If you want the list building + messaging + outbound done for you — well, I can think of a vendor that can help :)

  • FM

    Filip Matekovic

    17 days ago #

    Does the mass outbound email works? Like 200 emails daily?

    How many touches in enough in cadence?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Yes, it works -- if done right. Speak to the customer's pain point, show that your company's primary focus is on their industry and size of company, and use messaging that rises above the noise of others with value add. We typically do 12+ touches between 2-3 channels, email included. It used to be 3-4 touches years back, but the landscape's changed where companies are doing as many as 15+ touchpoints to start a conversation.

      1 Share
  • OC

    Olivia Chua

    17 days ago #

    What's your process for grading the leads you generated from a list building tool (e.g. prospect.io, leadfeeder, etc.)? How do you ensure the leads you got are leads that meet your Ideal Customer Profile?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Sounds like you're using the LinkedIn search filter, which even for paid accounts, is hilariously off base sometimes.

      You have to check each lead and make sure the titles are aligned, the emails are deliverable, and check the company industries/headcount to make sure they're not off base.

      You can do this manually but there are also lead enrichment API's out there that can do this for you.

      All that said... There are better tools out there to prospect for about the same monthly cost as Prospect and LF... but those are secret tricks :)

      Check out my GrowthHackers course at https://university.growthhackers.com/p/outbound for more!

  • NH

    Nash H

    13 days ago #

    Here's a really simple, but open ended question for you, Chris -- what is your most successful (but also scalable) outbound play/sequence for generating attended meetings?

  • AK

    Akshat Kharbanda

    13 days ago #

    Is cold email/LinkedIn enough or do we need cold calls too?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      All the above, but if I had to pick a channel it would be the phone. Everyone sends automated emails now, and they still work, but few have the courage (and grit... and quick wit) to start calling. The average executive gets dozens of cold emails, but nowhere near as many calls.

      Most our leads these days are generated over the phones, but email can and does work and we plan to continue doing it for a long time to come as well. Hope that helps.

  • DD

    dodo_work dodo_work

    13 days ago #

    Hi Chris, appreciate you doing this :).

    A lot of questions have been asked already, so I hope I'm not repeating one of them. Here it goes:

    What's your take on starting to sell to small/big companies before you even have a product (or while working on it), sort of as a way to verify the market but also to get the first clients for when you actually have the product?

    And in such a case, would you present them with the product as if it was already live and ready to use? Or would this depend on the type of a client?

    Thanks!
    Anna

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Until you can plug brands that were successful with your company you'll have to lean on your background and highlight that.

      The goal is to go from "i'm working on something new that helps with {XYZ} problem" --> "we're helping companies like LOGO1 and LOGO2 with {XYZ}."

      I sold my first customer before I had a domain name, let alone a website. It can be done. Treat the sales calls as more an experiment than a hard sales exercise, ask about pains, alternatives they've tried, and at the end formulate an offering that you think would help and ask if they'd want to pilot it out. Keep doing that, pivoting your market, product, and ask — until you get your first customers.

  • CM

    Chris Marin

    11 days ago #

    Hey everyone, signing off. Had a blast answering everyone's questions and I hope you all got some value out of this AMA.

    If you've got any other questions, or want to follow along in my journey, I'm on LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/in/chmarin and post fairly often.

    Also, if you're really looking to scale a lead generation system — I partnered up with GrowthHackers by creating a program to walk you through each step:

    https://university.growthhackers.com/p/outbound

    (it's backed up by a personal guarantee, there's no risk to go through the program.)

    Here's to your growth — I'm rooting for all of you to thrive in whatever you're building.

    Chris

  • YK

    Yaseen Khan

    15 days ago #

    Hey Chris, thanks for doing this! Do you think it's worth the time to implement automated A/B testing on a website using a tool like autooptimize.ai?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      If you have traffic that's in the tens of thousands of uniques per month, yes. A lot of companies do it once they're in the thousands of uniques a month. If you're below that, focus on driving traffic to the site first and finding ways to do that. Make sure you get roughly ~50 conversions for both the A and the B test before you conclude a winner though. A lot of companies conclude a win too early and make conclusions based on noisy data.

      1 Share
  • AS

    Alexandru Stoica

    11 days ago #

    Hello, Chris

    I manage a small team of developers and we want to switch from service to product (SaaS). We have knowledge in martech, but right now it s hard to see any opportunities and that table with 8k players looks scary. What opportunities do you see in martech for SMBs right now from your pov?
    Cheers :)

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Yeah that chart will only keep growing.

      The most obvious answer: build a solution that's distinctly different from others in the space... but also use messaging that distinctly different (maybe you can reframe the problem you sold)...

      OR target an audience that the other players aren't speaking to... Maybe you can dial in on the types of customers you specialize in helping — so when you're evaluated side by side with alternative solutions, you become the obvious choice.

      Do a blend of these things. Don't hard sell when starting out with your SaaS. Run customer discovery and customer development first to make sure you're not wasting your time, before you touch a piece of code. Check out Ash Maurya's "Running Lean" on how to conduct those initial customer interviews and ask the right questions to make sure you're building the right solution.

      I'll end with the classic trope that bears repeating all the time for good reason: fall in love with the problem, not the solution. But (this is my twist) also get very clear on who you're selling to, and make it easy for them to tell that you're purpose-built for their use case specifically :)

      BTW, If you're planning to bootstrap or only raise a few M, don't be too worried about the 8k players. Most martech companies still compete against excel, manual processes, and general inaction.

  • SW

    Steven Waidelich

    11 days ago #

    What actionable metrics should founders use to measure problem-solution fit?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Renewals. Until you get to $1m annual revenue, offer monthly terms and measure your renewal rate closely. If churn's too high, you probably aren't sitting on Product Market Fit.

      If you know your customer churn's below 10% yearly, your average deal is $X0,000+, your closing ratio is >10%, and you have a market of Y0,000+ potential people to sell to... That's not PM Fit, that is a superpower.

  • KC

    Karthik C

    11 days ago #

    How do you translate content (top of the funnel - awareness) marketing into lead gen (bottom of the funnel)?

    • CM

      Chris Marin

      11 days ago #

      Capture their info and then prospect them just like any other list but with more relevant messaging. Build sequences to contact your inbounds. Assuming you're doing B2B deals at $10k+ Lifetime Value, call them and qualify for if they feel the same pain points your most successful customers felt. Find a good way to summarize your solution in 2-3 sentences if they do have said pain. If they're interested - move them through the rest of your funnel and don't lose momentum.

  • TG

    Théo Guillaumin

    5 days ago #

    What are your best practices for cold emailing copywriting? Just following paths such as AIDA, or can you share some nice to have tips?

  • SI

    shaik ibrahim

    4 days ago #

    Hello Chris! I am a fresher working at an IT startup providing services in Web development, we are getting lead from Google ads but we fail to convert that lead as we are a new company and we have fewer projects in our portfolio, any solution? and thank you

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