Episodes

Ryan O’Donnell

Ryan O'Donnell

Ryan is the founder of SellHack, a very clever tool that I think a lot of startups will love. In this episode Ryan and I dig into cold email, B2B sales, biz dev, and a bunch more. Go check it out.

TOPIC RYAN COVERS

  • Sell Hack E-Comm is a tool for finding anyone’s email address
  • The tool is a browser extension and web application, that returns valid email address with a person’s first, and last name and company
  • Created to save time and simplify the process of finding email addresses for sales and prospecting
  • Allows finding email addresses easily while prospecting on social media platforms
  • Sell Hack is a tool that helps people find anyone’s email address
  • Created to save time and make the process of finding email addresses more efficient for sales and prospecting
  • Ran into trouble with LinkedIn when the tool was first launched, but made it compliant and introduced a pricing model due to high demand
  • The tool was not built to be offensive, but LinkedIn took offense to its usage
  • Email is considered a highly efficient communication medium
  • And a whole lot more

LINKS & RESOURCES

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

READ THE TRANSCRIPTION

Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Ryan O’Donnell with us. Ryan, thanks for coming on the program.

Ryan: Thanks, Bronson. Really happy to be here.

Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. So, Ryan, you are the founder of Sell Hack E-Comm. And with a name like that, it has to be super interesting. Sell Hack AECOM. That’s SC, L.L. Hack AECOM. And I absolutely love this tool. I think it’s a really clever tool we’ve built, and I think a lot of the people watching this will end up in your world somehow when when they realize what you can do for them and how much value you can bring to their email and to their sales and all those kind of things. But I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit. So first, tell us what is Sell Hack?

Ryan: Sell Hack is a tool that helps people find anyone’s email address. So we built a we built a browser extension. We’ve got a web application. You give us a first name, a last name, and a company for a person will return you a valid email address.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, like you said, it’s an extension, so it lives right there kind of in the browser.

Ryan: Exactly. Exactly. We got started with this. You know, I’ve been doing sales for a while, have been running a couple of different startups, wasted a lot of time, wasted a lot of time selling to other companies, try and find email addresses, you know, putting them in an Excel worksheet and then sending, you know, back bombs to people and managing, you know, all the bounce back emails that came in. So we wanted to build something that was just, you know, right in front of the that our end user, while they’re either prospecting on Twitter, on Facebook or on LinkedIn, for example, so that when they find someone they want, they can get an email address and shoot an email off to that prospect right away.

Bronson: Yeah. So the old process would be you find somebody online that you want to reach out to. They don’t have a public email, so you have to dig around. You’re doing searches for them. You’re trying to find if they posted it in some random place online, you’re just spending minutes, if not longer, digging around trying to find that email address. Right?

Ryan: Right. Tick tock. You know, the clock’s running. You’re wasting time. The beauty about email, you know, compared to really any other channel is that, you know, look, in the offline world, if you’re selling, you know, if you’re selling knives or, you know, coupons door to door candy bars, as a kid, you can’t knock on as many doors as I can send emails. You can’t make as many cold calls as I can send emails. So we have this this super efficient communication medium. And, you know, in the past, there just wasn’t in an efficient way to find the email address. And so you can be super efficient with it. So that was really the genesis of why we started this.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. Now, if I remember correctly, you actually ran into a little bit of trouble with LinkedIn and maybe it troubles the wrong word, but you got on their radar somehow. Yeah. Tell me about that a little bit. You know, it’s always interesting when somebody bumps into the big dogs and they don’t like it.

Ryan: Yeah. You know, one one part of me says, you know, the advice I would give to other entrepreneurs starting off with the new business is do something that might agitate a more established player out there in the space, get their attention, but go only as far as you feel comfortable so that you won’t be sued. This is one way of looking at it.

Bronson: That’s good advice.

Ryan: We didn’t take that approach. So hindsight, 2020, you know, Slack was built. Slack was built for my last startup because I was selling, you know, companies called Social Grand. We had a video platform we were selling to online retailers primarily. So I would I would be scouring the Web and LinkedIn looking for a VP of marketing, looking for eCommerce director, so on and so forth. I’d build my prospect list, then I’d have to go out if I couldn’t find an introduction and actually cold email the person. And so, you know, my, my business partner, I, we were reviewing our sales process, you know, just in hindsight for the past year. We like to get retrospective before we start planning, you know, the future. And one bottleneck that I had, you know, that I listed was I spend so much time I waste so much time either trying to use a supportive or, you know, an offline trying to search for the email address that it just wasn’t it wasn’t efficient. So he actually built and prototyped the first version of Slack that was back in, you know, probably first quarter of 2014. We shared it with a few friends. So before before LinkedIn, there was, you know, maybe had 20, 50 people using it. And there were a few friends who we just wanted to help out. A Yahoo! Tech blogger picked us up from Product Hunt, actually, and did the piece, contacted LinkedIn. LinkedIn took offense to what we were doing. We didn’t build it to be offensive. We didn’t know what that what we were doing was wrong and it was free. And you know, before we knew it, we had 15,000 people signing up for it in the course of like 24 hours. And, you know, they sent us a cease and desist. We complied with that within 24 hours. And then we said, you know, while there there might actually be something here, so spent the next week or so making it compliant. And then we introduced a pricing model. We just had too much demand to continue to give it away for free. So that was our our I guess called accidental launch.

Bronson: Yeah. Almost accidental hack in a way that has all the right ingredients. You got somebody mad at you, you got to cease and desist. You got some buzz because now is the tool that you’re not supposed to have access to. You got to see how much people liked it by the initial signups. So you knew there was kind of something there to kind of push you forward with it. It’s kind of a perfect storm for a founder just to move to the next level and really make a company of this thing. So I love that story. That’s awesome. But it actually works with more than LinkedIn, though, right? Because like you said, all you got to do is type in the first name, their last name and their company domain. And your software kind of does the magic of spitting back the email address.

Ryan: Exactly. And, you know, I’ll throw out there we I love LinkedIn. I use it every day. It’s a great service. I think as a as a, you know, salesperson and marketer and and, you know, growth person. You know, LinkedIn is just it’s it’s a stalwart it’s an invaluable resource. Right. So we never meant to do anything so egregious as to as to, you know, get shut off or have legal action taken against us. But, you know, we built a tool that that solved the problem for us and and created, you know, efficiencies that, you know, other folks shared as well. I think that was really a big a big catalyst, at least, you know, I wouldn’t call it early success, but at least an indication that, hey, what we’re working on is a is a problem that some folks have. Now, we didn’t we call it cell hack. You’d be surprised that that a good percentage of our customers are actually recruiters. So it’s not a recruiter hack. In the beginning, we were so tied into LinkedIn that it was just a Linton tool, very myopic vision of of what it was going to be. Now it works. It works in any site. We’re not tied to any site in particular. So we’ve got folks who are searching, you know, like I said earlier, they prospect we prospect everywhere. I prospect on Facebook. I use I used, you know, Facebook search to to look for, you know, people who work at XYZ company, who live in whatever and have the title VP, Twitter, GitHub. You know, it really does not matter where your prospects are. You know, we find valid business email addresses.

Bronson: That’s awesome. I mean, so let’s talk about kind of cold emailing in general, right? So now you’ve built a tool that gets us the email address, which is half the battle, and we used to be a very inefficient half of the battle. Right. But now you’ve kind of made that with less friction. So now let’s talk about cold email itself. Does cold email actually work? You have this address. I don’t know. You yell them. It works.

Ryan: Cold emails work.

Bronson: Well, walk me through that. How does cold email or who I am? Anything I do something I want them to.

Ryan: So so for the goal of any cold emails to get a response. Right, I’m not trying. When I send a cold email, I’m not trying to get someone to pull their credit card out and make a purchase. You know, can spam is something that that we’re very cognizant of and we make sure that that we comply with both, as, you know, providers of email addresses, but also as a company who sends a fair amount of cold email out, cold email, just flat out skills like no other communication medium does. You know, I was a stockbroker for a year when I first moved to New York. We were actually opening an accounts on on banks. We were selling. You know, we were we were making hundreds of calls a day, connecting with 50 people, getting five leads, and then trying to close one account. Right. So, you know, folks have been cold calling for years. You pick the phone up and you try to get someone to buy stock from you while you’re there on the phone. I’m not we’re not we’re not proposing that that you try to sell them anything. We just want to get a response. We want someone to either say, don’t contact me again, which is great because now I won’t have to waste my time there. Or we want them to say, yeah, this is this is a problem I have. And, you know, you either talk to me or here’s someone else on my team that you should speak with. And and I can send out 100 or 1000 emails, you know, ten or 100 times faster than I can make those same hundred or 1000 phone calls.

Bronson: Yeah. No, I love what you said. It just scales better than anything else. When does cold email work the best? When you’re doing some business stuff, when you’re trying to eventually get to a sale. Something else. What is kind of sweet? Sweet spot for the use cases here for a cold email, in your opinion?

Ryan: Yep. A couple of use cases that that our customers have. We’ve got recruiters who use it to find email addresses for for candidates that they want to put in front of their companies or their their clients. We have, you know, sales and business professionals who, you know, you know, whether it’s it’s a sales development rep or a business development rep, which is, you know, really been starting to, you know, that position’s really started to. To get to scale within a traditional sales organization where they’re actually doing the prospecting and then handing a lead over to Y to a closer someone who’s actually going to demo and close. Now we’ve got folks who are looking, you know, looking for jobs and trying to contact a hiring manager. I use it personally. I have a goal of of every week. I have a list of influencers that I keep every every week. I reach out to at least one influencer on that list and I try to engage in some conversation. Right. So I use it personally for that. I use it, you know, we use it for our own sales. So so email is just, you know, if you’re not sleazy about it and you’re very upfront with what your what your the offer you’re bringing to the table, which is just here’s other people like you who have a problem. Here’s a solution that we provide. Here’s what we’ve done for folks like you or for your competitors. Who’s the best person in the organization for me to speak with? Right. I practice Bard, the acronym Bard FARC.

Bronson: Break it down for us.

Ryan: Right forward. Archived Reply or sorry? Forward. Archived Reply Delete. Right. So it’s basically any email that comes in and I was trained at this back at Yahoo! Not formally trained by them, but we got so many emails coming in and when you have a more hierarchical organization, you want to get the emails off of your plate, right? And typically when you’re sending an email out to an executive, they are going to, you know, if your ask is too much, if you’re trying to get an executive to commit to a 30 minute meeting or, you know, an hour long coffee or something like that, that’s a big ask to to come out with right away. But if you’re just asking them, you know, you’re giving them permission to get an email off of their plate by saying, if you’re not the best person who and your best person is and they can do what a good executive does, and that’s delegate really well so they can get back to doing what they do. You give them permission to delegate, and there’s nothing more powerful to get to a decision maker than getting a referral from their boss or their bosses boss and going in and saying, you know, Jim or Jane, you know, suggested that that I reach out to you to talk about this. How does your calendar look next week? Yeah, right. It just it opens so many doors.

Bronson: Well, yeah. Just knowing from the inside how they’re reviewing their email allows you to craft it in a way that it gives them permission to do what they want to do anyway. And then you get that interesting stuff. So that’s the forward. What’s the archive and reply to lead? What’s the idea there?

Ryan: Right. So it’s just that those are those are the primary actions we take with any email. Right. And it’s interesting, you know, 92% of emails sent have a response within within the first day. If they don’t get a response within the first day, you know, if there’s not a response, it’s probably not going to be opened, reply, deleted, forwarded or anything like that. So, so when you’re constructing your cold email campaigns, really, really important to have that series of emails which is going to continue to reach out to that person without being you know, it’s a borderline of being persistent and being, you know, pesky or, you know, just being annoying, basically. But it’s really, really important to have in place that system. If you don’t get a reply, that’s going to continue that to try to engage with that person. And again, keep your ask, you know, manageable. Yeah. So that’s we’re big believers in that. And I think I’ll dovetail that point in saying, you know, I’m not painting broad strokes here saying this is going to work for everyone. You know, we find that the biggest success happens for a B2B company, someone who’s selling a product or service to another company who can use it. You know, if you have a consumer app, you know, called email out to a bunch of people like that’s that that could technically be spam if you’re selling, you know, sub sandwiches or if you have an ice cream shop, put someone out on a street corner, buy some ads. Right. It’s just like cold email is best for B to be in. The sweet spot has been, you know, software as a service.

Bronson: Yeah. Yeah, that’s great advice right there. The first email you send, should it be really short and just get them to give you the response or something easy or do you want to give. Then more information and let them make an informed decision. What does that first email look like with cold email? Because it is cold. It’s not like a friend. You don’t know them. You don’t have history. You don’t have a, you know, communication style with them, already wants a safe place. What do you do for that first email?

Ryan: Right. Right. So so before we even get to that, that first email, you know, there’s a couple steps before that that are that are really important to sort out. You know, first you got to figure out who your personas are, right? Who are the people who actually are going to be either the decision maker, the decision makers boss, or your end your end user, your primary customer. So going through this persona exercise or figuring out who these people are is is incredibly important. Once you go through that exercise, actually segmenting that out even more is even more critical. So when we’re prospecting and building our own lists internally, I’ll give an anecdote this this fall. Right. I was you know, I was doing a campaign for us and I was specifically looking for for prospects who went to colleges in the SCC. Okay. Right. And and I took one step further and I filtered those folks into different schools. Then in my mail merge, I had a custom variable field that I put something in. So if they were if they went to Clemson or if they went to Alabama.

Bronson: My first go or whatever.

Ryan: Yeah. My, my, my first note in there. And, you know, we like to think about it. You know, it’s it’s, you know, we want to make an email that can be digested, no pun intended, while someone sitting on the toilet in the morning. Right. Like something that simple as they’re going through their emails. What’s a subject line that’s going to get them to open, which is incredibly important. And then what’s that first hook? Right. So we might have a subject line like quick question or what a game and my, my, my, my first sentence might be, you know, how about that? You know, how about that Hail Mary at the end of the game?

Bronson: That’s a great email right there.

Ryan: You know, Tigers look great and then kind of and then kind of go into it into into my my my pitch and and my pitch is not like, here’s a stuff. Come and buy it. It’s you know, we’ve been working with companies like X, Y or Z to help them, you know, increase their time to closer their prospecting rate. And the X, Y and Z companies, those are those are ideally competitors of theirs that we actually work with. But there’s there’s a lot that goes into the construction of of an email, but really starting off and really, you know, getting deep into what the personas are and who these people actually are. So you can send a highly targeted, highly personal email. This is the first place to start.

Bronson: And then it really helps inform what the email needs to look like because every persona is different, but some personas and the less information, some, the more just it’s really going to inform the whole entire process. If you know who it is, you’re trying to reach it.

Ryan: Exactly. And you want to make that email so easily digestible. Couple of things. No pictures, images. Get, get, get. It’s interesting. A lot of folks don’t understand how email systems actually work. Right. There’s first, you know, before you can have the best crafted email possible. But if you’re not even getting through to the inbox, it’s a waste. Right. So so a lot of things go into play before you even actually send your email. You need to have your your dkim, you know, and SPF records together. Right.

Bronson: We’ll break that down. What does that mean? Yeah.

Ryan: So, so so Gmail fortunately automates parts of this, but it’s basically a verification that an email server uses so that it verifies that you are the person you claim. You are sending an email on behalf of the company domain that you claim to be from. Right. So it’s just one of those things that that a spam filter checks for spam filters, check for images and stuff in the, you know, stuff in the headers. I’m not going to throw MailChimp under the bus because I think they’re awesome. But one of the challenges a lot of startups have is, is they use not just startups, but, you know, companies who might not require more expensive plans. With some of these mail providers, MailChimp puts it at the bottom of all their email, all their emails on their free plan, you know, a little image of of MailChimp and a link. Right. So it’s basically it’s not white label for you. It still has their marketing in it. The problem with that is that that information goes into the headers of the email, right? As soon as you start having information in the headers of the email, that’s another spam check. Right? And all these different things have a point system associated to them. And all the ISP’s and all the mail servers are different. Right. But as soon as you cross that threshold of having a certain number of points tied to a specific email, not saying the person’s first name will get a point value assigned to your email. So it’s really important to use a mail merge that says, Hi Bronson, you know, and then kind of go into it. If you don’t follow the deliverability rules, the best email message won’t even get read. Right? So it’s important to kind of, you know, as you’re starting to build your foundation, it’s figuring out, you know, is this message can actually get through. I like clean text messages. There’s three sentences is kind of a movement out there as is four sentences and five sentences and is actually a website. But but you can put it in your in the footer of your email. And it’s basically a pledge like I’m committing to only write three sentences because I know we all get too many emails as it is. I want to make it really easy for you, but there’s there’s a lot of different things that go into it. But I think making sure that that, you know, what goes into getting your email delivered is table stakes before you start to worry about, you know, what’s my message and how many people is this getting to?

Bronson: Yeah, that’s great advice right there. I hope everybody’s listening as you go into that because that’s awesome. You know, when I think about Slack, it seems like such a guerilla tool, you know, it just seems like when you find it, you’re like, wow, stuff like this really does exist in the world. And yet most business people don’t know about these kind of tools, don’t talk about these kind of tools. Is there any other tools that kind of fit in that category? And I’m asking you, just because, you know, you’re the founder of this guerilla tool. Is there any other tool out there where it’s like, man, if people knew that existed, they’d love it?

Ryan: Yeah, more so I think I have. I looked at this yesterday when I was doing it. I was doing a talk locally for some aspiring entrepreneurs about about sales last night. And I actually took them through. I try to be as organized as possible, so I took them through. You know, I’ve got a big Google spreadsheet built out. I’ve got one for sales, one for growth, one for content. And that’s just kind of where I manage all the madness at one of my tabs. There are tools, right? And it’s tools that we actually use or it’s stuff that I stumble across. And there’s there’s well over 150 tools that I have in there that, you know, you can’t use 150 tools at scale and and and try to do things effectively. But there’s there’s I have not found a I have not found a use case where there hasn’t been a tool for it. The biggest challenge is trying to remember the right tool at the right time. A couple a couple that we use. Yes. Where as a tool that we use all the time. I love sending, you know, you know, emails through. Yes. Where Google is our so Google apps for businesses, what we use is our email server. There’s a there’s a Gmail script called the no reply script that that you can download from GitHub. We can link people to this afterwards in the comments or whatever. But it basically any email that you send that does not get a reply. This is this is not cold emails. It’s just say an email that you send to someone you’ve interacted with that doesn’t get a reply. After seven days, the script will automatically put that email into a no reply folder and keep it there for two weeks. So every Friday from 2 to 3:00 and if you get an email from me on Friday to 2 to 3:00 pm, we haven’t talked in a while. This is why I follow up with those emails, right? I never send naked emails, which means I never send week checking in emails. Don’t do it. That’s like the worst thing ever. Add value when you send an email, like have a cache of relevant industry information and stuff that you can include in the email to try to engender a response. Otherwise, you’re making the email about you saying Just checking in to see how things are going. It’s been a while since we talk. How’s your calendar look next week? That’s about me, right? So emails should be about the person you’re sending one to. You know, while yet another email merge for Gmail, we use that I just started. My eyes are going to wander here for a second. I just started using I just started using write tag for.

Bronson: Do.

Ryan: Write tags for Twitter is basically when you’re composing your tweets and you start to use your hash tags, it’ll give you a green, yellow or a red in terms of what’s the total what’s the total reach you can have based on what hashtag you use.

Bronson: That’s awesome.

Ryan: And you know, we’re always looking at tools out there that exist and if they don’t exist, we build them for ourselves, like we just built a tool any time. So every sign up that we get, we built a tool that basically automatically researches that person who signs up, right? So I’m trying to get their demographic like, you know, I want to know who they are. Male, female, age title company, do they tweet are they’re on Facebook, what’s their LinkedIn? You know, so we can have a better view to say, okay, this person fits into this area, here’s how I’m going to contact them or approach them or whatever. So we’re big dog shooters here. Anything we need, if there’s not something out there, we build it on Friday afternoons, we start using it. If it works, then then we’ll see, you know, coming out from us over the next few months. We’ve got a bunch of these these little productivity tools that all kind of hang together that’s going to help people, you know, do what we do a lot better.

Bronson: So relax, become in common a little suite of products, not just a tool.

Ryan: You have to be, I think is you, you know, similar to what you guys are doing with growth geeks, right. You look at some of the stuff, you know, Growth Hacker TV as a great audience. You know, it’s a community of people. What you probably noticed in there is that people are talking about working together in comment. So why not create a platform that that’s going to help bridge the gap between people who offer services and people who need stuff? Right. And it just it’s a natural extension. And if you don’t do it, someone else will.

Bronson: Absolutely. The next play is obvious when you’re in the middle of something the same way, you know, you guys are in the middle of slack. The next play is obvious because you know what tool also needs to be a part of this suite. So business has a way of making sense. As long as you keep momentum and you keep going and you keep learning and you keep talking to people, the next move is usually right there in front of you.

Ryan: Exactly. Exactly. I think that that’s that’s one of the that’s that’s probably the biggest challenge that most companies have. And I’ve I’ve been there. I’ve lived it. And that’s if you don’t get your product right from the beginning and it doesn’t need to be, you know, feature heavy and do everything, just do one thing right and add value for some folks and and grow from there. I’ve done it personally and I see too many companies. You can’t apply growth marketing or growth hacking or or, you know, create a growth strategy for for a product that just, you know, is is dead on arrival. You know, you can get some artificial lift, but but it’s going to fizzle out because there’s going to be someone else is going to come around and do it just better. Or you’re solving you’re solving a problem that no one has.

Bronson: Yeah. Yeah. The value to think about is growth. Hacking doesn’t live in the features. Growth hacking is very much tied to the center. The core, the essence, the main pain you’re solving. Then you can apply growth to that. But growth hacking will never live in the features because like you said, you can do some artificial lift, but it’s not going to be long term. It’s not going to be enough for you to get excited about it in five years. You need some core product that is actually meaningful to, you know, really apply these growth principles. Now, let me ask you this. As you’ve grown slack, what’s been the best strategy that you’ve used to grow it? You know, it might be called email or maybe something else. I mean, that’s the fun thing about these tools is sometimes people have a tool to do one thing, but they actually grow it a different way, and that makes total sense. But what’s been your case? How have you guys actually grown this thing?

Ryan: Right. So the first thing that we did after taking a deep breath when, you know, the whole LinkedIn kind of kerfuffle happened back in back in April was, you know, we built a the first growth tactic we ever did was was, you know, we put a pricing plan in place. We kept a free model and we put a pricing plan in place. And we and we made it such that, you know, folks, you know, we made it easy for for someone to come on and and get a free account and realize the value before actually coming in and investing and actually giving us their money. We tend to think about, you know, we are our own customer, right? You know, if I wasn’t building this product, I would be I would be paying for it. Right. So so we’re fortunate that that we built it, we built something that we dogfood and use ourselves and oftentimes hold ourselves against the check of what I do this or would I not do this right. And that’s one of our gut checks for doing things. Bounce Exchange has been an awesome tool for us. You know, Bounce Exchange has been has been great captures exit intent but we’ve we’ve also been using bounce exchange tied to certain account tiers activity that they’re that they’re taking on the site and then getting in front of them. You know, whether it’s early access to to some new stuff that that we’re building or it’s a team or enterprise plan, for example, bounce exchange has been has been a great tool for us for growth.

Bronson: And let’s break that down for people in case they don’t know. Bounce exchange is, you know, exit intents. Another one, you know, the company that does the same thing, basically your mouse is moving toward closing out the tab. It recognizes your mouse is about to close out the tab and it gives you a new pop up, a new something. You get their attention on the page somehow and kind of bring them back into the loop. Is that right?

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s how that’s how Bounce Exchange started. And and. You know. You’re one of the smartest guys I’ve ever come across when it comes to growth and that so bounce so bounce exchanges basically they’re they’re maturing into their maturing into a way that’s not just exiting anymore. They’re actually starting to capture, you know, actions that take place in the site. So it’s not just capturing someone who’s going to go and leave the site. They’re actually, you know, if someone’s cert made, if someone has successfully found ten emails on cell hack, then we’ve then we’ve got a campaign that goes to that person. They’re not necessarily using they’re actually taking actions. We define those rules and and and and take care of it that way.

Bronson: I like that. That’s really cool. Yeah, that’s that’s a good that’s a good program to look into is bounce exchange then. Right. All right. Let me ask you this. What are you working on today on cell hack? When this interview’s over and this just kind of a fun question I’ve been asking lately, because it gives us like what’s on your to do list next, even if it’s really boring and really exciting. But what do you work on or after this interview?

Ryan: Gotcha. Our three demos that we’re going to give, we’re launching over the next. By the time this airs, we will have launched Slack version two, which is essentially. So we started as a as a as a great email verification service. We help people find emails through a heck of a lot of customer development, which has also been a pretty effective growth tactic for us. So anyone who signs up for Slack, you know, for a paid account gets a personal email from me and I try to engage in some capacity. So we’ve learned a lot about what people are looking for. So what we built outside of just finding email addresses, we built a way for people to actually build the prospect list, right? So you can do your prospect research whether, you know, it’s the same stuff you’re doing on LinkedIn or Twitter or anywhere else. We help people build prospect lists. We automatically append the contact information to that, and then we’ve created a way to export that into Salesforce or download it into a CSP, for example. So we’ve, we just started ramping people onto that, you know, doing, using call emails to set up demos and close new customers on that. So that’s that’s number one focus. Our next kind of growth tactics, a tough word to use, but just can use it anyways. We haven’t had a referral plan in place. We’ll be launching a referral plan here over the next day or two and that’s really what we’re what we’re focused on this week. We tend to work in week long development sprints. Yeah. And we keep we keep I personally and my partner, who’s the the developer extraordinaire on this, the main one is we like to finish things and we look at week increments as as, you know, kind of good. There’s obviously bigger projects, but we like bite sized chunks. We reserve Friday afternoons. Typically if we finish a project by Friday, which is our goal, we like Friday afternoons for, you know, the Google 20% time, right? That’s when we really, you know, get a whiteboard together and we think about all the stuff that we’re not doing that we could be doing. And and we, you know, we’ve got a we’ve got a growth chart. That’s where we manage the stuff that we want to do, right? So we go through that and we can we say, okay, in the next, you know, over the weekend, in this afternoon, can we knock out, you know, minimum viable product, you know, X for this and use it ourselves first and then decide whether or not to fold it in. So we keep things fresh in and but yeah, we’ve got a couple of big projects for the week.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s cool. I think, I think version two of sell is only pretty awesome. I mean, I’ve used the the LinkedIn recruiter tools before and they have like it maxes out at like 50 or something you add and then you can have an email on because you have to use the email and LinkedIn. So you’re using up your credits, you’re paying a fortune for it and you can even save that many people. It feels pretty broke every time I use it. So the idea being to build this prospect’s list right in Slack, I mean, it seems like that is a result of customer development because as you say, and I’m like, yep, that’s the absolute need right there. Right. That’s cool. Well, what’s the what’s the best advice you have just for any startup that’s trying to grow right now?

Ryan: I think you have to get three things right. To be to be successful. And I’ll qualify that statement by saying I’m I’m influenced by, you know, software as a service, you know, and B2B. That’s kind of that’s the world I live in and that’s what I world.

Bronson: It’s a great world.

Ryan: I think first you’ve got to be working on something that that other people want or need, right? If we all worked on stuff that that that we loved, you know, how many more photo sharing apps would we have or how many more? You know what? You can’t you can’t always do that. But you have to find something that that you do have some sort of passion for, which is really important. And your product has to how to solve a problem for someone. That’s number one. Second is you got to get organized, right? I think what we’ve what I’ve personally been focused on and I’ll be coming out with this later in the year is I put together and constantly optimizing a growth template, right. And a sales template and a content template. There’s so much information out there and I had so many bookmarks and things like that of like, Oh, try this or get smarter about that. There was nowhere to manage all of that. And talking to everything from tracking tools that could help, you know, any email that I opened that I like, I tracked the subject line. And because it’s like if I’m opening it, they got my attention like so it’s having a reference file.

Bronson: Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. To go back to. And then that evolves into tracking metrics and and that. But getting organized is number two. Right. And I think it’s really it’s it’s it’s something that I’ve neglected a lot in the past, and I’m committed to staying committed to a more defined structure going forward. Which which is my third point. That’s got to be consistent, be consistent and be committed to whatever plan that you’ve put together, you know, from your template, which helps to grow whatever product you’re working on, that doesn’t suck, right? So, you know, that’s, that’s my advice for folks working on stuff like it’s if you want to distill it down to a common denominator.

Bronson: Yeah. Now that’s great advice right there. And I’ll even add this to, you know, people can go and they can use sell hack and they can get a ton of value out of it. You actually have a gig posted on Growth Google.com, which is a site you mentioned earlier, and you actually have a gig on there where they can go and you’ll actually do the legwork for them so they can kind of tell you who’s in their target demographic and you can just deliver the emails to them every month. So if somebody is watching this, they’re sold. That email’s the way to go and that, you know, this is the right direction for them. They’re in B2B. You know, they want to kind of follow up on all this device you gave. I would recommend going to growth geeks look on there. You’ll see Ryan’s gig on there should be one of the featured gigs and you can, you know, just basically, you know, buy his services directly and you’ll go and do a lot of lifting for them and deliver them a great email list. And so I would just recommend people try that as well.

Ryan: Yeah. Thanks for the for the Plug Bros and appreciate it. Growth Geeks is one of those places we’re looking at as a as a channel for growth to us. A lot of our customers just they, you know, emails are not a new thing but but cold emails and doing them really well, especially in a B2B context, is, is evolving into more of a replicable model. And I think that that that so many of us and you know the analogy with my car if my car breaks down well I am kind of a gearhead and we’ll get under the hood and try to fix it like it’s going to it’s going to the shop, right? If I have a tooth that hurts, I go to the dentist, you know, and that’s really because I can’t scale everywhere. Right? So I go to professionals and you know, if you’re working on a business and don’t have time to get really smart on emails in terms of, you know, either writing them or how to send them or the strategy or building a list or getting contact info. That’s stuff that we live and breathe. And, you know, we’re happy to help some folks out. And that’s I was amazed at how many people just, you know, are intimidated by by cold email and cold email for business development. You really putting yourself on front street. But there are certain you know, there are certain processes in best practices you could follow that, you know, at the end of the day is going to help salespeople crush quotes.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. Ryan, thank you so much for coming on growth. RTV And just given us a great interview about a great tool and some of the processes that you personally use. So thanks for coming on.

Ryan: My pleasure, man. Keep up the good work.

Bronson: Absolutely.

Ryan: All right. Cheers.

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