As someone that has worked in technology for almost 10 years, I’ve always been drawn to technology and its power to allow us to do amazing things. In that time, the number of Software-as-a-Service or SaaS companies have exploded and people interested in technology like me have flocked to software giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. These companies are truly moving mountains. But there is another, lesser told story out there, and that is the fact that for the first time in history, you can start a billion company with zero upfront capital and make it work. Bootstrapping, or starting a company with no funding and funding off the revenue from customers is something I’ve seen close up, and it's really the story of how I became obsessed with this space.
After working for a SaaS company for 18 months, I was lucky enough to lead a market entry into the UK, a market 3x as big as my home country of Australia with few domestic competitors in our industry. It was an incredible experience working on product-market fit, partnerships and building a team, but one of the biggest lessons I learned was in what you might now called “Growth Hacking”, or using technology, similar to what we were building for our customers to amplify our presence in the market and attract people to our service at scale. In hindsight it seemed obvious, use technology to sell technology, but there is one big reason it almost never works in companies; developers and salespeople are like oil and water, they don’t mix.
It was only after working on both sides of the divide that I saw something just about nobody else did, if developers and salespeople could get along, we could sell 10x more software and build 10x as many cool features. All I needed to do was build a bridge, and that bridge came after a fairly unlikely event led us to try to enter the German market on a shoestring budget. At the time, we had zero customers in Germany and very few inbound leads. I was however very fortunate to have an experienced prospector on the team who was keen to give it a go, in his words, “we’ll make our own leads”. He had worked as a BDR before, and having exactly zero experience in it myself, I let him go to work for a week or two to see what magic he could come up with.
To my astonishment, he actually started making traction. After a week or two he was beginning to have conversations over the phone with prospects, with a mixture of cold calling and emailing and some were even agreeing to sit sales demonstrations. What struck me however as I watched him work was just how labour intensive the whole process was. He would manually review up to 100 profiles on the German LinkedIn equivalent Xing each day, selecting profiles that looked like a good fit, then manually drafting an email to each one, before following up on replies and cold calling other contacts he had found on the web. It was clear to me if we could remove some of the manual work he was doing, we could amplify what was working and get more people sitting demos.
I started pulling his process apart and I asked him to write down each individual step he took to get from finding a contact, to getting them to sit a demo. All up there were about 13 steps, and to my amazement, we could automate almost three quarters of them. As these steps represented a funnel, the more volume we could process at the top of the funnel, the more meaningful conversations we could have, and the more interest we could generate. Automating these steps involved learning how to use web-scrapping tools to extract contacts from Xing, automating email campaigns, cleaning the data along the way, even using a “Gender Predictor” to sort male and female contacts into seperate email templates ( the joys of masculine/feminine words in German ).
When we stepped back, we had built a system that didn’t replace a salesperson by any means, but had taken a lot of the heavy lifting off their shoulders, and allowed us to make a step improvement in their output. We went from sending 30 to 40 emails a day, to hundreds of emails a day. We went from one or two warm conversations to tens of conversations that led to a 10x’ing of our demos and ultimately sales. Not only that, but as customers came onto the platform, they began telling their friends, and eventually an inbound channel sprang up along side it.
All in all, this process taught me the technical skills I needed to pull this off, including web scraping, building integrations and data cleaning but it also taught me how to break down a sales process into its bare essentials. This is what I mean when I say data is the new oil. Half the skill of finding oil is knowing where to look, and that is really hard, but once you have found it, you better learn how to build an oil rig.
That is what I wanted ScrapeDiary to be, a resource to help you find the data you need to move your business, career or project forward, and teach you to build the tools you need to fully leverage it and 10x your results. I’ll be teaching you the technical skills you’ll need including writing code in multiple languages, building integrations between state of the art tools, cleaning your data so you’ll never send an email you regret but I’ll also teach you how to think about maximising your impact and breaking things down to build them better.
To your success,
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