Day 12 - Zero to MVP in 30 Days - A look at cold validation

Nov 2017

Hello there! If you’re new to this series, I laid down some ground rules in day zero, and explain the idea for my first project on day one. I document, a little every day, what I’m working on.

Today as, promised, was heavily focused on revisiting and pushing out a new wave of cold (and a few warm) validation emails, and we’ll get a look at those raw emails.

If you got a chance to check out the two videos linked in yesterday post, our strategy should look like a marriage between those two sources. That flow ends up looking like:


Gather information:

We have already defined our desired market earlier in this series. But for this time around, I’ve narrowed it down a bit more:

  • SaaS businesses
  • Employee counts between ~50-400
  • Over 10 percent employee growth in the last 6 months (I’m looking for growing support or UX teams)
  • Seniority should be a Lead (or the equivalent of) or higher, but not necessarily the highest

Since we’re bootstrapping this thing, I’m keeping tooling to a minimum. So our updated, no-frills, prospecting list looks like this:

This is super simple, I just want to track what I need to get going for now:

  • Company
  • Company size
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Status
  • Notes
  • Social accounts (not pictured)

So to gather information, after we define our market, we need to start with a list of companies of which we can then research their teams for desirable prospects. Most markets have directories available. Lucky for us SaaS1000 does a ton of the heavy lifting for us.

Going from your list of companies to finding the right employees to contact is as simple as pulling up the company’s page on LinkedIn and searching by title. In my case, I punch in “customer” or “ux” and decide from that list which level of seniority I want to approach. The position that I choose here is a mix, as I’d like to test the response from varying titles.

Finding email addresses is my least favorite part. I feel like Sherlock Holmes for the first 10 minutes, then I break down and go to Anymail finder or Hunter.io.


Cold email and finding the pain

Now, I’m definitely no expert at cold emailing. The following is what I’m currently testing with and learning from, I’d urge you to search around to see how your favorite influencers in the space handle cold emails and find a format you’re comfortable with.

The subject line: my approach to emailing is to be as honest, to the point, and conversational in tone as possible. No one likes being tricked into opening an email. So my very first emails often go along the lines of “Question about how customer success teams scale” as I’m looking into the challenges their support team is facing with scaling.

The personal: a lot of resources out there recommended leading with something personal (“I really like your XYZ”) Now, I agree, but only if it’s something I really do relate to and actually enjoyed. I don’t try to force this by any means, and will often leave it out.

So, let’s take a look at an example email I sent today:

I sent 10 similar emails today (plus ~20 more in a different format altogether). But this particular one is testing “leading the witness” with discussing pains in their team. I want to chat about every challenge they’re running into, but I plant the seed that I’m curious about my particular idea as well.

I suspect this group will underperform compared to emails with a single ask, but you don’t know if you don’t test.

No response? That’s fine, I have no idea if you not responding means you’re just busy right now. I’ll follow up three times, with the final email being a breakup email, this is modeled after Steli’s approach that he blogged about on Close.io’s blog. If you find his blog post helpful, give this talk of his on selling a watch.

The ultimate goal is to get our prospects on the phone to discuss the challenges they’re facing. I’ll go into that after I get some new folks on the line this time around. But, I want to listen, by asking questions that keep them talking about their pains and close by asking what their perfect solution would look like.


Pre-selling

I have no idea how that feels or looks, so no comment yet Hopefully I’ll let you know before much longer.

I will say: the goal is to reach 3-5 pre-orders from folks who have intersecting pains (hopefully closely related to what we’ve been chipping away at). They’ll need to be annual contracts, but discounted at 50% my planned price.


Tomorrow’s todo list

  • More of the same. We’ve reached a point where we need to keep our nose to the grinding stone for a while.
  • I’ll continue to use the landing page feedback list as my creative outlet when I need a break.

As always, thanks for reading! And please email me with any questions or feedback! My email is on the sidebar. See you tomorrow!