Who are you?
NICK HALL: My name’s Nick Lall. I’m the founder of Ivy Impact Solutions and basically what I do is I help professional service businesses and creative agencies scale up by outsourcing their sales process for them.
What’s your secret sauce?
NICK HALL: So I’d say there are probably a few different ingredients that go in to the secret sauce. The first would be my team in Bangladesh. Without them I definitely would not be able to get the results that I do. A lot of people these days build lists using scrapers from LinkedIn or just by lists from databases but I found that having actual human beings is much better ’cause they’re much more flexible, they can actually … Let’s say one of my client’s is a travel company and they want to work with up and coming hotels, my team can actually read articles on hotels that are up and coming and then find the decision makers at those hotels and then find their contact information. Which is something that a a tool can’t do at this point.
The second ingredient that I think makes things go really well is that we’re very data driven. So from the very first day we start working with a client we’re testing the time of day the email gets sent out, the subject line, the call to action and also the type of person that we’re emailing. So by doing this every day for … after a month or so we have pretty good data on first of all who’s most likely to respond and what they’re most likely to respond to. And then once we have that we can scale up the volume and start emailing the right people with the right message at a much higher volume.
We always use psychology in our emails and so there’s a professor, his … a psychology professor, his name is Robert Cialdini. He wrote a book called Psychological Principles of Influence and so there were six principles that pretty much every human being responds to and we always used to use … We always try to use at least two of them in our emails.
What do those emails look like?
NICK HALL: One of those principles is social proof. People tend to respond more to a person or an offer that has been validated by someone else they respect and so each email we try to have some element of social proof. So whether that’s saying that some … one of their competitors or someone they know has worked with us or a big name company that they’ve heard of works with us that’s always … that has to be included in the email, that’s one of the most important elements. Another principle which he refers to as liking is just sort of building familiarity with people or having something in common with someone.
So the way we do that is we try to find businesses that have something in common with our clients and reference that as soon as possible. So an example could be one of my clients, he went to Northwestern and he studied film there and he wanted to find other film businesses he could partner with. So what we did is we … the first list we built we searched for other people who also graduated from Northwestern’s film program and fit the ideal client that he was looking for. And then in the subject line we would write something about how this is coming from a fellow Northwestern alum.
What is a common mistake people make?
NICK HALL: A lot of people when they’re starting out with email outreaches they Google this and they find all these articles on email marketing and how you should do email marketing. And what they don’t realize is that email marketing is not the same as email sales and so email marketing is what’s used when you already have a list. Someone … usually more for eCommerce or something like that and someone’s given you their email address and then you want to keep them engaged by having catchy emails. Emails with questions in them, have a moment or something very clever and that actually doesn’t really work for cold outreach, especially when you’re doing business to business cold outreach.
And so what we find that works best is it should look very professional, very boring actually, something that you would get from a colleague or client and you want to open it just in case you don’t miss something important. And so it should be very simple, it should be something like invitation for first name, last name at company name. Or partnership inquiry or something that is very … pretty vague, pretty simple, not catchy at all and just something you want to open just to make sure it’s not something important.
How did you get your first client?
NICK HALL: My very first client, I actually got him off of Upwork. He found me, I had put a video up of myself so maybe that’s what made me stand out. I put the video on my profile, I told kind of my personal journey. I think if you’re going to do something like that you should tell a story that really relates to people and kind of follows the hero’s journey where you face a challenge and you overcome it and that’s how you get good at what you’re doing. And so I kind of outlined that. I don’t really use Upwork to get clients any more but this guy he’s turned in to a great client. He’s had a few businesses and I’ve helped him out with all those businesses. He came out and visit me in Vietnam and yeah, it’s been a great partnership since then.
How do you win clients now?
NICK HALL: These days I get all my clients through my own methods. Through my own email outreach methods and so what I do for the clients I do myself. And every new client I offer them a free trial. The free trial first of all tells me whether I can actually do well with these clients and I can actually make sales for them and so that gives me a good idea of who I should work with. And it also shows them that I can actually generate results for them. So it gives them confidence that I’m the right person to work with.
Where do you see the biggest opportunity now?
NICK HALL: Whether it’s Facebook ads or Google ads or email people are just getting bombarded with offers online and it’s harder and harder to capture people’s interest online. I think people have limited attention and they’re just used to getting so much spam now that they don’t really pay attention to things. So where we’re moving is we’re actually moving offline. We’re still doing the email legion and that’s part of our sequence but we’re moving to do offline work as well. And so an example of that is we could … one of our top targets we could look at their Instagram or their Twitter and see that they’re always drinking Chardonnay and they really like Chardonnay.
So what we would do is we would send them a bottle of Chardonnay with a note that says something like “Check your … have a glass and check your email and relax.” And in the email we would send them a subject line that said “Hope you enjoyed the wine,” and then maybe a one minute video that our founder, or one of our client’s company’s founders has recorded introducing himself and giving a pitch.
What’s your favorite book?
NICK HALL: The book that really inspired me to get started and gave me the idea for data driven sales was Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and I think it’s one of the best sales books out there still. I think a lot of these … a lot of the advice that he gives has been used by everyone since then since it was so great. So it may not work quite as well as it did three or four years ago but it’s still gold. It’s one of the best books out there.