This is a guest post from Ryan Kulp, a musician turned startup marketer. Ryan is the Director of Growth at Keychain Logistics, a Ycombinator alumni company, and was previously a freelance sales hacking consultant.


Even with a great product, team and culture, growing a business is really hard if you can’t find qualified prospects to onboard. If you’re a sales person and most of your day is spent “waiting to hear back from so-and-so,” you need more leads.

Spending over 500 hours of time in “sales hacking” projects with clients, I’ve found an easy way almost anyone can get started and even scale out their own process, without having to pay for any tools to do so. As a sales person or technical founder, this simple process will make it look like you have super powers.

Here are 3-steps that anyone can implement to get that lead gen flowing:

Step #1 Do your background research

Before getting started it’s useful to think strategically about the exact types of leads your looking for. In all of the project I worked on, I found rich pockets of potential leads using keywords based on these two questions:

1. In what industry do you work?
Think broad, like “software” or “healthcare.”

2. Which product categories fits your offering?
Attributes such as “b2b,” “SaaS, “mobile,” or a mixture will work.

Now that the offering is condensed into potent keywords, it’s time to start Googling. In each of the projects I’ve worked on, I’ve found Google as probably the best way to get relevant and quality leads to start working from such as conference speaker lists.

Alternatively, suppose you sell project management software for construction contractors. There may not be a lot of software-related conferences for general contractors, but they still exist in various directories on the web such as AngiesList.

Step #2 Build a targeted list using a scraping tool (and outside resources if needed)

The way to get right into creating an actionable list on all of this, whether you’re technical or non-technical is import.io – a code-free scraping tool, and it’s 100% free. It’s super simple to use.

Before moving on, sign up for Import.io (100% free) and watch the tutorial videos, particularly those for ‘Connectors’ and ‘Extractors.’

After you get set up with Import, it’s time to revisit all those targeted leads you’ve been manually researching, and start scraping. When you set it up properly, Import will take nearly any directory site’s contacts list and turn it into a spreadsheet full of tasty sales data that you can use to automate your lead generation.

Using the Import.io Connector tool, you can source spreadsheets full of company names (and maybe some contact names/emails too!) for to research further.

In the cases you aren’t be able to pull the emails directly from a website I’ve found hiring overseas freelancers to be a great way to help – they’ll work around the clock to find email addresses for you at $2 an hour.

I built my team using folks from Philippines and using Odesk. Using Odesk I was able to find people accustomed to virtual work who are great English speakers, with [relatively] reliable internet. The currency exchange rate is optimal for USD conversion.

To get started on this, here’s a link to the exact script I use to hire freelancers which you can adjust to the needs of your project.

Step #3 Start reaching out

Once you have your list YAMM is a totally free tool which allows you to use a Google Spreadsheet script to automate the actual outreach.

start mail merge

It’s ideal to start slow so you know your email copy is working, but do know that Google Apps will let you send 1,000 emails a day. If you set up an account here, this is PLENTY to keep you busy assuming you’re getting some responses.

If you’re truly at this point, I’d recommend building out a small team of oversea freelancers, and developing a dashboard to monitor progress. This will be helpful be helpful in cases where you can’t pull email addresses using import.io.

Do you have any questions about this process? Feel free to add them in the comments thread below!


If you’re looking build out this process, I’ve put all of my methods for developing and scaling this process in my course on  “Sales Hacking: Put Your Lead Gen on Autopilot” which will be 67% for the next four days.

This course includes all the processes, tools and templates I’ve spent over 500 hours developing. Have any questions before enrolling? Drop me a line and I’ll get right back to you.

1