Last Tuesday I undertook my first experiment. The idea was to email 50 businesses cold, to see if it could be a useful tool for discovering an interesting problem to solve. I sent two variations of my cold email, a polite version and impolite version.
I had two hypotheses.
- If I email 50 businesses, I will get 4 positive responses. Out of those 4 positive responses, I will get 1 meeting.
- The Impolite Version will have a better response rate than the Polite Version.
- I ended up sending just 46 emails, and got 5 responses. Of these 5 responses, I was able to convert one into a phone call and on-site interview.
- The Impolite Version got 3 responses, whereas the Polite Version got 2 responses. Not exactly a landslide. So I’m calling it a wash.
This was cool. One of the respondents invited me to their office to chat about their business. I went, and learned a bit about their industry, and a lot about how they run their day to day business operations.
Unfortunately I didn’t hit on any big problems in talking to the business owner. I have one idea I’m going to follow up on related to, suprise suprise, making filling out governemnt paperwork easier for this industry. The owner also passed my name to another company to talk to.
A little more data
I had a response rate of 10.8%. That’s better than I was expecting. Of those five respondents, I got one meeting. That ain’t bad percentage wise either, though the numbers are so small at that point they don’t mean much. I could have tried a little harder to convert those respondents by calling them. Frankly, it was a little chicken of me not to.
I was suprised how much time it took to do this all. Here’s an hourly breakdown:
- 2 Hours Obsessively drafting and re-drafting email templates
- 4.5 Hours Trolling the web for prospects to email, building spreadsheet
- 2.5 Hours Sending 46 emails
- 2.5 Hours Responding to 5 emails back/forth, phone interview with 1 customer
- TOTAL: 11.5 Hours
It went better than I thought it would, but that’s not saying much. It took me 11.5 hours to get one on-site interview with a business owner. Super inefficient. I could definetly optimize the email sending process, I did it mostly by hand with the help of Textexpander. More difficult would be optimizing the research that went into building a spreadsheet of prospects to email. That was mind-numbing work that took way too long. Maybe that’s something where a virtual assistant could help.
I have to think that cold calls convert better than emails. That’s probably the real answer here. Get on the phone and start calling. It’s a scary prospect for an introverted nerd like me. It comes down to this: The hustle must overcome the nerd. And it shall.