10 B2B Outreach Hacks for your startup!

We’ve been pretty lean @ContractIQ when it comes to spending on outreach. Why spend when you can hack it for free? Here are 10 things that really worked. You should try them too, if you are in the B2B space. Especially, if you are a sales-shy tech founder, these are good ways to beat your own inhibitions!

10. Quora your way to Page 1: Set an alert in Quora based on Keywords. Every time a question with your target keyword is asked, Quora sends you an email and you could answer those questions. Also, goad your friends/customers (if possible) to ask questions and then answer them. Think of it as a distributed FAQ about topics of relevance to you and your brand, only that it gets ranked better in Google. There is a line to be drawn though. Related questions are good research tools for your users and so asking+answering questions does add value. Do not however use it to blatantly promote your brand.

9. Rapportive is useful but does not scale: Distilled has this very nifty hack featured on their website, which talks about using Rapportive and a custom built google spreadsheet (bit.ly/name2email) that enables you to find any email id. I don’t have to tell you more about Rapportive. But this means you are still manually researching for context, for every email. It doesn’t scale. Instead just use firstname@company.com and you’d be right 75% of the time. We’ve tried hyper-contextual emails and generic email blasts. Conversion rates are almost similar and the RoI is in the favor of the blast. (We iterate about 10 times on one story!)

8. How to sound less cold: Let’s admit it. If you are sending a cold email, you are sending a cold email. But you can personalize! If you are a google apps user, try Google Mailmerge HD (http://www.labnol.org/internet/personalized-mail-merge-in-gmail/). Use it to customize your email messages. Our lead lists have the person’s name, how we are connected to him/her (however weak the connection is, just drop that reference) and which city/alum group etc he/she belongs to. Embed such tags into your email that would personalize these parts of the message.

I got an email from a very successful CEO of a dev shop that’s often in news. They wanted us to run email campaigns highlighting their story. It had 2 paragraphs of 3 lines each, 5 bullet points and another 5 lines at the end. I picked up 3 words from it for the campaign. Carnage, right? No. We all love writing long emails. But when you cold email, keep it simple: Reference, Intro, Hook, Ask – 4 lines!

Should you praise the receiver like Ash Maurya says? – Your mileage may vary, but to me it sounds corny!

7.Creating a connection is easy: Often you may end up mailing to people whom you have no connection with, whatsoever. In such cases, simply start the email with where you found their info and in what context. It’s called a cold email only if you make the reader think “How does he know me?”. If you can avoid that question from popping up, you are taking down a potent defense!

6. Original content is difficult. Aggregation, Controversy and Humor are substitutes: Our most viewed blog/slide share posts are not original content. Google – Top Custom Mobile Application development companies – You’d see what I mean. Interestingly the first result as I see now, is an Indian company too! Humor also sells – Search: Startups Lie

5. Become a curator: When’s its hard to write content, become a curator. Pick 10 interesting articles in your industry, daily and just tweet them. You’d get high quality followers that can then be nurtured into active leads. Give some thing useful. People then come forward to give time! Lazy? Use tools like Paper.li and TopicMinder

4. Put influencers in control: Each market has a tribe which influences popular opinion. Think of startup coaches, VCs, Consultants etc if your product is meant for startups. Give them bulk free usage of your premium plans and ask them to give it away to whoever they’d like to. Keep their name and a suffix as the redemption code. The social validation this code gives to them is immense and if your give away is valuable, they’d be obliged to give them away!

3. Create an excuse to reach out to newer people: You can’t always be selling (even if that’s what you are doing)! Create reasons to reach out. The guys at http://konotor.com/ are quite awesome at that. They set up meetings for us with the guys at Mixpanel, Flurry etc (who they did not know BTW!!). Simply connecting people is a great and legitimate way to punch above your weight. So, always be connecting (for others) & as a byproduct sell your wares!

2. Ask for help: For every one prospect you reach out to, there are 10 more you don’t know. Surprising as it may be, just asking for help from strangers works wonders. We run (ahem!) email campaigns just asking for help (but we choose who we ask. We ask people like you and me – The ones that need an excuse to be in touch with new people!

1. Bonus hack for being patient 🙂 – Coin a phrase if you can – The best online mileage to get is to create a “phrase” or “term” that stands for what you do. This isn’t easy but if you could and that gets into your industry lexicon, you derive a lot of  visibility. Remember how hubspot popularized ‘inbound marketing’?

The hacks above are purely based on what we experienced for our startup and from our friends. There could be more ideas based on what you’ve seen in your case. What have your hacks been?


Image Courtesy: Israel & Cris Dobbins – Noun Project.




  • Wonderful list! Thanks for sharing.

    • Ashwin – ContractIQ

      Thanks Omri.

      I am inspired by your ‘To Do List’ – How uncannily similar our lists are. But then why is ‘Travel’ missing there?


  • Ashwin – some very interesting ideas here.

    We’ve actually independently discovered and applied some of the ideas ourselves, but always looking for more.

    Curious, which tactic worked the best for you guys?


    • Ashwin – ContractIQ


      Thanks for stopping by. We find flavors of the months with respect to hacks that work. After all, if everyone figures out a hack, it’s no longer one.

      Creating your own distribution channel for your content works the best. Content has brought in good conversations for us and allowed us to punch above our weight.

      One trick that many know (but don’t follow) is with email campaigns. Going back a month after a campaign and reminding about the email sent, gets good results.

      May be we should catch up offline as well. I shall send you a LinkedIn invite.