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I’m super excited to have Josh Denning as my first guest. Josh is the host of the Tropical Entrepreneur Podcast and runs two businesses of his own. SmartROI is a full-service digital agency and Authority Factory is a consultancy that builds smart sales funnels for their clients.

Josh has been in the online marketing space for over a decade and has built a well-oiled machine that generates over 300 inbound leads every single month, and in our talk he shares with you exactly how he does that.

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Key Takeaways:

Cold Email

The primary strategy Josh uses to get new clients at Smart ROI is cold email. After reading Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross, Josh was able to build an efficient and scalable team which sends 3,000 emails every single day.

Here is how the process works:

  1. A team of data miners search the Internet to identify businesses that fit their target audience
  2. Once a business is identified, they then use public information (like a website’s WHOIS registration) to find the business owner’s email address
  3. An initial email is sent using Infusionsoft and several followup emails are scheduled.  The goal of the email is to get the recipient on the phone with a sales consultant

Initially, their reply rate was a horrible 0.01%, but after working with a B2B copywriter and running dozens of split tests, they have been able to significantly raise that reply rate and build a business from the results.

Most people who experiment with cold email give up way too quickly - @JoshTropical Click To Tweet

Josh notes that most people who experiment with cold email, or any marketing strategy, simply give up way too quickly. If the results don’t come right away, that doesn’t mean it is time to throw in the towel. Most marketing strategies don’t work with your first (or second, or third) effort, so if you are giving up without a serious effort to improve, then you are doing your business a disservice.

Importance of “the steps”

Josh credits much of the success of his cold email campaign to what he learned about “the steps” from master of direct marketing Dan Kennedy. Sending a single piece of direct mail will probably get <1% response rate, but sending 2 may get it to over 1%, and 3 could get it to 2%, and so on. By sending 5, 6, or even 7 mailings, you can get those rates up to 5-10%.

For email marketing, this is even more powerful because of how easy it is to schedule automatic followups, or “steps,” to be sent if you don’t get a response. When you are sending thousands of emails a month, what seem like small improvements can really start to add up. Right now Josh and his team at Smart ROI generate over 300 inbound leads every single month, but without these additional steps they would maybe get 50.

The difference between 50 leads and 300 leads can be the difference between an agency that barely gets by and one that is thriving. Josh’s sales consultants are complaining about having too many leads. Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?

Sales process after finding a lead

Once a lead is found, the work is just beginning and Josh has established a sophisticated funnel to maximize the number of successful sales from the process.

  1. The first call serves to qualify the lead. If they are not serious or just not ready to buy now, they are moved into a nurturing sequence
  2. If they are serious, then the Smart ROI team gets the lead on a 60-minute “needs analysis call”, which is a strategy session where they recommend how the lead can fill in the gap of where they are and where they want to be, and determine their budget
  3. If the lead is willing to proceed, the next step is to develop a specific plan on how to help the lead achieve their goals
  4. When the plan is ready, the team sets up an ROI call where they go over the plan and ask the lead what the next step should be. Of the people that make it this far, 30-40% become clients at this step
  5. If they don’t buy after that call, the plan is formalized into a proposal to get them to act
  6. If the proposal is not enough to spur action, they get a followup call every couple of weeks for 1-2 months
  7. If they still haven’t decided, the lead is moved into a nurturing campaign

Just get started.

With cold email you don’t start by sending 3,000 emails, you start by sending one and learning along the way Click To Tweet

The sales system that powers Smart ROI is 10+ years in the making and is the result of Josh’s unique experience, his research, and most importantly his trial and error. While sending 3,000 emails a day seems out of reach for most of us, Josh makes a good point. You don’t start by sending 3,000 emails, you start by sending the first one, learning from it, then sending more, learning along the way.

If your agency relies on referrals and word of mouth, that’s fine and there are plenty of successful agencies out there based on that model. But if you are tired of the feast and famine that many assume is par for the course of running an agency, then maybe you should look into a more calculated sales approach and Josh gave you a lot to think about.

If you want to hear more from Josh, you can send him an email at Josh [AT]


Dan Kennedy
Steli Efti

Good to Great
Predictable Revenue

Authority Factory
Smart ROI
Tropical Entrepreneur Podcast
Ad Espresso

Thanks for listening!

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