Tales from the frontlines: how LeadQuizzes’ Jeremy Ellens took his company from 0 to $1,000,000 (and beyond!) in annual revenue
Collin Stewart, CEO
22 May 2019
It’s a well-worn story in the world of entrepreneurship, but it’s true: sometimes you have to fail before you find the idea that works (this is a tale I know all too well, myself).
Take Jeremy Ellen’s fast-growing company LeadQuizzes, an interactive content platform that helps businesses generate leads, collect data, and personalize marketing campaigns. Now, when I say fast-growing, I mean it – LeadQuizzes has grown from zero to more than $1,200,000 in annual recurring revenue in just over six months.
But it all started from a failing digital marketing agency.
“We grew the agency to about $500,000 in revenue doing work from small businesses. The problem was, we didn’t have a lot of repeatable results. We were too dependant on big clients,” says Ellens, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
“And then, the worst thing happened – those big clients starting bailing one by one. We knew we had to do something else. So, me and my partner started looking at what we had done well and worked to build a business on that.”
Twists and turns on the way to market
What Ellens and company had done well was get leads for clients, and, interestingly, generate buzz for a few different book launches.
As luck would have it, Dr. Tami, a well-known Seattle-based hormone doctor, wanted to hit the bestseller list with her new book, The Hormone Secret. So, Ellens and his team jumped at the opportunity. They developed an engaging quiz, promoted it on Facebook, and started getting leads for Dr. Tami right away.
Over 6 months, they brought in 35,000 new leads at a cost of just 19 cents per lead. Dr. Tami, just like that, had a great list to promote her new book to. And Ellens and his team had the beginnings of a new software company, LeadQuizzes, on their hands.
Luckily for Ellens, what remained of their failing agency – a small group of clients – helped fund the early days of LeadQuizzes, when they were still determining how they could price their burgeoning offering.
“Early on, we spent up to $10,000 per month and ads driving people to our quizzes and our software. After that, we focused on SEO – that was also a big driver for us,” says Ellens.
“This was all while we were trying out different pricing packages and still offering some agency stuff.”
The case study
After a short time experimenting with pricing and remaining agency packages, lightning struck. Ellens and his team decided to ask LeadQuizzes’ network for help.
Ellens and his team published a blog titled “How to build your email list to 100,000 recipients in one year,” and sent it to their email list, offering to grow their prospect’s lists by 100,000 leads in one year at a discounted rate. All LeadQuizzes asked for in return was $1,000 to cover their costs and to publish a case study they could use to drive more business.
That’s a pretty good deal.
“We had a big promise. We told our list, which was focused on the health and wellness space, that we could generate that kind of response and asked them to let us know if you know anyone that would be interested. It sounds like a great deal,” says Ellens.
“People often self-selected their own companies, so we would work with them. And we would reach out to the referrals we were getting as well.”
(Editor’s note: we had Kyle Roach, Manager of Sales Development, at Lessonly on the podcast recently to talk about how he inspires his team to “sell the dream.” You can read about our chat here, or listen to the whole interview here)
Although the referrals LeadQuizzes was getting were very warm leads, and the case study offer they were promoting definitely lowered the barrier to entry to work with them, they didn’t have any real outbound sales experience. So they had to learn on the fly.
First, they honed in on their Ideal Customer Profile – small business (doctors primarily) in the health and wellness space, with a product priced between $50 – $100. Then, they ranked their leads – their own email list, referrals, people they met briefly at a conference – from warmest to coldest, and began perfecting their messaging.
Ellens says adding an element of scarcity to their outreach – that they only needed 5 more companies to participate in their case study program, for instance – increased interest as well. Over time, LeadQuizzes was able to publish more than 40 case studies.
For a company with little outbound experience, they definitely touched on some critical outbound pillars right out of the gate. And the response, as a result, was awesome.
“As a marketer, I had some experience writing copy – so I definitely paid a lot of attention to the words I used, and what we were saying. But, I had never really done sales before. So, I read a lot. I networked. I got Predictable Revenue, The Challenger Sale, and Jordan Belfort’s book. Reading really helped me understand the sales discipline as a whole,” says Ellens.
“Most importantly, I Learned that I’m actually looking for a ‘no’ on sales calls so I can start uncovering objections.”
Check out this massive article on lessons learned.
Of course, no new outbound journey would be complete without learning how to handle objections. And even though LeadQuizzes was offering prospects great value, and nailed down a precise ICP, Ellens says they still had a lot of convincing to do.
For instance, they routinely had to discuss their pricing and to explain the nature of working leads to their prospects – most didn’t understand that even though they were getting 1000s of leads, only a portion of those people would ultimately convert.
Finally, there were the “delaying” objections: not having the company credit card handle, or needing to check in with their partner before making the final decision.
“To handle objections, we always made sure we related to the person we were speaking with, to show them that we understand what they’re dealing with and that we had a lot of experience with clients like them,” says Ellens.
“But, I would still try and close people on one call. It worked, we had clients that would close and last for years, too.”
For more on Ellens’ startup journey – including how he scaled and trained his team, as well as his experiments with different sales channels – check out his interview on The Predictable Revenue podcast.