When I first started at Ceterus back in 2016, I was going into a role that was brand new for both Ceterus and I, Sales Operations. They were looking for somebody to jump in, get their hands dirty, and develop the Sales Ops processes. On the flip-side, I was looking for a role where I could tinker, experiment, and fail until I came away with an effective method of conquering the role. It was a match made in heaven.

Prior to joining the team, Ceterus had two salesmen who were constantly running out of leads. Rather than spending most of their time sending off emails or hitting the phone, they were manually digging through LinkedIn for their own prospects, meaning the number of leads they were reaching on a daily basis was abysmal.

When I took over their existing process, I was churning out 100-200 leads per day just by googling franchise locations within our target brands, looking through company pages, LinkedIn profiles, and ‘grand-opening’ news articles about the locations to find the franchisee names and emails. I was absolutely grinding to support these two salesmen, easily hitting 60+ hours per week in the office. I rarely had any luck finding emails either, meaning the salesmen had to rely on cold-calling alone to reach out, and often weren’t getting past the receptionist. I started working on finding an easier, more effective method for filling the pipeline.

Within a few weeks on the job, I discovered a way to find emails for franchisee owners whether they’d shared it publicly or not. Most organizations have a strict common format for their emails, meaning I could take lists of franchisee names I’d tracked down, use an Excel formula to assume email addresses in bulk from the common format, upload the email lists to Hunter.io, and see what sticks. For most brands, I was capturing upwards of 60% of franchisee emails with this method, compared to the ~20% I was capturing prior.

I started digging into better ways of pulling leads, queuing-up demos with about 30 lead generation companies to compare their results against my own. I eventually settled on a service called LeadsAI. Using them for most of the repetitive work while just touching up missing data points and getting the data Salesforce ready, I was able to queue up ~1,000 leads per day, with their team being my bottle-neck.

I wanted to see how I could improve their own process to benefit me, so I got their overseas team on a conference call to ask them about their process. They were buying Franchise Disclosure Documents, scraping franchisee names and phone numbers, and then populating emails using services like Spokeo and Radaris.

Knowing this, I was able to start building out a process to get to the same point with the data as they were. I found an awful government website that contained tons of documents on registered franchises, and it was all public domain. I used that site to pull Franchise Disclosure Documents for brands, used Adobe Acrobat to pull leads in bulk from PDFs into Excel spreadsheets, manually scrubbed and supplemented the data points, and then used my own existing method to find franchise owners’ work emails. After perfecting this method, I was capable of queuing up anywhere between 1000-4000 leads per day, depending on the quality of the FDDs and how much retouching I had to do to the data before upserting it to Salesforce.

I was then able to drop LeadsAI, bring everything back in-house, and cut the cost of our leads down from several thousand dollars per month to the cost of my own labor and a subscription to Hunter.io, while increasing our prospect output and data accuracy.

When I started in the role, I was barely supporting two salesmen while working 60+ hours per week. 14 months later, I was supporting 12 salesmen while working 30-35 hours per week, and had months of prospect runway queued-up for the team to work off of.

I joined the team with no applicable hard skills. I left having single-handedly built Ceterus‘ Sales Operations processes, which my replacement continues to follow. I also came away from the role with a proficiency with Salesforce, Pardot, Outreach, in addition to a broad understanding of lead gen as a whole, all of which I’ve been able to apply to my own ventures.