April 28, 2023
Chris Sheng is a 3x founder and growth marketing expert. He has worked with 250+ venture-backed Saas companies on go-to-market and growth. Additionally, he is a resident growth advisor at Mucker Capital and works closely with other top VC firms and their portfolio companies. He is currently the CEO of LeadrPro, a software marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of Saas solutions.
Julian: Hi everyone. Thank youso much for joining the Behind Company Lines podcast. Today we have ChrisSheng, CEO of LeadrPro. LeadrPro is the first online marketplace directlyconnecting sellers with buyers of software LeadrPro offers a PPM pay permeeting model. Chris, I'm so excited to chat with you, not only because of.
Your founder experience, obviously thisis not your first startup, so it's not your first rodeo. So really interestedin, in diving into your back and background and your experience and what you'veseen kind of, over the years running startups and what's particularlyinteresting about how the market has changed but also LeadrPro and how your.
Really kind of focusing on thistwo-sided marketplace and offering a lot of, I, I, I guess relief to theheadache from both of the sides. Buyers looking for the right software, sellerslooking to connect to the right buyers to be able to offer value. Sointeresting. Excited to how you're able to do that through LeadrPro.
But before we get into all that, Whatwere you doing before you started the company?
Chris: Yeah, I mean, so thequick spiel is that like I've been doing growth marketing for the past 10years. I ran a growth marketing agency for the past seven and then probably thepast four years worked really closely with the venture capital community in LosAngeles.
And so, all in all probably work with250 plus venture backed B2B SaaS companies on go-to-market and growth. WithLeadrPro. It's, about a year and a half ago I kind of hit an inflection pointwith the agency. Very comfortable lifestyle business. We were doing just under3 million in revenue.
But not as much personally orprofessionally challenging. And so, was trying to decide whether or not Iwanted to try attempt to scale up the agency, which, service-based businessesare notoriously difficult to do. So, or, maybe take a couple of the bottlenecksthat we are dealing with from the agency just in terms of like executionperspective and try to see if we could leverage tech and, and code toultimately streamline any of those.
So I shared those two ideas with. One ofthe VC firms that I work really closely with, mucker Capital here in LosAngeles and their partners, and they suggested I do what ended up becomingLeadrPro. So that's where it started.
Julian: Yeah, it wasinteresting also to think about this concept of growth because I think there'sa lot of mystique behind it and it's.
Thrown around a lot of ways, but whatreally are the, the tactics and the strategies that help companies grow and,and really kind of tackle growth from a, a, really I guess intentional,intentional sense and, and what do they set up? How do the targets, what inparticular is growth when you're kind of ready to hit that point at a company,looking to, whether it's generate new clients, build out more product features,detect new markets, what really is incorporated with a strong growth strategy?
Chris: Yeah, I mean, I thinklike it depends on what you're trying to grow, right? Mm-hmm. You're trying togrow. Marketplace is very different from just trying to grow a B2B SaaS companyfrom trying to grow a direct to consumer brand, right? Again, I can only speakreally about my expertise, which is in the B2B side, and I think There's a fewthings.
I think number one, the, thehyper-growth of what we've seen in SAS for the past 10 years. I feel like thatat least this is my hypothesis, is that we ended up adopting a lot of theconversion metrics that comes from the consumer world. Things like ppc, ppm, likeour. It, it doesn't really necessarily translate into the, the, into the B2Bworld.
Mm-hmm. Right? Like, I can understandwhen somebody makes let's just say the, the, the fixed cost of making a leatherbag right, is like a hundred dollars. Mm-hmm. So I can understand that, twodifferent brands are gonna pay a hundred dollars to make the same bag, butbased on perceived value or brand value, somebody's gonna be willing to pay 10x.
You know that for a specific brandversus two x to another brand, right? But in the B2B world, it shouldn't bethat way because a software or SaaS solutions to ultimately either drive ROI ontop line revenue growth, or improve bottom line margins. Bottom line, right?Mm-hmm. It's gotta be very tangible in terms of like what those outcomes looklike and brand equity, brand awareness, and brand.
I think brand visibility shouldn'tmatter as much in the B2B space, and yet we do a lot of these similar exercisesthat the direct to consumer brands do, which really shouldn't be, to me, like,doesn't make sense, like, so I think. A lot of times the perfect example or usecase would be like a crm.
So again, working with so many startups,like they gravitate towards a HubSpot or a sales force just because those arethe behemoths in the place, in the, in the marketplace, right? They don'treadily realize a lot of times that, there's a six figure price tag to aconsultant that you probably need to hire to make it actually work well for youin the way that's supposed to.
Let alone, like, or it's gonna justlike, take a huge time suck from, from your internal team to actually like, adhoc built it out. Yeah. Separately, like just the cost from some of thoseplatforms is like a, HubSpot does a great job on their pricing model, right? It'slike, it looks very inexpensive in the very beginning.
Yeah. But like six months into it, I'veseen startups end up paying a thousand dollars a month. And they're like, ohcrap. Like this is like really expensive. And it's really eating into, and thereality is statistically that most of these companies aren't gonna make it pastthree years. So like, you should actually try to find something that's muchmore cost effective that you can, actually then scale into some of these largerplatforms once you're actually ready to, from a operational expense standpoint.
So I think that's kind of like how Ithink about it. So now we think about growth in general. I think like, The ideaof growth hacking or just kind of like, growth role from 10 years ago when I startedoff doing this, like it's, it's evolved a lot. I think now, you see a lot ofgrowth leaders.
You see also like other kind of hot jobtitles like rev ops and, and all this kind of stuff that's starting to populateand funnel up. Growth to me is a hybrid of what traditional marketing and salesused to be. So marketing used to be just driving awareness, right? Getting inmm-hmm. Getting some kind of, some kind of intent.
And it could be intent, could be used ina loosest sense of the word, like a click right. Lead, gen form, et cetera. Andthen sales would take over at that point. And then work everything from, doingthe product demonstration all the way to customer close. Mm-hmm. In my world,like, growth is now this hybrid of where yes, you are generating awarenessaround the company, but you're also facilitating it all the way through to demobeing completed, right?
Mm-hmm. And at that point it's thenhanded off to sales where it's more managing the relationship. Now that youhave some understanding that it's a qualified prospect. And I think the waythat I've done it, like not having a formal background in, in sales ormarketing has just been like not overthinking it.
Yeah. And then just being much morescrappy. Right. So like, yeah. Prior to me doing startups, I was doing financefor a while and then I did entertainment. I did TV and film production for anumber of years. And yeah, I think that checkered work history actually set mereally well up for growth because at the end of the day, it's all still aboutstorytelling.
But then be able to use data andanalytics to ensure that you're scaling the story effectively. Yeah. And that'skind of what I found, to be. Ultimately, I don't know, happenstance landed intothis, in, in this role and, and ultimately where I found the, the most, Ithink, beneficial and best fit for me in terms of a professional career.
But I'm happy to dive in terms of likephilosophically how I think about growth and all that stuff.
Julian: And, yeah. Well, I wasjust gonna, I was just gonna ask you how are the incentives different in growthversus like, marketing and sales and, and how are the, I guess, I guess theintention different as well.
I, I can see that, at least when youboil it down, it's all about, figuring out your objectives, right? Growcustomers in a certain direction, and is every strategy leading towards thatone thing versus, acquire new customers or, farm, certain partnerships andthings like that.
Which are, I think more the, the, thedetailed aspects of sales and, and marketing in that respect. But how are themetrics different or are they not different Yeah. Than the traditional kind ofsales and marketing department or function or, or motion in the company?
Chris: Sure. Yeah, so I thinkyou gotta break it down into baby steps.
Like again, I think when growth, growthis all about growing more customers, right, right now, like you can get furtherdown that flywheel of like, how does. Customer retention then impact top linegrowth, right? Because yeah, referrals, word of mouth, that kind of stuff. Andhaving those flywheels in place where your customers are helping you get morecustomers.
That's the ideal situation. But let'sjust take it from like, that's, that's obviously more mature companies, muchmore sophisticated like sales processes. I think that's the ideal scenario tokind of work towards as a company. But in the early stages, just trying to getyour first few customers, I think and, and just kind of like grow, up into acertain point and stage.
It's all about just adding a higher vol,a volume of customers. Mm-hmm. And then kind of working backwards from that iswhat I've done. So, how do we get to customers? Well, you need to get in frontof them is the first thing. Right. Right. And what is your biggest assettypically in the B2B world that will be like your salesperson?
How do you get your salesperson to havesome kind of interaction through a call or a video conference with the targetcustomer? That's like the number one priority. So that's the, that's the firststep. And then, I think like, so if you move backwards from there, there's likeyour audience.
Mm-hmm. That on paper is gonna be a goodfa good fit for, for being a potential customer for you. So they're, they'reout there somewhere. Yeah. Now, how do you get in front of them to get theminto this meeting? Right? Yeah. And there's like now like maybe 15 to 20 babysteps from doing some kind of, Awareness or interaction or cold outreach.
Yeah. From getting that audience to beone understanding of you guys exist. And then two, having enough trust orincentivizing or motivating them in a way where they are agreeing toessentially give them. Your their attention, your, their attention to you.Right? That's the second thing. And then third thing would be like, alright,let's focus on the logistics of actually getting that attention and booked intoa slot of time.
Yeah. Right. And so those are kind likethe three major steps. And then when you think about it from actual go tomarket motion or how you actually execute on it, the first step is tounderstand. Who your target, who your target market is. And I think, the thegeneral acronym that's thrown around is tam, right?
I'm sure you're available at totalavailable market. That's a very common thing to throw around, especially toinvestors, et cetera. But the reality is, like, as a startup and early stagecompany, even if you're less than like three years old, in some cases, I'veseen like half billion dollar companies still be in this situation where likeyour, your TAM is not really who your core market is today.
Right. And most people don't do this ormost founders don't do this, but you truly have to do a Sam, Sam Tam. Sam sawanalysis. TAM is like where your company can service like five years, 10 yearsfrom now, right? Yeah. As your product evolves, but. Your product is not gonnabe in this most perfect scenario where it's ready to service that in total,that total market.
Yeah. In reality, your product, is gonnatake dec take years, if not decades, to get to a place where actually serviceis the o the underlying mission and vision of what you want to set out to doand build, right? So you have to really look at. All right. My product is here.I have the MVP of the product.
I have to look at my sum, which is myserviceable, attainable market today. And from a timeline perspective, I thinkabout it as like, who can I service today up to three to six months from now? Yeah.And then your SAM is your serviceable addressable market, and that's what, whoyou're gonna be able to serve as your product evolves six months to a year anda half from now.
Mm-hmm. Right? Mm-hmm. And that'sconstantly on a, on a rolling basis, right? So, yeah. Three months later you'restill gonna be looking at your som in a sense that yes, your market size mayhave expanded, but the truth is, like what you might assume to be a billiondollar tam is like in reality, maybe a 10 million Psalm.
And in that case, you're not gonnanecessarily be able to acquire a hundred thousand customers in that tam, butyou might be able to acquire a thousand customers in your, so, Right. Yeah. Andif you don't do that analysis and you're trying to chase, chase it, like your,your, your tail essentially trying to go all upstream to try to serve as ahundred thousand types of customers.
Yeah. When in reality one, even if youlucky enough to like land one of those types of customers, you're probablydon't have a product that's sophisticated enough to retain them. And thatbecomes a problem because that results in churn. And so where you really needto do is really. Take a gut check, reality check of like, who actually is gonnarealize the most value today?
Yeah. And just focus on creating alookalike audience of customers that, that mirror that individual or thatcompany. Yeah. And that's the first thing, first step, right? Is like tounderstand that really on paper put it down, make that as part of like yourgo-to-market understanding. Yeah. And then it's gonna be like, all right, nowwhere do they live?
Sleep, eat, breathe. Either online oroffline. That's when you start discovering, all right, are they on LinkedIn? Orare they on Instagram or are they on email, or are they on, Facebook groups orLinkedIn group, for example. Right? Like, I've worked with companies that sellinto everything from like smb, mid-market, enterprise, right?
So sometimes on the SMB side, likethey're selling a SaaS product to funeral homes or like gym owners or like, sogym owners are a very different type of breed than a VP of marketing at. Gusto,for example, right? Like right. Psychologically, different motivations aredifferent. Life priorities are different, so the messaging is all gonna bedifferent.
You really just need to know who you'retrying to target today. And then once you know where they are and, and I think.When I say that, it's like, don't worry just about on online and don't worryjust about things at scale. An example I typically use will be like, if you area direct-to-consumer, product that maybe is like trying to target stay-at-homemoms in affluent communities.
Because, they, they, they're selling adirect-to-consumer good that is selling into either like the tween or like thetoddler market or something. Yeah. Yeah. What you could do is have somebodystand outside of a yoga studio between the hours of 11 to 3:00 PM right in themiddle of the day is, that's most likely gonna be like, stay at home moms anddo it in affluent communities.
Yeah. Similarly, if you're trying totarget contractors, what you might do is like, you might have somebody standoutside of a Home Depot waiting for, people who are coming out of there tointeract with contractors. So there's always a digital version of what thatphysical. Thing looks like, but you need to be super creative of like whatyou're trying to do and how you're trying to get in front of the audience.
Obviously on enterprise or like, you canalways then move onto these larger things like trade shows and looking atassociations. The other thing that a lot of companies tend to miss is like ifthey are a SMB or mid-market company, like, like, everything from anacupuncturist, a massage therapist to a hairstylist.
To a accountant. They all need to belicensed professionals, right? Licensed professionals. There's going to be apublic database of them, either by state, by federal, or by local local data.Some kind of like lo local county database, right? Yeah. So you can always lookup the license because they have to always re-up that license.
So there's always a public actualdatabase of all those individuals somewhere. If you do like license, look upcosmetology license. You'll get a link to all that and you'll all of a suddenbe like opened up like, oh, these are like a, and they have a bunch ofinformation there, and a lot of times it's gonna be the actual owners.
So then it's like figuring out wherethey are and then start building a database of that. Yeah. And the databasethat you build, you wanna understand the contacts, which are essentially gonnabe the channels that you have. To get in front of them. You're not even gettingto messaging, you're not doing any of this stuff yet, but channels?
Yeah, so if like, for example, thosefederal, state, local databases, a lot of times they'll give you a physicalmailing address, sometimes an email address, and a lot of times a phone number.And the phone number is most of the times going to be a cell phone number, likea mobile device number now?
Yeah, just between, let's just forgetabout email, but let's just look at physical mailing address and phone number.That gives you actually like four to five touch points and channels, and a lotof people don't realize this physical mailing address. You can do direct mail.Right. You can also have a foot traffic like rep actually walk into a location.
The, the second, so that's two channelsfrom a physical mailing address, from a phone number, which is like most likelygonna be a mobile device, allows you to do ringless, voicemail, sms, and coldcalls. So in total, between two data points, a physical mailing address and aphone number, you got access to five channels.
And guess what? You can also digitizethat by looking out to Google Maps. When you go into Google Maps and you startsearching for like gym owners. Or like for example, like, I don't know, likephysical therapists is another space that we've worked with a lot of times.The, the, the, the numbers that populate now on directories are gonna be a, acell phone number too.
Yeah. Just kind of where the world thatwe live in. So you have five, five. Channels to now get your, get your story infront of them, right? Yeah. Now you add an email. Now you can do retargeting,you can do email drip campaigns. You can find social media handles like aLinkedIn url. Facebook url, or Twitter, Twitter url.
That gives you d their ability to dodirect messaging. From Twitter, you can do dms from Facebook, you can do dmsand LinkedIn. You can also do dms, and now you're opening your plethora ofchannels to up to like eight to 10 different ones. Yeah. So that's the nextstep. And then the last step would be focusing on the messaging that you wantto use, right?
Mm-hmm. So again, going back to thatanalogy of like a gym owner is a very different mindset than it is like a VP ofmarketing at Gusta or like a FinTech company, right? So the things thatmotivate them, their day to day. Pain points is all gonna be different. Theemotional triggers, what they, what actually elicits a response from thememotionally are all very, very different.
So that's the other part of it is likethe messaging, as hokey as it sounds, we tend to bucket messaging intoemotional triggers, whether it could be like fomo, sense of urgency, nostalgia,whatever it might be. Yeah. And that way, based on the audience, we'll knowwhich one to continue to drill down into.
Right. Yeah. And that's really importantbecause, at the. What's, what's, what's really kind of like true is that you'llstart seeing is that psychologically, personality wise, a lot of these typesare kind of very, very similar. At least like 80% are gonna be somewhat similarin terms of like who they are, right?
Like the peop the types of people thatbecome accountants are mostly a certain type of personality set versus the typeof people who become salespeople or very different types of personality set.But they all tend to be very similar. And so once you understand the messagingthat works for that subset, then all of a sudden you're able to speak much moreintelligently to them.
Yeah. In a way that they feel like you've,you're listening and you're connecting. Yeah. So that I think is the next mostimportant step. And then the, I, I think this is more of like icing on thecake, but the idea here would be then, Leveraging multiple channels Yeah. Ispart of a single sales sequence especially in the B2B world.
So yeah, for example in the consumerworld, it's very common, right? It's like if I was, and I don't know why B2Bcompanies think this way, but like, again, I think we adopted a lot of, lot ofthings from, from just consumer, but but not this part, which is, if I was, ifI just started like a. A no name brand, like a brand new running shoe company,right?
Yeah. And I just hit you up, Julian,through emails like four or five emails every week, just saying, Hey, buy myrunning shoes. Buy my running shoes. They're great because of X, Y, Z, and thatwas my only channel. Most likely you're just gonna delete me or block me atsome point, right? Yeah, yeah. Versus if I am a running shoe company and yousee a billboard ad of, of that company while you're driving down the freeway,you see a streaming ad on your favorite show on Hulu.
With that company you see, an ad pop upon your Instagram feed and then you ultimately get, say like a. An email or anSMS notification with a 10% discount code retargeting you, because you had somekind of engagement from those other channels. At that point, you're probablymuch more inclined to be like, yep, I'm actually gonna rerun a marathon in sixmonths.
Happy to give this a shot. Like kind ofdeal. Right. And in the consumer world, we just tend to ha, sorry. In the B2Bworld, we just tend to hammer home. The two primary channels are gonna beLinkedIn and like email. Yeah. And if you're gonna imagine like, a recipient onthe side of those things.
I'm, I mean, like I'm deleting or I'm,I'm just like, at the end of the day just ignoring a lot of those things. Yeah.Yeah. So you need to leverage multiple channels. Like again, get, get thingswhere it's like you're doing email on day one, a LinkedIn ad request on daytwo. Yeah. A ringless voicemail day three, email follow up on day four.
An SMS text on day six. Yeah. A LinkedInDM on day seven. Now that there's been time for them to add you. Yeah. ATwitter DM on day eight. A Facebook DM on day nine, you get what I'm saying?But like you can leverage down multiple channels to hit somebody up, to getthem to actually see your messaging.
Julian: We obviously talkedabout the research and identifying your profile. We talked about the differentmechanics and channels that you can, access and, and once you kind of figureout that profile, I think one of the missing pieces, thinking about, obviouslywe're deep into tactics on what works and going through these channels, butwhere do you measure, if I'm a company, I have my top line funnel, I'm, I'macquiring new customers, then I'm focusing on our conversion.
How do I get them down to actually.Purchasing my product using my service and, and how do I measure the success ofthose different campaigns? Do I know my customer that well? Am, am Is themessaging getting across are the different, is the timing? Am I, am I strong interms of when I'm capturing them in the timeline of their life cycle so we cancapture them, when the product hits the most, how do I measure those so I knowwhat parts of the funnel are actually working well and what's not working wellon from a conversion standpoint?
Chris: So it's, I think it'sbreaking up into steps. So like, let's just say for example, you're using emailas a channel. I think like the number one thing is that you're gonna have tomeasure like, okay, I sent out, let's just say a cohort of like a hundred. Andthen I got. Five to respond, right? So response is just one, one metric thatyou need to measure.
Well, before that, it's even, it's gonnabe deliverability. So maybe only 99 out of a hundred got delivered. And thenout of those 99 that got delivered, how many actually opened, right? Let's justsay it's like 50 out of 99 opened. So now 50 actually had a chance to read themessage. Out of those opens, how many actually replied?
Right. And so reply doesn't meanpositive or negative, it just means response. And so typically we'll look atresponse as it relates back to delivered because that's super important for us,knowing that, again, for us at least, we know what's gonna yield typicallyabout a 40 to 50% open rate. So we can kind of like make assumptions around,opens around what visibility looks like.
So we're really focusing on, really thecore output, which is response. But from response, then how do you get topositive response? Right? So it can be positive or negative, but how do you getto a positive response? From positive response? Then how do you get from thereto then having them commit to a time?
For, for, getting a booked meeting andthen from a booked meeting prior to actually the day that the meeting happens,how do we make sure that they're actually good quality and qualified? Right? Sothere's a way to insert Quest questions in that time period. And then how doyou then actually make sure that there's a high show rate by the time that theyget to the, the day of the meeting, right?
So at the end of the day, if you're notdoing or optimizing for all those little baby steps, you're. You're defeatingthe purpose by the time you get to the very bottom thing, right? Yeah. So,which is having the meeting and then completing it. Because if you do a greatjob, for example, like getting great response rates, but only a super smallpercentage and they're getting booked, then there's a, that, that's the problemis like you have to diagnose the issues between, all right, well, we're gettingpositive responses, but we're not getting them booked.
Yeah. What's the reason there? Right.And a lot of times what we've seen is that, Time decay is a very real thing. Soif you're not getting back to somebody within two hours of when they indicatedpositive interest in taking a meeting, yeah, your chances of booking them goesfor 80% down to 30%. And so that could be essentially it, which is thefrequency and how quickly you respond to positive responses.
So from there, like then like say bookedto actually showing up, like that's great that you got them to booked, butthat's not the end of the, that's not under the lifecycle there, right? Youhave to actually get them to show up. So we, we figured out, like youdefinitely need to get a, you need to get a phone number because notificationsthrough email is just really noisy.
It gets lost a lot of times. So ifyou're not doing SMS reminders, Your chances of getting somebody to show goesfrom like SMS reminders. We see a 90% show rate. If you don't have sms, thenjust email alone, it's about a 40% show rate. Yeah. So like those are just allthese little steps where you need to understand and track the measurements ofconversion because that allows you to ultimately, Not just about messaging.
HA allows you to diagnose where theissue is and then look, is it actually messaging or is it actually, a deliverabilityissue or is it some kind of technical issue or some logistical issue? Yeah, anda lot of the times it's really not messaging at that point because if you'regetting positive responses, you got the messaging there.
It's more so more so gonna be a logisticalissue.
Julian: Yeah. And thinkingabout LeadrPro, how has the landscape really changed now that there's so muchnoise in terms of Yeah. Buy, there's so much software out there for buyers toactually get value out of whatever they're purchasing you. You talked earlier about,the, the, the challenges of, of paying for, say a Salesforce as a smallcompany, whether it's, it doesn't necessarily integrate well with what you'reactually doing.
You need a consultant to actually buildit and it becoming more robust. And then on the flip side, for sellers,Breaking through all these channels to really deliver value, which is, positivebusiness outcomes for adding this tool, product or service based on, yourcurrent business needs.
How has LeadrPro kind of br broughtthose two those two kind of buyer and seller into this marketplace, and whatare the incentives that drives them there? Through the noise. And, and how issome of the discovery process kind of taken out and, and kind of, easily kindof, introduced between these two parties?
Chris: Yeah. So the worldthat we're trying to build here is that like, As an agency, we ran this idea oflike using incentives as a way to kind of cut through the noise. So maliterally paying somebody a hundred dollars to sit through a demo. And you seethis very common nowadays and a lot of companies will run this exercise.
They'll offer a hundred dollars giftcard, for you to sit through a demo now, where I've seen a lot of that negativefeedback come in where it's like, well, they just end up coming in for the, forthe incentive. And they're not like a good qualified lead. Well, yeah, probablycuz you didn't qualify that.
Right. So at the end of the day, what wefound doing this 10,000 plus times as an agency paying over half a million dollarswas that like, look, we have an opportunity to use the incentive to again, cutthrough the noise, get to a positive response faster, eight to 10 x higherresponse rate than anything we would ever see from something ROI was.
And then. But then how do we get thatinto booked? We realized, again, under two hours, facilitate as many channelsas possible. Get them booked. So we really optimize from using the incentive toget somebody booked. Now we got somebody booked. How do we make sure that theyshow up? Not just that, but how do we make sure that they're actuallyqualified?
And so what we found is like when we gotsomebody booked, actually only about half of them were qualified. Right? So howwe would qualify them is that, yeah. Because like, a lot of people are gonna belike, yeah, I'll take a hundred dollars meeting, take a meeting. But then youneed to then Yeah. But then like what happens in between that time period wedid was like, We inserted qualification questions.
So how we did this was like, can youplease answer these five questions to help us better, structure the call by thetime we hop onto it. And they're essentially qualification questions. So it'sasking them like, what are you currently using around xyz? What is your painpoint? And how big of a pain is it as it relates to xyz, whatever it might be.
And dot, dot dot, right. So is,
Julian: is that, sorry, isthat customized per kind of software that you're integrating or are those kindof more general questions that as, as a filter layer.
Chris: Well, it's, it'spertinent to each se it's pertinent to each vendor or customer, right? Like, oreach, whatever the client, it's unique to that client, right?
Or customer. So it's all gonna be, it'snot general. It's always gonna be related back to the specific software servicethat that company's selling. But what we found was like those qual, thosequalifying questions allowed us to very quickly ascertain whether or not thisperson is actually sincere and then they're, that they're actually in a buyingpattern.
Right. And so anybody who was not in abuying pattern, we would just disqualify and we would just be like, Hey, sorry,we actually had enough conversations. We don't need to do this one right now.And we would send them a $5 Starbucks gift card and they'd go along on theirmerry way. And we found out that nobody got pissed off when we canceled themeeting.
Right? Yeah. And so what ends uphappening, let's just say for example, you had, you, you booked 10 of thesemeetings, paying a hundred dollars each, right? With your, where you're on thehook for a thousand dollars. Whereas most companies work are gonna pay athousand dollars to complete the meeting, and then only half are qualified andrealize it after the call.
What we are able to do is instead reducethat cost because now we're only paying $5 for the ones that don't qualify. Soif you take five that don't qualify, we pay $25 just to remove the junk out ofthat funnel, and then we pay a hundred dollars only for the ones that qualify.So we're saving our cost of that meeting.
By almost 50%. Does that make sense?Yeah. Yeah. And that, that's kind of, yeah, that's kinda the exercise that weran. And then LeadrPro is now facilitating that in an automated format. Yeah.So that was what we did as an agency. We've found that that worked really,really well. We understood all those nuanced steps.
And then LeadrPro is now using amarketplace where, We're connecting those buyers and sellers directly. So yougotta think of it more so as like a consumer app, like Uber, for example. Yeah.Passengers and drivers both have to be registered on Uber for Uber to thenfacilitate an interaction right between two sides.
Yeah. Same thing for us. So our buyersare actually registered users on our platform, and so are the sellers. And sobased off of that, we're able to then facilitate a demo between the two sides.It's much more like a dating app for B2B sales than anything else. So that'swhy we're coming out with like a mobile device a mobile app that's that's gonnabe released towards the end of this month.
Julian: That's incredible.And, and in thinking about, the way to, communicate the value of themarketplace to both sides, how do you communicate in terms of from anorganization standpoint that, whatever money you're spending in booking thesemeetings is similar, if not, less than what you would, in terms of like theother campaigns that you're running.
And, and it really does impact the LTVof your, of, of your, your clients and your existing customers, but it alsoimpacts the cost per acquisition. And how do you kind of relate those two beingthat one you have to pay now. So it's a little bit more of an immediacy biasversus, seeing the long-term kind of cost of like a cost per acquisitionthrough other channels and things like that.
How do you communicate to teams thatyou're selling the, the marketplace kind of, ecosystem into. That the, themoney that they're paying for each meeting actually does directly influencethose other outcomes that you don't see until later on.
Chris: Well, that's theproblem, right? Like, so for, that's what we are solving for.
So essentially we are provi, like thebiggest hurdle for every B2B company is the ability to scale cost effectively,predictably, and consistently. Right. Right. And that's because historicallyyou're spending a lot to try to learn and then figure out what the cost islater, right? Yeah. For us, we do a pay as you go.
So it's fixed cost per meeting and youare able to make a decision as to whether or not you want to be committed tothe cost of the meeting. So you can accept or decline the meeting requests as asales, as a sales team before you actually commit financially to the cost ofthe meeting. Right? Yeah. So you can review the answers to qualificationquestions, looked at buyer persona traits.
You can see which company that they'reat, potential size of the deal, even before you actually commit to anything.And so for us, we've created this world where, at the seller side, Like it'svery easy for them to generate and understand what the ROI is. Especially whenwe walk them through a demo and we go go into our admin panel and we show themthat 73% of our completed meetings turn into sales opportunity for our customers.
So it's a very higher rate than whatthey typically would see internally because of the fact that we got really goodat inserting these gating tools. So one is making sure that buyers only seethings that are relevant to them, that's based on their company that they'reat, and then their job title.
They're not seeing everything under thesun. Right? Yeah. They're only seeing the things that are relatable to them.And then number two is like the qualification questions are unique to everysingle vendor, right? So like for example, a monday.com or a Mixmax, they'llask point blank, do you have $50,000 to allocate towards a project managementsolution in second quarter of this year?
And then number two, are you the, areyou the individual that has the authority to make that purchasing decisionalone, right? Yeah. And based on being able to like ask those kinds of verylike direct buying intent questions. You can cut through a lot of the bs. Yeah.And so by the time that they're accepting the meeting, they already know,alright, this company is actually evaluating, they have the, they have thedecision making ability for making that purchase decision.
We definitely want pay for this meeting.Right. So that's how we've taken a lot of the guesswork out of it. So there isno pay upfront cost, there's nothing like that. It's all very risk free, low.Zero commitment or obligation to anything. You can sit there, receive a ton ofdemo requests, decline every single one of 'em, but our maturing machinelearning algorithm will pick up over it over time and then get you bettermatches within a two week, three week period.
So that's kind of like how we started tofacilitate these matches. Again, think of dating app, right? Yeah. Dating app.Where like, actually the goal of a dating app is to make sure that they'refacilitating interactions where there's a high quality of a match and we'redoing the same thing. Yeah. And then on the buyer side, they're motivatedbecause number one, they get paid $75 to participate in these demos, which atthe VP level or higher is not a huge motivator.
It's more of a nice to have. And we'veplayed around with paying them much larger and much lower than that. But again,they feel respected for their time. Secondarily, they can redirect anybodywho's trying to solicit them in their email or their LinkedIn. Yeah, or anyother socials. They can drive them back to their LeadrPro profile, similar to aLinkedIn url.
You can share your LeadrPro URL acrossthose different channels and drive anybody who's trying to solicit for yourattention back to your LeadrPro profile. So the nice thing there is thatanybody who pops up as a, in my dashboard as a buyer is basically I'm lookingthis as my source of truth for anything that's trying to get my attention,right?
Yeah. At the end of the day, I'm alsogetting compensated for that time. And then, the last thing is like a third ofthem actually donate those proceeds to charity because they feel like at theend of the day it's more so good use of their time a time. And our attention isvery, very much a commodity and an asset, right?
Yeah. That has an attached value to it.I, I don't know if you saw this, but recently Ikea being the fact that they areusually, like in really far distances, are now allowing people to makepurchases using the amount of hours that they traveled to get to an IKEA storeas part of a current.
Which is crazy to me, but it's to me,like it, it goes against, it goes with our underlying thesis, which is that weare atten essentially attention brokers. We are brokering attention between twosides.
Julian: Yeah. And tell us alittle bit more about the traction. How many customers are you servicing now onLeadrPro?
How many are you using the, theplatform? What's been exciting about, the growth up to this point, but what areyou particularly excited about in terms of the next stage of growth?
Chris: Yeah, so we we have alittle bit over 50,000 on the buyer side. Wow. Those are gonna be like fromlogos like Amazon, Tesla, red Bull, paychecks, masterclass, DocuSign, etcetera, all VP level executives pretty evenly distributed across the five keydepartments.
But the top three departments are gonnabe sales and marketing executives, HR executives and then engineering product rand d executives. So basically that is like, What's driving our marketplacemm-hmm. Is the more the buyers that we ask you, we, we grab into that, thatfit, that persona type. We are basically able to onboard or acquire any, anyb2b vendor that's trying to sell into that particular audience.
Yeah. Right. So, on the buyer's, on the,sorry, on the seller side, we have customers like Mixmax hire.com contract bookLyft Media. Which is the media division of Lyft. Monday.com for example. And wehave almost like a hundred different types of customers now that again, mostlyare selling into those top three departments across enterprise.
We do have a mix also on the buyer sideof more like C-suite, founder level executives. Yeah. From post series a,series B type companies. So that's kind of the, the mix of that audience. Thatbeing said, we're consistently trying to grow, trying to get more densityacross some of the other like departments like like ops also like finance andaccounting, customer success.
And then being able to then acquire moresellers or vendors that are trying to sell into that group. And the idea wouldbe then doing this playbook and then replicating in a way where we can movemore downstream into more mid-market and smb. So, for example, restaurantowners get. Hit up and bombarded a lot of times with tons of restauranttechnology, right?
So what if we had a platform now whereit can go downstream, get restaurant owners onto the platform as the way thatthey actually discover Yeah. And manage their tech stacks, right? And so now wecan then go against like all those restaurant technology companies, like UberEats or, or like a Tray or like, some of these other like more sophisticatedplatforms.
And then, Go and get them onboarded ascustomers because we have that other side of the market. So that's kind ofwhere I see like a lot of that growth happening. But what I'm really excitedabout is really kind of like helping to continue to facilitate value to bothsides and really focus on stickiness and retention on the buyer and sellerside.
Julian: Yeah. And whether it'sexternal, internal, what are some of the biggest risks that LeadrPro facestoday?
Chris: I mean, I think likethe risks for us is really just like, we are trying to build a moat around thefact that we are first to market. Mm-hmm. And really try to, get separateourselves as fast as possible.
Just because we have that go to that,that first to market advantage. So like we we're just trying to again, likegrow as quickly and fast as possible. Yeah. Generate the playbook and be ableto scale as, as, as fast as we can. But that's the biggest thing, right? It'slike, I think there are companies that are in, in, in different spaces that arelarge that can move into this space if they wanted to, but it would be almostlike a repositioning of their core value prop, which would, it's not easy todo.
Julian: So Yeah. Yeah.Thinking, if everything goes well, what's the long term vision?
Chris: I mean, long termvision, I'm not gonna lie, if we could sell the company in like five, sixyears, like I totally would be open to it. I think like, I don't think enoughfounders are very like, practical in that sense of like, thinking about whatoutcomes they're looking for.
Sure. But that would be great for ourinvestors. It would be great for, for our team who all has equity in ourbusiness. But I think also just like if we weren't to sell, like we just kindof like, continue to build and build and build, I think like, I imagine thatwhat we're doing on the B2B side is almost proving a larger use case.
Yeah. For the direct to consumerexperience. Going again, back to the idea of like our attention is an asset, ourtime is an asset and a commodity. Yeah. Like I imagine that whether it's uspursuing this or some other company pursuing this, that in a dystopian societylike. Based on my experience and my level of expertise, I provide a certainlevel of value, right?
Yeah. Based on your, your experience,your expertise, you provide a certain level of value, and so based on an intentof a conversation that me and you want to have together, right? Mm-hmm. There'sgonna be somebody who's gonna be gaining more out of the conversation. Right.And so what could happen is that if there was a certain amount of creditsassociated to me, a certain amount of credits associated to you for thatinteraction and then like whoever is gaining the, gaining the most out of thatwould be paying a certain amount of credits or that credit differential betweenthe two sides to then the other recipient in order for them to level up almostlike a game.
Like that's where I feel like there's aworld or opportunity to create that, where we tap our mobile devices to oneanother and it. There's a transac, a financial transaction that actually takesplace, whereas through tokenization or, or whatever it's happening. But then a,a value that is shared Yeah.
With every single interaction that we dealwith. So that our time is actually being accounted for Yeah. In this monetaryway.
Julian: Yeah. I was like, thisnext section I'll call my founder faq. So I'm gonna hit you with some rapidfire questions and we'll see where we go, so. Sure. First one I always like tobreak it open in is what's particularly hard about your job?
Chris: Just just spending somuch time in different, like building out process across different departments,right? Yeah. So from sales, customer success, buyer side, growth ops,engineering, et cetera. So being able to move along and facilitate where I'm,I'm, helping to ideally make everybody else's lives easier.
Yeah. By making my life more difficult,I suppose. But like, building process is super critical and the only way thatyou truly scale is by having process in place.
Julian: Yeah. From amarketplace standpoint, being that qualifying and, and almost measuring bothsides is extremely valuable and, and kind of almost adding filters, whether thetype of company, type of industry, size of team, product, all those thingsthat, really kind of qualify and help, the, the, the, I'm sure the machinelearning engine use those variables to correlate or, essentially not interact.
How do you define what is worthmeasuring versus what is not? Like, do you need to know the skin, the, the, thethe hair color of the person or the eye color? From the buyer side, obviouslythat's a little bit too granular, but what essentially do you kind of decide onwhat's necessary to measure and how much of those measurements changed overtime to help kind of feed into a more accurate recommendation engine that youknow you've built inside?
Chris: Yeah. Feedback loops.Yeah, like feedback loops from both buyers and sellers. Right. So like when welaunched less than a year ago, like we had these grandiose ideas of like, Hey,we want variable pricing. So if it's like a senior executive, from Microsoft,that should be valued differently than a. Founder at Pree startup.
Right. Like that attention, but like atthe end of the day, we didn't have enough data to justify what the algorithmshould actually look like. Right. So I think part of it is like justunderstanding that you need to acquire data to make intelligent decisions, andthen you need to get that feedback loop to validate the data.
Yeah. Right. So we can see data, we canmake hypotheses and, and create thesis all, all day long, but then we need tovalidate it from the, from the end users. And so that's what we got really goodat. We operate under like a three strikes policy. So the idea there is like weeither on the seller side need to hear from three different sellers or threedifferent customers a request for the same Product feature or function, andthen we'll prioritize it on our roadmap.
If it's just some one off, like askingfor something, we're not gonna build it. Yeah. And the same thing on the buyerside. We have to hear at least three unique buyers that bring up the samething. And if they bring up the same thing, we'll start prioritizing it. Butthat's how we start, really like, Getting into a place where, you know, everyalgorithm, every, like learning everything, every variable that goes into theinput for the output is all measured and calculated in a way where it's, it'snone of us making that decision.
It's not me having my ego in the way ormaking a gut decision. It's all driven by data and then feedback.
Julian: Yeah. And what, how isyour kind of manual to automation formula, or process in regards to, what youhave in terms of. Kinda the more manual decision making process or evenevaluation and then automating it so that a lot of that function is done withinthe platform, within the ecosystem.
What's your formula for that? In, in,in, for other founders out there that are looking to really automate a lot ofthe process because, Without automation, there's just no scale. You can't bedoing the same task over and over again. You should shorten the amount of timeor just not do it at all.
But what's the formula for understandingwhat's necessary to automate and what's not? Because automating everything isjust, yeah. It's not worth the, the time investment and the resources. Butwhat's your kind of thought on that?
Chris: Redefine what youthink MVP is? Yeah, that's what I say. Like MVP basically could just be abutton where it looks like it's automated engine, but you know, your usersthink it is.
But on the back end, it's literally likeI'm looking at the data and I'm trying to scramble to fulfill what thatbutton's supposed to do, which is fine, right? Because what we want do is like,maybe nobody's gonna click on the button. Right at the end of the day, right?And like you need to figure out like how many people are clicking on thebutton.
And then you need to understand, well,what does success look like? Is 30% clicking on the button? Make sense? 40%,5%? If it's under a certain threshold, don't build the automated version ofthat. If it, if it's above that threshold, then you go ahead and you justifythe build. But then that's how we do it, is like we will.
We'll have ideas for different functionsand features, et cetera, where we can get something that's requested from usthat we think like, actually, maybe this makes sense. But again, before we likeput that put that on the onus of, of the dev team to go build it. Yeah. We'lljust have them just do something that takes like maybe five 30 minutes for themto throw something up and then we'll test it.
Yeah, and I think that's that's a betterway of trying to do it than it is to spend days, if not weeks or months, tryingto build something that somebody may not ever use.
Julian: Yeah, I like theredefining the mvp. What does success look like? What, what are you trying to,move towards? What's the, the simplest impact you can have and, and startcollecting that information versus starting to build all the things you know,behind that.
Once, once there's at least adoptabilityand then traction in that, whether it's a feature set or, or whatever that MVPlooks like. I like that. I always like to ask this question cause I love howfounders extract knowledge out of anything they ingest. Whether it was early inyour career or now, what books or people have influenced you the most?
Chris: How to win friends andInfluence people. I mean, like, that's Andrew Carnegie. I mean like, that'slike the, my go-to. I think also David Goggins from like, can't Hurt Me. Ithink the idea, just understanding, really where to dig deep on. I'm reallymotivated and I get inspired by people like that, like David Goggins or like,also I think just people who are like, Have an immense amount of work ethic andjust hustle and grit.
A lot of times I think, like I've, I'vebeen that person, that dude on the couch that had 1,000,001 ideas, like theidea for Netflix before Netflix, but I never knew how to execute, let alone,like what would, what I supposed to, what I, what I was supposed to be doing onday one. Yeah. Fortunately, like I have friends that like knew the world oftech and like I was able to get integrated with them on our first startup.
And at some point it hit me that thematrix is real. And at the end of the day you have the option of like, youwanna be a crater or consumer, right? Like, make that, make that choice. To methat's really the red pill and blue pill differential. Like you can either be abuilder or you can be somebody who's actually just gonna be consuming.
Mm-hmm. And I think that's the, thatget, that's the biggest thing. And, and realizing that that tech and through,code that you can pretty much build anything. And now with, open ai, like thereis really literally no excuse for anybody who has that hustle to like, not beable to figure some shit out, to end up like making, a side hustle or doinglike, five, six figures, right. And it's a side hustle. So.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. I know we,we, we've gone over time here, but I've been such, I've been enjoying theconversation. It's good understanding the, kind of how you view marketplace,how you view testing different, parts of your business, parts of your product.
I always like to make sure we didn'tleave anything on the table. So last little bit before we close out here,Chris, is, is there any question I didn't ask you that I should have oranything that we didn't talk about that you wanted to bring up? Before, beforewe close out here?
Chris: I mean, I would justsay that like, number one, it's never too late.
Like I was a guy doing like my firststartup making $12 an hour at my early thirties, answering phones before Iended up figuring out my, like, my professional life journey and my calling andmy purpose. So one, never too late. I think two is also just like, When you getto a point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired, I'm gonna quotethat from Dumb and Dumber, but like when you're sick and tired of being sick andsick and tired, like dig deep into what that actually means to you.
Do you want to be like that for the restof your life, or do you want to use that as motivation for you to take whateverthat next step is and make the risk to do that next step even though you don'tknow? What it's going to look like. So many people will talk themselves out ofit, worrying about what the 10th step is gonna be, and thinking like, okay,well I'm gonna run into this barrier on the 10th step.
When actuality, you're most likely 99.9%of the time, never gonna run into that barrier because. By the time you makethat first decision, your your path is going to have so many different typesof, different variables that's gonna lead you to so many different ways thatyou didn't even think of before.
And I think that's the one thing likethat, if, if I can ever drill anything home in anybody is just take risks. Takethe first step. Don't worry about even the second.
Julian: Yeah. Yeah. MartinLuther King Jr. Said you don't, you don't have to see the whole staircase totake the first step. Is, is a similar sentiment in that regards.
Like, absolutely, you can't, you can'tgo upstairs if you're not walking in. So that was like a really powerful thing andI love that. Last little bit, Chris, is where can we found you and, and supportyou? Be a fan of you and also LeadrPro. Give us your plugs. What are yourLinkedIns, your Twitters?
What if gonna be of supporter of you andwhat you got going on?
Chris: Yeah, I'm pretty muchavailable on all socials for at the Chris Sheng. Sheng is s h e n g. So you canhit me up there. I have personal coaching that I also offer for anybody email@example.com. If you're interested in listing your business orbeing a buyer on LeadrPro, you can go to LeadrPro.com, which is L E A D R P Ro.com.
Julian: Amazing. Chris, it'sbeen such a pleasure learning about your experience, kind of how view, how youview building, how you view. Kind of not only, building a company, but buildinga product and growth strategies in ways that really companies can go, not onlyunderstand their buyer more, but also go and, and attack them and finddifferent ways to measure their, their tactics.
And really kind of bring everything downfrom, to overall do what we all, want to do, which is grow revenue, growprofit, and, and target our customers and add value in the right way. So Chris,it's been such a pleasure chatting with you. I hope you enjoyed yourself today.And thank you again for being on Behind Company Lines.
Chris: Of course. Thank youso much, Julian.
Julian: Of course.