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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Q&A: How Managed Sales Pros Warms up MSP Lead Generation through Cold Calling

Posted March 26, 2015by Mary McCoy

HowManagedSalesProsWarmsupMSPLeadGenerationthroughColdCalling-1


Ring ring!

Hi yes, this is Mary. Oh yeah, and I'm calling on behalf of Continuum. Um...um... Are your clients' networks up and running? Well, you better go catch them! K BYE. 

Are you awkward when you answer the phone? You tense up, your palms get sweaty and you wonder why you can't possibly just handle the sale over email. With Managed Sales Pros, you don't have to stress about sales calls. Dedicated to growing the client base and providing new business opportunities for IT companies, their representatives handle the cold-calling and work with you to warm up your lead generation! I recently sat down with Carrie Simpson, the founder of this sales cycle generation firm, to learn more about the Managed Sales Pros experience. Check out my interview!


Meet our Interviewee, Carrie!

Carrie Simpson Founder of Managed Sales Pros

 

Q

What’s the #1 challenge MSPs face when trying to fill their sales pipeline?

A

Definitely consistency. I think everyone starts with the best of intentions, planning to stick to their business growth plans – whether that is reaching out to ten or to two hundred new potential clients weekly - but one client fire here, and one staffing challenge there and before you know it, the pipeline is empty.

Related: Always Be Closing: The ABCs of the MSP Sales Process

Q

You only serve IT companies and are one of the only lead generation firms in North America focused on the channel. Why target these businesses specifically? Any plans to branch out? 

A

I saw a lot of similarities within the IT companies we worked with – they were started by technical people who grew a solid business (or not) with no formal business or sales training. They could solve the most complex problems when given the opportunity, but they really struggled with getting the initial opportunity to discuss those problems. Often, they had tried and failed at hiring sales talent multiple times. The story was the same from Dakota to Decatur – get me in front of someone and I can win the business. And the channel shares their experience freely with each other – when something works for one company, they aren’t shy about telling their peers. 

We’ve experienced extraordinary growth this year – from 4 agents to over 30, and we now have three offices. We’re in the process of acquiring another firm so we can continue to scale quickly, and once that project is complete I will be able to focus on our next niche, which once again, we discovered completely by accident. Stay tuned.

Q

How did you get into this business? Is your background in IT?

A

My first MSP client was a fluke, actually. I had a small telemarketing consulting practice, and we worked with all kinds of clients – primarily enterprise level software companies. I was approached by a local company that provided managed services, who asked if I could do their lead generation. After Googling “managed services” I agreed to take the project. It went really well, and I got some referrals from that client that also went well. I started attending every channel event I could to learn more about how this ecosystem worked. I attended every breakout session, went to every “how to sell managed services” bootcamp and logged on to any webinar I could find where Channel Chiefs were sharing their knowledge.

I did take the ITIL foundations course online last year. I did not pass. I will try again this year in a classroom setting.

Q

What is the Managed Sales Pros experience? What does an MSP get when he/she outsources by partnering with you? 

A

What our clients told us they wanted was a complete “set it and forget it” solution where they didn’t have to do anything and all they had to do was attend meetings. What they meant was “I want a set it and forget it solution where you call me every day to tell me what’s going on with my campaign.” So while we allow our clients to completely step away from the management of their sales pipeline, we still provide daily and weekly updates for our clients, and we’re completely transparent with them – there is no barrier between the client and their caller, which definitely differentiates us from other lead gen firms. Our callers are trained to the managed services value proposition. They are taught to qualify opportunities and they aren’t incentivized to just get meetings, which ensures a client never drives an hour across town to a meeting that got calendared so someone could hit quota.

Q

I understand one of the services you offer is sales appointment setting. How many leads per week do you average for your clients?

A

This varies greatly by city, but our clients can expect about one meeting for every ten hours of prospecting in most markets. Our minimum commitment is 20 hours weekly, so 2 is a reasonable expectation qualified by number of desktops, number of servers, an appropriate budget and interest. If a client wants a minimum of ten desktops, they will get more appointments than a company that sets a qualifier of 50. Larger cities tend to be more challenging and the West Coast is far more receptive to cold calling than the East Coast. It’s important to remember that appointments aren’t the only deliverable on a campaign – even more important is the pipeline build. Our clients own all of their data at the end of the campaign and receive an itemized follow up calendar with contract end dates and requested follow ups.

Related: Building an MSP Sales Machine: MSPradio 38

 

Q

Once your reps secure a meeting, what’s the follow-up?

A 

Our clients provide us with email and calendar access so that we can schedule the sales appointment using a calendar invite. In that calendar invite we reference anything that the client will need to prepare for the call, and we give the prospect the opportunity to review what they have said. All qualifiers need to be clearly stated in the invitation. That eliminates any exaggeration on the part of the rep, and allows both the client and the prospect to confirm that they do, in fact, want to take this meeting. We then call the day before to remind the prospect of the appointment, giving them one last chance to back out if they aren’t interested, and allowing us to provide any last minute questions to the client.

Q

Do you advise MSPs or provide tips for ensuring their sales appointments are successful?

A

We don’t. We are currently 100% focused on getting MSPs in front of new prospects. This may change in the future, but currently we partner with some excellent coaches and consultants, and if an MSP is struggling with converting leads, we’ll connect them to people who can help them.

Related: How to Prepare Techs for Their First On-Site Appointment with a Prospective Client: Lessons from Robin Robins

Q

All IT is local and MSPs compete with others in their surrounding area. How does Managed Sales Pros address this? Do you work with clients’ geographic competitors?

A

We give our clients exclusivity in their market. In large markets we normally divide up the city by zip codes, or we might work with two clients targeting different verticals or sizes of companies. 

Q

What if the problem doesn’t start with closing? What if MSPs struggle to generate leads in the first place? Do they need to provide a list of contacts for your reps to call?

A

We do encourage our clients to provide us with warm prospect lists if they have them, especially if they participate in local events and organizations. We provide the initial list for calling, it is included in our monthly rate, and the client owns it at the end of their campaign.

Q

Why cold calling? What would you say to critics who claim the practice is outdated or impersonal?

A

I don’t think there is anything more personal than talking one on one to another person. I know I grew my business 500% this year by cold calling. However, cold calling alone won’t work. Email alone won’t work. SEO alone won’t work. To prospect successfully you need to reach out many ways and many times. We are a cold calling firm, but you better believe we sponsor events and send emails and have a social media presence. Cold calling is something you can do to build your business today, right now, without any real training, expensive tools or consultants. Can you go to a networking event and talk about your business? Then you can cold call.

Q

Can you summarize one of your most notable client success stories?

A

Our first client recently closed a $5000.00 MRR contract from a lead we put in his pipeline over 2 years ago. It works when you do. 

Q

Is it a coincidence that the abbreviation for Managed Sales Pros is MSP?

A

No, it’s not. That was totally on purpose.

 

Q

What’s next for Managed Sales Pros?

A

Well, we grew our company virtually – our first 25 callers all work from their own home offices. We started our first on-premise call center in January, and we’ve already outgrown it. Finding a bigger location, finding better ways to make more calls while maintaining quality, and a new self-directed managed services prospecting training program are all high priorities this year.

 

Click here for more information on Managed Sales Pros!

 

In addition to outsourcing your cold calling, here are some other tips to drive sales!

webinar-keys-to-attracting-and-retaining-good-sales-talent

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Senior Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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