If you had asked some our very first customers three or six months into their first campaign with us at Managed Sales Pros, many of them would have declared their programs a failure. Zero deals closed. Many of them left us disappointed. However, most of the MSPs that stayed more than a year enjoyed an impressive ROI of over 1,100 percent. And then something really interesting happened. Clients that had left us but had continued to nurture the leads we put into their sales pipeline, called us a year later to tell us that their campaigns had also produced similar results.
You can’t measure the success of a prospecting campaign in one month or even three months. Prospecting is a long-term commitment, not a magic bullet.
Consistency and persistence
We’ve spent a lot of time educating the Managed IT market on the importance of process-focused, consistent long-term lead nurturing. Think of prospecting as a bank account that accrues interest. The more you put in, the more it produces. Putting $100 a week into a savings account for three months and then doing nothing further won’t generate much interest. Putting $100 a week into a savings account every week for ten years creates long-term financial stability. Three months of prospecting doesn’t produce long-term results. Three years of consistent prospecting will. Sporadic stop-start-stop-start effort will not generate the same ROI that consistent sales development activity will.
We have prospects for Managed Sales Pros that we’ve been pursuing for four years. Four years! Some of them have been called by us more than 60 times in that period. Guess what? Many of those prospects are closing this year. If we had contacted them once or twice and then never called them again, we wouldn’t be having the fantastic quarter we’re having now. The foundation for our sales success this year (we’re on target to double our revenue) was laid last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
The takeaway for MSPs is start now, and then keep going. You don’t need to perfect your process to get started. We didn’t have a process when we launched; we just started. Our process was developed over time through trial and error. It’s still not finished, and it’s certainly not perfect. (Maybe it’s never finished. Constant improvement is necessary for growth.) But, the one thing we did no matter what was continue to nurture our leads — all day, every day.
So, what do you absolutely need to have in place to begin a successful prospecting initiative? Process, people, and patience. People might be just you. Process can be as simple as using Outlook to organize and adhere to your nurturing activities. Patience is essential — nothing happens overnight.
Rational business owners (the kind you want on your client roster) make informed decisions to change providers at times that are minimally disruptive to their business. They don’t break contracts just because they spoke to a smooth-talking sales executive. Most of the managed services market sign their clients to multi-year engagement agreements, and unseating an incumbent provider is difficult.
What does that mean for you? It means you engage, and then you wait. You become a consistent, reliable, predictable voice. Then you become a trusted advisor, and perhaps even a friend. Then you become their service provider. This happens through effective, continuous nurturing. Regular calls, emails, and invitations to events. It won’t happen in one month. It might not happen in one year.
Proper prospecting will allow you to predict your sales pipeline for years, not quarters. It should give you the information you need to produce a higher percentage chance of winning any account in your market because you’ll know the exact right time to engage with them, and you’ll have continued to stay top of mind.
If we had written off the prospects that said “no” or “not now” to us in year one, we would not be having the year that we’re having now. If you’re looking for more information on effectively building and managing your sales pipeline, head on over to www.managedsalespros.com/blog, or review my previous contributions to Smarter MSP — you’ll find some great tips and techniques you can apply to your sales process starting right now!