Every day I get calls from brand-new MSPs asking how much our services cost. I send them away with some advice and this painful truth: You can’t job out your sales prospecting until you’ve become successful at sales prospecting!
It’s a vicious cycle, but the good news is you can do it, you can do it yourself, and you can start right now if you follow a few simple tips. We built our business from zero, starting with nothing but one person, a laptop, and a phone. You can, too! Here are my best sales tips for new business owners with limited time and limited budgets:
1. Be consistent
Spend time prospecting for new business every day. Put it on your calendar and honor that time as if you were focused on a deadline-driven project for a client. Computer goes down? No problem. There’s the phone book. Email messed up? No big deal, send letters. For an hour. For four hours. For whatever amount of time you can commit to. Do it. Like clockwork. Don’t answer client calls. Don’t mess around on Facebook. Don’t write articles for blogs. Don’t make exceptions. If 10:00 to 11:00 is your new business prospecting time, put it in your calendar as a meeting, and keep that commitment.
2. Be organized
You need to track things and schedule your sales efforts. There are dozens of free and cheap CRM systems online. Get one. Spend a little time setting it up in a way that makes sense for your business. Invest a few hours in training and consulting so that you don’t spend more time dealing with your CRM than you do using your CRM. Develop a process for keeping on top of your prospect interactions. You’ll learn how many new interactions it takes for you to get to speak with a decision maker. (Spoiler alert: It’s about six.) Then, if you’re tracking the number of contacts you need to interact with before you get a meeting (Hint: It’s about 100), you’ll soon learn that emailing five people a day and following random people on Twitter is not a business development strategy.
3. Be true to yourself
How much extra time do you actually have, and what is an hour of your time worth? I know what I bill out at. I have no business building lists from Internet directories to save a few bucks. The hours I spend trying to figure out how to fix my email are hours I could spend billing for my work. Figure out what your time is worth to you, and then figure out what parts of your business you can hand off to others so that you can spend more time looking for new business. You probably know how to fix your own email, but what do you get stuck on that other people could help with? One of the first things I handed off personally was having my house cleaned — that gave me back a few hours a week. Bookkeeping was the first thing I outsourced, and I’ve never looked back. Professionally and personally, what are you holding on to that you could hand off so you have more time for business development?
4. Be aggressive
From here on in, end every conversation you have with: “Can you think of anyone who would benefit from my services?” Ask for their name, number, and email. Contact them right away, and let them know who suggested you call and why. Show your appreciation to the people who give you referrals, and make sure you’re handing out plenty of your own.
5. Begin right now!
Are you going to start looking for new business as soon as you’ve written your ten-page brochure? Wrong. Will you start prospecting once you’ve made a list of the best trade shows to attend next year? No. There are dozens of ways to work without working. If you wait for everything to be exactly right, you’re never going to get started. If you can go to a party and talk about what you do for a living, you can cold call. While there may be some nuances you’ll learn as you go, there is absolutely nothing you need to start building your business other than tenacity and the belief that you can do what you do better than anyone else. There’s the phone. Pick it up!