Ask an MSP Expert

Q: For a while, I thought cold calling was dead. But now, I’m revisiting whether it should be a part of our sales and marketing strategy. Do you think cold calling can make a significant difference for my MSP?

Cold calling is a great way to grab your prospects’ attention, because their inboxes are noisy.  More and more businesses turning to email to send out promotions and campaigns, so it is extremely difficult to get their attention in a crowded inbox. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Radicati Group, the average person receives 115 emails every day. However, if done correctly, cold calling can help you grow your business in more ways than you can imagine.

To help you with your cold calling efforts, we contacted Carrie Simpson, the CEO and founder of Managed Sales Pros. Managed Sales Pros is a sales prospecting firm that is dedicated to growing and providing new business opportunities to IT service providers. With her extensive background in the cold calling industry, Carrie shared some of her advice for IT service providers who are looking to get more value out of their cold calling efforts.

The power of building a relationship and having a conversation

Email marketing and cold calling are both essential components to growing your managed services business. The fact is, you aren’t going to be able to do a lot of business unless you are doing one or the other – or both. Nobody is buying managed services because they saw something interesting on Twitter. To effectively close a deal, you need to build a relationship.

Managed services aren’t a commoditized industry, your customers can’t put in their billing information into a website and click buy now. The best ways to begin a relationship is by contacting them through email or the phone. Of course, it is possible to build brand awareness through thought leadership and content marketing, but at some point, you are going to need to have an actual conversation with them.

The thing I like most about cold calling, is that you can go right to the conversation. Instead of adding leads to a drip campaign, or sending 17 different emails back and forth, you can get to the meat of the conversation. It’s simple, you can call them, engage them, begin a relationship, and qualify them – without the nonsense. That fifteen minutes could make a large impact.

Being successful in your cold calling efforts

If you want to be successful in your cold calling efforts, the most important thing you need to do, is be curious. When you are calling your prospects, find out everything you can about them and their business. How are they growing it? What are some of the challenges they have run into?

As a business owner myself, the first thing I want to find out when I am cold calling is how did this person get from where they started their business to where they are now. Whether it is a million-dollar business or a ten-million-dollar company, I’m interested in knowing their story. Did they get the business handed down to them from their family? Did they get an engineering degree, start out at another company and then branch out on their own? How did they start their business? How did they grow it? How did they get to where they are now?

If you are more curious than you are interested in winning, you will have better luck on the phone. If the only thing you like about selling is winning – then you are going to hate your job. To be successful in cold calling, you need to enjoy the process.

Most of the time, people look at the sales process in terms of wins and losses  instead of exploring the opportunity. The purpose of cold calling isn’t winning the deal, it is about taking the opportunity to learn something. Sometimes you may find out that they aren’t a good fit and you’re not going to do business with them, however, you still have an opportunity to learn from them.

Think about it. As business owners, you probably have run into similar challenges. You might not be able to sign them to a managed services agreement, but they can help you solve X, Y, or Z. For example, they might have figured out a way to hire more interns from a local college, they could be attending a local event that you didn’t know about, or they might have some interesting insight on a new marketing tool. Regardless of the case, they have an interesting perspective and experiences you can learn from.

 One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have to offer, is to not put yourself in a box when you are calling. If you do, you are missing out on an opportunity to not only help people in your community, but also invest in your own business. Cold calling shouldn’t be all about selling, it is about who you can talk to, and who can you learn from.

Being curious helps you turn a tedious job into a growth opportunity for your business. You might not always find the managed service opportunity you were hoping for, but if done correctly you should always be able to walk away from a day of cold calling with more knowledge. For our business on the managed services side of things, we find that the majority of the month we don’t walk away with getting a qualified sales opportunity. However, each day we are able to lay the ground work to get future deals. If you are not interested in how those deals happen, or the people who are making those deals happen, then what do you do all day? It can be boring. That’s why it is important to find something interesting in it. People always ask me how I have been so successful – well I found a way to enjoy something that nobody wanted to do.

If you are thinking about launching your own cold calling efforts, following Carrie’s advice and taking a curious approach can help your MSP business go further. Asking the right questions can help you understand why your prospects might be working with a competitor, what they are doing that they like, how they won that business in the first place, and more. Being open and starting with a conversation is the best way to not only start your cold calling efforts, but to growing your business in numerous ways.

Photo:  chainarong06 /Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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