Cold-calling, a method to solicit prospects to learn more about one’s business, is an outbound sales tactic that is used by every business, including MSPs (managed service providers). It can be effective when done correctly, however, many people feel like they are not doing it right. To be effective, salespeople must establish a rapport quickly, overcome objections confidently, and pique the prospect’s interest within the first 2 minutes. It can be a challenge for many and can require strong persuasion and communication skills.
We invited Derek Marin, president of Simple Selling, to share his insights on how to get the most out of cold-calling in 2023. Here are some of the top questions he answered during the webinar:
Q: What is the current state of MSP cold-calling?
A: Cold-calling is still a must-have function for MSPs, even though the process and length of sales cycle may seem otherwise. For instance, research shows that the ratio of dials to appointments is 300:1, that’s approximately 20 to 25 hours of calling time. Furthermore, in some cold-calling programs, you may find that you will not generate an appointment during the first few months.
However, all is not lost. Derek shared that through his work with MSPs:
- Dialing should not be the only outreach a salesperson should take when cold-calling. For instance, add email and LinkedIn touches to the cold-calling program. He has found that it takes over 15 dials, 4 emails and 2 LinkedIn touches to connect to a decision-maker or influencer.
- Once you reach a decision-maker, the average sales cycle from that first appointment to close-won is around 7 months long.
- Lastly, a cold-calling program can yield about two to three new agreements in the first year, and six to eleven in the first two years for most MSPs.
Derek also touched on some key findings from one of Simple Sellin’s competitors (Managed Sales Pros) that he felt were of note:
- 300:1 is the ratio of dials to appointments, which translates to about one sales appointment per 20-25 hours of calling time.
- Most MSP cold-calling programs generate 4 appointments per 80 hours of calling time (one month).
- Most programs will not generate an appointment in the first few months of being implemented.
Q: Which metric should MSPs focus on when it comes to a cold-calling program?
A: The Quality Conversations (QCs) per representative per day is a good metric to focus on. A quality conversation includes a conversation that provides at least one piece of qualifying or disqualifying information about the prospect. According to The Bridge Group, the average QCs has dropped 55% to 3.6 per representative per day since 2014. One point to note is that this statistic does not take into account for email and LinkedIn touches. When using this metric, make sure to be inclusive of any interaction done outside of just dials per representative per day.
Q: How can salespeople improve the connect rate?
A: A connect rate is the number of calls placed during a certain period (hour, day, week) to leads. Below are some examples of how to improve the connect rate. Something to keep in mind is that it’s not all about what you say, but how you say it. Using a downward inflection in your voice at the end of a sentence makes it more powerful and makes you sound more confident in what you say. Here are two examples, and it may help to read them aloud:
- For an acquaintance: “Hi, John Smith please.” [with a downward inflection]
- For a standard polite call: Hi [name of gate keeper], good morning. How are you? Good. Can you connect me to John please.” [with a downward inflection]
An upward inflection often shows uncertainty and may sound like you are asking a question versus a downward inflection demonstrates confidence and makes the sentence more powerful.
Another way to improve the connect rate is by using the “mirroring technique”. This means to match the vocals or attitude of the person you are speaking with. Two examples of this technique are:
- If the person you are speaking to is all business and keeping things short and to the point, match that tone.
- If the person you are speaking to is chatty, you should be chatty as well.
Q: What is the best process for making cold-calls?
A: The best process for cold-calling includes having clear and concise messaging, being prescriptive and having a clear outcome. Planning and practicing are essential to having a successful campaign. To further break this down, here are key items to focus on when making cold-calls:
- Introduction – make a confident first impression with your introduction
- “Poke-the-bear” – This process means asking a thought-provoking, open-ended question. Be sure to listen carefully to the answer and be sure not to cut them off. Another way Ask a pattern-interrupting question, something they will not expect This will alter their apprehensive state and make them more likely to be receptive to what you have to say.
- Handling objections – Be prepared with responses to common objections. One of the best ways is to practice with your teammates. Also, cold-calling is always a learning experience. Take advantage of those moments, jot down any particularly off-the-wall question(s) and prepare the objection handling in advance with your teammates. Lastly, seek to understand the objection, not just to overcome it. Be persistent and do not give up right away. Using the “mirroring technique.” can be very useful. This means to match the vocals or attitude of the person you are speaking with.
- Clear outcome – Make sure the cold-caller knows that they are selling the first meeting, and not your service offering. Ask a “no oriented” question, a question that is designed to get a negative response, such as “are you against speaking about this at a later date?”. The ‘no’ in this instance provides a positive outcome for the cold-caller.
Want to improve your cold-calling program?
With the right processes and metrics in mind, MSPs can elevate their cold-calling program that leads to positive outcomes. To learn more about effective cold-calling for your MSP, watch the replay of Derek’s webinar, “How to make MSP cold-calling work in 2023.”
Photo: NaMong Productions / Shutterstock