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As a managed service provider (MSP), you are constantly looking for ways to grow your business. Many are using cold-calling, a standard sales outreach technique, to mine for more business. 

However, it’s no secret that many grapple with the perceived difficulty of this approach. Success in cold-calling hinges on the ability to swiftly build rapport, navigate objections with confidence, and capture a prospect’s interest within a mere two minutes. It’s a demanding endeavor that calls for a combination of persuasive prowess and exceptional communication skills. 

We recently invited back Derek Marin, president of Simple Selling, to share the latest insights on how to get the most out of cold-calling in 2023. Here are some of the key topics he covered in his webinar: 

Q: How does the cold-calling landscape look for MSPs?  

A: Cold-calling continues to be a staple for MSPs, even though sales cycles may suggest otherwise. For instance, research shows that the ratio of dials to appointments is 300:1, which is approximately 20 to 25 hours of calling time. Furthermore, in some cold-calling programs, there may be no appointments generated in the first few months. 

However, all is not lost. Through his work with MSPs, Derek has learned:

  • 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 2-3 new agreements in the first year, and 6-11 in the first two years for most MSPs.  

Q: When evaluating the success of a cold-calling program, which metric should MSPs prioritize? 

A: A key metric to emphasize is the count of Quality Conversations (QCs), per representative, per day. A Quality Conversation entails a dialogue that furnishes at least one piece of qualifying or disqualifying information regarding the prospect. According to The Bridge Group, there has been a notable 55 percent decline in average QCs, which now stands at 3.6 per representative per day since 2014. It’s important to bear in mind that this statistic doesn’t encompass email and LinkedIn interactions. When utilizing this metric, ensure that it encompasses all forms of engagement beyond just phone dials. 

Q: What constitutes the most effective approach to cold-calling? 

A: Achieving success in cold-calling requires a well-defined process that includes several key elements: 

  • Introduction: Begin with a confident and engaging introduction to make a lasting impression. 
  • “Poke-the-bear” technique: Pose thought-provoking, open-ended questions to initiate meaningful conversations. Be an attentive listener and avoid interrupting. 
  • Pattern-interrupting questions: Surprise prospects with questions they don’t expect, helping to break their initial resistance and make them more receptive. 
  • Handling objections: Prepare responses to common objections by practicing with colleagues. Embrace objections as learning opportunities, jotting down unique or challenging questions for future preparation. Seek to understand objections deeply and persist in addressing them. The “mirroring technique” can be a valuable tool, matching your tone and attitude to the person you’re speaking with. 
  • Clear outcome: Emphasize that the goal of the cold call is to secure a first meeting, not immediately sell a service. Utilize “no-oriented” questions designed to elicit a negative response, ultimately leading to a positive outcome for the cold-caller.

This comprehensive approach ensures that your cold-calling efforts are strategic, engaging, and geared toward meaningful interactions with potential clients. 

Q: How can AI be used to compliment cold-calling? 

A: When considering adding AI into the process, such as ChatGPT, we focus on crafting effective open-ended questions. For instance, when targeting the manufacturing industry, we ask, “What are some of the primary pain points and technological challenges in manufacturing?” This is just the beginning of our exploration into how AI will shape the landscape of outbound cold-calling. 

Want to improve your cold-calling program?  

With the right process and metrics in mind, MSPs can create a cold-calling program that leads to positive outcomes. Watch the replay of Derek’s webinar, “Optimizing MSP Cold-Calling for Success in 2023”, to learn more. 

Photo: taniascamera / Shutterstock

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Amber Montgomery

Posted by Amber Montgomery

Amber Montgomery is a Content Marketing Associate at Barracuda MSP. With a sales background, Amber intends to bring what's worked in the past into creating content that can help MSPs grow their business. In her role at Barracuda MSP, she will focus on creating assets to enable MSPs in sales and marketing.

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