Sales efforts focused solely on finding prospects that are ready to engage right now, are missing out on the majority of viable prospects in your MSP sales pipeline or addressable market. Think about the last time you had a need that required a speedy solution, for example if your tire goes flat while driving. Do you wait on the side of the road for a cold call or an email to come to your phone offering tire repair or do you proactively seek a solution?

The same holds true for MSP prospects. If their network goes down, a breach occurs, or another issue requires immediate attention, they are proactive about finding a solution.

So, if you are relying on perpetual cold calling and emailing to identify new leads with immediate pain, the chances that you reach them at exactly the right time are slim to none. In reality, most prospects that express any interest or need at all won’t be ready to engage in a meaningful way for a minimum of three months, and sometimes up to 1-2 years later.

Developing a process for your MSP sales pipeline

Shifting the focus of your sales efforts to effectively develop a pipeline full of qualified prospects, then nurturing them over time, will enable you to achieve a more consistent and predictable sales forecast for your business. But to be successful in accomplishing that goal requires skill at the nurturing level. Simply sending a quarterly newsletter or a hollow email won’t accomplish the goal of cultivating a relationship rooted in trust that every MSP hopes to achieve with their clients.

A touchpoint that speaks to the individual situation of each prospect will garner far more valuable responses and impact when the time comes for them to engage, especially if their buying timeline is accelerated for any reason. Imagine you learned today that a CPA firm has an expiring contract with their current MSP in one year. An email three months from now that says, “Hi just checking it to see if anything has changed or if there is anything we can help with currently,” compared to an email that shares a link to an article that speaks to the most efficient ways a CPA firm can leverage their technology assets, will resonate much differently.

It is critical to give a prospect a preview of what the relationship with their MSP would look and feel like during the nurture process. Handwritten cards or other meaningful touchpoints that contain substance and personal attention, will carry weight when you inevitably compete against other service providers to win the business of any prospect, when the time is right.

Taking the right tone with prospects

I teach all of my account executives that support MSPs for lead generation and sales consulting to be politely persistent and appropriately aggressive when nurturing the prospects in their client’s pipelines. But more importantly, I teach them to listen when engaging a prospect for the first time, establish a timeline, and create a strategy for personalized, meaningful nurturing that will help put their client in the best position possible. This will create the greatest chance to compete for and win new business, when the time comes.

In closing, an MSP’s sales efforts should focus more on identifying qualified prospects, then having the patience and skill to effectively begin cultivating a relationship through meaningful touchpoints with individual attention and substance over time. The “low hanging fruit” or prospects with immediate need will be uncovered as a natural by-product of an effective prospecting, but will always make up the minority of any sales pipeline.

Photo: everything possible / Shutterstock

Posted by Tim Hill

Tim Hill manages the MSP division of SALT Marketing. Tim's sales experience from working in professional sports and technical background as a Microsoft Certified Professional provides a unique perspective into understanding the specific nuances and challenges that MSPs face. Tim is passionate and dedicated to helping clients create a competitive advantage in their market in order to reach their business goals.

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