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Thought leadershipThought leadership prospecting combines personalized interactions with automated marketing touches. It uses carefully curated content and intelligent one-on-one discussions to begin and nurture relationships with qualified prospects.

The good news is that you can start thought leadership prospecting using the tools you already have available to you. You just need to change how you’re using them!

Here’s what most of the current MSP content marketing approaches look like:

  • Step One: Buy marketing automation platform
  • Step Two: Buy syndicated content being used by every other MSP that uses the automation platform
  • Step Three: Buy an impossibly large, largely inaccurate list of emails for companies in your city
  • Step Four: Upload this list into your platform
  • Step Five: Release the hounds
  • Step Six: Wait until your “leads” have reached an arbitrary “score” and then contact them because the company you bought the platform from says that’s when they’re ready for you to contact them

No. This is bad. Come fight me.

What you’re probably doing wrong

Do you really want to wait for leads in your pipeline to reach an imaginary qualification level before you engage with them? You’re going to be waiting for a long, long, long, long time. And worse, your more aggressive, more proactive, more forward-thinking thought-leadership-embracing competitors are going to get to these prospects well before you do.

Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example.

Last year, I worked with an MSP who engaged me to develop their inside sales process. They were using a marketing platform to “warm up” their leads. I asked them to provide me with the 100 most qualified leads in their pipeline, according to their scores in their marketing platform.

I personally called all 100 leads. Not one company recognized the name of the MSP, and not one company was at all interested in having a conversation. The hottest lead in their database? The one that should have been a slam dunk close according to the “rules” of the platform? It was a sales rep from a car dealership looking for a new job. All of these leads were “hot” and “qualified” based on the scores the marketing platform had assigned to them.

A test case of one company isn’t very scientific, but it was enough proof for that company to change their approach to how they used their marketing platform. Marketing automation can be an incredibly powerful asset in your prospecting process. The problem? You’re doing it backwards. You want to be a trusted advisor, an expert, a relevant voice that is always top of mind. Not spam that gets pushed automatically to their “other” or “clutter” folder.

A better approach to thought leadership

Here’s my super cheap and easy-to-implement idea:

Instead of spamming unknown suspects over and over again, why not pick up the phone and qualify that suspect?

One five-minute phone call will tell you if this is a lead or someone who should be removed from your pipeline. Once you’ve determined that this is a company that it makes sense to pursue, make another call and identify who the decision maker is. Ask for their email address. Talk to them, if you can. Ask for their permission to continue to email them. Ask them what they’re interested in learning more about.


Start nurturing them using content that is unique to you and your business. Stop sending the same white paper that 1,000 other IT companies are sending. Start creating and curating content that is relevant and interesting to your qualified prospects instead of sending syndicated generic whitepapers to unknown, unqualified, uninterested random companies.

Use marketing automation strategically. Combine it with custom content and personal interaction.

Then watch your engagement levels skyrocket.

Want to learn more about combining outbound calling and thought leadership marketing? We’d love to share what we’re doing for our business and our clients here at Managed Sales Pros. Email and we can talk. On the phone. Like people do.

Photo: Lightspring/

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Carrie Simpson

Posted by Carrie Simpson

Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn. 


  1. It would be nice to connect with Carrie on Linkedin but it requires her email which I, and probably others, do not have


    1. This link used to in her bio: Hope that helps!


    2. Ron, I sent you a connection request on Linkedin. Cheers!


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