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Before COVID-19, managed services prospecting was challenging for MSP business owners. Selling in a displacement market (a market in which, real or perceived, your potential buyer already has a solution, and you’d like to replace it, or “displace” their current provider) requires volume and consistency.

Most MSP business owners did not have the time or the predictable schedules that would allow for effective outbound prospecting before the country shut down for three months. Post-pandemic? I am willing to bet you have even less time. With cost cutting, furloughs and the loss of managed seats and projects as your clients scale back to account for their own losses, you are likely wearing more hats and working more hours.

You have less time. You have more work. Your revenue is less predictable, and your margins may be shrinking. You know you need to replace lost revenue to stay profitable. Finding referrals isn’t as easy as it was before — there are fewer opportunities to mix and network. You may not want to take on the task of training and managing someone in-house in the middle of a pandemic, and you’re also not interested in handing off your prospecting to a company like Managed Sales Pros while your revenue is stagnating. Yet, you still need new business.

If the idea of making outbound business development calls did not appeal to you before the health crisis, I doubt that you are keen on starting prospecting now. This is absolutely the wrong attitude. Here are three tips that will make your prospecting through “the new normal” a lot more palatable:

Use client check-ins to ask for referrals

Not every IT company was well staffed before the pandemic hit, and I guarantee you service levels dropped across the board – especially for your smaller, less operationally mature or numbers-savvy competitors. When you are checking in with your own clients, ask the happy ones for referrals. Try this:

“Joe, we appreciate your business and we’d love to find another half-dozen more clients just like you this year. Who in your network really struggled with moving their company remote? I’d really appreciate an introduction to anyone who was disappointed with their IT support during COVID-19.” 

Calling referrals is a little less like cold calling for most business owners, and that makes it a great place to begin!

Call associations, offer free virtual education sessions for their members

Calling local associations means one phone call can connect you with hundreds of new prospects. Hosting a webinar for their members that is focused on security, virtualization or using technology for industry-specific requirements can generate dozens of warm leads every month. Reaching multiple potential decision makers with a handful of phone calls is a prospecting win.

Revisit your “closed, lost” file

If you’re not actively tracking your leads and opportunities to identify your conversion rates, cost of acquisition and days to close, we should talk ( because you can’t improve what you’re not measuring. Whether you keep your lost opportunities in an organized lead view in your CRM, or if you are less organized you may just go looking for your old quote documents, or filter your inbox to find any email you sent with an attachment. Find the opportunities you lost over the last five years and call the decision makers again. A lot can change in a year, or in three years – and it shouldn’t be at all unnerving for you to check in with someone who already demonstrated that they liked you enough to ask you for a quote.

Are you looking for more prospecting ideas that you can try during one of the most unique times in sales history?  We will be sharing what’s working for us at Managed Sales Pros on an upcoming Barracuda MSP webinar on July 23rd at 2:30 PM (EDT). This webinar will be suitable for business owners and leaders, sales leaders and sales representatives who are looking to increase their call to conversion rates.

Photo: Refat / Shutterstock

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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. 

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