As an MSP, generating leads is not an easy task. It takes strategy, persistence, and most importantly, patience. At SALT Marketing I’ve talked with hundreds of MSPs interested in growth. Each one of them had their own definition for success when it comes to lead generation.

The fact is, many MSPs seek out lead generation companies with the expectation that we have some sort of super power or magic wand that can make opportunities appear almost instantly. Yet, many MSPs I talk with have worked with a lead generation company before, if not a few, and I often hear that they get the same results, which is no results. When I ask how long they stuck with the program it usually ranges from 3-6 months.

Not every lead generation program is created equal, but the challenges that they all face are the same. It takes time (think 12-18 months), trust and a process-oriented approach to be successful.

Setting the right lead generation mindset

It’s important to look at lead generation as an investment, not an expense. This is usually the main reason why MSPs are impatient and inaccurate in assessing the value and progress of a program. A common mistake I see with MSP owners is to evaluate the success of the program, especially early on, in terms of meetings set, instead of the development of their sales pipeline. There are phases to go through when moving toward the ultimate goal of a developed sales pipeline that can produce consistent results. The key word here is consistent.

A realistic goal for an MSP to achieve through a lead generation program is to produce 1-2 highly qualified opportunities per month, on average. In order to achieve those results, the first step is to evaluate how well-positioned your MSP is to compete for and win new business. If your pricing is wildly higher than your competitors, if your website, LinkedIn profile, and marketing materials are weak and underdeveloped, or even if your proposal format is bland and generic, then you are not doing what it takes to be competitive in your market.

Highly qualified prospects value relationships and reliability above all else from their MSP. I can promise you that when you find a prospect that has some level of IT pain, interest or need, the first step they take is to go to your website, visit your LinkedIn page and request marketing materials. It’s the first impression effect – you might be a fantastic IT provider and be a great match for that prospect, but if your collateral doesn’t reflect that, you’ve lost before you even started.

Remaining patient

Assuming an MSP has all the necessary attributes to be successful and competitive in their market, why does it take so long to achieve the desired lead generation results of 1-2 opportunities per month? Much different than selling a product, MSPs are selling a relationship and true partnership rooted in trust with their clients. The prospect isn’t looking to make a one-time purchase, they are looking at making an investment in their MSP, whom they will pay every month for the lifetime of that contract. Knowing that, how can an MSP expect meetings and opportunities to appear without the due diligence and nurturing of those prospects?

Return on investment and not return on expense is something my team preaches to their clients and reminds them of often. It may take 6-9 months and cost upwards of $10-15k to develop a pipeline full of qualified prospects, that can then be nurtured over the next year, to uncover opportunities with substance. But if after 12-18 months you are consistently (there’s that word again) producing 1-2 opportunities per month, issuing proposals to half of those prospects and signing one new client per quarter, is that worth the investment?

Let’s look at farming as an example. Does a farmer plant an apple seed, water it for a day or two, even a week and expect it to start producing a yield? It takes time and patience but the end result is worth the effort, cost and process. Living in a world that is oriented toward immediate results and a right now mentality, we have the benefit of skipping that process and going to a grocery store or orchard where the hard work of growing apples is done for us. However, there is no orchard for MSP opportunities, or section of a store that sells them. It takes hard work, dedication, and most importantly patience to bear the fruits of that labor.

So, before an MSP engages in a lead generation program they must first evaluate if they have the right qualities to compete in their market, the right mindset to accurately evaluate progress within the program, and budget to withstand the necessary timeframe to see results in the form of new clients.

Photo: Andrey_Popov / 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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