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data-driven sales prospectingMany MSPs abandon telemarketing early on in their growth when they get frustrated with the lack of immediate results. But there is no magic bullet.

All marketing processes and strategies need time to work, and telemarketing is no exception. You need to invest a year in any marketing strategy before your efforts will begin bearing fruit. It’s disheartening for any business owner to think they could invest a year’s worth of time and budget into something that might not work out. Unfortunately, that can and does happen all the time. Why?


5 Key Elements of Your Sales Approach

Often, it happens because the MSP doesn’t apply a methodical approach to prospecting. To identify if you’re doing the right thing, you need to slowly and gradually change one thing at a time until you find what works best for you in your market. If you aren’t finding success, you can choose to change any of the following things in your sales approach:

  1. The message
  2. The target entry point (i.e., who you’re calling)
  3. The size of the company you’re targeting
  4. The vertical
  5. How you’re approaching the target

If you constantly change your approaches—and especially when you attempt to change all of these variables at once—you’ll never know what exactly isn’t working, and this leads to cycles of disappointment and frustration.

Moving Past the Spray-and-Pray Method

Let’s say you’re currently trying to have a conversation about managed services (the message) with the CEO (the entry point) of 5-to-250-user companies (the size) of any kind (the vertical) using telemarketing (the approach).

In the above example, the message (the value of managed services to ANY business) is extremely generic, as the CEO of an engineering firm with 200 employees will have very different concerns than the CEO of an accounting firm with 20 employees. It’s difficult to craft a message that is compelling to everyone, and you’ll end up using an approach best defined as “spray and pray” — you blanket everyone, in every possible way you can, and hope for the best. You’re going for quantity rather than quality, and you’re hoping to get lucky. (The more calls you make, the luckier you’ll get!) If this doesn’t work within a timeline that the business owner deems “acceptable,” they decide that a new approach is needed — now!

When companies decide (erroneously or otherwise) that the spray-and-pray approach isn’t working for them, there is a tendency to overcompensate and swing their marketing efforts wildly in the other direction. For example, they might decide to build a campaign to sell back up (the message) to the office managers (the target entry point) of 20-user (the size) law firms (the vertical), using telemarketing (the approach). In this case, using no evidence and with no process in place to identify success or failure, they have gone so specific so quickly that the MSP still struggles to make any connections within the timeline they have deemed “acceptable.”

Pay Attention to the Data

First, let’s address “acceptable” timelines. They don’t really exist. The greatest sales call by the greatest sales rep in the world doesn’t win business from responsible non-reactive business owners who are mostly happy with their current provider and committed to multi-year contracts. Proper data aggregation during your initial spray-and-pray program would have shown clearly that sales cycle acceleration in that vertical wasn’t possible.

Sales prospecting initiatives should be built around data collection—the most important piece of data being contract end dates. Don’t build campaigns around verticals; build campaigns around timelines. Instead of turning your sales process on its end when it isn’t working, start making slow and deliberate changes that allow you to see exactly where you’re being most effective.

Instead of arbitrarily saying  you want to target 20-seat law firms, let the data take you to where you need to be to win more.  If all the law firms in your city are in three-year contracts, your sales cycle for law firms is three years long. Want to sell more and sell faster? If you pay attention to your data, you learn quickly that law firms aren’t going to do that for you. That’s a long game, not a fast win.

Build Campaigns on Facts

“Spray and Pray” allows you to test multiple verticals, track your data, and point the cannon where you’ll get the most hits. That tracking? It takes time. Looking for trends requires data. Accumulating data points takes years, not weeks. Once you have the data? Now you’re building campaigns around facts, not feelings.

Telemarketing (and every other marketing method) requires consistent application of a defined process to work well. You can’t change what you’re doing every 90 days and expect to be successful. Almost anything will work if it’s done correctly, measured and improved regularly, and given enough time.

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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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