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“We had a marketing vendor for six months and we didn’t get a single qualified lead!”

“We hired a sales guy, but he didn’t last long.”

“Our PPC gets leads but most are just emergency buyers.”

MSPs are understandably frustrated with all aspects of lead generation. They are tired of no results, frustrated with the people involved, and upset they’ve spent time and money with little to show for it. Why is this so darn hard? I mean, MSPs want to help companies but it seems like these prospects have no desire to listen or even reply.

Wait, aren’t there hundreds of good companies within a 50-mile radius? Why aren’t at least a handful of them filling out the “Contact Us” form each month? Okay, breathe, let’s figure this out. Lead generation is understandably complex, but this shouldn’t be so hard.

The real challenge behind MSP lead generation

The heart of the issue is that great prospects are not small companies with less than ten employees. Smaller companies are getting by just fine either alone or with the occasional break and fix.

We know that as their headcount increases, they don’t wake up one day and just move on from their existing provider. Instead, they assume “IT is just IT”, and blindly accept that “all IT providers are good enough at cybersecurity, for example, and believe that “technology is just another expense.”

Do you need proof that qualified prospects don’t switch overnight? Below is a Sales Report for an MSP we partner with. Take a look at the column that says, “Days to Close”. Those companies are new managed services clients. The report shows how many days it took from the first interaction until the day the company signed up for managed or co-managed services.



The data isn’t lying here, it’s highlighting the fact that prospects don’t change providers overnight. So, if we’re going to really fix lead generation, we need to see what the main challenge is first.




How most MSPs approach lead generation

The reason so many MSPs are not fond of sales and marketing is because most strategies are focused on the wrong problems.

For example, some assume it’s a low volume problem.

“We need more blogs.”

“Salespeople should be dialing more.”

“We need to increase the budget for PPC.”

And while more resources are certainly helpful and there does need to be enough invested to get somewhere, clearly, more is not the answer to the real challenge at hand. The other problem MSPs seem to obsess over is blaming the people who are trying.

“I can’t find good salespeople.”

“The marketing agency did not deliver.”

Of course, incompetent people will ruin lead generation, that is true. And the fact is, some people are not cut out for sales.

However, most people aren’t lazy or ill-equipped. They showed up and completed the deliverables for months, or even a year. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but no one is perfect.

And still nada, zilch, nothing came through and so the problem must be “bad people.”

I know it’s frustrating and I do apologize that lead generation hasn’t panned out for many awesome MSPs, but the answer is in the data. Reverse engineer the close-won contracts and arrive at a strategy that isn’t solely based on investing more or that assumes people are “good” or “bad.” Arrive at a process that makes sense and then find good people and technology to get it done.

Photo: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

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Derek Marin

Posted by Derek Marin

Derek Marin is President of Simple Selling, the agency that generates predictable pipeline for MSPs. If you would rather tap dance in a minefield than add prospecting, marketing and sales team management to your to-do list, then feel free to book Derek directly from here: You can also reach him at or subscribe to the MRR Growth blog at for frequent sales tips and encouragement.


  1. Moss Jacobson May 3, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    While lead generation may be an issue for MSPs, I think this post needs to add ‘patience’. Having a 20+ year background in marketing and advertising, there is no ‘silver bullet’, and one must recognize the benefits of time, persistency, and process. 80% of sales are made between the 8th and 12th follow up. Think about how this impacts a short sighted sales/marketing/lead gen plan.


    1. Agree, Moss! Appreciate the comment. Keep rocking it there.


    2. Great input Moss.
      Over what length of time do you do your follow ups?
      How long after the first touchpoint would you expect to be doing your 8th touchpoint approx?


    1. Thank you, Brent.


  2. Larry Horvat May 4, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    Great article


    1. Appreciate it, Larry.


  3. Thank you for sharing these insights.


    1. Appreciate the kind words, Scott.


  4. I suggest having someone with a little bit (ideally a LOT) of an IT background, this way it doesn’t come across as being too salesy, which will result in a lot more engaging conversations.


    1. Thank you for weighing in, Larry. Agree that coming across as salesy is never good. In our experience, the biggest hurdles are actually getting conversations on the calendar in the first place. How the conversations become engaging depends a lot on who is there and how the problems are discussed. I can definitely see how an IT background can help with finding problems (and not pitching).


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