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“The purpose of my call is to set up an introductory meeting with our MSP.”

“How about next Wednesday or Thursday?”

This is the moment when a prospect feels pushed and are ready to slam the phone down. Unfortunately, this cold-call method not only results in fewer appointments, but it also burns bridges with hundreds of great prospects.

Okay, this stinks, but who’s fault is this really? It’s not the cold-caller’s fault.

Sure, SDRs (Sales Development Reps) make mistakes all the time and need to handle objections better, no doubt. However, the larger problem is not the caller, it’s how MSPs view the purpose of cold-calling.

Remember, it’s a long sales cycle…

“Our clients stick around for five years.”

“Our managed services retention rate is very high; most clients are over seven years old.”

Okay, that is great! Therefore, the MSP business is awesome!

However, if client retention is usually excellent, then we must also accept that sales cycles with cold prospects will usually be long. Because we know that great prospects are not single! They are dating another provider or may even be married to a contract.

In a recent meeting with an MSP partner, we created a sales report of all the closed managed services contracts from last year and the “average days to close” turned out to be 382 days.

What does the long sales cycle have to do with cold-calling? Everything!

Reset cold-calling objectives

Imagine you’re a defender for a professional soccer club. On the pitch you have your goalkeeper a few yards behind you and in front of you are 9 teammates, 11 opponents and the opposing goal at 120 yards away.

Before the match, your coach looked you sternly in the eyes and commanded the following:

“Steal the ball from their forwards and then send long overhead passes up to John (the striker) every time. If you do anything else, I swear, you will do sprints tomorrow. Got it?”

That’s what the grind is like for many cold-callers in MSPs. They are told to treat all prospects the same and threatened with a lower paycheck if they don’t get appointments for their Account Executives.

But what if the coach viewed the SDR’s objectives differently:

“Steal the ball and stay composed, okay? You got Tom in the right wing as an option, Sean may receive it in the middle, and worst-case scenario, you tap it out of bounds. Read the game and go have fun!”

How the coach perceives the defender’s objective plays a major role in how the defender plays and in the results for the team.

Similarly, when an MSP perceives the SDR’s job the right way, the SDR will approach the cold-call differently and the results will improve because of that shift.

“The purpose of my call is to get on your calendar.”

“Would you like to schedule a time to chat Tuesday or Wednesday?”

The moment prospects feel pressure; they enter The Zone of Resistance (ZOR). The ZOR is a reflex reaction to pressure. Pressure is perceived as a threat, so people go into self-preservation mode. Prospects don’t like being told what to do. Neither do you. Neither does anyone. It’s called reactance.

The best way to persuade is to stop persuading. Here’s some phraseology that lowers the ZOR.


I haven’t heard back from you. (Feels like you’re blaming your prospect.)


Have you deferred the project?


Here’s why our service is right for you.


Our service isn’t right for everyone. Here are the benefits, and here are the drawbacks.


I’d love to meet with IT.


Would it make sense to loop in IT?


We can increase your conversion rates by 25%.


We typically boost conversion rates by X.

We can potentially…


Let’s schedule another meeting. How’s Tuesday at 3 or 4pm?


Where would you like to go from here?


I’ll follow up in a few weeks.


What next step, if any, would you like to take?

Would it make sense to loop in your team to get their take?


To be honest…


Don’t say that. It implies you’re not honest the rest of the time.


We can 5X your cold email response rates.


Not sure if this is a fit for you, but X used us to boost response rates by 18%.


I’m 100% sure (when deep down you’re not)


I’m not sure. Let me find out and get back to you this afternoon.

Knowing how to lower the ZOR is a good skill to master. Hopefully these cold-calling suggestions help you craft up the perfect responses to keep the ZOR low, and your results high.

Photo: fizkes / 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.

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