“If you can get me in front of them, I can close them!”
I can’t tell you the number of times a potential managed services client has uttered these words to me or my sales team. I have seven years of historical data to the contrary, and the reason for this disconnect between what the MSP business owner believes to be true (I can close anything), and what we actually know to be true (you can close some things, in the right situations) is this: Most managed services providers built their businesses on referrals.
Referrals are a gift. They are not a business development strategy, and they cannot be depended on to keep your business thriving. You can absolutely develop a strong sales pipeline using a referral strategy, and this requires consistent outreach to your market – and guess what? That is almost identical to an outbound cold calling strategy! The idea of cold calling is abhorrent to some and comes naturally to others. The biggest difference between cold calling for new appointments, and a targeted campaign calling your network to ask them for referrals is not the process. The process for engaging with a cold prospect and a warm lead is almost identical. The biggest difference between cold leads and referrals is the amount of work required to win the deal after you have completed the first sales appointment.
What are the differences between cold appointments and referral appointments?
Think of sales appointments like blind dates.
Referrals are like being introduced to someone by your best friends. Your friends are vouching for this potential new love interest, and they’re also vouching for you! You probably both show up to the schedule first date at least confident that you’ll have a few things to talk about, and you’re probably not going to be murdered. This leads to (hopefully) a relaxed evening where both parties can be confident in their decision that they can take the next steps and see each other again.
Cold calling is like meeting someone on an online dating app. Your prospect has made a snap decision to take a chance in meeting you based on a few micro-decisions they have made after seeing a highly curated version of your life. (Anyone can sound great on the phone or online, but everyone has had a terrible experience already they are trying to learn from!)
Even when you are both interested in the idea, you are still complete strangers. You don’t have that immediate trust factor that a personal introduction from friends or peers creates. It will take you several dates to get anywhere near the comfort level you had when your friend Susan introduced you to her friend from work that she’s known for ten years. A second date won’t be a given – you’ll need to work harder to make that happen, especially if they’ve already got a lot of options. You like them, how are you going to convince them that you are the right choice for them in a sea of other suitors? You are going to try to woo them. This is where the real work begins – just like in the sales process!
Cold appointments are where your marketing process ends, and your sales process begins.
Referral appointments are often formalities. Your peers have already done the heavy lifting for you – they are singing your praises long before you meet your prospect.
If your approach to every sales meeting is identical, and you’re not closing the deals you want to be, it’s time to start thinking differently about your first sales appointments.
At Managed Sales Pros, we have spent years teaching managed services prospects about “three funnel forecasting”, encouraging MSPs to think of their sales process in three stages – marketing (creating compelling reasons for a prospect to contact you), prospecting (identifying prospects that aren’t already in your line of sight and nurturing them to the point of viable opportunity) and selling. Your “selling” funnel begins at the first sales appointment and continues until your prospect signs their contract.
Then, as soon as you sign your new client, a new sales process begins – client retention.
Does is sound like a lot of work? Yes. Is there a lot of R.O.I. when done correctly? Also, yes. Our managed services clients have shared that their outbound cold calling campaigns have produced over 1100% R.O.I. over a two-year period. While not all MSPs will want to outsource their prospecting, all MSPs can benefit from creating a better third-funnel sales process so that they can win more deals from cold appointments. Join us on September 17th at 11 am CST for a webinar where we’ll walk you through the stages in the “Three Funnel Forecast”, and show you how you can create a consistent process for working that third funnel to win more monthly recurring revenue clients for your MSP.