MSPs that fail to prospect are destined to fail. To successfully bring in more business as an MSP, you need either a dedicated sales team or a dedicated block of time to engage with potential customers and find new prospects you can talk to. Prospecting is an essential part to the sales cycle, and when it’s done correctly, it can help keep your sales pipeline full.
A healthy pipeline isn’t created in a day, though, so it is crucial to set aside at least an hour every day to work on it. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to find one or two new leads and be done. Prospecting is a continual process that can determine how successful your MSP will be.
The hardest part about prospecting can be picking up the phone and organizing your time to prospect successfully. Recently, we read High Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter and learned a few techniques to help you plan a successful prospecting strategy and overcome common prospecting challenges.
Take off with a successful prospecting strategy
Just as there are many modes of transportation to get from one destination to the next, there are many ways to prospect, such as social media, email, referrals, and cold calls. Using one method can help you gain more prospects, but Hunter explains that when you start to combine these efforts is when you’ll see a difference. The idea that you can just send a bunch of emails or leave a bunch of voicemails is one myth that too many salespeople believe. Prospecting isn’t that easy. In the book Hunter writes: “Things take time. A customer is not going to suddenly pop out of thin air based on one phone call or email. If prospecting were that easy, we wouldn’t need salespeople.” With the right attitude and some perseverance, though, prospecting will pay off.
Planning is an important part of prospecting. The book reminds us that each customer is unique so our prospecting strategy should be as well. For example, you wouldn’t approach a CPA firm the same way that would approach another type of small business. For starters, regulations and what the business will care about in terms of BCDR will vary from one industry to the next. Develop a plan for each prospect, and tailor your messaging to demonstrate the value you’ll add for them.
Allocate an hour each day to research and prospect. It should be a regular activity, not something you do only when business is slow. Don’t spend so much time planning that you don’t have time left to prospect, Hunter warns. Try calling or reaching out to prospects at different times. Prospecting is about consistency, not just the initial call.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is pick up the phone. You might overthink what the best time is to call a prospect, get caught up with another project, and then ultimately miss out on making contact at all. In the book, Hunter reminds sales people that the best time to prospect is right now.
Everyone has a different schedule, and when you’re ready to make the call, it might not be a good time for your prospect. Depending on the industry you’re contacting, some days can be busier than others. While most studies may say that Friday is the worst time to make a phone call, that isn’t always the case. An example Hunter uses in the book is the construction industry. At the end of the week things slow down, especially with the completion of a job. Most MSPs provide a variety of services to different types of businesses, and while you might not reach someone on the phone on a Monday, if you try back you might be able to reach them on a Friday.
The book suggests starting off your day with phone calls—pour some coffee and start calling. You don’t need to necessarily start off with calling prospects. You can call some friendly customers first just to start the day off. But, once you start calling, keep dialing.
You know that one prospect you can’t seem to get on the phone? You might try calling from eight in the morning to five at night, but no matter how many times you call, you’re sent to voicemail—or worse you get intercepted by the gatekeeper. In the book, Hunter shares a tip he calls five after five. After 5 p.m. call five prospects that you can’t seem to catch during normal business hours. This eliminates chances that the gatekeeper will still be in the office to intercept your call, and it increases your chance of getting through to your prospect before they leave for the night.
According to the book, any day is a good day to get a head start on your prospecting. However, with the holidays right around the corner, contacting prospects might seem like a daunting task. Hunter explains that numerous sales reps make one crucial mistake—taking a prospecting break near an upcoming holiday. He suggests that a holiday week might be an ideal time to approach prospects.
Depending on the industry (minus retail), most businesses tend to be more relaxed and laidback and willing to talk as the holiday approaches. In fact, December is the time when most businesses are looking to spend the remainder of their budgets—or weighing new options before their budgets renew in January. Don’t let the time of the year hold you back; continue to prospect.
A good sales pipeline isn’t built in a day, but a little bit of time every day can make a big difference. Prospecting isn’t a one and done approach; it takes time and consistency. Use these tips in conjunction with being patient and persistent, and your business will reap the benefits.
Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results
By Mark Hunter
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