As a growing MSP, you probably have your hands full servicing customers. Spending time qualifying leads may appear as appealing to you as a toothache. Still, you have to keep onboarding businesses to pay your overhead, generate profits, and ensure growth. You require an efficient process that will keep your pipeline full of interested prospects that you can transform into customers.
To accomplish this, you can develop a marketing plan that’s focused on selling managed services in general and your managed services provider company specifically. With the right process in place, gathering prospects can become very productive. Because you know that you are offering help to businesses who need it, you may even come to regard marketing and sales as one of the most fun parts of your job.
Incorporate these five steps for MSP lead qualification
- Define your unique selling proposition for different kinds of MSP leads
Before you should invest anything in gathering or qualifying leads, you should spend some time figuring out how you plan to sell your company’s services as better than the status quo. Most MSPs will encounter two types of prospects:
- What can you do better than your competition? You will find some businesses that may already use an MSP. You need to convince them to switch or add services you can provide. Figure out how well you can compete on price, uptime, security, services, and so on.
- Why is your MSP better than nothing? You will also find plenty of businesses that have kept their IT in-house so far. With these companies, you may first need to sell them on the idea of using a managed service provider before you can explain why they should rely upon you.
- Develop profiles for likely customers
If your MSP has already been operating for some time, you already have customers that you can use to develop profiles and buyer personas from. Realistically, other businesses that are similar to your current customers are likely to be your warmest leads. You might as well start with the low-hanging fruit of organizations that have the same needs as the ones that you already know you can please.
Carrie Simpson, the owner of a managed services provider leads business, agrees with this advice. She says that her clients have the best chance of closing deals with customers who resemble the customers they already have in terms of business size, budgets, and requirements. If you’re new to the MSP business, you may need to figure out who that ideal customer will be by analyzing your capabilities, marketing research ,and frankly, a bit of trial and error.
- Use inbound marketing to capture qualified prospects
If you’re qualifying sales prospects now, that presumes that you already have leads in your pipeline. If not, you can gather them by looking for likely local businesses or placing ads in trade journals or posting on B2B social sites like LinkedIn. You should enjoy more success if you pull these prospects further into your sales funnel with the kind of magnet that inbound marketing may provide.
- If you’re working to get customers to switch from their old MSP to yours, you might produce content that discusses pain points these clients might have with their current providers.
- If your ideal customers don’t yet use managed services, you could start by emphasizing the ways you can reduce manpower, lower storage costs, or help them adhere to security standards.
You could offer this content in the form of a white paper, video, or even a live webinar. When prospects offer their contact information in exchange for your solutions, they have already qualified themselves. It’s that simple, really.
- Filtering through cold leads
Some MSPs do very well by simply gathering leads from business directories like InfoUSa or even local business directories. Many public libraries even provide access to online business directories for free. Again, even if you choose to call upon these cold leads, you’ll make much better use of your time if you spend time filtering these down to find businesses that fit the profile that you created in the second step.
If you can learn how these companies manage their IT today, you should also be able to learn more about their pain points and what you can offer them that’s better, cheaper or more secure. You also want to know how dependent these companies are on tech. If servers and computers aren’t a high priority for the type of business, it’s hard to make closing a deal a priority.
- Making sales calls
Obviously, you want to turn your prospect into a customer. If you make that a goal of your first sales call, you’ll probably get frustrated.
More realistic sales goals for your initial calls might include:
- Simply introducing your company and finding out who in the company makes IT decisions
- Offering an invitation to a seminar or webinar
- Scheduling a meeting to discuss your offer
- Learning about their current pain points or offering a free IT audit
In other words, you can probably connect with more business customers in the long run if you offer to help them without trying to sell them something right away. Once you’ve developed a relationship and learned more about the company, you can work to provide offers that they can’t refuse.
Why you should start qualifying leads sooner and not later
If you’re facing an empty lead pipeline, you can’t expect to start closing lots of business tomorrow – or probably even for several weeks. Your customers don’t care that you have empty racks, unused capacity, or sales goals. They want to know how you can serve them by solving problems that they face in their own competitive business environments.
To answer those questions, you need to understand which customers you can best serve, what their pain points are, and where to find them. This process gets easier as you progress. That’s why you should get started now.