What does 4 appointments per month look like for an MSP over a year?
Below is a real world answer for one MSP so far in 2022.
And how have those converted so far? See below.
And for a different MSP entirely.
There are lots of stories up there. Lots of questions you probably have. But this article isn't about those MSPs, it's about how to generate 4 or more appointments per month for your MSP.
What would 4 appointments a month impact?
It would allow your MSP to plan ahead. It could enable you to recruit better people. Retain the good ones you have. Maybe it would increase your MSP's valuation. This is important stuff...
Ready to go?
Please pay careful attention to what you're about to read.
It doesn't matter how many appointments you get if you are unprepared for them.
Pardon my bluntness, but I woke up at 4:30AM to write this blog and I bet you have other things on your plate so I won't mess around.
Appointments will not ease your anxiety over growth unless you are prepared for sales war.
It's hard to close deals this year. You knew that already. The economy has been worse than usual, is that fair? And external obstacles aside, switching costs for prospects are higher than before because it's an "MSP to MSP" situation, not a first-time buyer situation.
Therefore, yes, MSPs should obsess over appointment generation, but not as a standalone solution.
You must be more passionate, concerned, paranoid and action-oriented around improving and documenting your sales process as a whole.
Oh, and if you have only gotten "practice" with referrals. Man oh man, are you in for a rude awakening, brothers and sisters!
Referrals are like an open goal. Look at that photo. You probably hate soccer but even YOU could score that one.
But appointments with cold leads is like receiving a pass 20 yards out with the whole defense and goalkeeper standing in your way. I would barely call that "practice."
Different ball game now.
I was talking to Mike, President of an MSP based out in California, and he shared a funny story.
One of his friends owns a company. That friend eventually became a customer of his MSP. One day said friend received a cold-call from a different MSP that offered a free IT assessment.
He was a happy customer already for Mike (and a friend), but he agreed to the assessment anyway!
He never intended to switch or leave Mike, but he figured it would not hurt to compare and validate what his current MSP was covering vs what another MSP could do and the cost.
And, of course, the assessment found some areas to improve (those reds and yellows!) and so those gaps were brought to Mike's attention and everything was fixed. Happy ending for Mike's MSP.
Some appointment takers are qualified on paper, but they are not really in switching-mode yet!
Don't worry, there are two actionable takeaways here to turn them into customers later.
Since many are tire-kickers who are smart and want to compare, you need a marketing engine -- call it "lead nurturing" or a "content marketing strategy" -- to ensure that your MSP is remembered and differentiated until the day they become fed up with their provider and are ready to switch to you.
It's all about that orange circle down there.
Okay, okay, you came for appointment generation "secrets" and so I'll share our secrets, sure thing, no biggie.
But do not for a second believe that getting 4 appointments a month is "the solution."
It's only part of the solution. The real solution is a longer and harder process to execute.
You need to come across as better than what prospects have today. Remember, we're not in the MSP Buyer's Journey from 2010 any more, it's the MSP Switcher's Journey now. Qualified prospects are with a local MSP already.
Therefore, in order to resonate, it takes conscious effort to isolate your MSP's strengths, and yes, admit your weaknesses and work on those in the background.
You may feel concerned here but don't worry, differentiating your message doesn't have to be hard.
Keep it simple, man!
Consider that you probably have a few happy customers in one or two verticals. And as a result of years of serving them, you've learned the ins and outs of that industry, the challenges affecting their growth, which business applications end-users have, the infrastructure required, which business indicators matter, etc.
So start there.
Another surprise here? Nope.
But surprisingly, many MSPs have no documentation or plan when it comes to onboarding a Sales Development Rep (SDRs), let alone the next part of coaching.
Onboarding alone is a major thing because SDRs for MSP are usually green in outbound and new to IT.
It has taken us a long, long time to get onboarding to the level it is today. And I bet it will look different in a year because things are constantly changing out there.
So, it's beyond the scope of this article, but here are some ideas to help with onboarding.
We use HubSpot's "Sales Professional" version, but there are many options out there that can do a good job, too.
Whatever you use, it must reduce the friction in the SDR's daily activities; facilitate multi-channel outbound tactics; and finally, it must track a lot of KPIs along the way.
For example, the Call Outcomes Report.
There are CRMs that claim to have sales features and then there are CRMs made from scratch for sales people. Think of it this way. There is your local town sub shop that has pizza somewhere on the menu, and then there is pizzerias in Firenze, Italia. Yes, bread and cheese, but there is a massive difference in quality.
Who cares about the quality for a sales rep you say!?
HEY MAN! LISTEN UP!
SDRs have one of the most difficult jobs on the planet.
You (well maybe not you, but many reading this) wouldn't last a week in outbound sales because you wouldn't handle the quota pressure well, the constant rejection over the phone, the discipline needed to do this every day. Anyone can be an SDR for an hour. Try it full time.
Calling isn't hard, it's the discipline day in and day out that is hard. And cold-calling is not the entire job, either.
It's 2022 guys, not 2002, it takes more work to capture prospect attention.
For example, SDRs need to be active on LinkedIn...
Emails (plural) need to be personalized and sent to hundreds each month...
Did I mention that we have to personalize the voicemails?
Oh, that we need to add fresh leads to our pipelines, too?
When do we recycle the old leads? After 9 calls or 12? Decision need to be made.
And so SDRs are expected to be like machines and they aren't. They are people, man.
So don't get them cheap pizza, get them high-end pizza so they can be effective and not hate their job and burn out.
For example, your system must have some automation to help reduce some of the manual workload. The following video explains what HubSpot's sequences does at a high-level and why it's especially relevant for salespeople.
Just because you've recruited, onboarded the SDR and have an awesome CRM system in place, that doesn't mean you're ready yet.
You thought this was going to be an easy checklist? Surprise! The checklist may be simple but the execution is a whole other thing.
Okay, the management system.
How will you evaluate performance of the SDR?
What will you expect from them in their first month, second month, and third month?
How about coaching, who will do that, how often, what will the topics be?
If you hire multiple SDRs, what contests will you run and how will that be measured?
The bottomline is that even if you hand over a step by step training plan for the SDR, they will need continuous feedback, to be held accountable and they will need to constantly be supported because if not, bad things will most likely result.
Wow, it took a long time to get here and it still feels like the starting line.
I will return to this blog post to finish this. I promise.
I will continue to share how to put together a list of leads and then how the SDR should proceed to nail the appointments.
Stay tuned for this step and the ones to follow by subscribing.