Outbound sales for MSPs are almost unheard of in the industry. When I owned my MSP, I couldn’t find any call center that could actually speak our language. The alternative was to hire and train my own sales guys in house. I started down that road and realized that it was insanely expensive and laborious. So I eventually abandoned the idea and turned to inbound marketing to generate leads for my MSP.
The company I now own, Lemonade Stand, focuses on inbound leads, meaning we focus on getting the customer to call the MSP and ask for service. But sometimes, inbound marketing isn’t enough. Outbound sales can also be a great avenue for keeping your sales funnel healthy and strong.
The only outbound sales company that we know of that specializes in MSP’s is a company called Managed Sales Pros. Here’s the rundown written by Carrie Simpson, Founder of Managed Sales Pros:
***Side note: There is some really valuable information in here that could save you tons of money if you’re an MSP and is just downright interesting.
Managed Sales Pros provides the following services for MSPs:
1. Sales Technology Consulting – Set Up Your CRM or PSA for efficient prospecting and simple reporting
2. Managed Sales Prospecting Talent – use our trained, tech-savvy callers to find new business for your MSP.
3. Sales Development Process Consulting – develop and document sales process so you can hire, train and manage your own in-house call team.
4. One-off outbound calling projects. (When you need a set number of calls for a specific purpose)
5. Outbound Customer Satisfaction and Retention Campaigns – identify which of your clients are prepared to offer testimonials and which are at risk of leaving you for a competitor.
6. Sales Prospecting Training – on-site, in our office, or online.
About Managed Sales Pros
Founded by Carrie Simpson in 2013, Managed Sales Pros is the only outsourced sales development company in North America that focuses only on outbound telephone prospecting and offers services exclusively to technology manufacturers, distributors, vendors and resellers.
Carrie has been named one of the 50 Most Influential People in the IT Channel (The Var Guy), and one of the 250 people you need to know in the IT Channel (MSP Mentor). In 2016 Carrie was named as “One of Six Entrepreneurs to Watch” on the W100 (Canada’s top 100 Female Entrepreneurs)and Managed Sales Pros was the 25th fastest growing startup in Canada in 2017 (Profit Magazine).
Carrie currently writes managed services sales and marketing content for Penton Media, SmarterMSP, Datto, and Channel Executive. She is an expert in sales prospecting technology, talent and process.
Managed Sales Pros client roster includes MSP businesses from coast to coast, plus vendors including Datto, Cisco, Auvik, Pax8, Huntress Labs, Axcient and Breach Secure Now. You can check out our client video testimonials on the Managed Sales Pros YouTube page.
MSP Sales Technology Consulting
Telemarketing has a pretty bad rap in the MSP space (and in many other spaces!) Carrie once said that “If I had a dollar for every article that I read in 2018 about ‘Cold Calling is Dead’, I’d probably have 120 bucks.” These articles (these authors) all have something in common:
1. They’re trying to sell you expensive sales and marketing automation software. They call it “cadence management”. It’s not a new concept, they just gave it a fancy Silicon Valley Pitch Deck spin. You know what “cadence” is? Follow up. Which any decent sales-focused organization can do using any solution they’ve already invested in. Your CRM can handle it. Your PSA can handle it. You don’t need another layer of software on top of the software you’re already not using at full capacity.
2. If you read them carefully, you’ll see that all of them still talk about the importance of calling. They just want you to call differently. They are pushing you towards a catchy new sales idea called “Account-Based Marketing”. And with this exciting new sales concept (This is not new, it just has a new VC Friendly name – ABM just means you have a specific list of named accounts that you’re targeting) they’re trying to sell you expensive “social listening” software and/or expensive “curated” data platforms to integrate with your new expensive sales and marketing automation software.
We work with some Fortune 100 technology manufacturers and distributors at Managed Sales Pros. Many of them have a sales solution “stack” that costs anywhere from 500 to 1000 per seat. Our agents often perform at the exact same level as their in-house teams (sometimes better) using a 100/seat/month stack. Technology isn’t going to fix your sales problems. Process will. Your ten-employee MSP doesn’t need a 500/seat/month “sales stack” – and neither does anyone else.
There is no magical piece of software that is going to fix your sales process, especially if you don’t understand your own sales cycle, closing ratios, and the difference between displacement and disruption buying cycles. So, before you sign that three-year contract for that cloud-based solution you’ll need to pay extra to integrate and that you’re not going to use any more efficiently than the solution you’re using currently, talk to someone who isn’t a software sales rep. I guarantee you that you can do most, if not all, of what you want using the PSA or CRM you’re currently using, and it’s not going to take an extraordinary amount of time or money to change how you’re using your current software. You’re already paying for it, so use it at 100% capacity!
How We Provide Outsourced Sales For MSPs
1. Consulting – based on the desired outcome, we will help you choose the right technology solutions for your sales and marketing process.
2. Execution – we develop and implement your process workflow using your current technology solutions or solutions we choose. We build all automation and workflows, create process standard operating procedures, and even train your team on how to use the solution.
3. Support – have our team support your team with vendor management and ongoing customization and workflow fixes.
What do we believe when it comes to choosing sales technology?
We believe in a balance between easy to use, robust and affordable. You could do it using a more expensive solution, but why would you want to? We have a no-nonsense, no-fluff, no more than is needed approach to sales and marketing.
Why buy a software solution you only use 20% of, and then add another layer of complexity on top of that solution? We have been able to reduce the per-seat pricing of many our clients’ systems to under $100 per seat, while not losing any of the functionality they need to perform.
Managed Sales Prospecting Talent
Work with our fully trained ready-to-go-right-now team of sales prospecting experts. We can provide some, or all, of the talent you need – for a month, for a year; or forever! Our full-time agents are available for $12,000.00 per month. There are no other costs associated with your sales development program.
For Managed Services Providers we:
• buy the list (you may also provide one if you wish)
• recruit and train the agents
• manage the agents in our Las Vegas-based call center
• build your pipeline
• qualify your opportunities
• calendar your sales appointments
• make your follow up calls
• meet with you weekly to discuss results
• provide full transparency – every dial is accounted for and the results are shared with you
Our minimum commitment for managed sales prospecting is four months. There is no termination clause for your pilot, but after 90 days either of us may terminate the agreement for any reason with 30 days’ notice.
If you’re not budgeting for a year of sales prospecting, you shouldn’t be considering outsourcing. You won’t see a return on your investment for at least a year. Sometimes two. Smaller MSPs may consider using a half time asset. This will be sufficient in smaller markets, or where the MSP owner is still the primary sales executive.
Many vendor partner programs offer MDF or discounts for Managed Sales Pros programs – ask us if any of your vendors well help subsidize your outbound campaigns!
Our Philosophy On Hiring Outbound Sales Agents
Many people ask where we find these tech-savvy prospecting dynamos. Well, we find them where everyone finds telemarketing agents. They aren’t tech-savvy prospecting dynamos when they join our team. They are “I did not dream of being a telemarketer when I was a kid” call center agents.
Here’s the thing about telemarketing: More money doesn’t equal better. The people who are interviewing for telemarketing jobs are settling. Nobody wants to be a telemarketer. It’s not a fun job, it’s not a glamorous job, and it’s not a long-term career choice. It’s a job you take when you can’t get another job. It’s a hard job that nobody wants, but people have bills to pay and kids to feed and we don’t all have college degrees and squeaky-clean pasts.
Stop looking for the perfect telemarketer. They don’t exist. Why would a college educated, experienced sales rep apply for your minimum wage MSP telemarketing job?
Chances are, if they’re working a sales gig right out of college they got snapped up by Oracle, Ricoh, Microsoft, Cisco…they’re planning their careers five steps ahead. Those people? They’re not coming to work for your 10- person MSP. You aren’t on the road map of that college graduate. You’re going to get the same people we get. And you’re not going to enjoy my next 500 words or so, so brace yourself.
We recruit from employment readiness programs, addiction recovery centers, women’s shelters, and prison re-entry programs, and we run ads on all of the major job boards constantly. Our success rate is about 2 employees for every 1000 that apply, which requires us to be creative – nobody has time to read 1000 resumes when only 10 are going to actually show up and interview.
The common success trait of successful sales prospectors is a need AND a desire to work – they’re not “too good” to take a telemarketing job, and they’re watching their bank account balances dwindle. They didn’t want to be here, but here they are.
It doesn’t matter who they are when they get to you. Your job is to inspire, encourage, coach and train anyone who is willing to do this job. Telemarketing starts out as a job you settle for, but working for your MSP (and our call center) in a sales development role should be a stepping stone to a better life – and if you can’t paint the picture of that better life for your agents every day, you lose them quickly – which really sucks after you’ve spent dozens of hours writing recruiting ads, reading resumes, interviewing, hiring, training and developing agents.
With an unemployment rate nationally of under 4%, nobody needs to be a telemarketer – they can fold t-shirts, flip burgers, or do any of a number of other jobs that will be moderately less stressful.
Your culture, a clearly defined process and an obvious commitment to the success of your agents will determine the success of your telemarketing team. Telemarketing is a job that anyone can get, and everyone is hiring all the time. There is zero reason for them to work for your small, unknown MSP (or my small nobody knows us call center) when they can go work for an established call center right now that might even offer them benefits and health insurance, and who will hire them on the spot without all the DISC testing and a ridiculous three week hiring cycle. In Las Vegas our call center competes with “dailies” – call centers that pay commission only, cash at the end of your day. Imagine fighting for talent in that market?
MSP Outbound Sales FAQs
“But just pay more, Carrie!”
Great suggestion. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s the job. If someone will do this job for 20 an hour, they will do the job for ten an hour. People who are accepting call center agent jobs aren’t getting five figure salary offers, they’re getting their electricity shut off at the end of the month. They come with baggage, they come with challenges. They come in with child support garnishments, no money for bus passes and drug court appointments.
They may be choosing between paying for their phone bill or buying their groceries. Food insecurity, daycare challenges, unstable housing arrangements — these are the issues your new telemarketing agent is probably experiencing. And if they’re able to hide that from you for a little while, that’s amazing. I’m constantly humbled by the fact that people will take a city bus for two hours each way to work with me.
Telemarketing agents come in resigned to their ten dollar an hour fate. Here’s the thing, though. You really, truly don’t want that discouraged, “this is as good as my life gets” person on your call floor. You want the person you’re going to help build them into working on your call floor. You need to see past their problems, their pasts, their imperfect spelling. You need to look for “the spark”. Not everyone will have it. The people who want to work will come to work, no matter the job.
They’ll be at work on time, they’ll work hard for you every day, and they’ll follow your carefully defined processes. Those are the people you’re going to invest in, and then you’ll build them into tech-savvy prospecting dynamos. I’ve seen it dozens of times in the last five years – the minute when someone begins believing in themselves and you – that’s a magical moment. And once that happens? You’ve built a loyal and talented team member, now get to work on keeping them!
But Carrie, why should I hire that inexperienced and imperfect person when this amazing sales rep just applied to work here?
That smooth-talking-been-working-for-a-competitor-forever caller you interviewed yesterday?
If he’s making money there, he’s not leaving.
If it sounds too good to be true? It is.
Sales development reps who are killing it and making money don’t quit. Sales prospectors who work hard and come to work every day don’t get fired when they have one or two bad months. HR nightmares are waiting for you.
Instead of that smooth talking slickster, I’d rather have an inexperienced person who really wants a job. One of the key personality traits of a great prospecting agent (not a sales agent) is risk aversion. They don’t like change, and they fear losing what they have more than they want to try something new – even for more money. They want predictable paychecks, predictable schedules and more importantly, they want to know what’s expected of them every day.
Routine brings with it comfort and security.
Our company exists for one reason: we want to accelerate the growth of anyone we touch. Our clients AND our employees.
We want anyone who’s prepared to come into the office at 7 AM and dial the phone for 8 hours to get somewhere better, and that’s the commitment we make to our team. Work hard, rise up. Our goal is to take a ten dollar an hour caller and turn them into a $50,000.00 caller within two years. They’ll top out with us there, and we’ll encourage them to explore new career choices or management roles.
We also profit share with our employees so our ten-dollar agents who are performing at 100% over their bare minimum expectations can expect not only to earn a five figure salary, but also get a share of business they’re helping build.
We incentivize our team using a scorecard that is impossible to game. Bonus on meetings? You get crappy meetings. Bonus on dial count? You get dozens of meaningless dials. Our scorecard can’t be gamed.
You might be able to game one of the five metrics you’re held accountable to, but you can’t game all of them, and the heaviest weighted metrics on our scorecard are all within the control of the individual agent. You can’t control your no-show rate. You can’t control how many people actually pick up their phone every day. You can’t control the interest level of the people on the list that was assigned to you. You can control your attendance and punctuality. You can control your time between dials. You can control the qualification level of the appointments you schedule. You can control how you manage the database.
Not everyone who walks in the door is going to be excited about the idea of profit sharing and accountability. Those people self-select out, or they are quickly released back to industry before we invest thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in training them to set appointments for complex technology solutions.
“But wait, Carrie – will I get a ten dollar an hour caller or a $50,000.00 a year caller?”
Truth? Probably both. We start new agents on easier projects – invitations to lunch and learns, and simple outbound data collection projects. As their skill level increases, they’ll become secondary callers on projects staffed by experienced agents. That means if you’re getting 100 dials a day, 10 of them are probably done by a newer caller.
“Carrie, why would we pay you $12,000.00 a month to get an agent that you’re paying ten dollars an hour?”
This is probably my favorite question to answer. Why would anyone pay you $12,000.00 a month to access one of your $15.00 an hour level one techs for three hours a month?
Well, they do it because they have a business to run and they don’t understand technology, and you do.
They do it because by the time they managed to find and hire an in-house tech they may already be experiencing pain and they need that pain to go away. And even if they hired in-house, who’s going to really know if the woman they hired is even doing their job properly? They don’t understand technology.
You pay us a premium to benefit from the hundreds of thousands of MSP outbound calls we made before we made your first call, so that you can access our entire team and knowledge base, not just your one caller. Your clients pay you a premium because they know you can do it better than they can.
And while 6 or 12K a month may seem like a lot, every month that goes by that you’re doing no prospecting is one full quarter that you’re doing no closing. Opportunity cost is probably the thing you think about least and the thing that should be the most important consideration in your decision.
How many 50 seat deals do you need to close annually to justify the cost of an outsourced telemarketing firm? How much of your time does outsourcing free up? How much is it worth to you to just not have to do any of the things that need to be done to build and manage a successful sales prospecting team. One person or ten people, you still need to support the initiative – and it’s a full-time job.
“Well, I’d rather have an in-house caller that I pay ten bucks an hour.”
Awesome. We all would. And if you can find, hire, train, manage and retain that caller, you definitely should not be paying me a premium to do it for you. However, if you want the lower cost of an in-house telemarketer combined with the benefits of our years of expertise, our process consulting or sales prospecting training options might be very attractive to you!
Sales Prospecting Process Consulting and Sales Prospecting Training
If you want to hire in-house, here’s what you’ll need:
• A great recruiting ad. How are you going to stand out?
• A standardized interview process and an interview question grading matrix that can’t be gamed (because reading resumes will genuinely make you wonder how the world isn’t exploding into a fireball of flame every dang day) and ensures that you are complying with all equal opportunity hiring requirements while weeding out the candidates that aren’t going to fit in with your company and culture.
• An employee handbook (if you don’t already have one, you’re going to need one now!)
• A policy on absenteeism and tardiness.
• A corrective policy and documentation process.
• A process to train to that is documented and repeatable.
• Benchmarks, KPIs, performance scorecards – do you know what you’re looking for?
• Lists and a way to manage those lists.
• A compensation plan.
• Reporting that helps you identify the daily, weekly and monthly performance of your calling assets.
• Automation and workflow that eliminates some of the more time-consuming activities.
• Training – on sales prospecting, managed services, and company policies.
• A career plan – where can your new team member go next? If there is no room for advancement, what do they gain when they perform well?
• Someone to coach, mentor, support and educate your caller on an ongoing basis.
We can help you find a new telemarketer, train that person and even help you manage that person. From writing your recruiting ad to designing your comp plan, we can help you create an in-house hiring strategy. Then we’ll help you hire
Don’t want to outsource your sales and marketing operations? No problem! We can train your current team to grow your sales faster. We have solutions for every budget:
• One on one sales training and coaching for business owners
• One on one sales training and coaching for in-house telemarketers
• Train the trainer for sales leadership
• Group training in our office or yours
• Online, instructor-led group training
• Online, on-demand training
Great people and great technology thrive when you build a great process. Let us help you develop custom workflows so you never again miss a good opportunity! After we build and test it, we’ll document it and provide you with training materials and documented Standard Operating Procedures so you can replicate it over and over again with new agents. We can build a single workflow, implement and integrate a single solution into your current program, or create your entire lead and demand generation strategy from the ground up.
Pricing for any of our consulting and training programs varies, we’d love to provide a quote for you if you’re considering establishing an in-house prospecting program. I strongly believe that if you can do it in-house, you should do it in-house. Done properly, in most markets, outsourced sales prospecting has a shelf life of approximately two years. It shouldn’t be a forever engagement. At some point, you won’t have any net new leads to call. The heavy lifting is done by our callers, and at some point, there’s nobody new in the market left to call. There aren’t hundreds of new 20-plus employee companies popping up in most markets.
Sales prospecting is important to the growth of your MSP. Calling is not the only way to prospect, but it is an essential piece of the puzzle. Remember: just because you don’t like getting cold calls doesn’t mean cold calling doesn’t work.
Every MSP in North America is actively coaching their client base to never open an email they aren’t expecting. And every company in North America who is the ideal prospect for your MSP is already buying managed services. There’s no land grab left – the clients you want are the ones that already see value in the service – you just have to convince them that you’re the best partner for them. That’s going to take building a relationship, and the phone will get you most of the way there.