You may be wondering if it’s appropriate for managed service providers to keep focusing on business development during the COVID pandemic panic.   It is.  I would argue it’s more important than ever to be calling your prospects and offering them assistance.  There are people with problems that need solving right now – and some of them don’t even know what they don’t know.

New Opportunities Arise In Crisis

Imagine the small business owner who was working with a friend or family member for their I.T. support.  Maybe that friend was a great casual resource for a small issue here and there.  This is not a time to rely on a casual or free I.T. provider – this is a time for serious I.T. support from serious I.T. support companies.  Your role in sales includes educating people on what they need, and why, and when.  There is a huge percentage of the market right now who have no idea whether or not they have what they need to survive this unprecedented event.   While many established clients will scale back their I.T. spends, there is now a huge opportunity to help new buyers choose the right solution for this period in their business.  And unlike the managed services “wait out their contract” sales cycle of 1 or more years, these deals will happen quickly.  You can be the one who wins the deal, but you can’t win if you’re not playing.

I Don’t Want To Bother People Right Now – They’re Busy!

Yes.  They are busy. They’re busy saving their businesses.  Imagine how much it would suck to not lose your business through this pandemic only to lose it to a ransomware attack.  People who are too busy to answer their phones won’t answer them, so you need not be worried about making people angry or “bothering” them.  If you can save their business – help them pivot remote quickly, or identify mistakes that leave them vulnerable to attacks – you should help.  If  I’m sick, and you have medicine in your pocket, should you not offer it to me because I’m sick so I may not want to talk to you right now?  Of course not.  I need the medicine, and I don’t even know you’re holding it unless you tell me you have it.

Cold Calling Doesn’t Work!

For every one person who ramps up their outbound right now there will be 20 or more scaling it back – that leaves a lot of people needing a lot of help, and not a lot of people competing with you to win business.  Get on the phone, find ways to help.  Cold calling does work.  And it works especially well in a crisis, when most people are scrambling to keep their clients happy – no one is ignoring a ringing phone right now. You can’t afford to lose one more dollar of revenue, and you certainly can’t afford to not accept new clients, so you’re answering your phone every time it rings.

You can’t cold call in (state name) during a declared emergency!

Yes.  You can.  There is no such thing as a business do not call list.  For profit businesses may ask you not to call them – and it’s good practice to take anyone who asks off of your list – but it’s not illegal.  Regulations prevent you from calling consumers in a state of emergency.  One more time for those in the back:  if you put your comapany on a do not call list your prospects couldn’t call you.  That’s why it doesn’t exist.

We are still generating appointments for our MSP clients daily – here’s some the language we’re using to start conversations, I hope it helps you as well!

COLD PROSPECT SUGGESTIONS:

“I’m calling to see if we can be of any assistance to you through this.  Who should I talk to about providing a quote for I.T. support?”

“How are you finding working remotely so far?  What’s the biggest challenge you’re seeing?  We might be able to make things a little easier – who should I talk to?”

“We are calling companies near our office to check in on them and make sure they’re doing okay and have their I.T. needs handled – how can we be helpful?”

FOLLOW UP SUGGESTIONS:

“We spoke a year ago, you mentioned you were working with x.  I’m calling to see how you’re doing – how are you finding working remotely?”  

“When we spoke in June you mentioned you wanted a follow up call in March – well, it’s March.  So, what’s changed since we last spoke?”  (this should only be used with people you’ve spoken with before, and it’s meant to be light hearted and funny)

We have found a lot of people open to conversations that lead to qualifying or disqualifying opportunities right now.  Even if you’re not lining up immediate wins, you’re identifying opportunities for when the dust settles.  Talk to people.  Ask for referrals – how many people know other people who are struggling to solve problems right now?  This is an ideal time to be known as the guy who stuck his hand out and offered to help.  Their current provider might be completely overwhelmed – or worse, going under.  While I don’t encourage you to be a jerk to your fellow MSPs during this (that plays badly in all markets) I do suggest that you start gathering some competitive intelligence. Knowing who is struggling will be important for your pipeline in the coming days and months.  And hey, before you take a client from the guy down the street, why not call him and see if you can help each other?  Being shitty to each other isn’t necessary.

This isn’t a time to be predatory or gross – so keep the hard sell to yourself.  Now is a time to help.  Go out there and find people that need help, and try to help them.  I think you’ll find that being kind will be the best marketing strategy of all.