Cold Email For MSPs or Cold Calls For MSPs?

cold email for msps

Does cold email for MSPs work?

Cold email for MSPs are like any cold managed services lead generation strategy – only a small percentage of cold emails for MSPs will ever lead to positive results.

(If you don’t want to read this long blog post, and you came here only for the free MSP sales script we offered, you can email us at and chat with Katlyn to get the free MSP sales script!)

Should I Skip Cold Email for MSPs?

You shouldn’t skip cold email for MSPs. That doesn’t mean you should ignore managed services email marketing as a managed services marketing strategy, but there has been an entire software industry built around the idea that cold emails will “warm up” your prospects so they’ll be more receptive to a call.

They call it lead scoring.

I call it silly.

Lead Scoring With Cold Email for MSPs Means You Let Competitors Call Your Prospects Before You Do.

The theory behind managed services cold email lead scoring is simple.  Potential managed services prospects (let’s call them suspects, we don’t even know if they’re qualified managed services leads at this point in your sales cycle) are assigned points when they do certain things:

  • visits your managed services website
  • opens an email about a service your MSP offers
  • watches a webinar that your MSP hosts or is featured on
  • clicks on a link to specific managed services content in an email

Each lead generation activity the potential managed services prospect completes has a number of points assigned in the managed services lead scoring process.

When the prospect has completed enough activities to accumulate enough points for a high enough managed services lead score, you call them.

The problem with this (one of the problems with this) is you aren’t always marketing to the companies you want to market to, and the companies you do want to market to don’t care about their lead score – they’re looking for a new MSP, and you are not the only one they’re looking at.

What Happens When You’re Not The Only Game In Town?

This has all the sense of exchanging contact information  with someone you meet at a bar, then waiting for them to call you a certain number of times to make sure they’re really really interested before calling them back.

They gave you their card – they’re interested enough to at least allow you the opportunity to TRY to get to know them.

However, you’re not the only one that they spoke to that night – everyone wants their number, and they’re open to the idea of dating a bit before they commit.

If you don’t engage with them when they call you, do you think they’re going to try three or four more times, or do you think they’re going to call the other person who exchanged numbers with them that night and see what they’re up to?

If you don’t call them at all, and instead wait for them to indicate their interest by calling you, here’s what I think happens next:

While you sit around waiting for their interest level to rise, someone else said “I want this person to know I’m interested in them,” and they called them.  Now their new friend is showing them the time of their lives.  They’re not calling you back.

A few months later, when you realize that this “wait and see” approach just isn’t working for you, you pick up that card and call them again.  Oh, they’re so sorry, but they’re engaged now.  But thanks for calling!

Ignoring a prospect while they complete a series of highly arbitrary tasks online is a bad idea.

If they’re looking at your website, they’re looking at your competitors websites, too.  They’re looking.

If you’re using the technology required to track these things, but you’re ignoring the lead until they hit a specific lead scoring “ranking”, you’re losing business to competitors.  For every “lead” that gets to “800” (or whatever your score is), how many did you lose when they were approached immediately by competitors they were also evaluating?

Are you going to wait for the prospect to hit their “optimal’ lead score while your competitor calls them and wins the business?

Lead scoring is not without value – but lead scoring is far more effective if you call your prospects first to ensure they even belong on your prospecting list.

Why Should I Call My Prospects First When I’m Scoring Managed Services Leads?

  1. Most Lead Scoring platforms charge per lead.
  2. Most Lead Lists are at minimum 30% garbage.
  3. Most Managed Services Providers waste hours of time researching prospects online and still don’t have accurate decision maker information associated to that lead.  (For example – you spend hours building a list of the managing partners of law firms, but the office manager of that law firm is the contact you want to speak with.)
  4. A Phone call will tell you – usually with minimum interaction and effort – whether or not this is a company you should be marketing managed services to.
  5. Cold calling your managed services leads will tell you if you even bother with further marketing to these companies.

You can learn more about how to buy or build managed services prospecting lists in this blog post:

If you prefer to watch a webinar, here’s a link to an on-demand webinar about buying or building sales prospecting lists for managed services companies:

Sales Prospecting Isn’t Difficult.    

It’s time consuming, and it can be repetitive.

People have convinced themselves that they don’t like it, or that they aren’t good at it.

Everyone wants to know the easiest and fastest way to win new managed services clients.

Truth is, there isn’t one.

Nobody started their I.T. business to become a sales and marketing expert. I didn’t start my cold calling company to become an I.T. support expert or an accounting expert or an event management expert or a content creation expert.

Learn How To Prospect and Beat Your Competition!

I learned about all of these things while building my business, and faced with a pandemic where I had to make hard choices about what services I kept and what services I let go of – well, I understand my accounting because I took a free 9 month MBA program offered by the SBA.  I don’t want to do my own book-keping, but I can.  I got certified in multiple marketing approaches using free courses and some paid masterclasses online – so I can do my own marketing, too.  I learned how to run effective webinars by asking my friends and peers who are experts to show me how to do it.  I did not attempt to do my own I.T. support.

The truth: why experts dismiss cold calling as an effective business development initiative and instead recommend cold email for MSPs:

  • Cold calling doesn’t come with an expensive marketing platform for you to buy
  • Outbound cold prospecting doesn’t come with a process so complicated you need to pay a consultant to set it up for you.
  • Smiling and dialing doesn’t require you to buy anything to get started – not from me, not from anyone.  You don’t need Managed Sales Pros to start cold calling.

I encourage everyone to try cold calling themselves first before making an investment in anything other marketing activity – especially cold email for MSPs.

Here’s What You Shouldn’t Do When You First Begin Prospecting for Your MSP

Don’t buy new software.  Use what you have until you’re consistent and generating some revenue from calling.

Don’t buy an “in a box” solution from a guru – not even this guru.

Here’s What You Should Do When You  First Begin Prospecting for Your MSP

Try the free, easy, simple, process driven approach to business development for managed services providers that you can do yourself right now:  Try cold calling for your MSP.

Asking for referrals from peers?  That’s cold calling!

Handing out your business card at a party?  That’s cold calling!

Going to a virtual Zoom event and telling people what you do for a living and how you can help them?  Cold calling.

So, before you spend any money this year on CRM platforms for managed services, data subscriptions for MSPs, courses for selling managed services, outsourced managed services marketing vendors, managed services sales coaching, or managed services consulting….and before you spend hours deciding how to score your leads so that you know when to call them….

Just try a free and simple approach:  cold calling.

But I Don’t Want To Make Cold Calls!

Did you want to be stuck at home for a year, changing the way you ran your business, changing the way you supported your team and your clients?  Nope.  Nobody did.

But pandemic.

So we did.

We all do things we don’t like to make our companies more successful.

Even if you don’t want to cold call forever, you can cold call right now.

You don’t even have to stop lead scoring your cold email for MSPs while you start cold calling, in fact, you can use both and determine which works best!

  • Start A/B testing the process you bought or built with just calling anyone who shows any indication of interest.
  • Start measuring how many appointments come from your lead scoring approach vs. outbound cold calling.

I think you’ll be interested in the results.  I know we were.


We grew our own MRR services business from 300K in ARR in 2015 to 1MM in ARR in 2016 and to 2MM in ARR by 2019 – it was by following the same cold calling advice I’m giving you.

I’ve never scored a lead in my life. 

Often it takes me three or four days to call back a lead who fills out a form on our website.  Bad marketing practice, right?  It’s not hurting us.  Marketing is not one-size-fits-all, and your manage services lead scoring process  shouldn’t be either.

Still insistent you need lead scoring for your managed services company?

Fine, but how about we make it really easy, and how about you use your own CRM or PSA to do it instead of investing in more products or services.  Check out this on-demand webinar on super simple lead scoring for MSPs that I created for BarracudaMSP:

How Learning a Task That You’re Not Planning On Doing Forever Benefits your MSP

The best part of understanding cold calling for MSPs isn’t only new business for your MSP – it’s knowing what you’re looking for when you’re ready to hand off the process to an in-house hire or a company like Managed Sales Pros.

Knowing your numbers, understanding the process – all of these are essential when you’re planning to grow your company.

  • How many of your peers hired a sales employee that took them on a six month ride and left them worse than when they started?
  • Who do you know that hired a marketing company that promised them the world and delivered nothing?

Those things can be avoided when you understand the process.

Knowing what questions to ask, and knowing the numbers that equal success means you can replicate your process, or hand it off with confidence.

Want a copy of the managed services sales appointment setting script we use in house here at Managed Sales Pros? 

We’re happy to share it with you!  Email Katlyn at and she’ll hook you up.

My final thought on lead scoring:  if you call Katlyn because you want a copy of my free telemarketing script, are you an actual Managed Sales Pros prospect, or are you an MSP that wants a free tool that might help their business?

I don’t know, so I’m not going to score you.  Or judge you.  I’m invested in your success – with or without Managed Sales Pros.

Looking for some guidance on how to build a better MSP, and a better MSP sales process?  We partner with Richardson & Richardson Consulting for strategic planning.  Learn more about Richardson & Richardson here!