Keep cold appointment communication skills strong with practice.

November 26, 2019

4 Min Read
Businesspeople shaking hands meeting

By Brad Stoller


Brad Stoller

Cold appointments offer major hurdles for even the sharpest managed service provider salesperson. The challenge grows even more significant for those professionals who’ve gotten used to growing business through referrals. Though this has been a preferred method to acquire new clients, it has come at the sacrifice of those communication skills necessary for cold sales appointments with new prospects.

As referrals ebb and flow, unfortunately not providing enough at-bats along the way, the skill decline becomes a major problem. Without referrals, we’re left with one outlet for continued growth: cold appointments. As we’ve just examined, many in the MSP space have lost some of the communication edge necessary to succeed in cold sales conversations. Having a strategy for at-bats with cold prospects as well as referrals is vital to the growth engine.

To compensate, many MSPs tend to rest on their laurels. They’ll focus on their technical prowess, customer service and their track record for success. Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing prospects worry about, nor is it the type of communication that causes a prospect to act and become a client. Without the trust inherent in a referral, all of these factors become especially important in cold appointments because prospects are looking for cause to act and change. A simple presentation and discussion around mind-numbing details won’t lead to many new clients.

When MSPs don’t have enough practice working with cold prospects, they fall into the trap of focusing on the presentation instead of providing enough time for questions to uncover the prospect’s real needs and concerns. Worse, these sales pros often lack a clear, developed process for turning cold prospect meetings into second appointments. The result: Their conversion rate on cold appointments is low, dragging down potential revenue.

Focus on Client Needs

Our clients in the MSP space regularly overcome their cold appointment challenges. To increase their success rate, they:

  • Hire a sales coach. The sales coach guides them in developing the skills necessary to succeed in cold appointments with prospects. When these meetings go well, the MSPs have an easier time turning them into clients. As a bonus, the sales coach also helps in converting referrals. We believe so much in the value of this coaching that today it is a required part of our process to run a campaign.

  • Understand the 85/15 mentality. Contrary to what you might expect, only 15% of your success comes due to technical knowledge of products and services. The other 85% of success is a direct result of the ability to communicate and lead. Our best MSP clients hire team members to manage the technical side of business so they can focus on the soft skills that foster better client relationships from the first interaction.

  • Chase more cold appointments. The only way to get better at anything is to practice. If you don’t regularly hold cold appointments, you’ll never improve at converting them.

  • Request feedback. Tap into managers, team members and trusted clients who’ve been on the other end of a cold appointment with you. Cater questions to each demographic to get their opinions on your cold appointment tactics, and see what you can do to improve in the future.

When we take the right steps to prepare ourselves for cold appointments, we improve our success rate. We can’t rely on referrals to build our business. Instead, we must nurture the skills necessary to capitalize on cold meetings and turn prospects into customers. Remember: Many of you have built your business this way, so it’s not a question of whether you can succeed at it. Instead, it’s a matter of putting in the time and effort — and consistent experience in holding cold appointments.

Brad Stoller is working to change how MSPs look at their sales processes. He authors articles, provides video instruction for MSP sales tips, and holds sales-related webinars to help MSP owners, managers and sales personnel. As the national director of business development at The PT Services Group, Brad has interviewed hundreds of MSP owners to develop a new way of focusing on quality, first-time appointments and sustainable, exponential growth. Follow @BradStoller on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

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