There are three types of sales calls I’ve used to grow my own businesses, and I recommend them for yours as well.
- CSAT (customer satisfaction) survey call
- Referral request call
- Cold call
You could technically never make a “cold” call if you master the art of CSAT and referral requests.
Sales call type 1: Customer satisfaction surveys
Before you ask a client for a referral, you need to ensure your client is happy with the services you’re providing.
CSAT outreach should be done on a regular cadence. The more often you do this, the shorter the conversations need to be. CSAT is a glorious thing yet most companies are too busy to do them.
As you begin your journey towards active selling strategies, it’s essential to remember that 60% of the growth for your MSP should be coming from your own client base. Protecting that base is your number one priority as you begin to add more clients.
Selling and marketing are both time-intensive and expensive for your MSP—your time isn’t free. If you spend hours on closing new clients while your base is decreasing, the net result is break even. It’s a lot of work to manage a business that loses clients as quickly as they sign them.
Your customer satisfaction calls should be exactly that: calls. It’s easy to send an email survey, and tempting to ignore calling in favor of asking for a smiley face for your dashboards. But CSAT calling is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to protect your clients from your competitors.
If no one else is using a personal touch to measure client satisfaction, imagine the delight your regular enquiries bring to your client. They have options. Nobody takes a sales call from a competitor when they’re happy with their current provider.
The best thing about CSAT calls is you can get those calls on your client’s calendar right at their onboard—you don’t have to cold call a client. While you could default to email, a call is a personal touch that moves your relationship with your client forward.
Good partners are far more forgiving of mistakes and issues when they know you’re always focused on improvement. Schedule a 15-minute touch base with your client every month during their onboard. Get it right on their calendar for the entire duration of your contract.
Rotate through the key stakeholders so you’re getting an accurate view of the organization. You want to hear how their employees are experiencing your support. You want the whole team to love working with you so much that no one would even fathom taking that sales call from the company across town.
Your CSAT call is all about the customer. What are they enjoying about working with you? (Write this down. It will help you build a better sales process.) What could be improved? (Write this down. I will help you improve your service delivery). If your client is 100% happy, schedule another call to build a case study or a testimonial.
Sales call type 2: Referral requests
MSPs often grow well by word of mouth but referrals aren’t a reliable business development strategy, especially if you’re just waiting for current clients to walk them to your door. Your sales pipeline is only as predictable as the number of leads that go into the top of your funnel every month.
If you’re only using referrals, your business will stagnate if those referrals stop coming in consistently. And believe me, this will happen. You don’t want to be left scrambling when it does. The solution? Actively pursue referrals from your network.
You can ask for referrals from anyone you know. Actively pursuing referrals is yet another way to avoid the dreaded cold call.
I recommend starting with the people who are closest to you and your business. Do you belong to the chamber of commerce? A networking club like BNI? Associations that your clients belong to? A social club or golf club? These are all great places to find referrals.
The key to building an active referral network is reciprocity and engagement. Start asking everyone you talk to about what they’re working on in their business right now. If your prospect says they don’t need IT support right now, ask them what they do need. There’s someone in your network that can help them.
If you’re constantly bringing leads to other people, they’ll begin to reciprocate. This is also a great way to get an audience with the CEO of any company you’re trying to win as a client. No one says no to a call that begins, “I have a referral for you.”
Once you’ve exhausted your network, you can start asking random strangers for referrals.
Sales call type 3: Cold calls
There seems to be a lot of anxiety around the idea of cold calling to win new business. If you can hand a stranger a business card and talk about your business, you can cold call. It’s the same thing, just without the awkward stroll across the room and the weird waiting until it seems appropriate to join the conversation.
Cold calling will most often identify three types of leads:
- New leadership evaluating their options
- A confused prospect in the middle of a vendor communication breakdown. (The client had a problem and the MSP isn’t communicating effectively with the client.)
- A price increase that has led the client to wonder if they’re getting value for their money
Cold leads take longer to close than referrals, but when you’re using cold calling consistently, you stop experiencing the uncertainty, and feast and famine, that comes with using passive referrals as your sole source of sales growth. It’s better to begin right now rather than waiting for your referrals to dry up.
The key to success: Use a script for these sales calls
Most people aren’t nervous calling their current clients or the people they golf with. They do get nervous calling complete strangers. That’s why a script is so important—nervous people talk too much, too quickly, or not at all. Your script is a map through an unknown conversation. It isn’t a “Bible,” it’s a guide book.
I’ve been cold calling for over 30 years now, and without a script, I’ll still make mistakes. It’s easy to get through a really pleasant conversation, only to find that you didn’t qualify the prospect at all.
A meeting with a company that only has two computers isn’t a meeting you’re going to want, so your script ensures you remember to ask important questions about decision makers, budgets and timelines. Your script helps you recall facts quickly and relay them concisely. You don’t want to fumble through a simple question like, “How long have you been in business?”
For referral calls, your script should include an overview of your business, your goals for the next year, your target client profile, and how they can help you reach your goal. Then ask what they’re hoping to achieve next year, and how you could help them.
Sometimes my script is just a handful of notes and a call back number on the back of an envelope. (If you’d like to see an example of me cold calling last year for a client of mine, check out this video. It’s three hours long, but there’s some good stuff in there!)