A Story From the Frontlines of B2B Lead Generation:
Generating leads for managed service providers (MSPs) may seem like an easy task. After all, businesses rely on technology for nearly everything—data storage, communication, project management, and more. Plus, when remote work became more commonplace, a well-run IT strategy became more essential than ever.
However, unlike commercial cleaning or HVAC companies, MSPs don’t just compete with other providers in their area—they have to contend with IT competitors across the nation. Even if you only accept local jobs, that doesn’t mean a provider 1,000 miles away won’t target your market and accept a remote gig. In a cutthroat industry like managed IT, you need a structured lead generation program to survive.
In early 2015, an MSP from the Pacific Northwest reached out to Abstrakt because competition was stiff and their haphazard sales strategy wasn’t cutting it. Their main goal was to grow their business, and they needed our help to get their fair cut of market share. Six years and over $2 million in revenue later, it’s clear that we exceeded expectations.
Here’s how we turned a modest B2B appointment setting program into a multi-million dollar venture for one smart MSP partner.
Step One: Build the Infrastructure for a Healthy Pipeline
Some lead generation success stories have shorter timelines than others, but they all have one thing in common—they begin with weeks of preparation. Before we make our first sales call, we spend an entire month with each client learning about their business, creating a lead list, and collecting up-to-date information on every potential customer. Our month of preparation allows us to hit the ground running as soon as we go live.
On March 1, 2015, we began implementation month for our new MSP client. First, we asked them about their target audience. Who did they want to target? Did they want us to focus on the quality or quantity of appointments? We learned the following:
- Our client only wanted appointments within a 50-mile radius from their main office. One of their key differentiators was providing personalized, in-person service, which they could only offer if their clients were nearby.
- To be considered qualified, a lead needed to have at least 20 workstations and one server. Additionally, our client was open to project work or a managed service opportunity, as long as it resulted in a big-ticket contract.
- Our client preferred prospects in engineering, finance, manufacturing, healthcare, and the nonprofit sector. If a prospect was in government, education, or law, our client instructed us to remove them from our list.
After discussing expectations and lead criteria, we got to work creating a list of potential leads. To ensure we had the most accurate, up-to-date information, our data cleansing team got in touch with as many prospects as possible and gathered the following information:
- Company name and key decision-maker (KDM): You wouldn’t think that we would have to confirm a prospect’s company name, but the internet isn’t always to be trusted. We never blindly trust the information we find on a database because it’s often outdated, incorrect, or just plain untrue. Once we confirm a lead’s company name, we determine who their IT decision-maker is.
- KDM’s email and phone number: Many of the emails and phone numbers you find on the internet go to a pooled inbox or central line, not the KDM. If you want to make headway in your B2B appointment setting program, you need to talk to the right person, which is why we confirm their contact information early on.
- A lead’s industry, number of workstations, and location: There’s no reason to keep a prospect on your list if they don’t fit your target criteria. We always confirm that a potential customer meets our client’s needs before moving them forward in the sales pipeline.
After we cleansed our lead list and learned everything we needed to know about our client, our sales development representatives (SDRs) started making introductory calls on April 1, 2015.
Step Two: Spend Nearly 3 Years Nurturing a Lead, Win a $200,000+ Deal
You never know what you’re going to get with B2B appointment setting for MSPs. On average, we spend three months nurturing leads before setting an appointment, and the average contract for a year-long service plan or a one-off project is worth around $25,000. For the most part, we were on par with the average for the first few years of our client’s program. We set up appointments for medium-sized projects and a handful of managed service contracts.
However, while most of our leads were making their way through the sales pipeline relatively quickly, one prospect put our lead nurturing skills to the test for almost three years. We first contacted the key decision-maker from an addiction recovery facility on July 1, 2015, and things were looking good. Our SDR set an appointment with the key decision-maker after a few phone calls, and it looked like the appointment could turn into $20,000 of monthly recurring revenue (MRR).
July 2015: First Appointment
Our client’s appointment went well—they told us they had sent over a proposal and were pretty confident the lead would sign a contract. Then they waited a few weeks for a response and were met with radio silence. Delayed response times aren’t too uncommon in MSP lead generation—sometimes, leads have to finish their current contract before signing on with our client. But after months of unreturned phone calls, it became clear that we weren’t dealing with a typical unresponsive lead.
August 2015–May 2017: Playing the Waiting Game
After a few months of waiting, our client told us to stop targeting the lead for the time being, just in case they eventually decided to move forward with the proposal. That’s exactly what we did—our SDRs moved on to other leads and continued setting regular appointments. None of our meetings turned into a deal that was anywhere close to what the treatment facility proposal could have become. Even though our pipeline was producing steady results, it was hard to accept that a $200,000 deal fell through the cracks.
So, in May of 2017, nearly two years after our first contact with the elusive lead, we got our client’s go-ahead to start pursuing again. It turns out, after putting their search for a new managed IT provider on hold, their KDM had left the company around six months earlier. The person we reached didn’t know who the new KDM was, and it took us 13 more phone calls and six months to finally reach them.
Late 2017: Second Appointment and Deal Closed
Once we finally made contact with the new KDM, we learned that their IT issues had only gotten worse and the search was back on. To our surprise, things moved quickly from there—the lead set a new appointment on Nov. 8, 2017, and signed a contract for nearly $20,000 in MRR (over $200,000 a year) at the end of the year.
A quote from our client: “This is our third largest managed services client! Thank you from all the employees here for your persistence and perseverance as a 967-day sales cycle finally comes to a close. This is truly an example of how valuable Abstrakt is in our sales process! Great win!”
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Step Three: Keep the Deals Coming
After our client closed their first major deal, we kept the appointments coming. Many of our appointments resulted from four or five years of lead nurturing—a testimony to the fact that persistence is key in lead generation. Here are a few of the deals our client closed because of our B2B appointment setting services:
- December 2017: An architecture lead signed up for $150,000 of project work and a $3,000 per month managed services contract.
- November 2018: After nine months of lead nurturing, our client closed a deal worth $8,000 a month in MRR, or $96,000 a year.
- March 2019: A manufacturing lead that had been in our pipeline since 2015 signed a $17,000 contract for project work.
- February 2021: A food distribution lead we first contacted in early 2016 finally signed a contract for a $15,000 project. This project has the potential to turn into a managed IT partnership.
As of July 2021, our client has secured $76,000 in MRR (over $900,000 a year) and $1.4 million in project work as a result of our partnership.
The Result: A Pipeline That Pays for Itself
If this success story is any indication, running a B2B appointment setting program for MSPs can test your patience. However, it can also result in once-in-a-lifetime deals and a pipeline that will pay for itself for years to come. No matter how frustrating a missed phone call or rescheduled appointment is at the time, it becomes well worth it when those hours of work turn into a signed contract.
If you’re looking for an instant payoff, B2B appointment setting isn’t for you. If you want to set your business up for future success and never have to worry about finding your next lead again, it’s time to partner with Abstrakt. We build pipelines that produce steady results for years—not just the first few months of our partnership. Our SDRs never let a viable lead exit our pipeline, even if it takes five years for a contract to materialize. Over the past decade, we’ve equipped our sales reps with the best lead generation tactics and boosted revenue for dozens of MSPs.
Get in touch today to learn more about our B2B lead generation for MSPs and take advantage of our unrivaled expertise.
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