IT Channel

Digital Marketing vs. Cold Calling: Which Is Better for Your MSP?

Though cold calling is a foundation of some MSP and VAR lead gen strategies that’s just not the best way to attract your ideal customers anymore.


One of the most powerful things an MSP or a VAR can do for their business is to master the art of consistent lead generation. With the right leads in your funnel, the quality of your entire business improves. Firms that fill the funnel with junk leads end up with disgruntled salespeople, angry engineers and harried CFOs.

Although cold calling is one of the most well-known lead generation techniques, it may not be the most efficient for your company.

The Hang-Ups With Cold Calling

Cold calling sometimes attracts buyers who are shopping on price alone, leaving you with little to no margin and hoping one day you’ll be able to sell an expensive upgrade down the road.

Then there are the ones who simply want to outsource all of their technology needs for a low per-seat price, treating your business as their one-stop-shop for all help desk requests at any time, day or night.

This is how MSPs and VARs become jaded about the business as a whole – but it doesn’t have to be that way.  When done correctly, digital marketing produces a solid stream of high-quality leads for savvy business owners who understand what it means to select and serve a particular niche in B2B.

Why Digital Marketing Works

Digital marketing allows firms to target messaging to their ideal customers with offers that speak to the pain points that their customer faces on a daily basis.

Digital marketing is meant to attract, engage, and convert your leads. By implementing strategies like blog content and simple social media content, a company can build a strong presence online. Companies have found that a well-designed digital strategy can drive a profitable ROI and increased brand awareness.

How Your Ideal Customer Makes Buying Decisions

A busy CIO may download a podcast or listen to a webinar. A busy IT manager may download a white paper or a resource guide and read it at their leisure. Bottom line, integrating digital marketing just makes good business sense for growth-oriented MSPs and VARs.

Here’s why:

The Harvard Business Review reported cold calling is ineffective 90% of the time. Cold calling is an uphill battle both for your salespeople and for your business as a whole. Once the lead converts, is it really the business you need to grow your firm, or will new business originating from cold calling slow your growth?

Line-of-Business Buyers Conduct Research Before Engaging with IT Firms

Line of Business Buyers Conduct Research Before Engaging with IT Firms

As line-of-business (LOB) technology buying expands, the needs of your potential customers are shifting. LOB buyers are researching firms and overall technology solutions to understand what it is they’re buying before starting a conversation with solution providers: 45% of CompTIA members revealed LOB buyers are initiating technology investment ideas.

As they research, if they don’t like what they see, they go elsewhere. Your job as a solid MSP or VAR is to make sure your ideal customer likes what they see when they visit your site, when they see your social media posts, and when they view your videos.

Develop stronger ties with LOB buyers to ensure they have the information they need to develop the right ideas.

Note: The CompTIA survey also found 27% of LOB buyers are making the final decision in technology investments for their divisions. According to the survey, this is a growing trend. Although IT won’t be completely eliminated from the picture, it’s definitely no longer the sole source of decision making for progressive organizations. This coincides with the idea that cold calling is no longer the sole way to gain more business.

Best Practices in Digital Marketing for MSPs and VARs

As you make the transition to integrate more digital marketing into your lead generation techniques, consider using these tools as you develop your strategy:

Buyer’s Journey: The buyer’s journey is an important element in digital marketing. It helps you deliver the right content to the right lead at the right time in their decision-making process.

Have you ever received an email about a tough issue you were facing just at the moment you had to make a decision? That wasn’t by accident. The firm you received the email from had a solid digital marketing plan based on the buyer’s journey.

Leveraging this tool well brings potential buyers to you instead of your team having to reach out/search for them. The buyer’s journey is made up of three stages:

Awareness: Many of the marketing materials you see in this stage are focused on top-level information about a particular challenge.

Consideration: This stage is about searching for solutions and possibly comparing one solution with another.

Buying: In the buying stage, firms usually create case studies and solution guides for their leads to help them get as much information as possible before making a buying decision.

Buyers Journey

Create Personas: As you work with your marketing team to improve the quality of the leads coming into your organization, targeting the right potential buyer is crucial. When you’re clear about whom you’re serving and what they need from you, rolling out your digital marketing strategy becomes more of an effortless process.

You can have confidence knowing the offers, blog posts and social media posts you create will bring in leads when you truly understand who your audience is and what they need; creating buyers personas helps you do that.

Digital Marketing Doesn’t Replace Offline Marketing for MSPs and VARs – Nor Should It

As you develop your MSP marketing and sales strategy, it’s important to build a solid digital marketing initiative into that strategy. One of the greatest assets a company has in terms of inbound marketing is LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn, 50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a source for making purchase decisions. The survey also shows that 75% of B2B buyers use other forms of social media to make buying decisions. As you build that initiative, you’ll have the power to receive leads from multiple areas, including
offline methods.

By no means should you stop what’s working – cold calling can still be effective. Just know that as buyers change, your methods of getting those buyers into your sales funnel will have to change as well. 

Next Steps in Diversifying Lead Generation for MSPs and VARs

Next Steps in Diversifying Lead Generation for MSPs and VARs

To get the right leads, it’s important to go where the lead ‘lives.’ B2B buyers live online and make buying decisions based on the content vendors and service providers create. According to a report by Demand Gen, 79% of the respondents said that a web search influenced their selection process and that the vendors’ website content played a decisive role. A significant number said that social media (50%) and downloaded white papers (55%) also played a major role.

As you determine your cost per lead (CPL) from cold calling, also consider your CPL from digital marketing. Some firms see CPLs as low as 20 cents through their most successful campaigns. While these results are not common, we mention them to show the potential impact digital marketing can have on drastically lowering your CPL.

Let’s discuss ways we can help you develop a workable digital marketing strategy for your MSP or VAR business. 


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