Cold Calling vs. Digital Marketing: Which Is Best for Your MSP or VAR Business?

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 sales people, angry engineers, and harried CFOs.

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 refresh 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. It doesn’t have to be that way. True digital marketing allows firms to target messaging to their ideal customers with offers that speak to the pain points that customer faces on a daily basis. 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.

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 his/her leisure. Bottom line: Integrating digital marketing just makes good business sense for growth-oriented MSPs and VARs. Here’s why:

Inbound (digital) marketing costs 53 percent less than traditional outbound (cold calling) methods, according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2018 Report. In the survey results from the report, 29 percent of sales people listed “connecting via phone” as more difficult to do than two to three years ago. Cold calling is an uphill battle both for your sales people 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?

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. As you build that initiative, you’ll have the power to receive leads from multiple areas, including offline methods.

Most likely cold calling is still working for your sales team in certain areas. By no means should you stop what’s working. Just know that as buyers change, your methods of getting those buyers into your sales funnel will have to change as well.

Lines of Business Buyers Conduct Research Before Engaging with IT Firms

Line of Business Buyers Conduct Research Before Engaging with IT Firms

As lines 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 a solutions provider: 45 percent 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 business 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 percent 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. For that reason, cold calling isn’t the only way to win more business from firms any longer.

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: We mentioned in a previous blog that the Buyer’s Journey is an important element in digital marketing. When used well, the buyer’s journey unlocks the key benefits of 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 tough decision about it? 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 are in this stage and 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 solutions buying guides for their leads to help them get as much information as possible before making a buying decision.

Buyers Journey

Persona Generator: 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 who 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, when they need it. Creating buyers personas helps you do that. We’ve developed a handy tool that makes creating buyers personas a breeze for MSPs and VARs. Here’s a link to it.

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. For example, 67 percent of B2B buyers said their decisions were influenced by digital/online content, according to the BCG/Google, U.S., Online to Offline Survey

As you determine the cost per lead (CPL) from cold calling, also consider finding out the CPL from digital marketing. Some firms see CPLs as low as 20 cents through their most successful campaigns. Note: These results aren’t common but 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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