LinkedIn Prospecting & Lead Generation for MSPs

This all started when I came to the realization that as a Managed Service Provider business, we were not dominating in our own backyard. As a matter of fact, we only had a handful of customers even in our zip code. I realize that the industry is pushing toward remote services and that this matters very little in serviceability of a customer, but in the world of B2B “relations” proximity plays.

I decided at this moment that I was going to dominate our neighborhood (or at least give it a college try). In the grand scheme, I only spent roughly an hour on this project and my motivation to execute was pushed down by the crisis of the day, but my efforts did yield one legitimate paying IT customer.

Rather than pull out the company AMEX and pay for Inmail or LinkedIn Ads, I decided to do my prospecting the “new” old fashioned way. Here is what I did, which you could do for the next 60 minutes after reading this article:

1. Google Maps

First I started on Google Maps. I zero’d in our office building and began to look at the adjacent businesses that were registered nearby. I assumed that any business not relevant enough to show up on Google was probably not a legitimate prospect anyway, so this seemed like the logical first step.

2. Linked In Search

Next I logged into LinkedIn and did a top level search for the Company Name. If it is a fairly common business name, try selecting “See All Results” that way you can get some more detailed info in your view.

3. Employee List

Once you hit the company page, then you should find the “See all [x] employees on LinkedIn->” link on the right hand side. This will give you a list of all the employees at said Company that are on LinkedIn. First it will show you the employees that have the most mutual connections as you, so if you recognize any names this could be a way in. I simply found all relevant titles that would have buying power in the area of IT (ie. President, CFO, Controller, Operations, Office Manager, etc).

4. Connection Request

After I located my targets, I sent them a connection request with a note attached. [Pro Tip: If you use Linked In Sales Navigator, you can also use an add-on like LeadGibbon to locate the prospect’s email address] I tested a few different messages at the time, but here is the one that yielded the most activity:

5. Repeat and Wait

I repeated this process for about an hour, finding as many companies as I could and attempting to connect with Decision Makers, framing it as a “hyper local connection”. Next, it was crickets. The feeling of time-wasting shame began to creep over me as I felt silly for even thinking this could work. Then the activity started.

6. Connection Replies

I started to see a flurry activity. People were looking at my profile, approving my connections, and even replying back with a dismissively polite “Hey, thanks.” For those who only approved the connection, I sent an immediate follow up similar to this:

7. Establishing Value

A few days later, the fruits of my labor began to flourish. I finally received an active response. Not only were they responsive but they were also willing to immediately share their problems with me. As an MSP, what more could you want? I wanted to make sure I established value immediately. It didn’t matter what I had to do, I had to fix their problem. This meant giving an hour of free service just to wet their beak and show them what we could do.

8. Delivering

Now it’s time to execute. Regardless of how we would be compensated, I wanted this customer to experience our service offering in its true form (for better or worse). This is why I now went through the process of setting up an account in our PSA, added the customer in our invoicing system, and then pushed their request to our Level 1 queue as any request would go. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to over-deliver in a way that is unsustainable and to develop skewed expectations if this prospect were to become a legitimate customer. Here is how the rest of this conversation went after we began working on the issue:

I was eventually able to meet with this customer in person, do a full site survey, and quote a few large projects for them. They later became a candidate for our recurring Monitoring & Maintenance services as their business grew.

The moral of the story is that with a little time and effort and some business development skills, you can generate a new customer right now without spending a dime. Looking back at this experience, I believe that our willingness to extend value without compensation is what ultimately won this deal.

Have you ever been able to Biz Dev your way into an IT contract via LinkedIn or Social Media? If so, feel free to share your experience in the comments below.