Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 14/4/2015 (893 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A couple of years ago, Carrie Simpson took a job doing lead-generation telemarketing for local technology start-ups in Winnipeg.
A year later, she formed her own business — Managed Sales Pros — and has already found herself on a list of the 50 most influential people in North America in a very specialized field.
"I'm not sure how that happened, but I'll take it," Simpson said of her inclusion in The VAR Guy's Top 50 Channel Influencers List.
She's likely being modest, because the business, which has grown to 35 people, provides a service so many business operators find hard to do — cold-calling for sales-lead generations.
'We needed people on the phones who would be trying to bring some value to the table...'— Carrie Simpson, founder of Managed Sales Pros
Managed Sales Pros grew out of a service that The Eureka Project, a business incubator, offered its early-stage business clients.
Gary Brownstone, the CEO at Eureka, is blunt about how tough that is for the tech start-ups he works with.
"About three years ago we came to the realization one of the biggest challenges our clients had, given their strong technology background, was many of them could not make a sale if their lives depended on it," he said.
Eureka started to provide that service with a few people working the phones rounding up some early lead generation as well as doing cold calling to people to determine market validation for some of its technology start-ups.
"Our clients can get so caught up in the technical wizardry in whatever they are developing that they forget to ask the tough question like is there actually any potential customers who will pay for the product when they build it," he said.
'...One of the biggest challenges our clients had... was many of them could not make a sale if their lives depended on it'— Gary Brownstone, CEO of The Eureka Project, on the service that grew into Simpson's business
Simpson was so good at it that when Eureka wound down the service, which was not a core element of the not-for-profit operation, she formed her own business as a client of Eureka's.
"Carrie is a straight-shooter and a real dynamo," Brownstone said.
But at first, Simpson said it was all trial and error.
"We kept trying different things until we got it right," she said.
She said, among other things she realized that what the business was doing was more like networking than sales. That meant they needed to hire people who were not so focused on closing a sale but instead could engage people in discussing a value proposition and leave the follow-up and closing the sale to the client.
"We needed people on the phones who would be trying to bring some value to the table and not just annoying the s out of people," she said.
But perhaps the real secret to her success was lucking into the right vertical market niche.
Simpson credits some of that to the local managed service provider, 365 Technologies, an early client.
Managed service providers (MSP) are like outsourced network administrators and information technology support for small businesses, a service even small companies often need.
"We liked working with them," she said. "They allowed us to create the program. They weren't sure what to do. We weren't sure. We kept trying things until something worked."
Managed Sales Pros now works with about 20 of those kinds of companies all over North America.
And that market familiarity led the company into another related field where the actual technology equipment manufacturers, such as Dell Computers or Lenovo, market their technology to the MSPs.
The enterprising Simpson — who has six children at home, a mixture of her own and foster children — took advantage of an opening in an incubator in Las Vegas. She has set up a whole new division of the company — and a 15-person call centre — in Las Vegas working on the "vendor" market business.