How to Prospect With a Catalog of Products
Last week an interesting question was posed to me: how does
a seller go about cold calling, prospecting, and lead generation when they have
a wide range of products to sell? How do you know what to tell prospects about
when you have hundreds or more items available?
This wasn't an abstract inquiry. The newsletter subscriber in question had recently moved from selling high tech to promotional items. Before, she'd had only a few solutions to work with; now, there were literally thousands.
Her situation isn't as unusual as you might think.
Although most companies don't have a catalog several inches thick, filled with everything from pens and coffee mugs to Frisbees and jackets, there are other industries with dozens of solutions. For example, anyone working in insurance, financial services, or technology is probably familiar with lots of products. They need to find a way to prospect effectively, despite not knowing which of their solutions would be most appropriate to a new client.
My advice to them actually applies to nearly any selling situation: don't make it about what you sell – concentrate on the business problem your prospect has that you can solve.
For example, while this salesperson's catalog might be full of promotional items, what she is really offering her customers is new business development. Insurance sales professionals don't want to convince clients to invest in specific policies, but talk to them about promise of financial safety when misfortune strikes. Most forms of technology aren't about gigabytes or chips as much as they are a way to do business faster and more efficiently.
Prospects almost always give us their time and attention because we can help them, not because we offer any one brand or product.
In that way, selling hundreds of products is virtually identical to selling just one. In either case, what matters most to your cold calls, email prospecting, social media and other lead generation activities is that you get attention by appealing to what your potential client cares about.
Note that what they care about can change from day to day, or from one group of prospects to another.
That's because, even if you have the best product around, your lead generation efforts will likely still fail if you haven't keyed in on some problem they want to solve right now. They just have too many other issues competing for their time.
Consider the issues your prospects are grappling with and center your prospecting message on those. In the example of the promotional items company, one lead generation campaign might focus on products that help win new customers, while another might revolve around customer appreciation or client retention. The products you ultimately sell to achieve your clients’ business objectives won't change much, but the prospecting message definitely will.
It's important to know your own products, but not nearly as important as it is to know your prospects and customers. Whether you find leads over the phone, through email, or in a series of campaigns, it's all about catching their attention while by talking about their problems and hopes. And that means emphasizing situations over products – good advice whether you sell one product or one million.
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