One of the first questions a client usually asks me is whether or not they should focus on a particular offering when they are looking for new business via cold calling. The answer is a very definitive “Sometimes!”
Benefits to a product-specific approach
Sometimes, going offering-specific can allow you to quickly create enough interest to draw a prospect in for a longer conversation. For example, flat-rate unlimited cloud storage is an example of something that would encourage me to try a product-specific elevator pitch.
I would counsel clients that are selling a service like this to lead with a question that would identify a relevant pain point.
- “Who is responsible for business continuity and disaster recovery planning?”
- “When was the last time you tested your disaster recovery plan?”
- “How recently did you meet with your IT service provider to review your backup strategy?”
- “How much storage space do you use for backup each month, and how often do you get charged for exceeding those storage limits?”
Ideally these questions will lead to discussions that reveal:
- The prospect has no idea if or how their network would withstand an emergency.
- Their current IT provider doesn’t meet with them regularly to test, review, or plan.
- They have no idea what they spend on backup monthly.
- They DO know what they spend on backup monthly, and they aren’t happy with the expense.
These discussions should begin to create enough uncertainty or uncover enough challenges with their current solution to convince the prospect that they should consider evaluating other providers—namely, you.
Drawbacks to offering-specific calls
Now, here’s the argument AGAINST pitching a specific product or service in a cold call. If you go into the conversation presenting yourself as an expert in only one thing, you might find it hard to recover when the prospect tells you that thing isn’t a priority for them at the time.
The conversation kind of ends up looking like this:
So you might want to let the prospect to tell you what they are interested in buying before you talk about what you can sell them. Often, a prospect will organically identify the biggest challenge they are having with their technology, and then you can present the right solution, or solutions, to solve that problem. Once you’ve been invited to meet with the prospect, you can discuss the full range of offerings you can make available to them.
How to choose an approach
So, how do you know when to do one or the other? You link level of responsibility to pitch type. Is your contact responsible for ideas or infrastructure? The higher up the chain you go, the less you want to focus on specific products or services and the more you want to discuss problems and strategies.
Data loss is a problem. Backup is a product that addresses that problem, and business continuity and disaster recovery are strategies that use backup. You can solve a problem with a product, but you need to develop a strategy to provide a true solution to the underlying issues.
Are you the company that sells backup, or the company that solves technology problems using backup? Products can be a foot in the door, but strategies and ideas win recurring revenue deals. You need to understand a prospect’s role in the company so you can make sure you have the right conversation.