One of the pieces of advice we give at Sandler is to always have something a good prospect can buy. Too often, we get in the buyer's way by not ever offering anything as a starting point. If we have something they can potentially buy, it gives us a starting point for the conversation.
But what do you do if that doesn't fit your world?
Although you're probably not a doctor, they make a great example of how there's nothing to sell ahead of time. Often when you go to the doctor, you don't know ahead of time what you specifically want them to do. You just know you hurt somewhere.
And the doctor doesn't know ahead of time what your pain is, it's challenging for him to come in with a product or service ready. In fact, prescription before diagnosis is basis for malpractice!
However, you do need to feel comfortable with the doctor and his process. So really, what he needs to sell you on is himself.
If having a product or service in mind during the first meeting in your world doesn't fit, the thing you may need to sell is yourself.
It's challenging to have a real conversation without some sort of context. If a specific product or service doesn't fit your world, talk about some different ways you've helped clients. Or suggest how you might be able to help them, given what you currently know about them.
Of course, you can't do that until you know their actual pain. But once you've uncovered their pain, suggest some ways you might be able to help. Because what you may be selling is yourself, not a specific service or product.