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Secrets Revealed: How To Sell Ice To Eskimos

Jun 17, 2008
"That person is so good at sales, they could sell ice to Eskimos."

It's a common saying that's used when describing a particularly "good" sales person.

However, the foundation of this statement rests on the notion that a "good" sales person can sell anything, to anybody. And furthermore, would actually do it if they got the chance.

But to me, this "compliment" has never been all that positive - and it's something that I've never pursued.

And here's why:

To me - the notion of selling ice to Eskimos is manipulative. It means that - on some level - I've tricked or coerced my customer into buying what I want them to buy. And, if I were to do that, I can only guess that within a short period of time of closing the sale, that my new Eskimo friend would walk outside and realize they had been "had". In which case one of two things happen: 1) they cancel the sale, and/or 2) they tell all their friends about my shady business tactics and make it tougher for me (if not downright impossible) to sell ice in that neighborhood.

But my main question in this scenario is this: Why would I even want to sell ice to Eskimos?

My personal thought on the "selling ice to Eskimos" theory has always been this: While I might be able to make one sale of ice to one Eskimo, I'd much rather position myself as the best resource for heaters to the whole Eskimo community.

When I turn the statement on its head like that, a few things happen. First off - which is going to be the easier sell? The ice? or the heater? The heater, obviously!

Secondly, by selling our Eskimo friends a heater, are you helping them? Or trying to rip them off? Well, assuming our friends live in the arctic, I'm guessing that a heater would be extremely helpful. It would be satisfying a basic need for them. And I don't know about you, but helping people makes me feel good! So that's a win-win situation there.

Thirdly, assuming we are able to sell our Eskimo friends a good heater that solves their heating needs, what do you think the odds are that they will recommend us to their other friends? That's right: huge! After all, their friends are probably enduring the same heating challenges as they were prior to buying the heater.

Fourthly - I want you to read that paragraph again. Notice that I said I wanted to "position myself as the best resource for heaters to the whole Eskimo community"

Do you see what I've done there? I've completely changed the focus.

In the first case, the "sales person" was focused solely on themselves. They had ice to sell and they didn't care who bought it, so long as they sold it.

In the second case, I've positioned myself as a heating expert that's focused on helping my friends in the Eskimo community.

And let me ask you this: Who will have an easier time selling their products and services? Ultimately, who will be more successful?

It's plain to see that the "heating expert" will have an easier job by far. But there are other things at work here too.

For instance, I positioned my self as a heating expert. Why? Because when people want to know about something - they seek out the expert! And I referred to the community as a whole, as my friends. Why? Because I obviously took the time and trouble to get to know them. To get to know their individual situations, and to discover how I could best help them out. And let's face it - it's easy to help your friends, right?

So you see, it's not about manipulation. And it's not about being able to sell something despite someone's needs that counts. Rather, it's about being yourself. It's about helping people, listening to their situations, and their needs, and helping them solve their issues. And when you approach a business discussion from the perspective of helping someone out, the results will always be positive.
About the Author
Mark Winder, the Sales Made Simple Coach, helps entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals get more clients and earn higher revenues. Winder is the author of the audio e-course: "Revenue Strategies - The Sales Secrets Of Top Entrepreneurs" Find out more and get a free audio at: www.BetterSalesResults.com
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