You Shouldn’t Be Selling Ice To Eskimos

Combatting the idea of “selling” with the benefits of “letting the client buy”


How many of you out there think you could ‘”sell ice to an Eskimo?” Or how about “sell religion to the Pope?” Maybe being able to “sell underwear to a nudist,” or “a cage to a lion,” is more your angle. Several of you are sitting back in your chair with your feet in the air and your hands clasped behind your head, thinking, “Yep, that’s me.” The sweet smell of satisfaction is in the air.

Shame on you.

Real sales are about finding your clients’ needs, figuring out if your product or service meets or exceeds those needs, and then making sure the client sees the benefit of your product AND YOU. Your clients make decisions based on their needs, not on some mental game or manipulation meant to convince them that they want what you are offering.

If this article has already made you angry because you do not agree, please do both of us a favor and stop reading now. The rest of this will make no sense and will probably infuriate you even more if you are committed to a high-pressure, high-cancelation sales environment, where the customer is a pawn in your game of wits at best and a necessary evil at worst. The transactional sales person that feels like they have to convince the customer they need to buy versus help them realize that buying from you is their best choice (assuming it is) is not going to enjoy or get anything out of this article.

If, on the other hand, you are open to a different kind of sales strategy, keep reading.

Let us take a close look at the adages from above and really analyze them. I could sell ice to an Eskimo or I could sell a cage to lion are statements that are intended to describe a salesperson who is so convincing that he or she can sell anything – even to someone who either already has plenty of whatever is being sold, or simply has no use for it.

What if, instead, we looked at each potential customer as someone we want to help? What if our goal is to make the life of everyone we come into contact with easier? What products and services might interest that person? What if we could provide him with a better way to use the ice that he already has? What if we had revolutionary snowshoes? What if we asked what might be useful and actually provide him with some benefit?

How many times do we find ourselves trying to sell something to our clients instead of exploring their state in life, figuring out what might make their life easier, and then explaining why they should buy? People love to buy, but they hate to be sold. For example, how much do you enjoy walking onto a car lot or into any commission-based business? Most of us are afraid someone is going to convince us to buy something we do not want, much less need. I call this the ‘raptor’ image. Consumers see salespeople as hawks, swooping in with talons exposed to grab their wallets and anything else they can get. This image, sadly, is true sometimes. And it makes it more difficult for those of us who value relationships.

A good salesperson helps his or her clients figure out what they need first and then helps them assess whether the salesperson’s product or service satisfies that need the best. From there, the close is natural. Many times, the client will do it for you. Never forget that part of what they are buying is YOU. Your participation in this transaction is the start of a relationship. Your actions will not only determine whether they will buy from you, but whether they will recommend you to someone else later on.

A better understanding of your role in any ales process is essential to your ability to ramp up your business. The absolute belief that you are able to demonstrate the value that justifies your price allows you to do business without negotiations or guilt. You KNOW you are providing something of value and that means that asking for your price becomes easier.

So, the next time you think about “selling religion to the Pope,” or “selling snow skis in the desert,” or any other seemingly impossible feat, rethink what your prospects might need in order to see if you can solve their problems. Stop doing things the hard way. Stop trying to convince everyone that they need your product or service and, instead, start exploring why they need it and make sure they understand how you can help get them there. In short, stop trying to sell and start allowing people to buy. Everyone wins when needs are met. You just have to figure out what those needs are first.

Until next time… The results you want are out there. Let me help you find them.

Burk Moreland runs a boutique building company and a thriving business as a speaker and business coach. Burk’s clients are expected to and have experienced measurable return on investment, increased productivity, and up to 200 percent revenue growth. He may be reached at or 832-356-4585.

This website, digital publication, and all of its contents are the copyright protected legal intellectual property of Builder Media. None of the protected content of this publication may be copied, shared, forwarded, reposted, reformatted or in any way utilized for any purpose without the written permission of the Publisher, under penalty of suit as provided by U.S and International laws governing copyright.