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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

Selling ice to Eskimos

How many of you out there think you could ‘sell ice to Eskimos’ or how about ‘sell religion to the Pope?’ Maybe ‘selling underwear to a nudist’ or ‘a cage to a lion’ is more your angle. Several of you are sitting back in your chair thinking… Yep, that’s me. Your feet are on your desk and your hands are clasped behind your head. The sweet smell of satisfaction is in the air.

Shame on you…

Real sales is 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. They make decisions based on their needs, not on some mental game or manipulation toconvince them that they want what you are offering.

If this article has already made you angry because you don’t 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. If, on the other hand, you are open to a different kind of sales strategy, keep reading.

Let’s 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 intended to describe a salesperson who is so convincing he or she can sell anything – even to someone who either already has plenty of whatever it is or simply has no use for it. What if, instead, we look 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 he has? What if we had revolutionary snowshoes? 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 explaining why they should buy? People love to buy, but they hate to be sold. 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 don’t want, much less need. A good salesperson helps his or her clients figure out what they need first, 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 anyone else.

A better understanding of your role in any sales process is essential to you ramping 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 value so asking for your price becomes easier.

So the next time you think about ‘selling religion to the Pope’ or ‘snow skis in the desert’ or any other seemingly impossible feat, rethink what your prospects might need and 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 start exploring why they need it and make sure they understand. 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 they are first.

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