Let’s break down one of the most overused sales clichés to describe a really good sales pro. Often, in conversation, a really good sales professional is referenced as someone who “could sell ice to an eskimo.” This conveys that the sales pro is such a good persuader and slick-talker, they can talk anyone into buying anything.
My style of selling is to work towards building a legitimate rapport with a client to uncover their pain points and integrate a solution for it. When we uncover their pain points, sometimes the client is surprised by what the discovery is and they’re almost always glad to find a solution that exists.
What I’d like to do is examine the perceived absurdity of selling ice to someone who lives amongst a plethora of frozen water.
How would you sell ice to such a person? I’m sure there are a few scenarios, including the one I’m about to present.
Let’s imagine a sales pro, who, as luck would have it, sells ice. This sales pro lands an appointment with a particular prospect, who lives in an ice abundant land. Let’s join their conversation after they’ve exchanged general pleasantries:
SALES PRO: So, what’s it like living amongst all this ice?
PROSPECT: It’s pretty cold most of the time, but most of us here like it. People tend to leave us alone so we get a lot of work done.
SALES PRO: Not a lot of “no soliciting” signs. I imagine you don’t need them.
PROSPECT: We do get our share of sales reps who think it would be funny to try to sell us ice. I mean, we’re surrounded by the stuff.
SALES PRO: That must get annoying.
PROSPECT: We usually have a good time at their expense over drinks after they leave town.
SALES PRO: Where do you go for drinks? I noticed a tavern on the way in.
PROSPECT: Sometimes there, but my wife and I like to host cocktail parties a couple times a month.
SALES PRO: How long have you been doing that?
PROSPECT: Oh, over the last few months. My wife likes to put together a charcuterie board and I’ve been working on different craft cocktails.
SALES PRO: Oh, really? What’s your favorite one to make?
PROSPECT: I can get pretty fancy with them, but my best one is the old fashioned.
SALES PRO: That’s one of my favorites. Especially when the rock ice is crystal clear.
PROSPECT: Yeah, I’ve never been able to do that. I can make decent ice cubes, but they’re always cloudy.
SALES PRO: So you don’t use the ice from outside?
PROSPECT: No, you wouldn’t want that in your drink. Too much dirt and debris from the highway. I just use my ice cube tray and tap water.
SALES PRO: Every time I’ve been to a place that uses smaller ice cubes, the drink gets diluted pretty fast. What’s your experience with that?
PROSPECT: I know what you mean. Our guests complain that the drinks with ice get watered down too fast. I once tried making the ice balls but they crack easily with our water and I just don’t have the patience to make them. Plus they’re also cloudy.
SALES PRO: It sounds like your parties are the thing to do in town, and it sounds like you and your wife have a great routine. Except for watery drinks.
PROSPECT: Man, if I had those clear ice rocks you were talking about. I know they don’t melt fast and my wife would really like it too. It’s really the one thing our parties have been missing.
SALES PRO: What are your thoughts on a concept where you could have solid, crystal clear cocktail ice cubes that melt slowly, and not only would you not have to make them, they could be delivered to you any time you needed them, with etched custom emblems that go with your party’s theme?
PROSPECT: I think that’s something I’d like to know more about.
Point of fact, while writing that, I considered the logistics of having ice shipped. Turns out, it’s a real thing. If you’re so inclined, Google “cocktail ice delivery” and you’ll see some neat options.
I realize this is a contrived scenario and hopefully you get the point. The sales pro in this scenario didn’t come at the prospect with a list of things the prospect might be interested in. The sales pro used a line of conversational questioning to identify a pain point.
What was the prospect’s pain point? The prospect makes craft cocktails that get watered down too quickly. The sales pro also avoided using questions that could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” If the Sales Pro had asked “would you like to learn more about the cocktail ice our company can deliver…?” the Prospect could have just said “no.”
I suggest you get a fellow sales pro and role play this type of scenario. It doesn’t have to be ice. It can be anything absurd. The point is to practice a line of questioning that can uncover a pain point that a certain product or service can provide a solution for. Make a game of it and have fun.
When you master finding a client’s pain point, you’re not just a sales professional. You’re a trusted consultant and advisor.
Any sales professional who masters this can sell ice to anyone, anywhere.