alt text image of an igloo

Ice and Eskimos

In the old days, to describe someone with sales skills people would say things like “He could sell ice to an eskimo.” That phrase was used to describe sales acumen, especially overcoming objections. But selling has changed. You would never sell ice to an eskimo. He doesn’t need ice. Selling someone something they really don’t want, don’t need, and can’t benefit from makes you selfish, self-oriented, and manipulative.

If you want to make a sale to an eskimo today, you sell him a vision, a factory, and transportation so he can do something with the ice already surrounding him. That’s a bigger, more valuable sale for both you and your proverbial eskimo.

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  • Waad

    so true! amazing post!

  • Charles H. Green

    Fantastic post!

    Such a common misconception, destroyed so completely in so few words – you are completely, totally right.

    The idea that “he could sell ice to an eskimo” could be considered a compliment is a said indicator of how confused our mainstream thinking about sales has come to be. This is a great popping of that balloon.

    Many thanks!

  • GerhardV

    Right on Anthony – awesome point – hitting home, on many fronts – especially for us up here in Alaska! Keep it up and happy Fourth!

  • dpontefract

    Your post might have been stronger had you come out in support of the term ‘Inuit’ vs the derogatory expression ‘Eskimo’.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I’m not sure anyone has ever uttered the phrase “She could sell ice to an Inuit,” so it might not have served my purposes as well.

      With apologies to Inuits.

  • The Responsive Edge

    In our experience, the greatest temptation to manipulate comes when the customer needs and can benefit from our product or service.