Why Sell Ice To Eskimos? sales negotiation

Why sell ice to Eskimos when you can sell life jackets to drowning men?                                                                  

 So why would anyone boast of being able to sell ice to an Eskimo?  The Eskimo clearly doesn’t have a need for ice.  He will certainly experience buyer’s remorse when reality sets in.  And in addition to losing his future business, you’ll probably annoy the Eskimo.

A sale, in addition to the rest of life, is a negotiation.  We may not naturally assume this or even enjoy negotiation.  If, however, you are in any form of sales this is reality.  Due largely in part to my natural awkwardness when it comes to negotiation, I have been studying this subject for years.  Selling is negotiating.

In addition to many aspects of negotiation, I have a special interest in the area of sales negotiation.  I have learned one specific concept that has so influenced my life that I just knew that I wanted to share it with you.

 Instead of the Eskimo thing, wouldn’t you rather be in the position of selling life jackets to drowning men?  Don’t feel bad; you are not the cause of their situation.  You are the solution.  They need life jackets.  Wouldn’t you agree that the worst life jacket sales person in the country could close this deal?  Price will likely not be an issue.  And the drowning man will almost certainly feel good about the purchase for years to come… 

            So Jack, you ask, what is the point?  The point is that this sales person, or negotiator, has a tremendous POSITION OF STRENGTH.  He has walk away power while the drowning man does not.  POSITION OF STRENGTH could be defined as anything that you do to increase your opportunities and alternatives to a given situation.  In your career, this may include finishing that college degree, reading everything that you can get your hands on about your area of expertise, and even getting out of debt.  These types of things make you more valuable while making the sale less urgent.  Assume your job is lost today.  You are negotiating your compensation with a potential employer.  Wouldn’t you agree that having $25K in an emergency fund and no debt would take the immediacy away and you would certainly negotiate a better deal?  And what about your current employer?  If you are constantly investing in yourself by creating relationships and becoming indispensable, would a raise or promotion not be much more comfortable to discuss?

            In sales, if you are selling the right product (life jackets) to the right group of people (drowning men), you have a powerful POSITION OF STRENGTH.  You are now in control.  If you cannot afford to walk away from the sale, you have already lost the deal.

            This principle will translate into every area of your life.  If you are always working to increase your POSITION OF STRENGTH, you will be a better negotiator.  While the other guys are looking for the overnight method to greatness, you are investing long term into something that follows you and continues to build.  Don’t worry about the Eskimos.  Be ready for the drowning men because they are on the way…will you be ready??

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2 Responses to “Why Sell Ice To Eskimos? sales negotiation”


  1. 1 Louis Cammarosano August 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Jack

    Thanks for this. In business your customers have to needs what you provide. If it is a nice to have product but not essential then they certainly aren’t going to pay much for your product and if money is tight, its the first thing they cut.

    The product may be the same but the demand depends on whom you sell it to as in your analogy.

    While a good sales man could sell ice to an eskimo, any one could sell the same block of ice a lot faster and for a lot more money to a Margarita vendor on a hot day in Aruba.

    Sometimes however, the value of products is not as black and white as hot or cold but figure out how to explain that value, then find your target market of people who really need your product and business will take off.

  2. 2 Lien October 4, 2014 at 9:29 am

    What’s up, just wanted to mention, I liked this blog post.
    It was practical. Keep on posting!


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