How to sell ice to an Eskimo in 7 steps

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Forget about the original meaning of this idiom, how to sell ice to an Eskimo. Here, when we say selling ice to an Eskimo, we simply mean that selling is a challenging job, hence you need to be persuasive, to sell on value and benefit of the product or service.


For example, if you try to sell ice to an Eskimo by saying, “Here are some ice blocks, would you like to buy?” He’ll say, “Are you a moron, I live on the ice!”

But instead you say, “Hi Nanook, would you like to have more time to spend with your wife and kids?”

“Sure,” he replies.

“I have some prefab ice blocks and you can make an igloo for a family of 6 in just under 30 minutes. No more endless hacking and sawing. That’ll allow you to have more time for the family.”

“Hmm, sounds interesting…” Nanook rubs his chin as he considers your proposal.

And so how do you sell ice to an Eskimo? Follow the 7 steps.

Bear in mind that what you think as a salesperson and what a prospect think may be very different. You need to understand what the customer thinks in each of the steps so as to match his or her expectation. And note the persuasive scripts used in each step. Let’s use the scenario of a customer in a car dealership. The principles behind the 7 steps can be used to sell any product.

Step 1 Get Connected

Step 1 Get Connected

So, in building rapport, find something you can sincerely comment about the customer. If you exchange business cards and you notice that her card says she’s is a manager of a renowned company, you may say, ‘Wow, you’re a manager of this great company”. Remember, your compliment must always be sincere as a prospect can see through a fake easily.

What if the client is a beautiful lady, do you compliment her on her great looks? If you’re a woman, probably it’s ok. I have seen women do that all the time. “I love your hair!” “You did not age even a day!” You look fantastic in those boots!” That’s how they connect. And suddenly they’re BFF (Best Friends Forever)

But if you’re a man, avoid that. She’ll think you’re a creep. So think before you compliment. Better still, have a few safe stock compliments in mind. “I like your energy!” “I like the fact that you know exactly what you want” “I like your shoes.” (If you’re a guy talking to another guy) ‘Like’ is a powerful word to build rapport.

Step 2: Discovering Needs

Step 2 DIscovering Needs

The word ‘understand’ is another Power word. We want the customer to know their needs are the most important matter and not the sale. You and I do not like pushy salespeople. So don’t be pushy. Be trustworthy. Always start with a genuine desire to understand what your prospect wants.

Some effective consulting questions are:
– Who’ll be using the car?
– Will it be for work or family use?
– What is most important to you in buying a new car? Safety? Comfort? Savings?

You can adapt these questions to the product or service you’re selling. The key focus is to understand their needs and match them with the product we’re selling. For example, if you are selling life insurance, some discovering questions would be:
– What experience do you have with life insurance?
– What are 3 reasons why you might consider investing in life insurance?
– If something was to happen to you, how do you think your family will be taken care of?

Please take an effort to talk to the salespersons who are doing well in their sales to discover the effective questions they use. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. And yes, buy them Starbucks, or better still, loads of beers so that they will talk freely!

Step 3: Agreement on Needs

Step 3 Agreement on Needs

By summarizing you show that you care about his or her needs and this helps to build their trust in you. And getting agreement on their requirements allow you to know what features and benefits of your product to highlight during the product demonstration.

Step 4: Offer solution

Step 4 Offer Solution

From the above scenario, since the customer confirms that safety, comfort, and good mileage are important to him, you should highlight the features of the car that provide those benefits. For example, you could mention that the car has 7 airbags and that in the unfortunate event of an accident, his family and he will be well protected. If you can follow up with a testimonial –- “a friend had an accident, the car was a total loss, but his whole family escaped with minor injuries” — that would even be better.

In the car business, test drive allows the customer to feel the performance of the car. The customer can feel the benefits. Recently a friend went for a test drive and the salesperson took the wheel first with her sitting in the front passenger seat. He took a sharp corner which was a little scary for her. After which the salesperson said, “Can you feel how safe the car is even when taking a tight corner?” She is convinced the car is very safe.

It’s the same concept for other product. You demonstrate the features that give the most benefits that the customer wants. If you fail to convince the prospect of the benefits of the product, you’ll lose the sale. If you fail to create a desire to own the product, you’ll lose the sale.

For example, I went to an Apple store and inquired about the Apple pen. The salesperson merely handed me the pen and told me to draw something. I made a few sketches because I didn’t know what it can do. I drew a character…Hmmm. I wasn’t convinced to buy the pen. What he should have done was to demonstrate some cool ways a person can use the pen to create something exciting, perhaps draw a beautiful flower, show me how to shade, how to give shadow…something I can say ‘wow’. But nothing. I did not feel a desire to buy the pen. So, no sale.

Step 5: Overcome the Objections

Step 5 Overcome the Objections

The customer always says no first. Think about it, when you are the customer you always say no too in the beginning! You say no because you’re afraid to say yes. You worry whether this product is right for you or this is the best deal. You have to expect objections. In fact, welcome them! Objections are actually opportunities for you to satisfy any concern and doubt of your customer. Give satisfying answers to his objections. That will build his trust in you.

Some of the most common objections very salesperson is familiar with are:
– I want to think about it.
– I need to ask my wife first.
– I don’t have enough budget.
– I want to check out other brands too.

I shall share some additional persuasive scripts to overcome those objections in a future article. (Read here Learn to love the 4 most common sales objections and close every sales!)

Step 6: Keep Closing!

Step 6 Keep Closing

This is the most exciting stage of the sale, closing. Also, the most heart-stopping. But oh, the euphoria of closing a sale! They are many closing techniques you can master. One of the most persuasive is the alternate close. You see, in sales, you usually do not ask a question that can be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

There is a story of a great prosecutor who was trying to prove that an accused has indeed abused his wife. So imagine a court in session, a stern judge looking over the proceeding and the accused sitting in the witness box. After throwing some mundane questions to the accused, he suddenly raised his voice, look directly at the accused, and asked, “HAVE YOU STOP ABUSING YOUR WIFE?”

The accused blurted out, “yes”.

With a flourish, the prosecutor said, “No more question, your honor”.

You see, the question was framed in such a way that a ‘no’ or ‘yes’ answer means the accused is guilty.

So ask closing questions such as:
– Would you like your life coverage for $100,000 or $200,000?
– Do you need this 12.9 iPad Pro now or next week?
– Do you prefer red or silver for this car?
– Do you like to pay by cash or credit card?

They are many more closing techniques you can use, like the Urgent close, Balance sheet close, the Sales Manager Close, the Reduce to the Ridiculous close and the Puppy close. These will be shared in a future article.

Step 7: Beware of buyer’s regret

Every salesperson sweat about buyer’s regret. Usually, when a person has bought an expensive item like a car or a house, there is a feeling of remorse.

– “Did I buy the right model?”
– “Can I actually afford it?”
– “Have I been overly influenced by the salesperson?”
– “Will my spouse approve?”
– “Could I have got a better deal?”
– “Could I have got a better deal elsewhere?”

We understand that because we too have experienced buyer’s regret. If a client has put a deposit on a new car, there are 3 things you can do to minimize buyer’s regret:

Send a thank you note immediately after the customer has left your dealership. In today’s hi-tech environment, a tastefully designed virtual thank you card is acceptable. Remind him about some key values or benefits of the purchase.

Meet him as soon as possible, perhaps the same day may be to collect some documents for car financing. In this way, any additional concerns can be addressed the same day.

Next, if the wife was not involved in the initial purchase decision, you may want to see him with his wife to explain the values or benefits of the purchase. This will preempt the cancellation based on his wife’s rejection.

I remember a case I handled a long time ago. The guy was very confident. To test his decision-making process, I asked, “In buying a car, do you decide jointly with your wife”. His answer was, “I am my own man. If I decide to buy, I buy!” Deal closed.

The next day, he came back with a woman which I presumed to be his wife. And I had a bad feeling about what was to happen. She said to me, “My husband paid a deposit for the van. I am here to cancel the order”. I looked at ‘I-am-my-own-man”, and he has become “Well-what-can-I-say-she’s-the-REAL-boss”.

I still smile when I remember this incident. As a salesperson, you’ll enjoy much ups and downs. Do it right and you can sell many things to many people. One more thing, check out the 4 rules on how to sell ice to an Eskimo.

Hi, my name is Song. Thanks for visiting hard-knocked-life-coach.com. Please come again!

 

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