On selling ice to Eskimos

Have you ever heard this being repeated “that someone or another is such a great salesperson they could sell snow or ice to Eskimos”? I have an issue with these kinds of sayings. They are confusing and misleading and here’s why.

Apart from the fact that the word “Eskimo” is in fact a derogatory term that lumps several First Nations people of the Inuit and Yupik nations and others together, the whole idea of trying to sell snow to people who have an abundance of it, is especially, well…….stupid. I mean why would you? And why would they buy? Are you assuming they are stupid?

You want to focus your efforts on selling products or services to people who need or want them, not to people who don’t. There is no point trying to flog stuff to people who don’t need or want something. Even if you can do that, then you are probably employing some manipulative, misleading or completely unethical methods to accomplish it. Maybe you can say your snow has magical powers or something. Lying and cheating is not what selling is about. Think of your product as being a service, something that people will benefit from.

Now, of course, you could enhance a product to make it sell. You can add features that bring new benefits and makes it more than a mere commodity. Something that will differentiate it from the regular stuff.  Maybe you can sell snow that never melts despite temperatures dropping. That way you can ski all year round. Now that would be product development and marketing. Not merely selling.

So don’t get caught up in garbage hype. If you want to target prospects for your product, look for those who will have a need or want for your product and service. Those who will benefit from it. Not those whom you think you can sucker into buying. Even if people are duped into buying your snake oil, they will realize it soon enough and then word will go around about your ethics and your business. You might be able to score in the short term, but not the long term.

So don’t bother trying to sell snow to Inuits or Yupiks. They have enough and they don’t need yours wherever you’re going to bring it from. And have the respect to refer to people by their proper names and ancestry.



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