How to Sell Ice to an Eskimo


How to “Win” in Any Sales Environment

What did the eskimo say to the sales rep?

You need to cool down.

A sales representative that can sell ice to the eskimo essentially refers to someone who can sell anything to anyone!

This phrase make two main assumptions: (1) an eskimo is surrounded by ice and wouldn’t need it and (2) winning this sale would require a rep to persuade the person to go against their better judgement.

While that would be a lucrative superpower to have, it may not be the most productive mindset in the modern sales environment.

As buyers are becoming increasingly more aware, the goal is no longer to sell ice to every eskimo. Rather, the goal is to maximize your chances of success; when 7 eskimos tell you that they are “not interested” and the 8th one says tell me more, you’ll know what to do (and more importantly, what to ask).

So what does it really take to sell ice to an eskimo? In short - process, sales skills, and favorable timing.

Process: The Proof is in the Numbers (50%)

To find 1 of 8 unlikely prospects, about 50% of success is related to having a sound process to effectivity qualify and and move buyers through the sales funnel.

On a high level, the goal here is to define the mechanics of when and how you reach out to leads and measuring conversion rates in each step of the funnel (e.g. lead - demo - close).

Ideally, a rep would track how many eskimos are requesting a demo and how many of those who view the demo choose to buy. If any of these numbers decline (or fail to improve), you’ll know that your process needs attention.

Sales Skills: Knowing What to Say, When (40%)

About 40% of winning your sale is directly related to your sales skills. This essentially means that when a prospect finally asks for more information, do you know what to do and the right questions to ask.

For example, let’s revisit the example of our 8th eskimo. When he asks for more information, here’s a few questions you might consider:

Sure, what kind of information are you looking to see?

Nice to meet an eskimo that appreciates ice. Curious - what are some ways that you typically use ice?

And how do these uses help enhance your lifestyle?

Why haven’t you obtained ice yet if it’s important to you and you’re surrounded by it?

Asking these types of questions allow you to find the right eskimo that has a need and is ready to buy.

Favorable Timing: Crossing Your Fingers (10%)

Though a mere 10% of success, part of sales is having favorable timing. Think about the last time you happened to be in the right place at the right time. This happens in sales too.

However, if you want to be successful in sales 10% of the time, this will be an avenue for you.

If you don’t want to leave you successful up to chance, I recommend refining your process and sales skills and using those to mitigate the risks of uncontrollable variables.


Essentially, winning in the modern sales arena demands constant development of your process and sales ability.

With the highs and lows of sales, winning also has to take on a much broader definition. This includes identifying when your prospect is lying, learning when to disqualify a prospect and save your account executive (AE) time, or gathering market research on why a disqualified inbound lead reached out in the first place.

Once you decide what kind of rep you want to be, it’s up to you to use these tools to seize the win and sell ice to right eskimos.

By: Jaime Garvey