Selling ice to the Eskimo

An expression used frequently in the past and still used by some people today when describing a brilliant salesperson is ‘They could sell ice to Eskimos.’

Maybe you find selling your product or service just as difficult to sell from time to time.

But is selling ice to an Eskimo really so difficult?  Surely it depends upon the circumstances and the context.

In the first place, a lot of people simply do not know very much about Eskimos (or their own potential customers or clients). Therefore, when most people think of Eskimos, they think of parka-wearing, igloo-dwelling natives who live in very cold places and spend most of their time fishing through holes in the ice.

This is as foolish as thinking that Native Americans still live in wigwams, wear feather headdresses and loincloths, and hunt buffalo on horses. The only thing correct about the assumption concerning Eskimos is they do mostly live in cold regions of the world and their ancestors survived and made a living in some of the coldest and harshest areas on the planet.

They do not however live in freezing cold igloos. They mostly live in warm, comfortable, centrally heated homes and have just as much need for a couple of ice cubes for their scotch on the rocks or vodka and tonic as someone living in a modern apartment overlooking Hyde Park.

Yes, of course you might think that they just have to step outside of their front door and there is ice all around them. But so what? When it is icy where you live, do you go outside and snap off a large icicle for your drink? Of course you do not. Neither does the Eskimo. You both go to the refrigerator.

As well as Eskimo’s homes, there are also of course many restaurants and night clubs and hotels who are serving drinks to their guests and who need to make or purchase large quantities of ice. In fact the more I think about it, the bigger the market for ice seems to be.

But just supposing the Eskimo did still live in igloos and spend much of their time fishing through holes in the ice…

Instead of having to carve ice blocks out of the ice with chain saws to build their igloos, maybe they would appreciate latex block molds to fill with water and just peel them off when the water has froze.

Or maybe they would really appreciate fish shaped ice cubes or heart shaped ice cubes in their drinks and you could supply those molds.


Maybe you could wait until the Eskimo is in on holiday and visiting Hyde Park on a hot sunny day and needs some ice for his drink? Could you sell him some then?

Maybe the Eskimo is planning a visit to Hyde Park soon and would like to order some ice in advance? Maybe they will want to fill their hotel room with ice so they feel more at home? Could you sell those concepts (and ice) to them.

Maybe you find selling your product or service difficult to sell from time to time? Maybe you are just making some false assumptions? Maybe you have not looked at all the different sales angles. Maybe you need to change the context and your thinking?

In the meantime I am off to sell some ice to the Eskimos and maybe some sand to the Arabs as well.

To your success!

Bruce King


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