Selling Fridges to Eskimos

Sales are about two things at their core: Identifying and solving other people’s problems. Maybe I should rephrase that to ‘successfully making a sale,’ not misleading or coercing merely to close a deal, is about solving a customer’s problem. It really is that simple. 

Those who succeed in sales are obviously well-versed in what they sell, they’ve learned to charm and enjoy being around people while getting them to talk. However, if their product or service isn’t making other people’s lives easier/better, their charisma and ability to talk with strangers grows old.

 

Successful Sales Strategy: Selling Solutions to Problems

You might be in sales and are wondering how your product could possibly solve someone else’s problem. Well, we all have many ‘problems’… let me give you a recent example:

Over the holidays I was at the mall (I loathe being at the mall) to pick up a present for my wife. It was a purse she had wanted for some time, and I was a man on a mission to get in and get out. I know the store to get the purse from, so I began walking down the long bright corridor to this particular shop – along the way passing dozens of other stores and kiosks. 

As I was passing this fancy-type cream/moisturizer kiosk (mainly for women I presumed), this saleswoman garnered my attention (despite my best efforts to avoid eye contact by burying my face in my phone) and flagged me over to her booth. She instantly struck up a conversation, unearthing the purpose of my visit to the mall, what I did for a living, and that I had two children – all within about 30 seconds. She then masterfully pitched me on this hand, nail and face package of goodies for my wife. It was $150, a ghastly amount of money for cream I thought, but she quickly convinced me otherwise and the purchase was made. I was ready to leave with the cream and continue on my purse journey when she charmed me by saying she couldn’t believe someone my age had two kids (I knew she was bullshitting but hey, I’m a sucker for age-related compliments :). It was a great setup. 

The saleswoman proceeded to ask that given I invest for a living and probably meet a lot of people in business, wouldn’t it be wise to “invest in my face…” Interesting sales approach. Brash, but it got my attention. She went on to inform me they had a product for men who have ‘wrinkles around their eyes.’ Well shit, I thought, I didn’t think I had any more wrinkles under my eyes than the next 35-year-old man, but nevertheless, she convinced me to buy a face cream for men after some moderate resistance. 

“You invest in companies all the time but you won’t invest in your wrinkling face?” She was blunt, and I bit. “Alright, I’ll take it” without asking how much. The bloody cream was almost $100… 

Point is, I never gave a damn about wrinkles on my face until she identified the ‘problem.’ I know nothing about creams; maybe it’ll work on my newly discovered wrinkles.

 

Closers Identify a Problem and Provide a Solution During the Sales Process

The saleswoman was charming, had great product knowledge and she looked like she took care of her face, but I wasn’t buying anything she was selling until she identified my problem I never realized I had, and showed me a solution (the jury is out on whether the cream actually works but you get the point). 

An Eskimo can freeze any type of food you can imagine, and keep it for years to come as a result. However, said Eskimo has troubles keeping his food just right (the problem), and ready to eat on a whim. Hence his need for a fridge.

Identify people’s problems and offer a solution if you want to succeed at sales. Sometimes that means you’ll be the one who has to enlighten the prospective customer as to what their problem is, just as the saleswoman did for my wrinkles.

Stay hungry,

 

 

Aaron

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About the author

Aaron Hoddinott

Like all of you entrepreneurs and investors out there, Aaron has been in the trenches. He is the founder of an influential online media and PR company. From oil wildcatters to mining prospectors, tech gurus to medical doctors, and even celebrities, Aaron has helped market and expand brand awareness for a diverse range of publicly traded companies ran by entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

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