Selling Ice to Eskimos: Learning from Selling

by Iris Guerra and Lorin Pace

We’d all love to employ a salesman who could sell ice to Eskimos, but unless Steve Jobs starts offering a webinar called “Jedi Mind Tricks: How to distort reality until the payment clears,” I doubt most of us will ever have this luxury. In the meantime, here are some of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned in developing a sales pitch for early adopters:

  • Make sure you are speaking the same language as the customer. It varies more than you might expect.
  • With early adopters, the lines are blurred between the sales pitch, customer discovery interviews, and usability testing. If you take a siloed perspective to these tasks, you will miss out on key insights and sales opportunities.
  • In established companies, time to devote to a trial is the greatest hurdle.
  • In newer companies, the budget is the greatest hurdle.
  • Providing a free trial and eventually upselling to a paid service is one way to address these challenges. Also, service expectations are much lower so customers will be less annoyed at your requests for feedback.


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