Selling Ice to the Inuit
If the rock under which you live is housed somewhere above the surface of this earth, you will have heard the reference of a good salesperson being so good that they can sell ice to the Inuit. A differently-worded version of this saying has become somewhat of a cliché, but a deeper look at what it actually means reveals just how misunderstood it actually is. In the field of referral and affiliate selling especially, the ability to sell ice to the Inuit isn’t a measure of how good of a salesperson you are, but rather what you should focus on if you want to be a good salesperson.
Sell Ice to the Inuit
Okay, I don’t mean that you have to literally go all the way to a place like South Georgia and try to sell ice to the inhabitants of that island. They’re literally swimming in ice and can pick it up off the floor for free, so it would obviously be pointless trying to sell them ice. That’s where the misunderstanding of this saying is often perpetuated. In referral- or affiliate-marketing, when we speak about selling ice to the Inuit, what we’re really referring to is selling stuff to people which they already buy. It goes beyond affiliate marketing though, but I chose to discuss it from that point of view because affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways through which to kick-start a career in sales.
Many would-be affiliate marketers fail at making even one sale because they fail to understand that success in sales comes to those who dedicate some of their time to mastering the art of selling things to people who already buy those things. All you have to do is assume the role of the supplier, in the true sense of the term. When people buy anything, the price they ultimately pay has convenience factored into it. When you buy a tub of yoghurt at your local grocery store for instance, the price you pay is not just that of what the yoghurt costs. It’s the price of the packaging, the Value-Added Tax (VAT) maybe, the cost of the fuel it took to deliver it to your local grocers’, and the mark-up added by the retailer so that they can make a profit.
Once you figure out how to intercept this supply chain and acquire a product while it’s still making its way to the retailer (where the customer gets it), you’ve figured out the secret to affiliate marketing or direct selling success. Customers buy convenience as much as they buy the product, so if you do indeed want to succeed at affiliate marketing and direct selling, just find a way to supply customers with goods and services they’re already buying, perhaps at a slightly cheaper price.
A photographer who’s interested in branching out to shooting the great outdoors is probably actively looking for something like an e-book on how to shoot spring flowers, for example. Find them and sell it to them before they go looking for it somewhere where they’ll have to pay for the all the value-added services that come with the final product.