Selling ice to an eskimo

I was driving (on auto pilot as usual) to work this morning when I came across this sentence uttered by the DJ. Selling ice to an eskimo? Well, I have heard this (or read this) quite a number of times, mainly in the job classifieds advertising for salespeople.

I am the type who hates sales. I can’t sell to save my life. I am sure there are many people out there who shares the same ‘predicament’ but it seems that other people can’t get it. I remember being in a job which required me to do sales. First of all, I did not apply for a sales job. It was advertised as a customer service job and when I went for the interview and was offered the job, I told them I don’t want to do sales – yes, I can be like that – but the whole issue here is not to get into anything, but get into something that you like, right? And so, the person said yes, no sales.

However – there is always a big fat BUT there somewhere – when I went into the job, after a few months, I was literally forced to do sales. I hated it so much and I told my line manager directly that I can’t do it. Her reply was, well, everyone is selling at some point of their life. Which I admit is true, somehow – and I can’t blame her fully for forcing me cos it’s her responsibility if I’m not performing. Thing is, I even spoke to the Manager of the dept (I was the officer, my line manager is the senior officer and then the manager) but she did not do anything! I requested for a transfer to another department but my request had fallen on deaf ears! There I was, performing at other areas, admitting my weakness to the manager and then suggesting an alternative, but nothing is done. Talk about being proactive!

Further to that, I know that sales might come easy and in some point, I am doing sales. I feel that I CAN do sales if I want – but whether I want to do it or not is another. Main reason was, when I was with ‘that’ company, I was made to sell things that customers do not need. Yeah, like selling ice to eskimo. I just could not get it – why sell things to people when they don’t need it? Why pester people when they don’t want to buy? It puts people off, for heaven’s sake! I’m sure everyone would have received calls from pesky telemarketeers and if you want your company’s products to look ‘worthy’ in customers’ eyes, you don’t shove them into their arms! Correct or not?

There is no point in selling something which people don’t need, something that you yourself as the ‘seller’ don’t have full confidence in. Something that you know (by looking at the customers’ profile) that they obviously don’t need it, can’t afford it and if they have it, it will add to their burden. And some more what, they even told me that I should make my voice sound more flirty so that people will be compelled to buy, rather tahn so business-like. I was like — ????

But hey, that’s what these people are doing! Which is why sometimes I don’t really blame all these sales people. Cos they have no choice. They have to do their job, else they will be reprimanded. Blame those stupid people high above – who are so keen to put escalating numbers on their reports that they forget what is doing business all about.

And to all sales people out there – think – don’t just blindly sell to people and get off the phone if your customers say they are not interested. Being persistent and thick-skinned will just make your products look cheap…

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