“Let’s talk about the benefits of ice”

This picture/meme has been going around LinkedIn for years.

It is also way wrong.

The idea seems simple — we’e all heard of the optimist/pessimist glass half full/half empty example.

The meaning is well intentioned — add ice and the water level will rise. Think outside the box. The salesperson knows what you need!

Except, the one thing the salesperson doesn’t know is the contents of the glass. What exactly is the liquid? Why is it only half full? Is there a reason? What is the purpose of the liquid in the glass.

Put simply – if I have hot green tea in my cup, your ice is going to make the tea taste like shit. You cannot prescribe a solution until you understand context.

The classic sales interview question of “sell me this pen” is another great example. The inexperienced salesperson thinks that the question is a reflection of how smooth they are, or how well they pitch. That’s wrong.

If you try to sell a pen but you start by talking about the pen, you lose.

Instead, the right answer to the question is a series of more questions. What do you write? How much and for what purpose? Tell me about what you enjoy about the pen you use now? What don’t you like about your current pen? What do you need to be a more efficient writer?

I’m not pitching features and functions – I’m triaging the current situation to see if there is a way that the pen I’m selling that solve a problem she has.

No one cares about you or your product. They care about themselves. They care about how you are going to solve their daily problems.

If you don’t understand the how or why behind why the liquid is in the glass, you will never be able to prescribe a real solution. You’re just hoping and guessing that a feature you throw out may solve a problem, and you hope that they will connect the dots in their own head.

That’s not sales. Seek to understand, not to pitch.

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