You Couldn't Sell Water To A Thirsty Man

I’ve heard plenty of dismissive taunts in Boardrooms.

“They couldn’t run a bath” being a particularly favoured put-down of a misfiring managerial subordinate.

The slinging of such mud isn’t restricted to under-performing leaders. Bizarrely, salesteams seem to bear the brunt of executive ire.

When it comes to sub-quota sellers, one slur is supreme;

You couldn’t sell water to a thirsty man.

This is the other end of a renowned scale. Sayings praising sales skill, like you can sell “ice to eskimos”, or “sand to arabs” are often, ahem, adapted within the ‘safe’ walls of the office.

I’m also reminded of the brash entrepreneurial boast. ‘While you were arguing whether the glass was half-full or half-empty, I sold it”. Mind you, if the glass concerned is a tumbler, you may be too busy drinking it then adding a cheeky dram and let you carry on your debate. Before selling it.

I often wonder how you’d best sell a thirsty man water.

Advertising slogans spring to mind; Throat dry? Need water? Then let me make real your dreams…

Then the slippery spiel of the silver-screen stereotype; What would you do for the most refreshing of drink right now?

Without getting too obvious, you are selling how to fix the problem. Which is the thirst. You are not necessarily selling the solution, the water. “Look at my lovely water” is not solution selling. “What about that thirst…” on the other hand is usually where best to start.

I’m also minded to remark that there are two sides to this equation. Someone with thirst. And you having water.

Have you both? If so, on how you match them together is where a career is made.

Otherwise, you lay yourself open to hearing the withering slight grow in humiliation;

You couldn’t sell water to a thirsty man. In a desert. Under scorching midday sun. Aside a dried out oasis. Mouth parched to a cinder…

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