Selling Ice to Eskimos

“It’s like selling ice to Eskimos” is a great saying. If you are not familiar with it, it is used to explain that something is very hard to sell. On the other hand, the saying “He/she could sell ice to Eskimos” means they are a very, very good salesperson.

Selling risk management is a bit like selling ice to Eskimos. Many people think they are terrific at managing risk as evidenced by their success to date. Of course, the world is full of stories of once highly successful people becoming enchanted with their own reputation and making a really bad call. You and I know that unless people stop and think about the uncertainties around a decision and assess those uncertainties based on how likely they are to occur, and the impact they might have, they are not doing risk management.

I am often called on to provide training to senior leaders on risk management and, in particular, risk appetite. Knowing I will have some Eskimos in the group means I need to be very, very convincing. I need to be so good people say about me: “He could sell ice to Eskimos!”

When it comes to selling the need for an understanding of risk appetite to leaders I start with an online poll. I ask them about their personal appetite for risk about a range of activities. Lo and behold the results show a huge variation in appetite for across the group.

My point? Staff bring their own personal appetite for risk to work and, in the absence of good guidance from the organisation, will apply that in their day-to-day decision making.

Having made my point, I usually double down with a few more reasons why risk appetite should be well understood by them and their teams.

Over the years I have become pretty good at selling the risk management message and, perhaps with a boost from a couple of royal commissions and a pandemic, I am seeing real traction in many, many organisations. If your organisation is not one of them, you best act now. There has never been a better time to get the message across.

Stay safe!

PS. And if you really want to hone your craft in improving your ability to persuade, join me at my next Persuasive Adviser Program that is being hosted end of September. Click HERE for more information.