You might not think that teaching and sales have much in common. The people who go into these careers usually have have different majors in college. They also have different backgrounds and their techniques are different. Teachers read about pedagogical (teaching) theory, brainstorm ways to keep their student’s attention, create their own learning materials, and talk to a group of people who usually have to listen to them whether they want to or not. Salespeople represent a company or product and tell stories to represent their brand. They go through a process of starting with product knowledge, prospecting new customers, and giving presentations about their products or services. People have a choice whether to listen to them or not. At first glance, it might seem like the two professions are quite different, but teachers and salespeople might have more in common than you think.

Education might seem like the work of, well, educators. But salespeople do a fair amount of educating as well. They have to have in depth knowledge of their products, services, the company, the benefits of what they offer, and the processes of selling and buying. All of this is knowledge that they are constantly sharing with their customers. Like teachers, they also spend time researching their topic and the new trends in their field. Then they give presentations or pitches about these things. If you’ve ever spent even a few minutes with a salesperson, you might not have wanted their product but if you give them a few minutes you can’t say you didn’t learn something!

An important aspect of educating used by many teachers and salespeople alike is applying their subject matter to real life. Many successful teachers show their students how their lessons will be useful in real life. As a matter of fact, some college courses start with information about why the particular topic is useful in everyday life. Teachers often present this information to students as if the subject matter is universally useful. However, salespeople might go through the extra step of finding out about their customers and then demonstrating how their product could apply to them or solve problems they might have. In either profession, this is a great way to help others be more invested in what they are learning about.

Caring About Other People
One of the powerful reasons that teachers teach is that they care about their students. Teachers genuinely want to make a positive impact on students and prepare them to be better adults, excel at a new vocation, or live better lives. They pour a lot of work into lesson plans because they want their students to have good experiences in school and beyond. On the other hand, we tend to be wary of salespeople and sometimes they have a bad reputation. We tend to assume that they will do anything to make a sale, even if it is not in our best interest. But, like teachers, many salespeople also believe in what they are selling and they also care about people. They try to find ways to understand where people are coming from, not just to get them to buy something, but also to have a better understanding of others and how they can be of service to their customers. Sales is not about products so much as it is about people and how products make our lives better somehow.

Learning From Each Other
Teachers and salespeople could probably learn more about their own profession if they learn from each other. Teachers might be able to “sell” their lessons better if they use some good closing techniques like telling stories, being enthusiastic, and asking questions. Salespeople might be able to teach better if they learn about good pedagogical techniques like identifying learning objectives, creating lesson plans, and maybe incorporating tasks or hands on work.
By:  Walter Bodell