I recently overheard a telephone conversation when traveling, and it concluded with the person saying, “Sales is all about teaching.” Well, having been in outside sales, sales management, or consulting sales organizations my entire adult career, I stopped and pondered this. My gut reaction, was "No it isn’t," but then I thought, "Well, it is." I concluded, it’s both. It depends on what filter you are looking through.
As a Manager
Let’s first think about it from a manager perspective. Coach and develop, coach and develop. . . rinse and repeat. You have to teach your staff as a sales manager. They don't come automatically knowing everything there is to know about sales when you first hire them. Every salesperson needs some level of training and coaching.
As a Salesperson
As a salesperson, you also have to teach your clients. You have to share your bright ideas and how your solutions can specifically solve their needs. You have to create specific value versus general value. You have to teach them about the benefits of what you have to offer.
But whether you are teaching a sales staff as a manager or teaching a client as a salesperson, you cannot be successful in teaching unless you have a willing pupil who wants to hear what you have to say. This is where the complexities of selling come in that differentiate it from other types of teaching. How do you get prospects interested? Have you demonstrated why you should be Trusted and Valued? Do you have a credibility statement? Do you have an elevator speech? Is it compelling? Does it make the listener want to hear more?
Does your listener view you as someone he or she needs to listen to? Sales really is about teaching, although it takes more than that. Without teaching, you aren't likely to close your prospects.