What Do K-12 Education and Sales Have in Common?

What do the most successful salespeople have in common? Apart from crushing quotas, most have an “innate” ability to build trusting relationships, show value, and communicate effectively. But we aren’t just born with these 21st century skills, they are acquired over time and built up like a muscle. Programs like Victory Lap help recent graduates and new sales professionals hone these skills and harness them for a future career in sales.

But as our country strives to continue to create innovative new leaders, education reform has shifted to focus on students’ ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills across subjects. That’s why we started ThinkCERCA, an education technology company dedicated to help students build critical thinking skills through argumentative writing. I had the privilege of working alongside Victory Lap’s Founder and CEO, Brian Bar, who helped scale a sales team to respond to changing school and district needs, selling ThinkCERCA.

While I am not an educator by background (but my co-founder and ThinkCERCA CEO is), I’ve observed several important implications for how education reform will impact our future workforce – and more specifically – future sales leaders. It’s not just about the 3 R’s anymore, but it’s about The 4 C’s: Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Creativity, all of which are vital skills in a sales career.

Whether you are a tenured sales rep or recent graduate, these 4 skills are critical to your success. And the short, medium, and long-term impact of these shifts will create a workforce ready to sell and lead.

Communication

As a sales professional, think about all the times you need to communicate your position throughout your day: prospecting emails asking for a meeting, leaving a voicemail, getting past gatekeeper, creating a pitch deck, or overcoming objections. At the center (written, verbal, and non-verbal), communication is critical.

Critical Thinking

Imagine putting together a pricing proposal or negotiating a deal without the ability to look at raw numbers, analyze them effectively, and think critically about the best way to propose a solution. In a consultative sell, you are thinking critically everyday -- understanding needs, addressing them with a solution, and crafting partnership opportunities.

Collaboration

Building relationships is essential in sales, both with internal teams and prospective clients. At the core of relationship building is effectively collaborating with others to reach a shared goal. To effectively collaborate, you need to understanding and respect diverse perspectives, share responsibility, and exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromise.

Creativity

In sales, if something is not getting results, why continue? Every minute of every day, salespeople need to think creatively about how to maximize results for the effort. From crafting new email templates, restructuring a pitch deck, and overcoming objections, creativity can be a game changer for an individual rep, whole team, and ultimately, an entire organization. One of the reasons why I love Victory Lap is because they provide future sales talent with the tools for how to think creatively about new ways to solve problems.

It’s exciting that our K-12 education system is shifting to help students build these skills early and often, because as Victory Lap and ThinkCERCA have demonstrated, we’re ready for them to take the world by storm!

Abby Ross | Co-Founder, ThinkCERCA