Sales Strategies Translated Into Educator Language

First and foremost, let’s block the image of a sleazy used car sales person from our media temporal lobes as you read this post…

I was one of those educators who came from a different career before being in the classroom. While I spent most of my time as an engineer, a vast majority of it was customer facing as either a systems engineer or sales engineer. My bottom line was to make sure the customer understood the solution and they were successful implementing it. Sound familiar?

As teachers, we are obviously not selling products, but we sure are trying to get our students to do things on an everyday basis. And yes, we definitely don’t want an army of salespeople as teachers (we can call agree to that), but there are some nuggets that have a translation into educator language.

5 Sales Strategies Translated Into Educator Language

Define Your Target Market

Sales 101 – It is important to understand who are the targeted customers and understand what problems you are trying to solve.

Classroom Translation – Know your students and what motivates them.

Determine Your Outreach

Sales 101 – To close the deal, you need to get in front of customers to sell. A savvy salesperson uses a variety of outreach strategies like cold calling, emails, marketing, networking, mixers and even just showing up on customer’s doorstep.

Classroom Translation – Differentiate the way you get your students to into what you are trying to make them do. From sage on the stage to guide on the side, a “withit” teacher will use different approaches to reach their diverse student population.

Know Your Questions

Sales 101 – Sales people look at this as a time to get to know your customer’s needs better. Have a list of questions to get to know your customers and their business needs. Conversely, a savvy salesperson will prepare for potential questions the customer will be asking during the sales call.

Classroom Translation – Two thoughts here. 1. This builds upon defining your target market and focuses in on specific customer needs. Take the time to know students individually, what are interests, motivations, skills, and learning modalities. 2. Visualize your lesson plan and anticipate what questions students will be asked from students. Be prepared.

Deliver and Build

Sales 101 – Returning customers and sustainable business is built from delivering on your products and nurturing lasting relationships. The sales process doesn’t end with customer signing the dotted line.

Classroom Translation – Relationships matter. Teachers who show empathy and love for students typically win at the game of engaging students. One my favorite sayings in education is that “Change Happens At The Speed of Trust.”


Sales 101 – The bottom line in sales is did you make your quota. Typically, companies will have a customer relationships management system (CRM) to track clients, progress, growth, and dollars. Peter Drucker said it best, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Classroom Translation – Whatever we teach in the classroom, we need a way to measure growth, improvement on failures (Fail Forward), and celebration of success. It is also important to monitor your students not just academically, but check-in on other important social, emotional, and life matters.



The Rise of the “Edupreneur”


by Howard Chan @socratech 

If you ever have a moment to watch Yong Zhao speak, this is a worthwhile ISTE keynote he delivered back in 2012 and still very relevant today: After reflecting on Dr. Yong Zhao’s message, it reinvigorated a concept I hold dearly in this 21st century innovation economy: taking ownership of your own professional career. To quote Dr. Zhao from his keynote, “you don’t wait for someone to create a job for you, you go out there to create a job for yourself.”

Over the past few years, I have met many innovative teachers who are expanding their own horizons and venturing beyond the classroom. Most recently, I have observed teachers who have written books, produced educational videos, created hashtags used by many, launched #edcamps, designed apps for iPads, garnered thousands of Twitter followers, developed global online conferences and continue to facilitate professional development around the world. Some teachers are considered “Rockstars” and have become professional icons to many; in fact, I bet some are making more money on the speaking circuit than they probably made as a teacher back at their school district. I certainly know a few teachers who completely left the classroom and branched into independent consulting. It has become an entrepreneurial endeavor based from their classroom experiences and I couldn’t be more happier for them. 

It is important to note that many are not driven by the money (being an entrepreneur doesn’t always equate to monetary gain), although I am sure a little side money doesn’t hurt. As an educator, I am excited, encouraged and support how these teachers have branded themselves and evolved their career to something bigger than they have probably imagined going into this field. As Dr. Yong Zhao highlighted in his keynote, it is the rise of the creative class and people with unique specialized skills. The talented educators I have met are as creative and business savvy as anyone, and have pragmatic skills of authentic practitioners with the entrepreneurial spirit of sharing in “branded” ways (whether driven by $ or not). It has been more than three years since this keynote, I can safely say the spirit of Zhao’s message is embodied in the rise of what many are calling the “Edupreneur.” How’s that for creating a job for yourself?