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Selling Learning

Selling Learning An Article that describes how selling/sales has changed over the least 20 years and how these ideas can be applied to teaching and learning. Includes PD questions.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Educators

Tags: Selling Marketing
What Is Selling?

Which of the following best describes selling to you:

a) A set of persuasion techniques in which a company representative manipulates you into buying their product - regardless of whether you want it or need it.

b) An exchange in which you give up something of value and receive something back which you perceive to be of equal or greater value.

c) An interaction in which someone aims to add value to your life and in doing so, in some small way, push the whole human race forwards just a little.

d) Something else.

Your choice is likely dictated by your experience of selling and of being sold to (buying?). According to Dan Pink in 'To Sell is Human' b) and c) describe how selling is evolving whereas a) reflects an outdated and unethical approach that is long past its use-by date.

Selling Upgraded

Pink builds a convincing argument through anecdotes, case studies, research (psychology and sociology) and by describing how the contexts in which a sale now happens are very different to those of 20 years ago - because information asymmetry is rapidly declining. Increased access to product data and customer feedback is putting as many facts into the hands of buyers as used to be closely guarded (or slowly and only partially revealed) by those doing the selling.

If I want to buy a new car or a piece of furniture or choose a holiday destination I can find out all I need to know online before I even consider a purchase. Reviews, feedback and product specifications, as well as price comparison services all contribute to a much flatter playing field. When buyers know as much as sellers, selling must evolve.

 Thinking Classroom Podcast 002 with Casey Elliott develops this topic
 Listen on Youtube  Listen on iTunes

Salespeople and Teachers
I regularly meet teachers who have previously worked in sales and/or marketing. Without exception they approach the job in a different way to others. A salesperson aims to move you to action, to tell you something that you'll remember, to influence your behaviour and your beliefs, to carry out an exchange of value with you. And guess what? Doesn't a teacher want to do exactly the same? It's only the product that's different. Salespeople work with objects and services; teachers with knowledge, skills and characteristics.

I'd highly recommend Dan Pink's book but in the meantime here are some of his key principles and a proposal for their parallels in school. Use the concepts as prompts for professional dialogue and to enhance learning with lessons from ethical, upgraded selling:

Principle from, 'To Sell Is Human' Teaching and Learning Parallel/PD Prompt
Information asymmetry: buyers now have access to as much - if not more - product information as sellers. Learners have fast and smooth access to all the knowledge that would ever appear on any curriculum. How should the teacher's role evolve because of this?
The most successful salespeople 'take perspective' and behave as 'ambiverts' (half extrovert, half introvert). They make a sale around the concept of we/us rather than me or you. Teachers can make their teaching about we/us - everyone in the class learns together with shared aims and for mutual benefit. How can this be developed?
Selling is an exchange in which you give up something of value and receive something back which you perceive to be of equal or greater value. Teaching can be seen as an exchange in which the teacher offers knowledge, experience, time and commitment in return for the students' attention and trust. What might be the barriers to developing this view of teaching and learning?
When preparing to sell, effective salespeople use the interrogative instead of the declarative: they ask, 'How can I best sell this?' rather than declare powerfully, 'I can sell this! I will sell this!' Teachers can be granted/choose to spend additional time contemplating how to teach a lesson rather than assuming that the first activity to spring to mind is the best. How can planning be enhanced to allow for this?
Effective salespeople use a variety of pitches to engage their audience - One word pitch; Pixar pitch; Question pitch; Reframe pitch etc. Teachers can use a range of techniques to quickly and effectively engage their students and to inform them about the purpose of a lesson. How do we currently 'pitch' our lessons?


Related Resources:

Motivation for Learning


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