I've never really understood why otherwise intelligent people frequently neglect learning the simple sales skills that will make their life happier and more successful. I'm talking about basic stuff here: how to listen, how to tolerate rejection, and how to close a deal.

There are six crossroads in life where I've noticed that people who have (or develop) sales skills do better than those who don't:

1. Getting into college

The most important part of the admissions application is the college essay, and what is a college essay but a sales proposal? Just as an effective sales proposal encapsulates a problem and presents a solution, an effective college essay presents the candidate in a way that matches the type of student the college seeks. The same rules apply to both: Do the research, assess the customer's desires, and present what you're offering in a way that it matches those desires.

2. Finding a partner

In the process of partner seeking, you are basically selling what you've got. That's why people looking to hook up, either temporarily or permanently, put on their best duds and smile. Just like any sales situation, the crucial moment is the "close" where are you either ask for what you want (like a date) ... or alternatively set up a situation where you get what you want without asking. (In sales, this is known as a presumptive close.)

3. Getting a job

Job hunting is obviously a sales process. A résumé is a sales proposal, which is only effective when the candidate researches the company and customizes the résumé to match what that organization needs. A job interview is meeting a potential customer. The product is yourself and your skills, which ideally are the solution to whatever problem that organization is having.

4. Getting a promotion

Nobody ever gets a promotion because they deserve it or because they work hard. (In fact, doing a job too well can stick you in that job forever!) Landing a promotion is always a "long game" sales campaign. It requires constant attention, consensus building, setting expectations, and above all an ability to close the deal at just the right time.

5. Starting a business

Successful entrepreneurs are consummate salespeople. Always. They know how to sell their company and its future to investors, potential employees, and prospective customers alike. Scratch under the surface of even the geekiest successful entrepreneur and you'll find a person who could sell for a living.

6. Parenting a child

In parenting, the metaphorical carrot and stick only gets you so far. At some point, every parent needs to sell their children on doing something those children would rather not do. With teenagers especially, it's not just useful but often required to reframe a situation so that the child is motivated. This is indeed selling par excellence.