Here's why. To many people, the word selling implies manipulating, pressuring, cajoling--all the used-car-salesman stereotypes.
But if you think of selling as explaining the logic and benefits of a decision, then everyone--business owner or not -- needs sales skills: to convince others that an idea makes sense, to show bosses or investors how a project or business will generate a return, to help employees understand the benefits of a new process, etc.
RELATED: 11 common traits of highly successful:
11 common traits of highly intelligent people
11 common traits of highly intelligent people
1. They're highly adaptable
Several Quora users noted that intelligent people are flexible and able to thrive in different settings. As Donna F Hammett writes, intelligent people adapt by "showing what can be done regardless of the complications or restrictions placed upon them."
Recent psychological research supports this idea. Intelligence depends on being able to change your own behaviors in order to cope more effectively with your environment, or make changes to the environment you're in.
(shironosov via Getty Images)
2. They understand how much they don't know
The smartest folks are able to admit when they aren't familiar with a particular concept. As Jim Winer writes, intelligent people "are not afraid to say: 'I don't know.' If they don't know it, they can learn it."
Winer's observation is backed up by a classic study by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, which found that the less intelligent you are, the more you overestimate your cognitive abilities.
In one experiment, for example, students who'd scored in the lowest quartile on a test adapted from the LSAT overestimated the number of questions they'd gotten right by nearly 50%. Meanwhile, those who'd scored in the top quartile slightly underestimated how many questions they'd gotten right.
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3. They have insatiable curiosity
Albert Einstein reportedly said, "I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious."
Research published in 2016 suggests that there's a link between childhood intelligence and openness to experience — which encompasses intellectual curiosity — in adulthood.
Scientists followed thousands of people born in the UK for 50 years and learned that 11-year-olds who'd scored higher on an IQ test turned out to be more open to experience at 50.
4. They're open-minded
Smart people don't close themselves off to new ideas or opportunities. Hammett writes that intelligent people are "willing to accept and consider other views with value and broad-mindedness," and that they are "open to alternative solutions."
Psychologists say that open-minded people — those who seek out alternate viewpoints and weigh the evidence fairly — tend to score higher on the SAT and on intelligence tests.
At the same time, smart people are careful about which ideas and perspectives they adopt.
"An intelligent mind has a strong aversion to accepting things on face value and therefore withholds belief until presented with ample evidence," says Alas.
Zoher Ali writes that smart people are able to overcome impulsiveness by "planning, clarifying goals, exploring alternative strategies and considering consequences before [they] begin."
Scientists have found a link between self-control and intelligence. In one 2009 study, participants had to choose between two financial rewards: a smaller payout immediately or a larger payout at a later date.
Results showed that participants who chose the larger payout at a later date — i.e., those who had more self-control — generally scored higher on intelligence tests.
The researchers behind that study say that one area of the brain — the anterior prefrontal cortex — might play a role in helping people solve tough problems and demonstrate self-control while working toward goals.
Scientists agree. One study found that people who wrote funnier cartoon captions scored higher on measures of verbal intelligence. Another study found that professional comedians scored higher than average on measures of verbal intelligence.
(LWA via Getty Images)
8. They're sensitive to other people's experiences
Smart people can "almost feel what someone is thinking/feeling," says one Quora user.
Some psychologists argue that empathy, being attuned to the needs and feelings of others and acting in a way that is sensitive to those needs, is a core component of emotional intelligence. Emotionally-intelligent individuals are typically very interested in talking to new people and learning more about them.
(Jamie Grill via Getty Images)
9. They can connect seemingly unrelated concepts
Several Quora users suggested that smart people are able to see patterns where others can't. That's because they can draw parallels between seemingly disparate ideas.
As April Astoria notes: "You think there's no relation between sashimi and watermelon? You'd be wrong. Both are typically eaten raw and cold."
Interestingly, journalist Charles Duhigg argues that making these kinds of connections is a hallmark of creativity (which, depending on who you ask, can be closely linked to intelligence). Duhigg studied the process through which Disney developed their hit movie "Frozen" and concluded that the movieonly seems clever and original because it "takes old ideas and pushes them together in new ways."
(Yagi Studio via Getty Images)
10. They procrastinate a lot
Mahesh Garkoti says smart people are likely to procrastinate on quotidian tasks, mainly because they're working on things that are more important.
That's an interesting proposition — but some scientists would say that smart people procrastinate even on work they find meaningful. Wharton psychologist Adam Grant suggests that procrastination is key to innovation, and that Steve Jobs used it strategically.
As Grant told Business Insider's Rachel Gillett, "The time Steve Jobs was putting things off and noodling on possibilities was time well spent in letting more divergent ideas come to the table, as opposed to diving right in with the most conventional, the most obvious, the most familiar."
(diego_cervo via Getty Images)
11. They contemplate the big questions
According to Ram Kumar, intelligent individuals "wonder a lot about [the] universe and meaning of life." What's more, Kumar writes, "they always [ask] what's the point of everything?"
That existential confusion may be one reason why smart people are more likely to be anxious. As David Wilson reported in Slate, intelligent people may be better equipped to consider situations from a range of angles, meaning they're always aware of the possibility that things will go awry. Perhaps their anxiety also stems from the fact that they consider a given experience and wonder: Why bother going through it in the first place?
()Monashee Frantz via Getty Images
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In essence, sales skills are communication skills. Communication skills are critical in any business or career -- and you'll learn more about communication by working in sales than you will anywhere else.
Gaining sales skills will help you win financing, bring in investors, line up distribution deals, land customers; in the early stages of starting a company, everything involves sales.
Understanding the sales process, and how to build long-term customer relationships, is incredibly important regardless of the industry or career you choose. Spending time in a direct sales role is an investment that will pay dividends forever.
Here are a few of the benefits:
1. You'll learn to negotiate.
Every job involves negotiating: with customers, with vendors and suppliers, even with employees. Salespeople learn to listen, evaluate variables, identify key drivers, overcome objections, and find ways to reach agreement--without burning bridges.
You'll learn to close.
Asking for what you want is difficult for a lot of people. Closing a sale is part art, part science. Getting others to agree with you and follow your direction is also part art and part science. If you want to lead people, you must be able to close. Great salespeople know how to close. Great bosses do, too.
2. You'll learn persistence.
Salespeople hear the word "no" all the time. Over time you'll start to see no as a challenge, not a rejection. And you'll figure out what to do next.
3. You'll learn self-discipline.
When you work for a big company, you can sometimes sleepwalk your way through a day and still get paid. When you work on commission, your credo is, "If it is to be, it's up to me." Working in sales is a great way to permanently connect the mental dots between performance and reward.
4. You'll gain self-confidence.
Working in sales is the perfect cure for shyness. You'll learn to step forward with confidence, especially under duress or in a crisis.
Still not convinced? Think of it this way: The more intimidating or scary a position in sales sounds, the more you need to take one. You'll gain confidence and self-assurance, and the skills you gain will serve you well for the rest of your business -- and personal -- life.
So if you're a would-be entrepreneur, set aside your business plan and work in sales for a year or two. If you're a struggling entrepreneur, take a part-time sales job. Part of the reason you're struggling is probably because of poor sales skills.
"Knowing what my sales skills are and the products that I am able to sell," Cuban said, "I think I could find a job selling a product that had enough commissions or rewards for me."
And that would generate enough seed money to let him start his own business... and let him use his sales skills to make money for himself, not for an employer.
Successful business owners -- successful people in general -- spend the majority of their time "selling."