I am a business development manager at a company called Hitwise. A HUGE portion of my job is engaging companies with our competitive intelligence data (information about competitors) and showing them enough value to build a relationship with us. I work in Sales.
I know what we all associate with sales. You imagine me with a big greasy smile on my face with a lot of flattering things to say about whatever I'm trying to sell you. This is actually the case for a lot of salesmen who know in their heart of hearts their product will create more headaches than solve. I actually believe in my product so I'm able to speak with genuine passion about it. Perhaps it is for this reason I have no trouble using my sales skills in everyday life.
One enormous component of sales is discovery. You need to know what the person wants before you can assess whether your product is a fit or not for them. The better the questions you ask the better the chance you can assess whether your product is relevant to their needs. I've been using my discovery skills as both the salesman and the buyer. I began asking myself discovery questions about what I want out of life, what I need and where I want to end up. The better the questions, the easier it is to find the right answer. The more honest I can be with myself, the shorter the sales cycle.
So look at sales as a universal trait. I sell a product. A teacher sells their philosophical agenda to their students. A politician sells his platform and promises. The best salesman is the individual who sells compatible answers to his own honest questions.