Thomas Edison and Sales Reps: 5 Surprising Things They Have in Common

Posted by Shelly Vollmer on February 11, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Happy Birthday to one of our favorite inventors, Thomas Alva Edison.  Born 167 years ago today, in 1847, Edison was one of the most prolific inventors in the history of the world.  He was well known for his focus and determination and he was able to patent 1,093 inventions and discoveries in his lifetime.  Among his most important inventions were the phonograph, the motion picture camera and electric light (which some say is debatable). 

modernizing the art and science of selling

Our favorite Edison discovery was that of the Edison Effect (thermionic emission), which became the foundation for all modern electronics.  Radio, television, radar and computers all depend on it.

In honor of Thomas Edison’s birthday and because Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, here is a loving tribute to the two things we love the most:  Thomas Edison (most importantly, his contribution to modern technology) and the modern sales rep.  Here are 5 surprising things that our loves have in common:

  1. When Thomas Edison was 12, he had a job selling newspapers, apples, and candy on the Detroit and Port Huron branch of the Grand Trunk Railroad.  Edison was a salesman first!

  2. Thomas Edison was famous for following the words, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”  This commonality needs little explanation, as we know that the modern sales rep can surely relate.  Your grunt work is your bread and butter.  It is what allows you to sell the way you do.  But, for some, it’s harder than it needs to be.  Try your hand at employing a device that one of Edison’s discoveries made possible:  a laptop or an iPad...or both!

  3. Edison was known to sleep for only 4 hours a night.  At times he would put himself into overdrive and work for 72 hours straight, especially when an experiment was about to be completed.  If you’re a sales rep who has ever been on the road or at market…we bet you’ve seen yourself in similar sleep patterns.

  4. Because of his work, Edison spent little time with his family.  Life on the road for a sales rep can take a big chunk out of family time.  Don’t forget to make time for the ones you love most! 

  5. In addition to his talent for invention, Edison was also a successful manufacturer and businessman who was highly skilled at marketing his inventions–and himself–to the public.  Sound familiar?  This fact might be the major contributor to the reason that Edison was credited with the invention of the light bulb.  Had he not been so talented as a business man and marketer, history might recognize Mr. Edison very differently.  At any rate, it is a no brainer that the modern sales rep is a genius business person and marketer….your commissions depend on it. 

Whether your own opinion credits Edison with the invention of the electric light or not, you have to admit that more than any other individual, he is credited with building the framework for modern technology and modernizing the art and science of innovation in the age of electricity.  Edison’s focus and dedication to his craft paved the way for later innovators like Brandwise to have a vision to modernize the art and science of selling for the modern sales rep.  Without the inspiration of Thomas Edison and if not for the love of sales reps, the art and science of selling would probably still be antiquated and orders would still be hand-written.



So what do you think?  As a rep, who are you more like Thomas Edison the Business Man or Nikola Tesla the Geek?  Tell us what you think in the comments!  And don't forget to share your thoughts with us on social media!!

Edison vs. Tesla

Topics: Sales Reps

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