I am a summer salesman. Every year,
I pick up my life and family and move to a new city to knock doors. I work 60+
hours a week for four months every summer. I have lived in multiple states and
personally walked through hundreds of neighborhoods. I have had people yell at me, curse at me, spit at me, stalk
me, and threaten me simply because I knocked on their door. I have pushed my
body through 110 degree days and my mind through countless curbside mental
Through all of this, I have gained the ability to control
contention, suffice frustration, and redirect enthusiasm. I’ve learned to
understand paraverbal, verbal, and nonverbal communication and put it to work
hundreds of times in a single day of knocking. I have mastered the first
impression and have become passionate about making connections.
I have loved the highs of the job, grown through the lows
and truly believe that there’s no other job on earth that offers the same
opportunity for so much personal growth in such a short period of time.
has provided me and countless others with life changing opportunities and
experiences. With that being said, there is a stigma that surrounds this job that
needs to be corrected.
Many view summer sales as disreputable and amateurish. For
some, it has been minimized as something no more than just a backup summer job.
For those who have achieved great things with summer sales, they are often robbed
of deserved accomplishment and recognition because their success was acquired
knocking doors. As it goes with anything, there are also a lot of critics that make
harsh assumptions, but have no reliable backing for their opinion.
the many negative connotations associated with summer sales, I felt it was
necessary to clear the air on some common misconceptions of the industry.
This outlook on
salesmen is the reality quite often because, to be frank, there are a lot of
terrible salesmen out there. These subpar salesmen react to hostility with
aggression and never persuade anyone. This approach is always met with
failure in some degree. Some of these salesmen may still close enough sales to
survive, but only because they have approached enough prospects that are
desperate for their product. This is not sales, this is just statistics.
enough people see a product, someone will always buy. Even if the product is peddled
by a pushy, lying, cheating bum. These anti-salesmen live by the mantra that
it’s a cut-throat numbers game and they usually end up hating their job even
more than their customers hate them. Sadly enough, all
other negative connotations in association with this job are caused by this
anti-salesman mindset. The attrition rate for jobs in sales is worse than
almost any other job.
According to Bridge Group Research, there is a minimum of
20% annual turnover rate in all sales jobs in the U.S.
years, I have watched new salesmen give up because they feel success can’t be
achieved if they are not pushy or dishonest. Instead of learning proven sales
techniques, they fall back on improper practices and blame their failure on
sales. These individuals then become negative, lazy, and pushy themselves and
are left to statistics.
Sales is hard enough when done correctly, but when
people try to survive in a commission-based job on statistics and immoral
tactics, it is unbearable.
Subpar and inexperienced salesmen have given
sales a bad name when, in all reality, it is one of the most beautiful arts on
earth. Sales is not about conflict, it is about deflating confrontation. Sales
is not founded on dishonesty, it thrives on helping solve problems and provide
People never correlate a good salesman with sales because they don’t
feel sold. It is easy to recognize a good salesman because he leaves people
better than he found them and they have fewer problems than they did before.
This misconception is true to some degree.
Sales requires hard work, persistence, and positivity. However, most would
agree that these qualities are key to success in any job. The biggest reason
that people use this excuse in a sales job is because they’ve held a minimum-wage/hourly
job in the past. Now, there are many people who work hourly jobs that exhibit
all of the qualities I mentioned previously and, consequently, are quite
successful in their field. On the other hand,
There are a lot of hourly
workers that put in half as much effort as their co-workers because they know
they will still receive the same pay in the long run.
They can be as negative
or as lazy as they want and still get the same financial reward as their counterparts
as long as they avoid getting fired.
In sales, mediocrity and laziness are
never rewarded. The hardest working, most positive and persistent people are
always the ones that end up being successful. Struggling salesmen blame their
failure on sales, but failure is always a result of laziness, pessimism, and apathy.
If summer-sales was a multilevel marketing scheme, then I would be attempting
to sell my cousins, parents, and grandparents on spending money to buy a
product that I had to buy to be able to sell. Also, summer salesmen sell things
like pest control, security, solar, cable, and other products/services that
people actually need.
The best way to tell the difference between a legitimate
sales opportunity and a scheme is to just ask, “Do people buy this because they
want to make money off of it or because they want or need the product/service?”
I am fully aware
that summer salesmen can be intense recruiters, but this is very different. They don’t recruit to get others to
spend money. Rather, they offer an opportunity for others to acquire the same
skillset, success, and financial freedom that they have gained. Recruiting is
rewarded with pay, so the better a recruit performs in the summer, the better
the recruiter does financially. In contrast to a multilevel marketing scheme,
summer salesmen are only incentivized by the success of their recruits rather
than being incentivized by their recruits spending money. Keep in mind, summer salesman that don’t want to recruit can still be extremely successful.
comes about in two ways.
A few examples of this would be:
There are countless
other checks and balances to go through before making a decision. The best way
to find a good company is to research it with the same intent as buying a home.
Get the real numbers, do a full inspection, and recognize and understand all
the risk involved in working for any given company.
There are plenty
of terrible door-to-door companies, but there are also a lot of great ones. Do
The key here
is that these reps, regardless of their environment, didn’t actually “work” for
a good company. These are the reps that showed up on the first day with a sub-par
work ethic and a lack-luster attitude. These are the reps that have thousands
of excuses and are always justifying failure by pointing the finger at someone or
something other than themselves. They will always argue that their failure was
out of their control, but at the end of the day, they went home in debt because
of their own choices.
I will not argue
the fact that there are quite a few “tools” in the summer sales world. To be
fair, a lot of these “tools” have worked their brains out for four months and
now have more money in their bank accounts than most of their peers. In a
four-month period, some of these salesmen have gone from being in the bottom 10%
of America’s income earners to the top 10%. On top of earning such a large sum
of money, they have learned incredible communication skills that have filled
them with new confidence. This new reality would go to anyone’s head as it does
for most other successful professionals like doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.
The difference, however, is that most of these professionals had to attend 8-15
years of schooling and accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt
to reach these same financial achievements. For whatever reason, the allure of
these jobs makes society much less judgmental towards their boastful attitude
compared to that of a successful summer salesman.
misinterpret what I am saying. I don’t in any way condone or justify “tool”-like
behavior for any profession. Unfortunately, this behavior has and always will
be a struggle that comes with wealth and success.
All in all, if someone is a
college student buried in debt and living in their parent’s basement, I think
it’s unreasonable that their biggest concern about sales is that they might
become too confident or “toolish”.
The risk of acquiring “too much” confidence
is well worth the potential upside of finally being able to survive without a
parent’s constant financial support.
Many people have
and always will have negative things to say about summer sales. I, however,
have seen the blessings that come with it. Anyone that takes advantage of this
job can propel themselves to their future goals.
I’ve seen salesmen get through
all of their upper-level education debt free. I’ve watched kids in their
twenties travel the world, start their own business’, and purchase millions in
real estate. I’ve also seen salesmen make door-to-door sales a career and, as a
result, make millions recruiting, training, and motivating other salesmen.
For those that are not happy with their current job, situation, or environment, I offer the challenge to change it. Summer sales gives me eight months out of the year to make my own schedule, travel, fish, invest, spend unlimited time with my family, and do everything else I’m passionate about. I can now have the cars, house, and lifestyle that I want for my family and myself. I am grateful for the financial freedom I now have, the skillset I have acquired, and the happiness that I have obtained simply by knocking doors. I am proud to be a summer salesman.
August 2, 2018
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