I Became a Water Salesman When Life Threw Me a Curve
By Gary Coon
As a child, I never imagined I would ever earn a living as a salesman. As a young boy, all I ever wanted to become was a commercial pilot. My father bought me a VHF radio that enabled me to eavesdrop on conversations between the pilots and the control tower. I spent hours at the Akron/Canton airport hanging on every word as I tried to guess which airplane the controller was contacting. Becoming a pilot became my passion. But childhood asthma followed me into my late teens and eventually put an end to my plans to enlist in the Air Force…the only avenue I knew leading to my dream.
So, my life changed. As I was remarkably without any vendible physical skills (I can still remember when I thought a claw hammer was a Kung Fu technique), I realized that I had to rely on my wits to make a living. I had little or no interest in business and even less in becoming a salesman. During high school, I can’t remember anyone ever expressing a desire to earn a business degree, only to stride jubilantly into a sales career. So, I coasted into college because I didn’t know where else to go. But at the time I entered college, less than one percent of college graduates actually planned to make selling a profession. And after I graduated, I quickly learned the only jobs readily available to liberal arts majors (I have a BA in English) were in sales or clerical work.
At first, I sought work as a clerk, as my only vivid recollection of a salesman was the unctuously cheerful door-to-door vendor who strained desperately to sell my mother an assortment of household cleaning brushes. The thought of having to earn a living by taxing the limits of anyone with my mother’s immeasurable civility weighed as heavily on my stomach as a clump of pig iron. This visage abruptly shattered, however, when during a new hire interview someone from HR escorted me to the clerical work area. There in the vast expanse of what looked like an enormous warehouse of used office furniture he showed me what was to be my unsequestered desk. ‘Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, Batman,’ this was a far cry from my childhood dream. The clacking typewriters and clanging file drawers sounded like someone shooting at an army of mechanical ants, marching over a landscape of discarded hubcaps. Suddenly a career in sales didn’t seem so bad.
So, I became a salesman. And not just any kind of salesman, an in-home water treatment salesman. I became the very thing I cringed at the thought of as a child. And believe me, there’s not a day goes by that I’m not amused by the irony. The universe must have quite a sense of humor. But I became more than an in-home water treatment salesperson; I became a water evangelist. Saving as many as I could from the perils of nasty water became my mission. And that mission morphed into a passion that I carry with me to this day. So, in the aftermath of a child’s shattered hopes and dreams, the universe handed me one of life’s most valuable lessons: If you can’t follow your passion, then simply take your passion with you. I did, and it made all the difference in the world. Good luck and good selling.
About the author
Gary Coon, a 23-year veteran of the water conditioning industry, has successfully trained hundreds of water treatment sales professionals. His seminars, ‘What They Mean by What They Say’ and ‘The Theater of Selling Water’ offer instruction in closing methodologies and presentation techniques. Learn more by visiting wwwcurrencyofpersuasion.com