If you haven’t read the first post, you can do that here!
After taking the position of window sales representative, I was immediately thrown into training. I started at the same time as another young guy named Mike. We were considerably younger than the rest of the sales reps, so we thought we’d stick together since we were the “young guys”. Product training happened quickly. We started on a Tuesday and were finished by Thursday, and apparently ready for our first appointment.
The boss decided to send us out into rural Nebraska together. We had very limited knowledge of what would even take place during our first appointment. They sent us a text message with an address 3 hours away near a town called Broken Bow. After arriving at the house (on a farm) we walked up to the door in our full suits.
“Damn you George Zimmer!” – Alex Earll
We quickly realized we were over dressed for the occasion. Mike and I were there to sell a construction project on a farm. The couple was wearing jeans and t-shirts, suits were definitely overkill. We sat down at the table to start discussing business when the man of the house stated, “I thought you guys were the damn Mormons!” Ironically Mike was in fact a Mormon, and it took all my energy to not burst into laughter. Knowing well and truly that religion should never be discussed during a business meeting, we promptly moved onto our product demonstration.
The couple was nice. They had previously purchased products from the company and were already familiar with the business, but they allowed us to practice our speech anyway. Both Mike and I were ecstatic! Our very first appointment, and we were sent to basically take an order.
Mike and I were invited to eat dinner with the couple, we took them up on the offer, and then proceeded to measure the openings for pricing. I can’t remember the exact total of the order, but I vividly remember the commission of $1200! Split between us, that was $600 each! We were over the moon, the earning potential was real!
Eventually Mike and I were split up. The company didn’t want to use two sales reps to run one lead. The first summer was pretty breezy. I would spend 5 nights a week in a hotel, leaving on a Monday and returning on Saturday. Driving anywhere from 1000 to 1600 miles a week. Sales were necessary, as I was spending around $500 in expenses a week. I ran 1 to 3 leads a day, and closed about 20% of them.
“To suggest that we can’t pay our debts – that’s absolutely not true” – Phil Gingrey
The school year proved to be a bit more difficult. I set my schedule so I only had classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 am to 9 pm. The other days I would go out into western Nebraska and run sales calls. Most of my homework was done out of a hotel room, and every now and again my Tuesday appointments would be over 3 hours away, and I wouldn’t get back until 3 am on Wednesday. Classes started at 8, remember. I also found out that making a sale was a bit of a numbers game. Those pesky classes were cutting into the time I had to run appointments. The more appointments I ran, the more sales I could make. I had the idea in my head that I could graduate debt free, and I was determined to do it at all costs.
In the end, all the business expenses and sales balanced out in my favor. From the end of my sophomore year of university until I graduated, I was able to make enough money to pay off my student loan (roughly $40,000). And remember those high fuel costs? That money was recovered during tax time. I once received a tax refund of over $10,000! Being a contracted employee had its benefits!
“Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.” – Debbie Ford
Over the course of the job, I found a lot of awareness in myself. When I started I was 20 years old, and life on the road was intimidating. It took me awhile, but I learned an independent confidence that molded me into who I am today. The first movie I ever went to by myself I was terrified. It took me nearly a whole year to gain the confidence to go out to dinner alone, I usually got take away and ate it in the hotel room. That job both grew my bank account, and my self-awareness, and to this day is still the most rewarding risk I’ve ever taken.
Being a window sales rep funded my first couple of years of travel. When I decided that I wanted to travel, I saved up $18,000 for my first trip to Europe. That trip quickly went from 2 months to 4 months, and I’d only spent about $9,000 (without even trying to budget). Over the course of that trip, I really didn’t even think about the money. Now, it’s a different story, and the way I travel has become more refined.
After returning home from my 4 month trip through Europe, I went back to work selling windows. Having just had my experience overseas, I felt so separated from my previous lifestyle. The money was still great, but I felt so unfulfilled. I guess the “normal” thing to do would’ve been to buy a house. That idea didn’t seem to fit my current life path.
Making the decision to head back to Europe was easy. I worked selling windows from December 2012 until May of 2013, saved up enough money to get me by for a while, and bought a one-way plane ticket. I haven’t regretted a single minute of it.