He had been a window installer for years when he finally talked the owner into hiring him as a salesman. The other reps were amused. Oh sure, they said. Won't last a week. Watch him blow through those leads. They took bets behind his back on how soon he would quit.

They quit griping about everything he didn't know when he began outselling them, which happened soon enough. Then they talked about how unfair it all was, the advantages he held. He was getting the best leads. Someone else was no doubt doing his paperwork. How else could he be selling a million and change his first year?

How? Try product knowledge and ambition, for starters.

A salesman is a salesman, right? Polished. Assertive. Dressed nicely. Ready for every objection. Likes money. Loves money.

And an installer? Well, he's a guy in a truck. Work boots, jeans, and T-shirt. Talks only when he actually has something to say. Drinks 7-Eleven coffee instead of triple-shot lattés from Starbucks. Paid by the hour, and not very much. Not exactly polished or persuasive.

If these images ring true, it's because they reflect prevailing conditions. They're also stereotypes and, being stereotypes, confuse the obvious with the essential and have limited application to flesh-and-blood individuals.

Actually, there are company owners who have hired installers to sell and have watched them flourish. There are Illustration: companies where every salesperson was once an installer. Think about it. If you were a consumer, from whom would you rather buy windows, the guy who arrives in a Ferrari wearing half the inventory of Tiffany & Co. around his neck (another stereotype) or an ordinary Joe who can discuss the fine points of installation so that you really understand them?

It could be the case that your best salesperson is someone who already works for you. Only they're not yet selling. Sound far-fetched? A well-regarded business book, Discover Your Sales Strengths, by Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano, argues that everyone has, somewhere within, the tools to become “an amazing salesperson.”

How do you recognize the Joe Installer who could become your next Joe Salesman? He's the type that goes the extra mile. He's driven to succeed. And he wants to make more money. A lot more money.

Sound like anyone you know?

Jim Cory, Editor