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I've Wanted To Be A Sales Rep Ever Since I Was 34

I'll bet a lot of people out there are wondering how someone like me got to where I am today. How did an average guy who never had a lot of formal education and, frankly, wasn't expected to go very far, wind up making it to one of the top sales positions at the second largest distributor of bathroom fixtures in all of Kentucky? Well, I'll tell you. It happened because a man had a dream, and he never lost sight of that dream. You see, ever since I was just 34, I've wanted to be a sales rep.

I can still remember when I first knew what I wanted to do with my life. It was the summer of 1989. I was working as a delivery driver for a furniture-outlet store. Whenever I got the chance, I'd sneak down to the showroom to watch the sales reps do their thing. Oh, how I loved to watch them work! What a thrill it was to see them fill out invoice sheets, take customers around the floor, and hand out business cards with their name printed right on them. My eyes were as big as saucers! All the while, I thought to myself, "That could be me someday."

There was a break room the delivery drivers shared with the sales reps. Lying around were all sorts of wondrous, exotic trade magazines—colorful, glossy magazines with names like Southern Small Business and Modern Plumbing & Wiring. They were filled with articles about the latest products, tips for closing the deal, and profiles of top-selling sales teams. I never dared pick the magazines up—I knew they were not there for me—but I'd edge just close enough to steal glances of the magazines' photos of top regional sales reps, plaques in their hands and their faces beaming with pride.

Honestly, I'm not even sure why I was so certain that a position in sales was what I wanted. Sometimes in life, you just know things deep down in your soul and you don't even question it.

Of course, at that point in my life, I wasn't in a position to chase my dream. After all, I was just 34, and I was still getting accustomed to being out of my parents' house for good. But over the years that followed, I never forgot. I always kept that little seed safely tucked away in the back of my mind. People would ask me what I did for a living, and I'd tell them, "I drive a truck, but someday I'm going to be a sales rep." I'll bet most of them just laughed at me behind my back. They probably snickered and dismissed me as a young fool. A rube. A dreamer with his head in the clouds.

True, I did spend a fair amount of time daydreaming. I'd fantasize about all the sales I'd one day close, the Top Receipts Of The Year plaque I'd have hanging on my wall at home, and the office with a door and a desk and a phone connected to several outside lines. But I knew it would all come true.

Eventually, I could wait no longer. The moment had come for me to make my fantasy a reality. I talked to some of the sales reps where I worked and asked questions. And I didn't shy away from the hard questions, because I needed to know exactly what I would be up against. What kind of hours does a sales rep work? Where would I buy polo shirts and a corduroy blazer? Who pays the printing costs for the business cards?

After gathering the necessary information, I drew up a plan. And in 1997, I put that plan into action. It wasn't easy, that's for sure. I worked a hell of a lot of overtime those last few weeks as a delivery driver, knowing full well I'd need extra money to get me through the payroll gap between my last paycheck at my old job and my first paycheck at my new one. Then, after years of serious thought and preparation, I finally hung up my furniture-moving back-saver belt and took the plunge.

I was a sales rep!

It didn't come easy at first. There were days when I felt like giving up. Days when I thought I'd never learn how to fill out a triplicate form or master the voice-mail system. It was tough, but what's important is that I stuck it out. And look at me now! I'm sitting on top of the world as a top sales rep for Frankfort Basin, Fixture & Tile.

From time to time, usually while I'm helping a customer or checking inventory, my mind wanders back to those days when I was 34. Back to when I was just a fresh-faced kid full of hopes, dreams, doubts, fears and uncertainties. If someone had told me back then where I would be today, I wouldn't have believed it. But I never let go of that dream. And because I didn't, today I can proudly say that I, Warren Boetz, am a sales professional.

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