“You could sell sawdust to a lumber mill,” said my boss as he threw his arm around Byron’s shoulders.
The team applauded as Byron held up the contract he had just gotten signed.
Byron was the top dog in the sales department and he wore his status like a custom made suit.
He was charming, smooth, and persuasive.
And he had a cool car that lived in the parking place reserved for the salesperson of the month.
That day, even though I was a rookie kid, I set myself a goal to outsell him and to take over that parking spot.
I hit that goal after 7 months and, from that point on, I consistently outperformed him.
At the time I think I was more excited about the parking spot than the commission.
One afternoon, one of the guys in production asked me how I kept getting the high-profile spot.
“The rep with the highest sales for the month gets to park there,” I said.
“I thought Byron was the number one salesperson.”
“Byron’s a superstar.”
“Then why do you get the spot?”
“Byron closes a lot of deals with the companies that the boss says, ‘Those guys’ll never buy.’”
“The boss must love that.”
“Then how come you always get the spot.”
“I sell to businesses that want and need our stuff.”
Byron was a star and the boss loved that he'd bring in high profile accounts that were considered impossible to sell.
But Byron's accounts would drop off when they didn't get results. Mine would stick around 'cause we worked for them.
So I sold more than the rock star. And I got the parking spot next to the front door.
And, although, like everybody, I was impressed with Byron's style, I learned that I could do better by targeting businesses that wanted and needed what I was selling.
Now I'm a copywriter.
So I'm still selling.
And if anybody tells me, "You could sell sawdust to a lumber mill," I'll be mildly offended and say, "But I wouldn't."