illustration of a door to door sales man


Many years ago I used to work as a door-to-door salesman, selling event tickets and experiences to companies. I wasn’t particularly successful at it, but it was a good challenge, and an experience I cherish even know, because it taught me a lot.

The Tampa Bay Times recently published an interesting article about door-to-door salesmanship nowadays, in 2022.

The federal government estimates around 104,000 Americans work as door-to-door sales reps or street vendors. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area now has the highest concentration of door-to-door sales reps in the nation — a major leap after not cracking the top 10 in 2020.

Apparently there’s a few fields where door-to-door salesmanship is very much still alive:

  • solar industry
  • pest control
  • home security

Big ticket items for house owners.

The article describes what it’s like and I recognize so much of that world:

The people who try it are maybe a little lost, a little restless, big dreamers. Often, it seems, they’ve been through something, like a crushing breakup or the death of someone close.

That was pretty much me when I was doing door-to-door sales. And it was mostly “people who don’t come from a lot”.

Christopher Spata, the reporting who wrote the piece, did a great job picking up on the interesting details of the time he spent with Liam Kunkel, the door-to-door salesman of Spartan Solar he’s been shadowing.

The cold showers, oatmeal breakfasts, workouts, Wim Hof breathing techniques, the different self-improvement and sales books Kunkel read, the lingo he uses.

There’s a little exchange with a prospective homeowner who eventually just wanted to get rid of Liam:

“Just give me your card.”

He convinced her to take his eco-friendly “digital business card,” delivered via text, opening a new line of communication.

This is so representative of the somewhat obvious yet creative thinking that’s predominant in the world of high-ticket sales.

Later, that prospect who brushed him off actually calls him back and asks him to come back to talk through the numbers.

Liam is a winner in the making. I’ve met guys like him before. Many of them became very successful, and then eventually when they’ve exceeded what they once thought were crazy goals, they’ll be faced with making a choice between these two options:

  • Keep playing the same game at a higher level, but eventually become miserable and burn out, because deep down they know they’re meant for something else.
  • Quit, take some time out to figure out what they really want to do with their life and pursue that.
  • Find a vision that enables them to smoothly transition from the world of sales into an adventure that’s meaningful, with a mission that resonates with their heart.

I’ve seen that third option happen only very rarely—it seems there’s almost always some need for upheaval, for a phase of disorientation and uncertainty, before they can emerge with a new identity. But I wish guys like Liam nothing but the best, because truly, they deserve it.






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