2011 Sales Leaders: Living the American Dream
Before Hector Herrera answered a help wanted ad in a Miami newspaper for a distributor sales rep position in August 1999, he had exhausted all of his efforts to find a job. In fact, he had only two weeks left before he had to return to his native country of Colombia. Interview after interview, no one was willing to give Herrera, an industrial engineering graduate from the University of Florida, a chance at landing a job in the United States. That’s until Andy Brahms, president of Armchem International Corp., in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., gave Herrera a shot at pursuing the American dream.
Brahms remembers when he first met Herrera.
“He walks in off the street telling me he would like to get into sales,” Brahms recalls. “But he tells me has an engineering background. He then tells me that the only problem is he is from Colombia and needs a sponsor to stay in America. I said, ‘Well, you’re an engineer.’ He said, ‘Well, there’s not a lot of opportunities in Colombia, I want to move my family to America.’ I said, ‘How long are you going to be here before going back to Colombia?’ He said, ‘two weeks.’”
What transpired next was something Herrera never saw coming — Brahms issued an ultimatum.
“Andy told me, ‘I’ll train you for the first two days, but if you go out the next eight days and you can close two orders every single day, I’ll sponsor you into the country,’” Herrera says.
So what does Herrera, a walk-in off the street with absolutely no sales experience, do?
“He goes out, he opens up two orders every single day for eight straight days,” Brahms says. “So I went to an immigration attorney, saw what was necessary to do a H1-B working visa, and sponsored him into the country.”
Brahms says the risk has paid off tenfold as Herrera quickly became his top producing salesperson and has been an extremely loyal employee for Armchem over the last 12 years.
“Customers value his honesty, his integrity and his expertise. Most certainly his honesty and integrity, because if you don’t have that as a salesperson, then you have nothing,” says Brahms.
But learning how to function as a salesman, on top of learning the jan/san distribution industry at the same time, came with a bit of a shock to Herrera’s system.
“It was very tough in the beginning because with no sales experience, the rejection was tough,” says Herrera. “But once you handle that and you handle the numbers, I just put it in my mind that it was a numbers game. If I did 20 cold calls and I did 10 demos I would for sure close two new accounts. That was my goal, two new accounts a day.”
That goal of opening two new accounts a day blossomed into Herrera opening nearly 400 new accounts in his first year as a salesman.
“That gave me a good position to take it to the next level the following year,” says Herrera. “I almost doubled my income the second year and from there it’s just an increase every year after.”
Herrera says his engineering degree hasn’t gone to waste, either. He says that applying some engineering methodologies into his sales role has helped him become a top earner.
“I just apply a little bit of engineering to this. Sales is not easy. It’s a very hard career. So I apply numbers,” says Herrera.
Hector currently services more than 800 accounts, including some of the same customers from his first eight days on the job. Brahms says Herrera’s hard-work ethic paired with his honesty and integrity is what helps his sales continue to soar every year.
Herrera, now a United States citizen along with his wife and two sons, has fulfilled his dream of working and living in America. He now is focusing on bit more.
“The American dream is to live a regular life, have kids, have a house,” says Herrera. “I’m trying to have a little bit more. American dream and beyond.”
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