After graduating from high school, Coldwell Banker Schmitt’s Sam Williams moved from Grove, Oklahoma — in the top, right hand corner of the state — to Colorado. He was working at JC Penney for $9 an hour, he said, when a salesman approached him and sold him a discount card for oil changes. 

Williams didn’t own a car. 

“The guy says to me, ‘Well, do you have a girlfriend? Buy her the card!’ And the next thing I knew I had shelled out the money,” Williams said, from his second-floor office in the Marathon real estate office. Long story short, he got a job selling the discount cards, too. 

“I knew from the moment I was standing in front of that first door, getting ready to knock on it, that I was going to be a salesman,” he said.

How long did you live in Colorado? I spent four years there doing the door-to-door sales. It gave me the experience and training to do what I am doing now. 

Who were your customers? Anybody on the other side of the door who owned a car. I loved apartment complexes. It was a pretty simple pitch, but it was fun. I could hit 100 doors in four hours.

How did you get to the Keys? I came out to visit my mom and dad who were living here at the time. I thought there was no way I could live in the islands — it was too similar to where I grew up. That changed on my third visit to the Keys.

How old were you when you moved to Florida? Twenty-one years old. For the first 30 days, I fished every single day on the Marathon Lady. (My dad worked aboard.) Then I got a job at the Island Fish Co. Back then it was the hub of Marathon. Everybody came through the place. I met a lot of people and eventually, years later, they became my customers. 

What makes you a good salesman? Four things: energy and enthusiasm, market knowledge, aggressive lead follow up and my database. People like energy and enthusiasm. It’s infectious. A lot of times, it can win you the deal even if you didn’t have the best presentation.

What are some of your proudest achievements? I’ve been the top agent for both dollar volume and total number of sales in the Middle Keys for the past eight years, and No. 2 Keyswide.

What are some of the tools in your box of sales? I spend time thinking about which of my activities generate income and I have a real estate coach. We have numbers, goals and a business plan every year so we know where we’re going. It’s a game changer and the only way to be able to build a reliable income in this business. The accountability aspect is very important.

Do you have repeat customers? Yes. There’s a lot of turnover in this market. People come down, buy a condo and then upgrade to a half duplex or a single-family home. They get their foot in the door and position themselves to move up to the next level.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? I had no idea. I wasn’t good in school; I just wanted to work. I would skip to go sell minnows, bait and fishing licenses at my grandfather’s sporting goods store. The very first day that I sold the oil change discount cards, I sold out by noon and made $300 in four hours. I never looked back. How much you’re worth depends on how much you put into your work.

Would you ever start another career? I don’t see myself leaving Coldwell Banker Schmitt. I have a strong allegiance and we are offered a vast amount of resources. The fact that 46 of the top 100 agents in the Keys are from Coldwell Banker isn’t by accident, but by design. 

You’re a big fitness nerd; what do you like about it? It’s the accountability thing again. At Keys Strength and Conditioning I like the group exercise; a lot of energy comes from that group and it’s very motivating. I can’t believe what it does for my mindset and my energy. I wish I had found this earlier in life. My daughter, Mia, who is 7 years old, sees me and her mom working out and is staring to explore the kids’ obstacle races.

Do you have a bucket list? Well … I have planned four Spartan races for 2020, does that count? And I go to four career conferences a year. And we take one major travel vacation every year.

What’s the easiest and hardest obstacle in a Spartan race? The monkey bars or the walls are the easiest. The rope climb is the hardest.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you need? A spear gun, a snorkel set and a water purifier. I love life, so I am all about survival. 

Do you have a life motto? You become what you think about. I tell that to my daughter all the time.

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