The product doesn't matter to great salesmen. They can change car lots on a lunch break without a lapse in conviction.
But that doesn't mean they can outsell a true believer.
I don't know don't if Jay Graham is a great salesman. I know he is a true believer in Tennessee football.
He didn't convince me of that by anything he said when introduced as one of UT's new assistant football coaches late Friday afternoon. He convinced me by returning to his college home.
Graham could have stayed at South Carolina, an ascending program that just cracked the top 10 for the first time in school history and which will return
Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Lattimore at running back. He left that for UT.
This UT isn't the one Graham left. The Vols have a losing record for the last four years and lost seven of eight SEC games in 2011. Graham lost six SEC games in his four seasons at UT from 1993 through 1996.
That's the Tennessee he will be selling to recruits.
"I think that's very important for our young men to understand that and understand the tradition here and what it means. I will talk a lot about that (to recruits)."
But nothing he says can trump what he did. He came back.
He's the running backs coach who left Lattimore for who knows what at UT. That should get the attention of even the most self-absorbed prospect, particularly if he's a running back.
The best running backs probably don't need a coach as much as they need someone who appreciates the specifics of their craft and knows it's not as easy as they sometimes make it look. Sure, they have to learn pass protection and pass routes, but they earn their scholarships by doing what most of them have been doing since they were big enough to pick up a football. Graham can relate to that as well as he can UT.
He left Concord, N.C., to play football for the Vols. His signing said as much about his confidence as his ability. The depth chart already included proven running backs Aaron Hayden, James Stewart and Charlie Garner. They welcomed him aboard and cautioned him at the same time.
"You're not going to play till your junior year," they told him.
He didn't believe them. What good running back would? Self-doubt never helped anyone break a tackle or turn the corner.
Graham doesn't just understand what it takes to play the position. He understands what the position requires in the SEC. Regardless of what decade in which you tried to dent an SEC defense, this has never been a place for padding your rushing statistics. Graham is candid about the requirements.
"You've got to have a dynamic skill level," he said. "Some of the defenses we play can be in the top five (nationally) and you have to have a mental toughness and the ability to break tackles. I always look for young men that have the ability to adapt."
A younger Graham made the adjustment a long time ago as he worked his way up the depth chart. He rushed for 99 yards as a freshman and 275 as a sophomore before leading the Vols in rushing each of his last two seasons. But his best memories aren't measured by statistics.
"When I see Gibbs hall, I remember walking out of the dorm and heading over to the weight room to work out," he said. "It's funny, 15 or 16 years later, to have the opportunity to coach these young men.
"I walked in their same shoes. Those are the things I think about."
And those are the things he can sell.