By Silvia Bailes (South Africa)

As human beings we are born to sell. We do so from the day we are born to the day we die. We sell ourselves, our services, and our products because our personal and professional survival depends on it.  Selling is a tough act that requires hard work, time, focus, resilience and perseverance, least of all a thick skin to overcome the fear of failure and rejection.

Take my very dear friend Richard who has been chasing that ‘big deal’ all his life. Richard is a heavy-hitter who has served on the boards of some big multi-nationals. He has excelled as a business strategist, a financier and entrepreneur in various industries over a 50 year-or-so career that has spanned the five continents.  Coming from a finance background, he is technically skilled, cognitively able and analytical.   Yet, as much as he has collected accolades and successes, Richard has, on more than one occasion fallen, lost his fortunes, dusted himself off, and started over again. As he did again seven years ago when another chapter of his life ended abruptly with the demise of Lehman Brothers with whom he worked.

Richard pops up unexpectedly every decade or so when he visits my home town in South Africa and regales me with the rich narratives of his travels, his life and work. He has recently put together an international consortium to launch a new concept, at personal risk. The purpose of his last visit was to sell the concept to the consortium and to close the deal.   His excitement was palpable as he described the transaction and then, somewhat out of character, he pondered: “What the hell am I doing… I am putting together the deal of a lifetime, when I should be retired and taking it easy?”. So being a coach and with great interest in learning from my friend’s experiences I asked the obvious questions: “Richard, what makes you do it?” and “What keeps you going? “ Then his eyes lit up, because deep inside he recognised that he lived and loved his art – the art of being the ultimate salesman.

Source: iCN Issue 9 (Sales Coaching); pages 15-17

About Silvia Bailes

RECURVE Professional & Leadership Coaching was founded by Silvia Bailes in 2010 following a 30 year career as a group executive and governance specialist in the international hospitality, gaming and leisure industry. Silvia believes that leaders need to change old mind-sets if they and their organisations are to survive the challenges of the 21st century. She would dream of changing the world by changing the mind-sets of leaders.