There Is No F in Sales!

The joint CEO of travel media giant Ink shares the hard sales lessons he's learned on the way to success.

By Simon Leslie

Sean Gladwell | Getty Images

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Simon Leslie, joint CEO of travel media company Ink, recently released his latest book There Is No F in Sales. All proceeds from the book's sales go to two worthwhile charitable organizations: Young Minds and Centrepoint.

My life so far can be summarised in one word. Basically it has been a series of pushing back against hearing that word: "no". I couldn't tell you the entire story even if I wanted to, but I can share the hard lessons, the value I learned, and the hindsight I've learned over the last few decades. By moving forward into the unknown, I learned and I prospered. Today, I oversee a team of almost 200 salespeople, delivering world-class media in over 60 countries around the globe. With my business partner Michael Keating, we have offices in London, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, São Paulo and Singapore and we deliver content in more than ten languages. Not bad for a boy from Cardiff, South Wales.

Sometimes, a lack of knowledge combined with no fear can be your greatest advantage. Our company has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, employed thousands of people and in the process turning an entire industry on its head.

Some say it is an art. Others say it is a grind.

Selling has led me on an amazing journey that has given me so much, and now, I want to give that back to you. I can give you that road map but the journey is on you. One thing is certain, it can be done, and you can do it!

Sales success is driven by belief

Raw passion and hard work are steadily becoming a recognized system and philosophy that has changed not only my life but also the lives of those around me.

If you do not take advantage of the opportunities available to you, you will miss out and they will be taken away from you. That's how life works, you need to be ready to perform and sometimes you don't have the luxury to warm up first.

Related: 4 Secrets to Improve Your Startup's Sales

Life has a funny way of turning out and as long as you understand challenges, problems, and failures are only events. They are never permanent and they make you who you become. You learn more from things going wrong than you could ever learn if things only went the way you imagined them to be. How we see yourself affects how you treat other people. If we feel ok, then our relationships with others thrive. Once upon a time, I would cross the road rather than chat with someone

Today, I am comfortable in my own skin, I can mix and mingle with anyone from any background or experience. In business, I have gone through every phase, so I can talk about what makes businesses tick and what failure looks and feels like. I no longer feel intimidated by anyone or anything and this all stems from this simple phrase and the emotion it brings and confidence it allows me.

How to avoid a negative future

"Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you want to be successful, make sure you understand business; understand the challenges business people face; learn how to read a set of accounts, be a solution-driven human and stop worrying about anything and everything. Worrying doesn't make things better, it just creates a negative future.

Related: The Sales Superpowers of Introverts

Be an optimist, they believe the future is bright and exciting even if they have no idea how to make it happen and finally work bloody hard, nothing beats hard work. No one is going to give you something for nothing and they won't keep giving you anything unless you keep delivering. Remember this, you are only as good as your next deal. It's your time to own your own happiness, enjoy your journey, it's only yours and no one can enjoy it for you. Celebrate every win no matter how small and remember this, in every interaction with people it's what you leave in them, not what you leave with them. People will always remember what you did for them, both good and bad.

As I am writing this, I have two LinkedIn messages thanking me for the help I gave recently. Sometimes, you never know the impact you will have on others — both positive and negative — but whichever one, hopefully, will drive them to do more and get better.

In much of my career, I have looked for people who had a real point to prove to someone, people who were genuinely hungry to make something of their lives. At my company Ink, we have hired people others would ignore and dismiss. We were and remain slightly out the norm, whatever the norm is. We were, and are, as Steve Jobs said, "The crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers." and I certainly was a very round peg in a square hole!

Related: 7 Bulletproof Strategies to Increase Sales and Make More Money

My advice to you, whoever you take advice from, make sure they have the aptitude to practice what they preach. Otherwise, you end up relying on people giving advice on how to make the perfect life when they are only good at the sales pitch or worse still, they are pretenders. Listen to people who have the stamina to really survive and thrive. If you want to make a career in sales, it's not about how talented you are, it's about how big the fire in your belly is and how resilient and ambitious you really are. It's a profession where less talent and more tenaciousness pays really well.

I created a wonderful life for myself through sheer determination to help others get better and that is the overriding message I want to leave with you.

Life is shorter than most of us want and if you don't make each day count you just are wasting time.

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