What does an NBA Player, $30K, a salesperson, and an Elementary School Boy have in common? You might be surprised.

A most unusual combination that all came together in a moment that some would call synchronicity. Other’s may consider it as divine intervention, and some may consider it as pure coincidence. Or possibly it’s all – but regardless of the “how” these 3 seemingly unrelated elements came together – the story offers many lessons:

A book salesman sat patiently waiting for his next appointment to greet him in the lobby. He had scheduled an appointment with a decent sized public school librarian. True to the DNA of a great sales person, he had a high confidence this was going to be a productive appointment, with a sense that he would have an order in hand before leaving the facility.

The time had arrived. With a warm greeting, he was escorted to the school’s library. As he entered, he quickly felt a sense of confusion – there were hardly any books to be seen, the room was nearly empty – barring a small carrousel filled with magazines and a handful of paperbacks, and one small table. The salesman turned towards the librarian with a look that clearly sought an explanation. The librarian was quick to respond to the quizzical look - regardless of the size of their school, the budgets were not able to support any books for the library. Despite the salesman’s best efforts to seek out multiple alternative methods to support a book order, it appeared all roads were met with some insurmountable obstacles.

After the meeting the salesman took a seat out in the lobby to collect his thoughts – how was it possible for an elementary school to survive without books for the kids? It was a disheartening feeling which far exceeded his original enthusiasm to make a sale. Somewhere during that time of reflection, the salesman looked out the front door and noticed a large car dealership owned by a former NBA basketball star. He recalled this NBA star was known to be both generous and altruistic commitment – this triggered an epiphany that could possibly solve the school’s library, or lack thereof, budgetary problem. With that, he drove over to the dealership and sought out the general manager. He explained the dire situation faced by both the school and ultimately the young children who were unable to take advantage of the library afforded to almost all schools. Because of his years of experience in the book category, he was able to offer an additional incentive of a matching grant program that would double the amount of the dealership’s contribution. With a little cajoling and some scrambling to pull critical information together, the dealership ultimately saw the humanitarian value of giving back to the community. Their ultimate contribution far exceeded everyone’s expectation - $30,000 dedicated to filling the small library with the much-needed books and resources, with the matching grant program they doubled that contribution to $60,000. And yes, despite the motivation change, the salesman was awarded with the sale he had originally hoped for in the beginning of the journey.

A few weeks after the books were delivered, the salesman went back to check on the library – as he entered the familiar school lobby he crossed the path of a 2nd grade boy who had checked out a book. What immediately struck him as the child walked by, he wasn’t carrying the book, but hugging the book close to his chest, and had a smile that went from ear to ear. It was an unanticipated pay-off that was priceless, and far exceeded the value of a commission check. It was an unforgettable moment. However, there was also another key learning this sales person carries with him each day – regardless of the size or quantity of the obstacles - the successful person will use not only all of their sales skills to secure an order, but they need to leverage their entrepreneurial instincts to seek out a viable solution, which frequently lacks clarity at the moment of “need”, but rather it often takes a little creative ingenuity.

The “salesman” within this real event was Jack Belford. He has transferred his personal successes, expertise, and several certifications to support businesses of all sizes as a sales trainer, and a business coach - course correcting a variety of sales and operationally impacting challenges. Want more information? Schedule a free 30 minute coaching call with Jack – you might be surprised at what can be accomplished.


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