Living dangerously paying off for Shropshire author and salesman John Lynch

He's an international salesman whose travels have most recently taken him to one of the world's most deadly trouble spots – strife-torn Iraq.

Living dangerously paying off for Shropshire author and salesman John Lynch
Aftermath of a suicide bomb in Erbil, Iraq

He's been held up at gunpoint, and offered women to help the business deal go smoothly (he refused). "I'm no stranger to dangerous places," says Shropshire's John Lynch, who is also making a name for himself as a writer and has two new books out.

John Lynch has over 40 years' experience in international sales

"The advantage of dangerous places from the salesperson's point of view is that no-one else goes there and people are so delighted when you turn up that you get the business. I've sold more than a million dollars' worth of paint to Iraq this year alone," said John, who lives near Oswestry, and has in the last few weeks been in Erbil, Iraq, and in Jeddah.

One of his new books draws on his own experience. It's called The International Sales Handbook and within its 170 pages are everything he has learned about building export sales.

It gives the essentials to salespeople on how to survive and how to prosper, and covers all aspects – including corruption.

Apart from Iraq, other countries John has visited in the last few years have included Nigeria, South Africa, Syria and Libya.

"Which is the most dangerous place I've been during that time? Moss Side in Manchester," he says.

"The press gives all those places a bad name but the reality is that the thing you most have to fear is – wrong place, wrong time. In all of those countries I just mentioned the majority of people want the same things. A safe environment where they can live their lives without fear of violence or disease.

"A roof over their heads and a job to go to. Food for their families and education for their children. Freedom from arbitrary arrest and the ability to get the things they need without having to pay bribes.

"Those are probably the things you want, too. And that's the point. Most of the people you will meet are very like you and they bear you no ill will."

However, he has had at least one close shave.

"If your luck runs out and you are held up, don't fight it. Some years ago, I was on my way from my Lagos hotel to the airport to catch a flight to Dubai. It wasn't my usual driver but he had been assigned by the hotel and I felt safe.

"We were stopped at a road block and a policeman stuck his head – and a gun – into my face and demanded money. I shrugged and answered, in German, that I didn't understand. He looked disappointed. He didn't speak German, and shrugged but let us drive away. As we did so, the driver said, 'That was a very stupid thing to do.'

John's latest book about building export sales

"Of course he was right. I had let anger influence my actions. I was no stranger to Lagos and I had known as we drove that we were not taking the obvious route to the airport.

"We were on a little-used road and as soon as I saw the roadblock and the policeman I knew it was a set-up and the driver was in on it. Was the copper even a real policeman? I have no idea. I got away with it.

"But what would have happened if the driver had said, 'He isn't German. He's English'? I could have been in a lot of trouble."

Born in 1943, John has over 40 years' experience in international sales in a variety of product types and, as he retires in April, wanted to set down everything he has learned in a form easy to read and understand.

"Also, I don't want retirement to mean a complete end to my working life. I saw writing this book as a way to attract offers from people who could use my experience and knowledge."

His other book is very different. Zappa's Mam's A Slapper is fiction, with a fair part of it set in Shrewsbury, and is billed as a bittersweet story of love, loss and one young man's refusal to accept what life offers.

A third book, which is out this year, is another work of fiction, called Sharon Wright: Butterfly.

* The books are all published by Mandrill Press at www.mandrillpress.com, and are also available as ebooks.

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