About Ian Adams
I am not a sales expert.
Whatever ideas I share with you about ‘how to sell your product’ has probably already been said before. Therefore, the only difference is how I say it.
My goal with the Senator Club is to share with you what’s worked for me over the past 10 years. And relate it to challenges you may be facing. It’s up to you to decide what you do with the information.
See, my sales experience did not begin with formal training.
The positive results I see today are merely a product of self-education. The same approach that likely brought you here.
I gather my ideas from reading sales books and blogs, attending webinars, and learning from people just like you. Then actually going out and selling product. Testing for myself, what does and doesn’t work.
Every day I learn a little bit more. So that tomorrow, I am more successful than I am today.
Local & Long-Distance Services
When I was 17, I started out selling local & long-distance telecommunication services for a MLM company. MLM stands for multi-level marketing.
Traditionally in MLM companies, you make more money selling others on the opportunity to “start their own business” than actually selling the core product. Think about getting people to pay $399 for the opportunity to sell local & long-distance calling plans.
And though I became quite good at it. The business never felt honest to me. Because I knew, we were selling an “easy way” to generate passive income. When in reality, it required a lot of hard work. Which most people rarely understood.
So I got out of the business to go where the real money was.
You can make a fortune in finance. Just look at the Forbes 400 list of billionaires. Successful hedge fund managers, venture capitalists and private equity investors make a lot of money. And I was told investment banking was the best way to get there.
For three years I worked in M&A investment banking. Selling smaller tech companies ($25M+ in revenue) to bigger tech companies ($1B+ in revenue).
For three years, I worked in an office from 9am to 11:00pm. Staying until 1:00am or 2:00am was not uncommon. Sometimes I wouldn’t even go home at night. The sun would rise. I’d shower at the office and the day would start all over again.
There is nothing glamorous about building financial models and powerpoint presentations for 80-100 hours per week.
But where else could I make over $100,000 a year at 23 years old?
Well, after three years, I realized there is another way.
Living in San Francisco, I feel surrounded by entrepreneurs driven to make their own visions a reality.
And, when I was in investment banking, I got to work with many of them directly to help sell their companies. We’d all sit in conference rooms together. I’d listen to them pitch their companies to potential buyers. From the outside, it didn’t look terribly hard.
I thought, if they can do it, so can I.
Right? I can build a tech company and sell it for millions. Maybe even billions. I’m a smart investment banker.
So I started a company.
My co-founder and I started EstateLane to help home owners find trusted estate liquidators. Within three months, we worked with customers in 7 different states across the US. But soon determined, it was going to be a tough business to make money. Customer volume online was limited, while customer acquisition offline wouldn’t affordably scale. So, we swallowed our pride and shut down the business.
Two months later though, we started a second business. This time, we built a marketing platform for event organizers called EventChocolate. Within two months, we had over 500 people signed up to use our beta product. Shortly after initial traction though, we realized, our product did not provide enough value to our customers. Not enough value for them to pay us. You see, the event industry is very fragmented. To stay focused, we targeted a small niche within the industry. And unfortunately, the niche we chose had no money… So again, this time after 10 months, we killed another idea.
There are so many lessons I learned from this experience alone. Mostly humbling. All of which I will share with you in the coming months and years.
At this point, I could either get a job or continue to burn through my personal savings. I didn’t have any streams of passive income. My investments certainly didn’t generate enough cash flow.
So I opted to find a job. But this time, I wanted to choose a job I’d actually enjoy.
So I asked myself, what do I want to be really good at in 10 or 20 years. And there it was.
It seemed to me that if you could learn how to sell, you could do anything you wanted.
Tech Sales (eDiscovery Software)
For my first job in tech sales, I worked for a fast growing, enterprise software company. I sold big data software to large fortune 500 companies. Particularly companies that got sued a lot. They loved our software.
Every day I was on the phone talking to prospects. Using the same sales strategies I share with you.
It was exciting and challenging. Like a mental chess match, but in real-time.
I was responsible for booking 20 qualified meetings per month with General Counsels or Associate General Counsels at companies with $500 million in revenue or greater.
When I first started, I was making 50-75 cold calls per day. Lots of people hung up on me.
By the end, I was booking the most qualified meetings month after month which resulted in $4.6 million in opportunities generated.
You can read more about my experience here. Because I actually got laid off.
It was a wild ride. I want to give you a heads up. You might be getting laid off if your Vice President of Sales schedules an unexpected meeting, then 5 minutes before that meeting, your co-worker comes back to their desk crying.
Within two weeks from that surprise though, I accepted an offer as an Account Executive at Yesware.
Tech Sales (Yesware)
What can I say, it’s a dream company to work for. The people are like family. The product is incredible (I personally wouldn’t sell without it). And the culture is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
It’s the best.
Plus, I get to work with sales teams every day.
In fact, I speak with sales teams from the fastest growing companies across the country. They share what’s working and what’s not. Where they get their leads. How they prospect into accounts. How they book meetings. How they win deals. And how they measure activity to identify areas of improvement.
Here’s the good news.
Every good sales idea I learn myself or hear from others, I want to share with you.
Which brings me to the Senator Club.
If you made it this far, I consider you a member of the club. Make sure you join the newsletter.
If you can believe it, I started the Senator Club back in July 2013. It’s a sales club. Mostly made up of tech sales professionals and entrepreneurs.
You and the other members, cumulatively, have far more sales knowledge than me alone.
And because of that, I hope you take the time to share some of your sales stories and experiences with us in the coming months and years.
I’ll continue to share my ideas. But next time you read a blog post here, think about writing a comment that could help someone better their sales performance.
Also, if you’re in San Francisco, join us for a member event. We always have a great time.
In the meantime, go make a sale. And consider saying hi in the comments below.