Hunters + Unicorns: The 33 CxOs – Adam Aarons #018

“Great leaders make great teams. There are great sales reps in the world, and they are absolutely a key component, but they work for great leaders – you need great leadership to build great teams.”  - Adam Aarons

Hunters and Unicorns shares the playbooks from leaders, founders, executives and investors from high growth technology companies. In this special edition series The 33 CXOs we investigate the greatest success story in the history of software sales. Discover how thirty-three sales execs from one organisation, BladeLogic, became CXOs in the world’s 100 fastest growing technology companies. We uncover the stories and playbooks of the most prolific sales leaders in the industry.

Episode 18 features Adam Aarons, Independent Field Operations Executive, Advisor and Investor. A software-as-a-service veteran, Adam has spent his career focused on the deployment of cloud infrastructure, SaaS, and enterprise solutions and has over 20 years of experience in this industry. He started out selling knives for Cutco Cutlery in the 90’s where he immediately discovered his flair for process-driven sales and became a “student of the game”. It was during a Cutco sales pitch to John McMahon’s wife that Adam’s unique ability to sell caught the attention of the legendary sales leader himself – John purchased the “Homemaker + Set” and offered him a job on the spot. Determined to finish college, Adam turned him down but pledged that if ever John were to call in the future, he would go. After great success at Cutco, John McMahon hired Adam as a Sales Representative at PTC where he was a consistent top revenue producer and over-achiever. He then went on to hold leadership positions at Agile Software, OpenPages, BladeLogic, BMC Software (where revenues under his purview grew more than 300 percent) and later joined Okta, Inc. where he served as Chief Revenue Officer and grew revenue from $1 million to more than $300 million, eventually leading the team through an IPO in March 2017. Now in an advisory role at, Adam is enjoying doing exactly what he loves – building great sales organizations and doing great things for the world in the process. “I like to make things simple. The beauty of what I bring to the enterprise is, I have a way to simplify the sale. I do that through figuring out the fastest, best, easiest ways to sell into an organization, and then map that to a sales process and refine it. It’s an ever-growing, breathing thing, and as you scale, you have to grow and change with that process.” Under John McMahon’s mentorship at PTC, Adam learnt the playbook and followed the processes as part of a team, “High tides raise all boats” and there were no mercenaries – everyone worked together for the good of the company and Adam thrived in a competitive environment centred around meritocracy and overachieving. He devoted himself to the “tried and true” methodologies, learnt the “recipe” to great success and began to apply it wherever he went, building processes around it, finding ways to apply it to the masses, and using it to scale businesses at an unprecedented rate. “The ticket is expensive to play in this game. It’s a high bar and you have to be fully dedicated to it. You didn’t just say these things to your team, you lived it, because you have to lead from the front, and it has to be authentic. You ask people to do extraordinary things and it takes extraordinary people to be successful in these roles. You have to be willing to lead from the front to do that.” In this vodcast you will discover: How Adam worked his way up from selling knives to becoming a leader and advisor for world-leading organisations. How the environment and culture at PTC shaped Adam’s career. Adam’s Playbook elements– a breakdown of the key pillars that have enabled his success in the industry. Making sacrifices to be successful – how to get the work-life balance right when you’re fully dedicated to your role. With a mantra of, “Be the very best we can be as a team”, Adam leads from the front with a willingness to grow and change. He is part of a “movement” of people who were together because they wanted to do great things and his incredible career and current position in life is a testament to that. We discuss Adam’s deep experience in this cut-throat industry, his enduring commitment to playbook, and ask, “Does the hunter make the unicorn?” This extensive discussion is essential listening for those with an interest in sales strategy, as well as anyone with a passion for the technology space.


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