In this episode: Ian Hansen, Strategic Partnerships at Fritts Solar Company, joins us to share how he survives Canada’s great white north, and we also touch a little on sales ????. Ian discusses how the job search is harder than selling any product, selling door-to-door sales in -50 degree celsius weather, and how to get the most value from a tech sales training program like Uvaro!
Ian Hansen, Strategic Partnerships At Fritts Solar Company, On His Survival In Canada’s Great White North And Discusses The Most Value From A Tech Sales Training Program Like Uvaro.
Joseph Fung: Hi everyone, I’m Joseph Fung, and today I’m speaking with Ian Hanson. Ian leads Partnership Sales at Frittz Solar. Ian, thank you for joining us!
Ian Hansen: Yeah, thanks for having me, Joseph.
Joseph Fung: I’m so excited about our conversation because not only are you an accomplished sales rep and leader, but you’re also an alumnus of the Uvaro program. And so, I’m looking forward to seeing how my time with you at Uvaro intersects with your overall journey. This will be a fun conversation.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, definitely!
Joseph Fung: And I know we spent a lot of time on kind of webcams and videos, and we’re all working from home, so I’m glad that you’re taking the time to join me. And I know that we have a lot of fun talking hanging about in class, and I want to confirm yes, I am here in the studio. I’ve got my party pants on, I’ve got my full kind of work from home mullet going. Are you all setup?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, no, I actually thought I was ready for a video, so I like so I got dressed. I’m wearing jeans for one slick for the first time in about 34 days.
Joseph Fung: It’s good that we’re keeping a professional and on the up and up, right?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, exactly!
Joseph Fung: Okay, so I know we’ve had a chance to channel and get to know each other over the last few months and weeks and but let’s start off for our audience the basics. where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, so I spent pretty well my whole like young life and Winnipeg Manitoba. So just yeah, I went through like elementary, high school in the same neighborhood I grew up in since I was about five years old. After high school, I pretty much as soon as I turned 18 as soon as I was done high school. I left and went to a town of about 40 people in the Yukon. I was cooking in hotels up there, running away from all my problems as people do. That’s the reason people the Yukon. But yeah!
Joseph Fung: Sure, I mean part of my life journey too. I mean, I took off and went to the Yukon and cooked as well, of course, like everyone.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, exactly right, that’s the thing to do. So I spent about three summers up there coming back for that obviously the good part of Winnipeg the winter. Yeah, and then after that I spent kind of I get into sales for a while my first sales job was actually I was over in Edmonton Alberta. And I was doing door-to-door sales for Direct Energy, so it’s just like fixed price electricity natural gas. From there, I went back to Winnipeg, and then I was at the University of Manitoba for psychology for a year.
That’s I really enjoyed that, and I want to go back to university at some point, but when it came time to think about going to university in terms of getting a career. For psychology, specifically and for a lot of degrees like that, I knew that I would have had to be in school for six-seven years would have needed to get a master’s degree at least. And then that sort of brought me to starting my own business. I tried to start a clothing business for jeans. And that we had like a Kickstarter and like Instagram all of that the Kickstarter raised about $10,000. We needed 15 for the first earn of production, so that’s.
Joseph Fung: The jeans you’re wearing today aren’t from that company?
Ian Hansen: No, and I still have a pair of somewhere, but they were all women’s jeans. So I probably wouldn’t be wearing them.
Joseph Fung: I need to ask because you skim through it really quickly. You were doing door-to-door sales in and Edmonton, right?
Ian Hansen: Yeah!
Joseph Fung: Now, you took off you’re cooking at hotels in a Yukon you’ve done door-to-door sales in Edmonton how cool does it get in Edmonton in the winter.
Ian Hansen: I mean, after you lived in Winnipeg, nothing really feels cold, it’s like, but it’s still Prairie. So you still get minus 30 over there, just not as much of it as here, and you don’t get minus 50 like you’re doing Winnipeg.
Joseph Fung: You’re just confirming Celsius. Right?
Ian Hansen: Yeah
Joseph Fung: Okay, so – 20-30 Fahrenheit + wind-chill, let’s bring it down to like minus 50 or so when I hear people complain about how tough sales is, I’m gonna be sending people to this podcast because that’s some tough stuff there.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, well people at you in the door.
Joseph Fung: But do they open it?
Ian Hansen: They see you, and I just like, oh my god! Come inside. I don’t like to, have coffee.
Joseph Fung: Okay, so you’re doing door sales. You’ve got that work at Omni Shield, so you’re your journey into sales was through entrepreneurship. And that’s really cool but something that’s a little bit different. You also had the opportunity to kind of build on your experience and got yourself set up for more technology and remote sales. Can you share a little bit about you know what that was like I know your family you’ve are a program? But you know how did you find that? How did you find the program and then get into it?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, so how I found? It’s kind of funny because I explicitly remember clicking on the ad at about 3 a.m. on read it, which is, I think, the perfect place to be advertising. Because if you’re looking if you unread it at 3 a.m. you probably need something. They Hurley need something to figure out and. Yeah, so that was the program amazing because I was doing direct sales with Omni shield. Then I was managing them, and that was pretty much pin-to-pin 12 hour days like Monday through Saturday. I had Sundays off, which are the worst days to have off because you can’t do anything. And I wanted to get into something that was a bit more like long term and something that I could actually build a career in, and the Uvaro program kind of brought me into that in an amazing way. It was sort of like I understood what technology was, the software was, but I had no idea how it was actually sold? How was it used in a business context?
Joseph Fung: So you’ve had a chance to see a lot. I mean, yeah, in kind of metropolitan areas and remote areas in hospitality and energy and safety. Tech sales are similar in some ways but different in others. What was your biggest surprise? What jumped out to you the most as you went through the program, and then embarked on the rest of your career?
Ian Hansen: I think what surprised me the most about tech sales and just b2b. In general, is how much more kind of thoughtful and understanding is it? How much more focus you have to have on understanding the businesses? You’re targeting, knowing them back to front, and then developing something that works together with that.
In b2c sales, it’s very like we have this product. These are the reasons you should buy it and do any of these resonate with you. And it’s just sort of like quick like that you don’t have to know anyone. To make that sale, whereas in b2b you have to understand you have to have not just a surface level understanding but a deep understanding of where you fit into that person’s business, and that probably surprised me the most.
Joseph Fung: So that’s an interesting new answer there. So when you first started answering, I started hearing that you need to do more research in kind of b2b in tech sales. But as you rounded that out, I took away more than it’s around developing a deeper understanding of the industry and the role and being more of an expert. Yeah, am I interpreting that comment right?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, I think it’s kind of both because you need to develop that level of expertise, and then you need to research their company to see where that expertise fits?
Joseph Fung: Nice! Now during the program, part of the process is that I had a job search getting back out into the market. So you spent this time, you know, honing your craft. What was the job search like for, you know what did that feel like, and how’d it ago?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, the job search is tough. The job search was harder than anything I’ve ever sold, to be honest. It’s more draining to sell yourself and because you put so much research into these companies that you’re applying to and you’re interviewing with. And you don’t even know if you’re gonna get any feedback, or if it’s gonna move forward. And it’s also hard to tell in the first place if it’s somewhere that you really want to be. And then getting those know like before I got the opportunity with Frittz, I was passed over for just like a very entry-level BDR position, and that was a really tough moment. To go through, it was just kind of a hit to almost like my sense of self. So that application process, I think, was by far the hardest part of anything that I’ve done in sales.
Joseph Fung: Now you’ve had several other roles. Did you go through an application and review process? For those other ones as well?
Ian Hansen: For Omni shield, Omni shield was a previous manager of mine that brought me on, I was the first person hired in the Winnipeg office. And he just kind of called me up and said, like this is what I’m starting. Yeah, do you want to do any get in on it?
Joseph Fung: That’s fantastic, that’s a great opportunity. I can see how comparing that to kind of the more rigorous interview and selling yourself process. Would be a big change that sounds stressful?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, no, it was definitely something that I wasn’t used to before. And having liked these larger companies with a lot more process than I’m used to.
Joseph Fung: Now you spoke a little bit about that rejection, but then you’ve got this really amazing opportunity that that came to you with Brits. Maybe you could share a little bit about how that came to be?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, so that was a bit of a kind of strange sequence of events. So it started with like applying for jobs in sort of the environment that’s going on right now with so many businesses either shutting down, slowing down, laying off salespeople, it kind of made me it made me sit and think about like where do I really want to end up? Like what type of industry? As well as like what industries would still be doing well in this situation and that kind of led me to solar? Because it’s something that I remember being interested in when I was like 12 13 years old.
And so I got initially had the interview and got hired as a b2c salesperson because I had that direct sales experience. But what I did was that they had built this amazing kind of back-end for referral partnerships. And they weren’t really doing any outreach for it. So this is something that I learned, and we had done many times at Uvaro, was I built a kind of ICP value proposition and cadence for outreach to the best partner companies for them. And I sent that off to the guy who hired me, and he cc’d the CEO on it. And then that led to my position being that I don’t do the b2c side. I’m doing to be outreach, and I’ve been successful enough that they’re actually gonna start building a team around me over the next little while it’s.
Joseph Fung: Fantastic! I mean the incredible application of skills but also just a fantastic opportunity that’s awesome! Congrats.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, that was amazing, and it felt weird because it’s like we did it so many times that Uvaro that it probably took me 10 minutes to develop that.
Joseph Fung: It’s kind of funny when you take a skill set or a bit of knowledge from one area and applied it somewhere new, just how disruptive that can be? So that’s a great example.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of people haven’t seen ideas kind of written out in that way. And it’s so easy to read for someone, and it’s so easy to understand compared to we need to sort of talking to them about it. They don’t retain it but having it written out that way is very powerful.
Joseph Fung: So this is an incredible success. You’ve had a heck of a journey, you know, all over both industry-wise and geographically. Reflecting on that journey, you know what success is? Are you most proud of so far? What’s one of the highlights for you?
Ian Hansen: I think like what I was saying? When I got hired with Omni Shield, it was just the person who started the Winnipeg office he called me. And he basically put together he showed me what the demo was? Booked me a few demos, and then he left for Toronto for two weeks. So yeah, so I watched the video demo. And I did that, and I sold my very first one. And then I kind of kept going, and it was just me and him we built that to three offices and over 50 salespeople within a year, and then that’s kind of what’s giving me the confidence to move forward is like if I’m in a position where I can just like figure that out, you just fail until you get it right.
Joseph Fung: So it’s funny, at the beginning I would start and say that was it that was terrible on boarding, but clearly it worked. So, you know, maybe I don’t know what I’ve got to do about it. So that’s incredible. I love it. That’s a hard bar to beat, but you know journeys aren’t short. You still have a long way to go. I’m sure you have many future ambitions, so if you’re thinking about chatting with the future, what else are you hoping to accomplish? What’s something you want to congratulate your future self for having done?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, so they I have this image of success for me. And it’s very specific. It is a loft apartment in Montreal or somewhere maybe the GTA. But it has to have a pool table in the living room, and that’s what I’m working towards. Yeah, so I love it running the team, but that’s where I want to be that image.
Joseph Fung: I love it that’s so identifiable, and if you can visualize it makes it so much more attainable.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, it’s like it’s not like the craziest thing in the world, but that’s what I see as success.
Joseph Fung: Nice, I know I said that I wouldn’t keep you too long, and then you had a few other calls. Do you have time for a few rapid-fire questions before we wrap up?
Ian Hansen: Yeah, no Worries.
Joseph Fung: Perfect, okay, so first off, what is your favorite sales tool?
Ian Hansen: Favorite sales tools I’ve been getting set up with Kiite actually have been amazing.
Joseph Fung: That’s awesome! Thank you. It’s always good for our audience. I swear I didn’t pay him to say that. But thank you, that’s always great. Okay, quick next question to know. What about your movie? What’s your favorite movie?
Ian Hansen: That’s such a hard one. My favorite movie when I was a kid is Donnie Darko. Recently was once upon a time in Hollywood. I can give you 20 more.
Joseph Fung: Oh, those are both good choices Donnie Darko a good one; I haven’t seen that in too long. I love these questions because I’m adding movies back onto my to watch list. So this is good awesome, okay last one before we let you go. When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Ian Hansen: I wanted to be the person that designs LEGO sets specifically. It was my childhood dream.
Joseph Fung: That is a badass cool. I like that.
Ian Hansen: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: Oh, man, we’ve had. I’ve had astronauts, teachers, all of that, but that’s a good one. That’s a new high point.
Ian Hansen: My family, my extended family’s from Denmark, which is where all Lego is made, so actually we went there, and we went to the real Lego London in Denmark. So it’s not like a personal connection.
Joseph Fung: Is it everything that I imagined it to be. I think that sounds credible.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, also the news I got there first.
Joseph Fung: Okay, so you know what? I’ve got my new answer to that question. I hope to congratulate future Joseph for going to Lego Land in Denmark now.
Ian Hansen: Yeah.
Joseph Fung: Ian, Thank you so much for the time. This has been an incredible conversation. I really appreciate it.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, No, thank you for having me on.
Joseph Fung: I know that I said we’d let you go. I think we’ve used up all the time. I said I could but looking forward to our next conversation, and I hope you have a fantastic evening.
Ian Hansen: Yeah, you as well. Thank you again.
Joseph Fung: Okay, tattooed.