Why is everyone afraid to talk about sales? Ad Dynamo CEO Sean Riley shares stories on winning, losing and everything in between

Sceenshot of two men on a zoom call

Written by Editor


By Koketso Mamabolo


*To listen to the full podcast, please click here 


To say Sean Riley’s journey to success sounds like the storyline of a movie would be an understatement. From a 110km motorcycle commute to school in South Africa, packing turf on a truck in London while it snows, teaching himself how to write code that Credit Suisse used for almost two decades, selling a business that went on to staggering success and now running a business whose clients are multinationals: Twitter, Spotify, Snapchat and Verizon Media. There’s very little Sean Riley hasn’t done and very little opportunities he hasn’t taken, to tremendous success.

In the latest Business Unusual podcast, Ralf Fletcher, CEO of Topco Media engages in conversation with Sean Riley on how telling your story and speaking to people’s emotions is integral to sales. Sean shares riveting stories and offers expert advice for sales success.


Key takeaways to listen out for in this podcast:


  • “There are moments when you will have to choose to be brave.” 
  • “Sometimes when ideas fail, we tend to think it’s the idea that failed – nine out of 10 times I believe it’s just sales execution that let you down.”
  • Don’t embrace too much change. Sometimes the basics are all you need.
  • “Your ability to connect with the right people, and tell your story, and pitch your story, and sell your story, is critical to your success and as critical as the funding you can raise.”
  • Lead the presentation with your words.
  • “What’s the actual story like? What is the narrative here like? What is that? You know, what is the emotion? What is the problem that you’ve identified? How do you think you’re going to solve it?”
  • “Ego is a very strong, a very strong reason to buy.”
  • “A big sales team is much easier to manage than a small sales team.”
  • “In the early days, CEOs, founders do need to be heavily involved in everything, including sales. But you do have to find a way past that if you ever hope to achieve scale.”


Sean Riley is the CEO of Ad Dynamo. He attended Stellenbosch University to study Applied Mathematics. Inspired by a professor who encouraged him to follow his passion, Sean left in his final year and found his way to London where he worked various jobs before leveraging his knowledge of Excel and the sudden demand for such knowledge to land a job at Credit Suisse. Sean was the Managing Director of Entelligence Limited for a decade before starting Ad Dynamo in 2009.


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