Career Stories

What It’s Really Like to Work in Sales at Atlassian

person with long brown hair standing on grass in front of a body of water
Meg MacCaughey, a strategic enterprise advocate at Atlassian.
| Courtesy of Atlassian

Your name: Meg MacCaughey
Your title: Strategic Enterprise Advocate
How long have you been at your company? 5.5 years

Tell us about your career journey: How did you end up working in sales?

After having the good fortune of graduating college at the height of a recession, with a liberal arts degree no less, it is fair to say that my reality versus expectations for a career track drastically changed. I had my sights set on becoming the talent booker for Saturday Night Live, but the universe clearly had other plans.

After initially doing some service work abroad, I fell into my first startup at a time when emerging tech and social media were in their infancy. It was here I recognized my love for making organization out of chaos, and helping build account management, renewals, and early sales teams. I thrived in an environment where we could lay the foundation for teams to evolve and develop. This unique intersection of strategic solutioning and building partnerships that deeply impacted revenue enabled me to recognize my affinity for client relationship management as a whole. Having worked in this capacity for various startups over the years and growing their enterprise and strategic customer bases, I found myself at Atlassian with the same, but in many ways different, challenges lying ahead.

After years of swearing off the idea of ending up in sales—despite having two sales geniuses as parents—I embraced the creative and analytical nature of my skill set and found myself enjoying the hybrid facets of the role.

What attracted you to work at Atlassian? How did you know it would be a good fit?

The list is truly too long to even know where to start. From living by our values to our leadership team to our world-class customers to the foundation work that is ingrained in every faction of the business, Atlassian truly embodies the pillars of a great organization. Having the opportunity to be on the ground level of the sales team at Atlassian was both thrilling and daunting. Being part of the team that helped mold our enterprise customer journey and pave the way for product growth is something that initially attracted me to the role, as was recognizing that we could make a tremendous difference in the development of our customer base. I relished the opportunity to work with enterprise-grade businesses on their digital transformations.

The people that I engaged with from day one were incredible. It’s cliche to say that the people define the culture, but in Atlassian’s case it’s true. My father always used to say “all ships rise with the tides” and in the case of the early days of sales at Atlassian, it was always high tide. The caliber of people working here reflects this.

What are you responsible for in your role at your Atlassian?

I often describe my role as anything from a Sherpa to the drawer next to the refrigerator that has all the things you could ever need and want. Being an enterprise advocate at Atlassian is a role that allows you to wear many hats and have exposure to teams across the organization, while still maintaining the Tom Brady leadership efforts with your customer base. You are your customer's advocate in every sense. Whether it is connecting with technical teams for product inquiries, helping navigate a strategic path forward for their deployment challenges, or helping organizations create a business case for migrations, the EA works cross-functionally to make customer needs actionable.

While acting as the voice of the customer, EAs are also responsible for tactical day-to-day operations for the business. These responsibilities include training and enablement around new product developments, maintaining C-level relationships and connecting leadership with interested peers, helping steer master service agreements (MSAs) and enterprise licensing agreements (ELAs) conversations to forge new business and generate upgrade opportunities, and understanding the core competencies of the business and creating new pipelines for future quarters.

What does a normal day in your job look like?

I’m someone who thrives in an environment of new challenges, and one of the perks of my job is that there is no “normal day.” The one certainty in this role is that the use cases presented by customers can often be similar, but rarely match. Recognizing that every day is different, there are still the tactical elements of the job that are crucial for long-term success. Whether it’s leveraging our internal tools to help maintain and build pipeline, creating campaigns with an EDR (enterprise development rep), meeting with cross-functional partners for customer updates, facilitating customer calls, or working with legal and sales ops to complete orders, every day can be a learning experience.

What is the sales department structure at your company?

There are different areas of concentration across the business that create the collective of enterprise advocates. Over the past six years we’ve seen the team grow from a global footprint of nine individuals managing all of our enterprise customer relationships to more than 60 selling reps, in addition to a team solely focused on business development.

Based on the area of concentration, we now have a more nuanced approach to pulling in the right resources and knowledge bases. Whether it’s product specific, like focusing on Align or Trello, or a more strategic licensing conversation, the enterprise advocates still act as the quarterback for their accounts and pull in the right team member based on the situation at hand. We have global teams focused on enterprise customers, small to midsize new business, and commercial endeavors outside Atlassian’s core products.

Our customer base is segmented by geography but spans across every industry, footprint, and engagement model. While each EA is assigned a book of business, the team takes a land-and-expand model and works within an existing customer base, rather than chasing new labels. EAs collaborate with other teams to drive other aspects of the business like presales, renewals, account management, security, and legal. Depending on your book of business, there may be overlap with other teams, but in some cases you are managing your relationships until the need arises to loop in others.

What skills are essential to succeeding as a salesperson at your company?

Being agile and open to change will certainly get you far in this role. That said, the most successful folks within the sales function are those who have a multifaceted background and can be a chameleon in the role. While some may approach things transactionally, many find great success by taking a more relationship-driven approach to their customer base. Having an open mind and being strategic in understanding the issue at hand allows for even greater success. Being solutions-oriented, both commercially and technically, creates for a more well-rounded approach.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

There is never a dull moment with my job. Between some very strategic ELAs and helping some large-scale customers on their migration journey to our Cloud offering, I enjoy the thrill of helping a customer make organization out of chaos. Working in a capacity where I can collaborate with numerous teams and identify new opportunities for growth with our customers is the best part of my job.

What achievement in your current role are you most proud of?

I’ve worked with the vast majority of our strategic enterprise organizations in one capacity or another—whether it’s building formative partnerships or establishing new C-level relationships with our leadership and customer base—and it’s something I’m tremendously proud of.

Having said that, a red-letter day was certainly closing the largest deal in company history and being part of the team that pushed for more strategic engagements. Helping pioneer Atlassian’s sales team, and seeing the transformation through acquisitions and ultimately our approach to the market, has been nothing short of humbling.

What customer relationship management (CRM) tool do you use?

We try to keep it streamlined within the sales org. Leveraging CRM tools like Salesforce and Clari and using our proprietary licensing databases allows for better transparency on the pipeline, lead flow, and opportunity status.

We also have ongoing enablement and training through programs like Absorb, and tools like Tableau for visibility into data. Collaboration is key for our teams, so leveraging things like Slack and Confluence are daily occurrences for EAs. Teams work hard to ensure we have the information we need to best support our customers.

How is your compensation structured?

As it stands, EAs have guaranteed base pay with on-target earnings (OTE) depending on quarterly goals and hit rates.

How is your success measured?

Success is measured in numerous ways, but namely around quota attainment/retirement. These numbers are determined quarterly and tracked to ensure goals are being met. Depending on your team, the focus area for these opportunities may vary based on the needs of the business.

Our culture has never been that of a traditional sales team, so if you are someone that thrives in a public board or ringing the bell when a deal closes, this might not be the right place for you. People share in the successes of others in an organic way that celebrates the highs while maintaining our roots as advocates first.

What are the steps for career progression/promotion within the sales team at your company? How do you progress to leadership?

The team has grown tremendously over the years and the opportunity to leverage new opportunities across the org exists now more than ever, whether you have your sights set on going into management or being an individual contributor.

Based on the amount of cross-team collaboration, we also see many folks identifying new interests and skills that sometimes stem outside the direct sales org, but still directly impacts the business. Whether it’s working with channel, sales ops, enablement, federal, ITSM, Align, Cloud development, marketing, or field services, the amount of exposure someone has in this role to other facets of the business often allows for movement throughout the organization.

What do you value most about your company’s company culture?

Atlassian has always been a cornerstone for ingenuity and industry thought leadership, but outside of product development, it also exemplifies what it means to truly live by your values. There are few places I’ve encountered that allow their pillars to seep into every decision made by the business. Whether it’s taking customer needs into account with “Don’t F*ck the Customer,” or being transparent on upcoming licensing changes with “Open Company, No Bullshit,” we live and breathe our values in every interaction.

From 24-hour hackathons and volunteer opportunities to flexible work locations with “Atlassian Anywhere,” it’s obvious that Atlassian is an organization that invests in its people.

What advice do you have for people applying for sales jobs at your company?

Be open to learning. The folks that are most successful in this role are ones who embrace change and ride the wave as it happens. While having selling skills and technical acumen are incredibly important facets of the job, arguably the most important is your ability to wear many different hats and know when to pull in the right resources. Being able to work with different teams and knowing when to sit back and allow others to lead are crucial elements that have allowed for me to be successful at Atlassian.