It can often feel like tech leaders today have attained a transcendent, celebrity-like status.
They mingle with world leaders, mold economic trends and espouse ambitious visions on a global stage — all while leading organizations that number in the thousands, which include product-adjacent roles such as sales.
For non-technical employees on a lower rung of the corporate ladder, having a direct line to a power broker like the CEO may seem unrealistic. Those that recently transitioned to the competitive tech industry may find the gated kingdom of C-suite royalty even more intimidating to broach.
But not so at U.K.-based Redgate Software, a global company that deals in DevOps database solutions for businesses. Take Named Account Executive Zack Logan, who started his career in the produce space as a juicer before transitioning to solar system sales. In his first year at Redgate, Logan got to speak with co-founder and current CEO Jakub Lamik on implementing DEI initiatives, and the approachability of such a high-ranking figure surprised him.
“We reached out to him about it directly,” Logan recalled. “And he actually came out and met us in a boardroom.”
Not only was Lamik receptive to the idea, it became a priority on the executive level as he worked within the exec team and a group of consultants to realize a roadmap. “A CEO in my mind was someone unattainable you can never talk to,” Logan said. “But what I found was that leadership actually listens to us.”
This mode of action-based collaboration isn’t limited to leadership either — it’s perfused throughout Redgate’s culture. A top-down receptiveness to learning and teamwork makes it easier for non-technical talent from a variety of backgrounds to thrive in a company that caters complex products to a highly technical clientele.
Territory AE Kimberly Whitley had no tech experience before Redgate, having been an elementary teacher and a sales rep at a staffing agency. Coming into such a niche field with no relevant background, she dreaded having to pepper colleagues with annoying questions. But her fears were unfounded.
“Everyone, especially the product teams and engineers, are more than happy to help facilitate a better understanding of our products,” she said. “I have a team of people who I know at any moment would drop what they are doing to help me, and they are always my biggest cheerleaders.”
She’s not alone, either. Continuing the trend of the sales team as an incubator for tech newcomers is fellow Territory AE Zach Moses, who was a fireman for 10 years before turning to a vastly different field and role.
Aside from basking in the glow of hybrid work, Moses also noted the conspicuous lack of barriers when requesting support from higher-ups, a stark contrast to the hierarchy-strict firehouse culture he was used to. “What’s unique to Redgate is that you can go to pretty much anybody for help.”
Named vs Territory Account Executives
Territory AEs like Moses and Whitley handle accounts in their respective geographical market, often with small and medium-sized businesses with fewer employees. They handle more volume, which makes the workflow more fast-paced. Named AEs are involved with forming deep partnerships with enterprise companies, so they see fewer accounts.
Redgate’s access to a mosaical labor pool of different lived experiences speaks to its underlying foundation of continuous learning and trial by experience. Moses had never done a cold call or an inbound sales call before his time at Redgate, but the boots-on-the-ground approach to equipping its account executives with relevant knowledge accelerated his development.
Now, Moses works on 4,500 accounts, supported by a reliable crew ranging from solutions engineers and SDRs to cross-functional teammates in the U.K office. The company has also rewarded his efforts adapting to a completely different role: The former fireman was one of the fastest-promoted people in the company.
The cyclical nature of empowerment and recognition, even for a career-changer with no tech-infused past, is a well-known value espoused by Redgate, and apparent in both its hiring practices and how it transitions newcomers through its developmental pipeline. At its core, the company operates on people-centered belief, of having faith that a new sponge will absorb what’s needed to make a difference and thrive in its autonomy.
“The trust they have in you as a sales rep at Redgate is different from any job I’ve had,” said Whitley. “It’s like they allow you to be your own entrepreneur and help you facilitate what success looks like.”
A Journey of Continuous Learning
While team members are valuable resources for functional knowledge in sales, account executives at Redgate have access to a library of job-related resources for their own self-enrichment. To accommodate the quantity of knowledge sharing, the educational journey starts with a well-designed onboarding system, where new hires are given a six- to nine-month runway to stand on firm ground.
For a newcomer with no tech or sales exposure like Moses, the training was much more palatable. “They don’t throw the book at you,” he delineated. “It was like six to eight weeks before you start getting on the phone. They understand there’s a huge knowledge gap for a lot of people coming here.”
This onboarding philosophy of slow-paced immersion also applies to results expected of entry-level staff. “It’s not a boiler room by any means,” Moses said of his experience. “Not the Wolf of Wall Street sales floor. We still have a number to go after and a team quota, but they start you at a number that’s attainable and gradually work you up to full-size quotas.”
Far from the cutthroat, numbers-hungry ethos of many sales departments, Redgate sees very little efficacy in hand-slapping every missed milestone. Such occurrences also aren’t a cause for alarm, according to Moses, since a talented group of unsiloed team members are more than happy to offer assistance.
In the long term, account executives with self-realized motivation for improvements will naturally see better numbers and consistent quota fulfillment. By learning from both self-made results and veteran colleagues, new hires are also able to start discerning trends in sales forecasts and opportunities to form deeper client relationships.
“It’s about what I’m doing for these client accounts to make sure we’re selling ethically, solving their problems and meeting their needs, so it leads to more business down the line,” said Moses.
They understand there’s a huge knowledge gap for a lot of people coming here.”
Understanding How The Sausage Is Made
As new hires continue to traverse their new career path in an unfamiliar field, Redgate’s long-term strategy for employee growth transitions from basic knowledge to a more qualified understanding of the world of database solutions and its relationship with clients. To take the next steps towards retaining accounts and addressing user needs, the company pushes for its account executives to understand not just how to peddle the database sausage, but also how it’s made.
“Recently the team’s getting good at highlighting why any of this is important,” Logan explained. “We’re zooming out beyond the technical terms and seeing the impact of the product in layman’s terms. You start to see what’s in the basement of our work, entering into a dungeon to figure out the actual value the product can have on a business.”
To operate in such a niche space, the why is often just as important as the what. Understanding Redgate’s role in the complex database ecosystem, and the indispensable value it can provide for its customers, centers the sales team and provides a sense of purpose across its diverse members.
One prominent example Logan remembers involves actual sausages, where a client dealing in meat processing software utilizes Redgate’s database technology to handle its inventory of bacon and other meat products.
“In a way, we’re doing work no one else wants to do,” Logan said with a hint of amusement. “There are always a thousand different moving parts, but it’s exciting to know that we’re one of those parts that’s playing a critical role for the business to level up.”
The Unseen Necessity of Niche Software
Perhaps the most prominent showcase of Redgate’s foundational value for its clients involves Logan’s current project with a healthtech company that provides a service for traveling nurses, ever-important in a healthcare system with a shortage of health professionals. “The work we’re doing here on their databases could help maximize getting nurses to more places more accurately and faster,” Logan said.
Members of Redgate’s sales team define success in different metrics, but Whitley prefers the straight shot of the company value: “When customers win, so do we.”
Customer success, however, isn’t just laid out in numbers and quarterly quotas. “My ‘aha’ moment came when I learned that I will not understand all we do overnight,” Whitley said. “But the role will keep me learning and focusing on personal development.”
Redgate’s sales culture of amalgamated experience through direct client work complements Whitley’s passion for education. “The more phone calls and customers I talk to, the more I keep learning.”
In time, and in tandem with a collaborative team, she started to see the fruits of her practical learning unfold into strong relationships with clients. While a poached client, a high-value renewal or a successful upsell notches a win in the books, the journey to achieve it proves just as meaningful to Whitley. “It’s so rewarding to see the products stand up to the customers' environments and that they do help save them time and effort daily.”
On a more intrinsic level, Whitley relishes the tangible impact of fostering real relationships that extend beyond the scribbles of a contract to make a real difference for their businesses.
“Anyone can get lucky and make a sale,” Whitley said. “But what matters is gaining customers' trust to keep them coming back.”
This altruistic foresight didn’t come naturally, either, but was honed by Redgate and its willingness to accept those new to the industry, entrusting them with the crucial work of selling complex software solutions. By capitalizing on employee strengths instead of rejecting applicants for what they lack, the company empowers their growth in pursuit of a capable and well-oiled sales force.
“Redgate understood that they hired me knowing nothing and that there is a learning curve,” said Whitley. “They support your decisions and cheer for you.”