Atlassian’s Blueprint for Selling with a Modern GTM

Aaron Sun Avatar photo

Purse strings have tightened in the tech industry, companies are laser-focused on efficiency, and as a result, go-to-market (GTM) teams are in flux. While no one is immune from post-pandemic challenges, we can find a silver lining by looking at the companies that have successfully adopted new approaches to selling. One such organization is Atlassian, whose fabled rep-free sales model landed them $2.8B in highly efficient revenue. While it is true there is no GTM role dubbed the “sales rep” or “account executive,” Chis Gengl, Head of strategy and analytics, helped me unpack how they staff their go-to-market to bring in massive enterprise deals in parallel with Atlassian’s legendary Product- Led-Growth (PLG) flywheel.

This is a topic near and dear to Vivun co-founding CEO Matt Darrow, who raised capital from Atlassian Ventures, among others, to build the first platform bringing automation and the power of AI to PreSales–the solution experts working with buyers and customers who are core to any modern B2B company’s revenue growth. Considering that Scott Farquhar, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Atlassian, famously said in 2014, “we are not anti-sales; we are pro-automation,” one can see how their visions align. Matt believes that today’s leading companies are embracing three core virtues to guide their GTM strategies:

Product First where above all else, your product must deliver customer value

Expert-Led meaning you invest in revenue-driving teams who know your products and deeply understand the customer’s needs to create a solution

Revenue Efficient a paradigm shift away from “growth at all costs”

As the poster child on each front, it’s no wonder that many companies want to follow in Atlassian’s GTM footsteps. So, we chased them down to provide you with the blueprint for selling, and here’s what we learned.

Lesson One: Structuring cross-functional revenue pods around accounts empowers salespeople to take down big quotas to the tune of $6M.

When growing revenue-driving teams, it’s essential to consider the balance of functional roles. The old approach to adding more reps to hit bigger targets using the laws of averages leads to what Chris calls a “trough of sales attainment,” where the majority of quota carrying reps miss their targets, and a few star players over-perform. This model leads to missed company targets and a high cost of sale. Instead of just throwing more salespeople at audacious revenue goals, he advocates hiring teams in cross-functional “pods.” At the enterprise and strategic account level, they are organized into the following roles:

  • Enterprise Development Representative (EDR) – Team member responsible for developing pipeline
  • Enterprise Advocate (EA) – Rep who focuses on driving large platform migrations, expansion, and new business
  • Enterprise Solution Advocate (ESA) – Rep with solution-specific expertise leveraged to uncover new use cases to drive product sales and expansions
  • Solution Engineer (SE) – PreSales technical expert who delivers demonstrations and solution evaluations alongside the reps
  • Solution Architect (SA) – Post-sales technical expert who focuses on implementation
  • Loyalty Advocate (LA) – Team member who drives customer retention & expansion

Chris asserts that driving cooperation and collaboration within the pod is a better long-term game than driving internal competition. For example, let’s say there is an expansion opportunity for a Pod’s shared account, and they purchase an additional solution like Jira Service Management. Whether the opportunity originated with the Loyalty Advocate, the Enterprise Advocate, or the Enterprise Solution Advocate, everyone gets “credit.” This idea may make revenue leaders question the claim of revenue efficiency. They might wonder, “If multiple players can retire the same deal on their quotas–how does that help us take down the overall target?” rest assured that this pod structure pays off, and Chris has the data to prove it.

Another significant change in this model is that while there is a dedicated pod member, the EDR, who develops pipeline in this model, reps don’t dump hours into prospecting to get new leads.

Lesson Two: Leveraging product-led growth and partners generates high quality, low cost leads that are maximized through pod collaboration.

Instead of utilizing expensive resources for hunting down new ways into an account, Chris trusts the Atlassian flywheel and partner ecosystem to source new prospective enterprise accounts without asking salespeople to hunt. Channel partners are crucial for bringing these customers up to the enterprise status, and they continue to stay heavily involved after the initial sale.

The Flywheel & Partner ecosystem combined with the Enterprise Advocate and the Pod working together to attain these impressive $6M quotas. Collaboration across product-first, expert-led motions makes quota attainment realistic.

Lesson Three: Measuring success in sales can be done without going off the deep end of analytics. Keep it simple.

In Chris’ world, there are three core areas for structuring a performance analysis in his model:

#1 Ramp Time answers, “How soon can an Enterprise Advocate, with a strong supporting pod, reach full capacity?”

#2 Revenue KPIs focus on metrics for win rates, cycle times of deals won, and average selling price (ASP).

#3 Team Multipliers–overall efficiency is determined by the ROI of an entire pod, which informs when to fuel the enterprise engine or potentially scale back growth.

Of course, they also factor in macroeconomic conditions from an analytics perspective. They examine things like pipeline multipliers for outer quarters and the revenue metrics listed in the second core area above. For example, if performance dips below the expected win rate, it triggers a conversation about what’s happening in the field.

Lesson Four: Creating the case for adopting a modern GTM in enterprise sales.

There’s no question that Atlassian’s model works. If you’re serious about shaking things up in how your revenue org is structured, anchor your case around the following outcomes bolstered by jaw-dropping data points. 

Efficient Revenue â€“The efficiency of the pods yields roughly a 4x return on investment, not just on the rep, but for the entire group–this is a huge opportunity for driving smart growth. 4x multiplier is calculated as the annual bookings / total on target earnings (OTE) $ of the individuals in the pod.

World Class Attainment â€“ Even with increased pressure on targets, internal collaboration with the pod structure and alignment with the partner ecosystem has enabled 100% enterprise sales attainment over the past 7-8 quarters.

Customer Value â€“ Atlassian boasts ~98% customer retention. Of course, it helps that they are selling amazing products. Also, this is in no small part due to their investment in specialists for the pod who provide the right solutions for the customer.

Watch Chris and Matt’s session on demand to get the full story.

Aaron Sun Avatar photo April 4, 2023