Riki Newton is an Enterprise Account Executive at Lattice, where he’s worked for almost a year. Here, he and Lattice’s content marketing manager Sulagna Misra discuss why he enjoys selling Lattice, how our sales culture is particularly unique, and why working at Lattice is so special.
How did you get into sales?
Like most people I initially stumbled into it. I studied the sciences in school figuring I’d go into a biotech company on the business side, but when I graduated most biotech products were still in clinical trial phases and I didn’t want to spend my days pipetting things into test tubes or washing beakers for senior scientists. I started browsing Glassdoor for marketing jobs at tech companies and realized for every marketing coordinator job with fifty applicants, there were four Sales Development roles with half the applicants and paying twice as much in on-target earnings. I didn’t actually know on my first day that all I’d be doing was setting meetings but that was exciting for me because right out of school, really all I had going for me was energy and hustle. The rest is history; several years and a few companies later, I’ve landed at Lattice doing the most fulfilling work of my career.
How does the sales culture at Lattice compare to other companies you’ve worked at?
Without commenting too specifically on any particular company or individual from any past sales team I’ve been on, I find that it’s not unusual to run into things like stealing accounts, forming cliques, rooting against others, not sharing strategies and so forth.
Lattice’s sales culture is seriously something special; I must end up talking about that fact at least once a week with our SVP of Sales. On any given day, an individual rep might spend 15-30 minutes of the day helping other reps whether it’s wording an email, learning a new product feature, effective outbound strategies, etc. We root for each other and mean it.
On the Lattice sales floor we could be huddled around a screen playfully arguing about who’s going to out-close who while simultaneously congratulating each other on how kickass the other person is doing and how excited we are about each other’s pipeline opportunities.
Since I’m big on show over tell, here are two examples:
1) my colleague Haley had a great month in May, so we all started referring to the month as “Mayley;” and
2) when my colleague Ross had closed a huge deal but hadn’t yet shared it out internally, I texted him a congrats with a few celebratory expletives and here was his response: “I love this team. So much fun. So supportive. Love working with you, Slik!” (he calls me “Slik Rik”).
How would you describe your selling style?
I’d say I’m strong when it comes to driving real value, challenging as well as setting clear expectations, and asking well-constructed questions from a place of genuine curiosity.
How does that compare to your fellow salespeople?
At Lattice I think the bar is pretty high, but there’s a pretty broad range of strengths which is why it’s such a cool place to be in terms of learning from each other. Ross builds “I’m friends with that client now” rapport. Justin has buyers regularly compliment how helpful he’s been. People literally use Haley‘s calls to train their own SMB salespeople on how to pitch to SMB correctly. Valerie does such meaningful homework and prep that she can open a sales call talking about the actual competitive landscape and cultural trends in the prospect’s business vertical. Parker puts people at ease instantly because he’s “I’ll take you on a walking tour of the office during a Zoom call” level casual. I could go on and on.
You get the idea — a lot of things are working here and while we’re encouraged to march to our own drum, we’re also constantly learning and borrowing from each other’s unique strengths.
How does the overall company culture at Lattice compare to other companies you’ve worked at?
There’s a lot of things, but one thing that surprised me was that our leadership is really open and upfront about things. They face mistakes head on and publicly. Those are pretty infrequent, but that was a surprising thing when I joined.
Yeah, me too. It’s something that really inspires trust.
Yeah, I feel more inclined to trust leadership, but I think the bigger thing is that it staves off potential rumors and toxicity that can stem from things that are kept black box and behind closed doors. And I think that’s something that really differs from previous companies. Other companies I’ve worked at did not systemically prioritize being honest and forthcoming about these sorts of things.
Then people start whispering, and you don’t know what’s real. You’re like, but what’s really happening? And everyone’s just nervous that something terrible is about to happen. Maybe it’s nothing, or maybe it’s a good thing. Or maybe something terrible is happening, but nobody is letting anyone in on what’s happening. Here, they send out the exec notes after executive meetings. They send out an email and say this is what we talked about and why and what we decided. Getting insight into even that sort of thing is just pretty special. It’s pretty awesome, and I think, again, the main outcome of that is that it keeps us from a potential culture of toxicity and rumors and anxiety. That just doesn’t exist here.
We talk about things here.
Yeah, and I think fostering psychological safety is also part of that. You see it in action during meetings, for example, where leaders will ask broadly or specific people for feedback on a specific idea. It always feels like it’s this really safe place to have an opinion that doesn’t necessarily align with what leaders say. My SVP of Sales might say something, and I might say, “I don’t think that’s a good idea because X, Y, and Z.” And she doesn’t tell me I’m an idiot or make my life miserable, you know? She takes that feedback in. And same thing if I give constructive feedback to my direct manager. Not only do they treat it from a place of empathy and understanding, but they actually act upon it very quickly. So that culture of feedback goes both ways, whether it’s positive or feedback on how to improve. Leadership, management is really committed to walking the walk.
We make and sell HR software. Personally, I love writing about it, and it’s clearly something that’s important to all of us. So I’m curious how you saw that aspect before joining Lattice? And why do you like doing it now?
Well, one thing is that it’s an inherently feel-good sell most of the time. Right? Most of the time it’s selling the idea of getting more praise, having more conversations, knowing what the heck is going on, where you stand, how you’re performing, how to improve and get better and get to the next level. You’re creating more transparency and more alignment. These are all really positive things that are meant to be real tangible outcomes of our platform. And then, the fun thing is that most customers of Lattice really love Lattice. They tell other people how much they love Lattice, which means that it works.
So that just makes it really easy to sell. Not only is it an inherently largely feel good thing, but when you’re selling something that you know works, I find that easy to be passionate about.
Let’s talk about how other teams at Lattice work together. How do other teams support sales? How do you think that affects the company culture?
One of our company values is ship, shipmate, self. It’s a naval reference to the notion that we put the company and our colleagues’ best interests ahead of our own individual best interests. People really live and breathe that. I think that’s one of the things that is really interesting about being at Lattice, and unique in a lot of ways.
Grant [the Head of Customer Success] basically couldn’t be busier as a person, but he hops on calls with me from time to time when I’ve got a late stage opportunity and the VP or C-level somebody is asking me, “I just want to make sure I feel confident about service because I’ve had a lot of bad implementations with technology in the past.” If it’s reasonable and it’s going to help it get through the door, he’s always said, “Just find a half hour on my calendar Wednesday through Friday or whatever of next week.” And it’s always been critical pretty much anytime I’ve looped somebody like that in, that deal goes because it inspires confidence.
You make a lot of custom emojis on Slack. Can you tell us the art of the custom emoji? How did this end up being your job?
How did this end up being my job? I made one at my past company, maybe I made one, and so I knew how to do it. It’s pretty easy in Slack. And I think a lot of people just don’t know how to do that, and they think it’s more like some sort of backend thing, but it’s literally like two clicks and you upload an image. It couldn’t be easier.
I think that’s a big part of the secret of the custom emoji — you can’t do it just to make fun of someone, but a goofy picture of them can be used to celebrate them every time they do something cool? That’ll work. And now there’s a bunch of Lattice memes. My favorite is when people post in the Lost and Found channel — whenever somebody loses something or finds something, we have this joke that we put it in the microwave. And only one person has ever misinterpreted it and literally put a belt in a microwave.
But I made a microwave emoji, and now every time someone loses something or someone finds something, it’s just spammed with the microwave emoji. Or Dini’s catchphrase, “Sikk!” That’s a great one, or like, the “Dini approved” emoji, which is just a picture of her face.
Last question: What’s your favorite part of working here?
It would be really hard for me to pick one thing. If you ask everyone in San Francisco this question, 90% of them just say, “the people.” But that’s true for me here. That’s a huge part of it. I really genuinely enjoy working with the people that I’m working with. People here are really smart and they care a lot about their craft and the company’s success. That level of caring throughout the company means that I trust that the people I don’t even interact with that much, like the EPD team, care about building something that’s really going to make a difference. So when they build something new and show it to us, we’re often like, “This is amazing. I can’t wait to show 100 people this immediately. It’s going to change the way they run their business.”
I think that’s what it comes down to: trusting the leadership, smart coworkers who really, really care about the mission, and technology that demonstrates that care.
Interested in joining the Lattice sales team? Apply here — we look forward to your application!
Want to learn more about careers in general at Lattice? Read up on us here.