Resources Blog Meet Frank Tingle: Values Champion

Meet Frank Tingle: Values Champion


Last year, I wrote about our Values Champions program: a peer-nominated, peer-selected program designed to celebrate employees who holistically live up to Sonatype’s Core Values.

Today, I am excited to share one of our winners’ stories with you. Watch Frank Tingle’s reveal video below:


Frank was named a Values Champion for creating a very successful sales process, which he breaks down here. We discussed how Sonatype’s values relate to interactions with our customers and prospects and some tips for new hires on living the values in our day to day. From the value of cultural diversity to Frank’s grilling record, check it out below!

It’d be helpful to just start off with giving a little bit of an overview about yourself: who you are and your role at Sonatype. 

Guten morgen.  Ich heiße Frank Tingle. That's how I start most of my meetings.

My name is Frank Tingle, I'm the Solutions Architect team lead for the DACH and Nordic regions, which basically is all of the cold places, or the places that don't have good food…just kidding! ;) 

I cover the area north and east of France, going east all the way to the border of Russia, and all the way up to the Arctic Circle. We pretty much draw the line along the English Channel and the North Sea.

In terms of what my role is, I help manage and work with the pre-sales team to support our sales reps to position and sell our software solutions. From very, very large organizations (for example, governments and militaries) down to smaller shops (small, medium businesses), we facilitate two important activities for our prospects: 

  1. Technical discovery 
  2. Demonstrations based on technical discovery (proof of value) 

Side note: We don't do proof of concept – we do proof of value because there is no concept anymore. We are installed in thousands of servers in thousands of locations throughout the world. 

And then we also help out with positioning Customer Success and getting the customer ready for a handover after they purchase.

Where are you located?

Originally, I am from Chicago, but I've lived in the UK for 14 years now. I’m very much a Chicago Cubs fan and Chicago Bears fan…even though I did live in Wisconsin for a while.

I jokingly say that I moved to England for the weather. In Chicago, it goes from 40°C above to -40°C with giant mosquitoes. So I don't have that problem anymore now that I’m in the UK.

I'm curious, as a little personal side note: how was the transition for you going from Chicago to the UK? Were there any significant changes that you had to get used to or anything that was surprisingly easy for you?

Hm, the biggest challenge for me was not having my Chicago pizza anymore.

Not having deep dish or regular?

No, it’s gotta be deep dish. But just in general, pizza. Hot dogs is another one.

I'm a firm believer in grilling/barbecuing. When I moved over here, my wife and I had a deal: she could bring her KitchenAid mixer if I could buy a Weber grill, which I now have in the back garden here. A few years ago I spent 363 consecutive days cooking in the back garden with it, which is uncommon here in the UK. So my neighbors all thought it was insane. But the food was really the biggest differentiator in the move. 

Sales styles seem to be pretty similar, very much based on relationships. The same idea of doing fact finding and asking the questions to try and understand the prospect is a very similar style in the UK. 

The pronunciation of words and different word characteristics can drive you crazy though – for example, a place called “Darby” but spelled “Derby,” walking on “pavement” not the “sidewalk,” and mixing up “pants” and “trousers.”

The subtleties of language are a noticeable difference, especially having transitioned to working in the German region. My German is not necessarily totally conversational, but it's enough to…“break the ice” as it were. Occasionally, I drop a few German words in there. For example, when I'm working with a customer, and I ask them to do a task the next day as part of the proof of value, I tell them they have some “hausaufgaben.” Hausaufgaben means homework in German, and always gets a good snicker.

I was going to ask if your wife used her KitchenAid as many days as you use your grill, but I think it would be a lot of baking in your home!

Yeah, her KitchenAid is not used quite as much as that. But she loves her baking – and her baking is spectacular. It's lovely. 

Let’s transition to talking a little bit about Sonatype’s values and the Values Champions program. So again, congratulations. Would you mind speaking to your experience during the reveal? Was it a surprise to you? Which emotions were going through your head?

Good question on that. As one would say in the UK, I was gobsmacked when I heard about it. Especially that it was not just one person who put me up for it but actually two people. They were both sales reps whom I support, and I thought that was absolutely amazing. I think the program is great because …it’s kind of like the ultimate peer review really.

But yeah, it was great. When I heard about it I thought, “Wow, really? Wow!” 

At what point did you know it was you? 

I think it was when I saw Hubert…

No, I knew something was up when Hubert reached out to me and he asked if I was going to be in the office for something or another? Or was I going to be on this particular call? And I said, “Yeah, I'm planning on coming” and he said, “Just make sure that you're on it.” And that's ultimately when the reveal occurred. When I saw Hubert was talking I thought, “Yeah, I think that that might be me,” which was quite a surprise. 

I know that Hubert mentioned a sales process that you came up with, can you speak a little bit to what that is and the impact it's had? 

Sure. When I first came on, I noticed that there was a habit to do, it's called a “show up and throw up,” that basically you show up at a customer's demonstration and you say everything you know and hope that something sticks. And that really is not a good engagement model. 

So what we did – and he begrudgingly started out with until he started to have success out of it – the rep does a first call with the customer to understand a little bit about their driving motivation and need (basically, initial qualification). And then we do a technical qualification call after that, which is typically about 30-40 minutes going through and really understanding, number one, the landscape of the customer from a technical perspective. But also being able to act as another set of ears to hear what's going on for the customer, if Sonatype can help. And then more importantly, taking the technical information and applying it to an understanding of how the business works, how development should work in their environment, exposing pain that the customer is having, and putting some business value drivers behind it. 

After we've got that all done, I custom tailor a demonstration for the prospect. For example, doing some research to see whether they have any public projects that I can bring in from GitHub to use as part of the demonstration. Or alternatively, tailoring the potential vulnerability alert example to someone in their organization. 

In getting to the demonstration point, we’re making sure that we're applying our solution to the business problem the customer has. I got away from the idea of just throwing a document over to the customer saying, “Yeah, here, pick some criteria and see if this works,” but rather being more proactive and actually thinking about the technical differentiators for our product. It’s about understanding where the customer is now vs. where they want to be in the future and then applying that throughout the proof of value. 

As they say ABC (Always Be Closing) we're always qualifying: making sure that we are answering all the questions that customers have and validating their needs. 

Then we go through the proof of value, which may seem like a loose process in the customer's eyes. But the reality is, it's very tightly scripted.

At the very beginning of it, as soon as I start the POV, I have the customer touch the product. Because the first impression they get is going to be what's driving the whole process through. Immediately have them bring in and scan an artifact even if it's just a simple project. 

But then the proof value also brings in talking about Customer Success. I like to have Customer Success speak to exactly what they do for the organization. Everyone knows that there's a support organization out there, they're world class and that, but Customer Success is really one of our best differentiators that we need to talk about. 

One of the key things also to remember on this is that when we talk about a sales process, it isn't always technical discovery → product showcase → proof of value → close. Quite often, there are other elements you've got to swap around in there. And that's why when I'm doing my discussion at the product showcase, I don't talk about the next step as always being proof of value. But rather, I just talk about it as a next step on the road to adoption. Because it could be a proof of value, it could be a return on investment, it could be an additional demonstration or product showcase to other stakeholders. That really is what the difference is. And that's why I think that the DACH team is so successful, being able to do a process now that we've adopted throughout all of the DACH and Nordic regions.

Your point about Customer Success resonates with me because I've been interviewing our Customer Success team for customer stories/case studies. And what's come up in all of those is the value of the partnership with Sonatype. That really is a key factor for a lot of our customers in achieving their goals and getting the most out of our products. 

Absolutely. I mean, Customer Success really is the key. It makes a difference between having strong customer retention versus having software that just winds up as a doorstop, which is even worse than shelfware.

Turning to Sonatype’s core values now, do any values stand out to you? Why do they resonate with you the most?

Honestly, for me, I think the biggest one is Trust Through Transparency & Accountability. Because you really need to be transparent with others to understand what their challenges actually are and to ultimately be able to reach a common goal. 

Being Bold is another key point. We have a lot of people that are relatively new in the industry. And they are learning; they are technically smart, they need to get the business side of it, and the sales side of it. And that's where really being bold and making mistakes early is key.

I also think Embracing Inclusion is important because you get different points of view from everyone. In our organization, I work with people who are living in the UK, Germany, and even someone who has traveled and worked/lived extensively in the United States and then went back to Germany. So it's really all these different cultures that come together. And being able to understand, one, how their cultures work and how we can include them in things. And then more importantly, two, how we can leverage some of their past experiences and cultural knowledge to help us ultimately, in, as you say, Pursuing Growth. I think that makes a huge difference in a team: being able to take all these different experiences from everyone and put that together into a winning team. 

Oftentimes we talk about the values in an internal context. Do you see them apply to how you work with customers as well?

I think so. 

To be successful, you really do have to embrace those key topics and it's something that I've been doing for many, many, many years – it just never had a convenient title. Being transparent with customers effectively requires telling them not necessarily what they want to hear, but telling them what is really in their best interest.

Sometimes a customer may think that they want to solve a certain challenge, but the reality is that isn't really the problem that they should solve. Our role is helping them to do that in a respectful and guiding way.

It’s about being able to really understand and provide the customer with a solution that will work for them. And being truthful to them as you're going through the cultural aspects of it. 

The inclusion side of it, we see that all over the place. And sometimes I'm talking with customers in Germany or Turkey and just using a few words in their language while I'm talking with them helps immensely, as I mentioned earlier. So that's one of the things that I like to do is just put a little bit of spin on things and learn some of the cultures associated with the areas that we'll be working in. That makes a huge difference.

Absolutely. Earlier, you mentioned that Being Bold applies to many of the newer folks coming into the organization. Do you have any tips for new hires or anyone looking to join Sonatype on how they might embody our values from day one? 

The bottom line really is that you're bringing experiences to the table that not everybody is aware of, or processes and techniques that we aren't necessarily using in the company. And if you think it's a good idea, bounce it off others.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I used to work with somebody that said, “Make mistakes early.” 

And then, ultimately, you're better off in the long run by doing that. There are lots of people who are experts in the field. And all of those experts do have something else to learn too. So I think that's really part of it – just Being Bold. You can reach out to anybody in the organization and ask questions.

Great answer. I think it is really great advice to Be Bold, and to not be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them really quickly. I know that you did a trip with one of your family members as your prize so would you mind speaking to that?

Yeah, there's a sidebar in it that I got this package, and it was an all-expenses paid trip to London. And I said, I could do that for 23 pounds, because I live in London. But ultimately, it worked out to be that it was a vacation package planner. So I went back to my old stomping grounds in Chicago with my wife and my grandson and introduced him to Chicago the way that you should be introduced to Chicago: hopping on the “The El” and subways, eating great food, and going to a ballgame. We went to a Cubs game – that was lovely – and the Cubs actually won. It was a beautiful sunny day, trying to explain to a 14-year-old that only knows cricket how baseball works. But he was quickly introduced to hotdogs and the ritual of passing the food down the aisle and passing the money back the other way.

Lots of good food there. Lots of great music. We just had a blast. It was my first trip really back to the States and back to Chicago in probably 10 years. So it was a nice trip back, we had already been planning a trip there and the prize made it so much easier and we were able to stay at a fantastic hotel in Chicago overlooking Lake Michigan.

Was it your grandson's first time in Chicago then? 

Yes, well, that he could remember. He'd been there when he was like one or two. But yeah, this was really his first experience there.

Was there a part of the trip that he liked the most?

Maybe going to Wrigley Field. He also liked the food. We also went to Ed Debevic's, which was great. It's one of those rude restaurants, you go there and you get made fun of by the waiters. Telling my grandson that he talks funny because he has a British accent, stuff like that.

Well, that sounds like a very nice trip. And even though you said you were planning on doing it anyway, it’s great that you were able to just enjoy it rather than dealing with all the logistics. 

Absolutely. So what did you do with your trip? Or with your prize? 

I also chose a trip, but I haven't claimed it yet. I want to use it to go to Thailand, which I’d like to do for a longer time period, which you need to plan in advance. So I'm hoping to use it near the end of this year or early next year. I've never been to Asia so I am really very excited.

If you time it right, you could do like I used to. I would travel to Germany over Christmas and New Year's because that way you get extra holiday time there.

That would be nice except I can’t miss Christmas with my family. I never miss Christmas. 

Oh, dear. 

It’s the one holiday that I never miss. My family is Polish originally, so we make pierogies every year. My grandma taught me, we would do it every year together before she passed. So it's a very special tradition that I would be very sad about skipping. 

Pierogies and Kołaczkis…a great flashback to my Chicago roots!

Well, thank you very much for your time. Have a great rest of your day.

Thank you, talk to you later. Cheers, und Tschüss!

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Written by Savanna Hajdasz

Coming from a background in management consulting with experience in new product adoption, go-to-market strategy, and M&A, Savanna is a Senior Manager on Sonatype's Strategy & Operations team. In addition to supporting overall strategy development and running special projects, her recent focus has been growing Sonatype's culture and employee experience through the Core Values and related programs.