PODCAST 92: How to Be a More Influential Leader w/ Jay McGrath

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with Jay McGrath, the Area Vice President for UiPath.

Jay is the Area Vice President for UiPath, where he focuses on leading the account teams covering Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance; the Northeast team; and Canada. Jay has spent 30 years in the financial services industry; holding various roles in sales, direct marketing, online marketing and cross-selling strategies. He has an MBA in marketing from Temple University and still resides in the Philadelphia area with his family.

If you missed episode 91, check it out here: 91: First Step in Good Category Creation w/ Scott Olrich.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why you should offer value first when selling
  • How to influence people that don’t report to you
  • Why you need empathy and perspective
  • The importance of how you get your results

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:10]
  2. About Jay & UiPath [2:02]
  3. The upsell approach vs. value-sell approach [7:33]
  4. The blessing and curse of selling an amorphous product [12:51]
  5. How do you influence people that don’t report to you? [25:55]
  6. What matters more than results? [31:04]
  7. A smarter way to approach POCs [36:56]
  8. Jay’s influences [41:21]
  9. Sam’s Corner [44:11]

Show Introduction [00:10]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. Today on the show we’ve got Jay McGrath, area vice president for UiPath. UiPath is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing companies in the world. They’ve gone from 100 customers to 5,000 customers, from 8,000,000 to somewhere in the neighborhood of three to 500,000,000 over the last two and a half years, so it’s just an absolutely incredible growth. Jay has a lot of great insights, not just about how to manage that growth but also how to lead, how to influence people that don’t report to you, and how to be an executive, and how to think about repeatability in your sales process. So it’s a great conversation.

Before we get there we want to thank our sponsor. Our sponsor for today’s show is Outreach. Outreach is the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach supports sales reps by enabling them to humanize communications at scale. From automating the soul sucking manual work that eats up selling time, to providing action oriented tips on what communications are working best, Outreach has your back.

We’re into 2020. The other thing I’ll say is just about the growth of Revenue Collective (which some of you have heard on the podcast before). Our associates program is exploding. Associates are for all the folks that are managers, directors, senior managers across sales, marketing, customer success, and operations. Our total community is approaching 1,200 and it’ll be close to 3,000 to 4,000 by the end of the year. And we’re exclusively focused on career development, so we’re helping our members not just be better at their job but find new jobs. We have relationships with over 50 different search partners, negotiate more effectively for their jobs, understand market compensation and information and transparency market by market (by function), and giving all of our members the tools and information they need to succeed. Not just at their company, because we don’t work for companies, we work for individuals, so it’s across company, across years, it’s career enablement, that’s the category. That’s my little plug for Revenue Collective.

Without further ado, let’s listen to the show. It’s a great interview with Jay McGrath, so let’s take a listen.

About Jay & UiPath [2:02]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam Jacobs and welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. We are incredibly excited today to have on the show, Jay McGrath. Jay is the area vice president of sales in the Americas for UiPath. If you’re not familiar with UiPath, one of the fastest, if not the fastest growing SaaS business out there, in the world, valued at over $7,000,000,000.

Jay manages the sales team that covers financial services Canada, and the Northeast United States and is responsible for building a great team to generate growth for the company as it expands into these markets. Prior to joining UiPath, Jay spent 30 years in the financial services industry, holding various roles in sales, direct marketing, online marketing and cross-selling strategies. He has an MBA in marketing from Temple University and still resides in the Philadelphia area with his family. Jay, welcome to the show.

Jay McGrath: Hi Sam, thanks for having me.

Sam Jacobs: So UiPath, tell us about this company and just tell us a little bit about your responsibilities and about the company itself, what does it do, and a little bit about its recent growth trajectory.

Jay McGrath: Sure. So UiPath is a robotic process automation company software. It’s a terrible name for software – we didn’t coin it. But basically we do one of four things for our customers. One is we enable digital transformation, which my favorite part about that Sam, is any company you ask about digital transformation, they’ll give you a different answer. It means something different to everybody, but generally companies need to modernize – and rebuilding (or replacing) entire tech stacks is very expensive. And so what we do is use our software to connect older tech stacks to newer tech stacks, to get the work done without human intervention. A lot faster, a lot cheaper, a lot more accurate.

We improve customer experience. We improve employee satisfaction. And then the last one is, increasing compliance and control.

It’s an incredibly hot market right now, as you mentioned. There are 14 companies in this space, but really there are three. There are three large ones. The best part about this is you can get a conversation. A lot of times in sales it’s sort of tough to find somebody who’ll give you the time and listen. We don’t have any trouble getting meetings right now. Getting sales is a whole different story and I’m sure we can dive into that a little bit, but getting the attention of folks right now in this space, it’s hot and it’s a lot of fun.

I can’t tell you the revenue for 2019, but we did publish at the end of 2018 that we did $190,000,000, and all I’ll say is we’re all smiling over our growth rate of ’19 over ’18. We did announce at our customer event in October that we now have 5,000 customers. We went from less than 100 customers at the beginning of 2017 to before the end of ’19 having 5,000 customers, and the revenue growth is something like 30,000%. It’s just ridiculous.

The upsell approach vs. value-sell approach [7:33]

Sam Jacobs: Sorry to ask a seemingly simple question that might have a million different answers, but how did you do that?

Jay McGrath: Well, how we do it has changed a lot actually.

We’re drawing on the lessons we learned from early on. And I think, again, how we did it shifted. In the beginning it was sort of dazzle them with the technology and all the cool stuff it can do, because it can do a lot of cool stuff, and people would buy in, but they were buying in small. It was like an experiment investment. And then we’d have to go back and work really hard to get an upsell, so the deal size would be 50K, 60K. You’ve got to do a lot of transactions to drive growth that way.

And so what we figured out is we actually needed to change how we sold from, “Hey, look at how awesome this is and what it can do.” and flip it more into a value sell approach, a business conversation. And I don’t mean to minimize other software, but if I’m selling Salesforce, I’m looking for people who need a CRM or an ability to handle customer interactions or marketing automation. If I’m Workday, I’m looking for an HR department that doesn’t have the technology to run their people operations. For us, this doesn’t solve one problem or three problems, it solves 30,000 problems.

And so I have to get in and figure out what the challenges are, that you’re facing in your finance department, in HR, in IT, in call center operations, in back office operations, and figure out how the automation tool can address that problem. I have to be a problem hunter as a salesperson, and then I have to be able to connect the customer to this part of our solution, and show them that it’s going to fix it and that it’s going to return either a savings of time, or money, or not making errors. It’s a very complex sale.

The blessing and curse of selling an amorphous product [12:51]

Sam Jacobs: A lot of different companies are building really exciting technology, and yet there’s always a pressure to try to define or distill (particularly if you’re a young company) the use case into a very practical business solution. It’s very rare that a company so willingly embraces this amorphous platform strategy. Have you found that’s been a challenge or an opportunity?

Jay McGrath: It’s the blessing and the curse. The blessing is it can do almost anything. The curse is people, they can’t conceive of almost anything. And so when I mentioned the value selling before, we use Command of the Message from a company called Force Management. And I think the reason it works well for us is because when you get into the discovery process and you’re uncovering either these problems that the customer has or these outcomes that they’re trying to drive, in that process you can build a set of requirements.

And then use cases, we think of them more like we have, out of those 5,000 customers, we have hundreds that are advocates for us. And so if you’re in energy and you say, “Hey, I need three references.” I can ask you what size, what type of energy, and I can find three without a problem, same in banking, same in insurance, healthcare. We have tons of customers who are willing to spend time speaking to people who are considering signing on with us, about their experience working with us and working with our platform. And all of that stems from, I just think, our culture and the way we treat them.

But when you’re new to this, and even some companies that have it, thinking about, “What do I need it to do, and what does it need to look like, and what problems can it solve for me?” It doesn’t fit neatly into any box, and that makes it a challenge to sell, but that’s the fun part. If you’re that kind of salesperson like I am, that’s the fun part.

How do you influence people that don’t report to you? [25:55]

Sam Jacobs: How did you deal with the regional difficulties of somebody in London, Madrid, or Hong Kong, they feel regional affinity to their boss, and all of a sudden, you’re putting a meeting on their calendar for every other Thursday at 7:00 PM their time? They’re feeling like, “Why do I have to go to this meeting and who is this guy?” How did you overcome that? What were your strategies? Because I think what you’re talking about is actually a key executive strategy that a lot of people don’t realize they need to learn.

Jay McGrath: There’s a Fortune Magazine article about Joe Torre from 2000 or 2001. This article, you can still find it online, Joe Torre’s managing the Yankees and there’s a lot of big personalities and big salaries on that team, and that was when they were winning the World Series almost every year. One of the things that struck me about his approach and why they’re so successful is because he purposefully doesn’t treat each player the same way. They have expectations, “If you’re on the team this is what we expect of you.”

But how he coaches, how he interacts, how he communicates with each player is different, and it’s based on what they need and how they can hear things, not how he wants to say it.

A big thing about being an executive is being able to influence people and get them to do what you need them to do when there’s not a direct reporting relationship, whether they’re at a customer or even internally, and the best way to do that is be a good communicator, and the best way to be a good communicator is to think about it through their lens instead of yours.

Sam Jacobs: I personally struggle to implement that sometimes, I want to customize or modify my style to each individual, but I’m not quite sure how to do that. Do you have tools or strategies, or is it just as simple as just drive for empathy and really try to put yourself in their shoes?

Jay McGrath: Yeah look, I don’t want to give you the impression I’m perfect at this. There’s plenty of days where I hang up the phone and go, “Damn it, I didn’t do that the way I wanted to.” And I think being honest with people, and again, making sure they know that you care, that’s a big thing, because then anything you say they’re going to know is coming from a place of trying to help them and not just selfish motivation.

The second thing, Sam, is I couldn’t tell you the amount of time I spend replaying conversations in my head later in the day and trying to think, “Is there a better way I could’ve communicated my message? Something that would have resonated more?” Or, “Do I like the way I did that?” And then if I do, where else would it be applicable?

Communication’s the tough part, so if you can get good at that, I think you could be successful in any part of the business you choose to work in.

What matters more than results? [31:04]

Sam Jacobs: You said something, you said, “How you get the results matters more than the results themselves – particularly when you’re trying to grow fast.” Tell us what you mean by that?

Jay McGrath: Look, anybody in sales has had quarters where some magical deal appears out of nowhere, or when you’re speaking to the rep you understand they have no idea how they sold this, they just happened to be at the right place at the right time. You can’t scale a business that way.

Our selling motion, I would argue, any selling motion has to have some level of discipline, preparation and repeatability to it in order for you to scale. Now, that repeatability part’s tough for us. But the process of getting in, understanding the business problems, building out the requirements, and I think (I know I’ve made this mistake and I think a lot of salespeople do) we get what you call “single threaded”. We find one person in one department who will listen to us. That’s our champion. They’re going to walk us through the whole thing and get this deal done for us, and it doesn’t work that way.

Sam Jacobs: You mentioned single threading versus multi-threading. How do you overcome that and make sure that you’re bringing all of the right people into the thread so that it is a multi-threaded deal, but that you’re not trying to say what each one of them wants to hear – and as a consequence of that, jeopardizing your pricing integrity and your sales motion?

Jay McGrath: That’s the problem with being a salesperson. Inherently we want these people to like us and we want them to choose us. I find with salespeople they need validation and they need somebody (the customer) to tell them, “Hey, you’re smart and we love your product, we want to do business with you.” That feeling is as motivating as the commission check I find.

The folks on my team that do this particularly well, instead of trying to customize across the nine people, it’s a very short slide deck that outlines everything they’ve learned about those problems they’re facing, those outcomes they’re trying to drive, the requirements that would be on the table, what the metrics are that they would be looking to achieve.

And so let’s say they’ve done that with two people. When they get to the third person, instead of trying to tailor it to that third person, what they do is they start with what they already know: “Hey, we’ve been talking to the people in your finance team and this is the structure of what they’re teaching us about your company and the challenges you’re facing. What’s missing from here that’s impacting your department that maybe is similar?” And so they start to build out essentially a cross-department business case for using automation, as well as a richer set of requirements. All of which, because the more problems you’re solving, and the more complicated the requirements are, it helps with that pricing thing you were talking about.

If I come in and I solve one problem or I talk to two people, or I tailor to nine people and I have sort of nine different conversations and nine different small problems going, I’m going to get into a price war and I’m going to have a hard time justifying a larger sale. But if I have a cross-department large problems for the entire business based solution and a robust set of requirements we’re meeting, my price defensibility and my deal size are much stronger.

Sam Jacobs: It’s just, that’s a gem right there, so I hope people are listening, scribbling notes.

A smarter way to approach POCs [36:56]

Sam Jacobs: Jay, one last tactical question: what’s your approach to POCs (proof of concept), or do you not have to do them anymore because UiPath has such a brand that the point is moot so to speak?

Jay McGrath: We still have to do them. But the way I think about it, nobody buys a car without test driving it and nobody’s going to buy software without having the opportunity to test drive it. We’re a little lucky, our software’s pretty easy to use and pretty easy to prove out, and so you can choose as a salesperson. You could go in, have a conversation, do a demo, offer a POC, they’ll give you a process to automate, it will be ridiculously simple, our engineers will be done in three or four hours. Everybody will go, “Oh, look how fast that was. It’s awesome.” And then you’ll sell a $50,000 deal.

Or, again, if you’re doing it the way we prefer and doing the how mattering, you’re having conversations with six, eight, nine people and building out a robust set of required capabilities and then saying, “Okay, let’s look at your processes and figure out which we can automate that tick the boxes on all these requirements.” We’re demonstrating we can do all of it.

We actually love POCs because most of our competitors need three, five days, two weeks sometimes and we almost never need more than two days.

We actually push for POCs and we try and make them as robust as possible, and we do not charge for them unless it is longer.

Jay’s influences [41:21]

Sam Jacobs: Jay, we’re coming to the end of our time together, and this is the part where we like to pay it forward and we like to tell people about some of your influences. You’ve mentioned that you’ve become more interested in Buddhist philosophy, and there’s a book called Dancing With Life. Tell us a little bit about that book and why it’s made an impact on you.

Jay McGrath: The author, Philip Moffitt, actually he owned or was the editor of Esquire Magazine for a while, and just you get into the rat race and it just was wearing on him. And I’m paraphrasing his story, and I’m probably butchering it, but he decided to sell and get out and just left and dove into this instead. The thing about philosophy is it can be pretty esoteric and tough to make it relatable day-to-day. The thing I liked about this and the way this book has been incredibly helpful for me, is getting less focused on controlling an outcome and maneuvering to a very specific endpoint, and more accepting of different people, different styles, different outcomes.

And so among the lessons from the Buddha, the thing I’ve learned from that book is to just take a few deep breaths, see things for how they are, accept them for how they are and trust that this is just a step on a path that I don’t know where it’s leading, but I think when I get there I’ll probably be okay and happy with the outcome, probably.

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Sam’s Corner [44:11]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, Sam Jacobs, welcome to Sam’s Corner. I really, really enjoyed that interview with Jay. A lot of great gems, a lot of great insights, but let’s touch on a few of them that I think are kind of important. The first is, when he talked about becoming a global accounts manager at Dun and Bradstreet and you heard me drill him a little bit or dig deeper a little bit on that topic. And that’s important, because what is one of the things that people that are line managers, or individual contributors, but then have to become managers, or managers, or real executives, what is one thing that they struggle with? What is one thing I’ve struggled with? It is how to influence people that do not work for you.

Part of being an executive, if you’re the head of marketing, is how do you get the head of product, the head of sales, how do you get them to want to do what you want them to do? The second thing is, I loved how he said, “How you get the results is as important as what the results themselves are.” You have to find repeatability in the process, and they talk about, and he talks about the importance of multi-threading, and I really hope you listened to that part.

One of the things that Jay talked about is leveraging the existing conversations, and as you move through the deal and you add more threads, as you and more people, and stakeholders, and constituents, you’re not just going into the conversation blankly, but you’re recapping and structuring the conversation based on the aligned needs of the previous conversations.

If you’re driving an organizational solution, you need to align the organization, not just figure out what each part of the organization wants. Really, really, really important, so I hope you took some notes because that was an important topic.

What We Learned

  • Why you should offer value first when selling
  • How to influence people that don’t report to you
  • Why you need empathy and perspective
  • The importance of how you get your results

Don’t miss episode 93 next week!

Were at the end, but let me thank our sponsor. Our sponsor for the show is of course Outreach. Outreach is the leading sales engagement platform. They support sales reps by enabling them to humanize communications at scale, as you know. For more information go to outreach.com.

If you want to reach out to me with feedback, you can reach me on LinkedIn. If you want to become a member of Revenue Collective, check out revenuecollective.com. If you haven’t rated the show, please give us five stars on the iTunes rating system so that we can remain in business and continue to bring you this show.

As always, thanks so much for listening, I’ll talk to you next time.

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