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Winning In Health

Nov 22, 2019


Host: T Neighbors            00:43

Welcome to the Winning in Health podcast in this new series we're connecting with high performing growth executives in roles such as Managing Director and Vice President of Sales and Business Development that have achieved $1 billion in sales revenue during the course of your careers. What's remarkable about these individuals is that they've achieved these numbers, not as managers of the team or even through a single large transaction, but as individual contributors who have had multiple deals that comprise this total revenue. At WINNASIUM we study high performers and seek to learn from their extraordinary success.  In this series our guests will help us expose the secrets behind their exceptional performance.

Host: T Neighbors                     01:30 

In this interview, episode 15 - we will interview JR Glass, Vice President of Business Development with one of the largest government Health IT contractors in the federal contracting space. Today JR will discuss his career progression and we will glean and capture lessons on how he prepares and competes to achieve the results obtained over the course of his career.   

Guest:  JR Glass                01:54

Well, thank you very much, Tiffanee. Thanks for having me.

Host: T Neighbors            01:57

This series is super exciting because it takes us back to the core of what Winning and Health is all about. It's really about capturing these lessons of sales performance and high performance in business, particularly in the health space and JR that's the bulk of where you've spent your sales career. Is that correct?

Guest:  JR Glass                02:15

Yes, that is correct. I've been supporting federal health clients now for, geez, my professional career is about 23 years, but in business development for the last 12

Host: T Neighbors            02:26

That's quite commendable for you to achieve such numbers in just almost 12 years when you really narrow down the time spent in sales. You know, sales is not something that we intend to do, right? Business development, sales. I kind of use those interchangeably. Can you tell us a little bit about how you entered the Business Development/Sales profession and how your career has progressed?

Guest:  JR Glass                02:50

That's a bit of a loaded question. I feel like I'm blessed to be where I am, but it was not by design, so I come from delivery. I've been a consultant in the federal space for, like I said, for over 20 years. I progressed through project leadership and became a project director and I was the Director of healthcare programs for a small 8a, a business that was doing business at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A lot of small businesses, anyone that's growing at all, everybody's responsible for growth and so it just kind of worked out that I found myself working on a lot of different proposals. We had one vice president for business development who took a liking to me, took me under his wing and said, for better or worse, Hey, I want this guy to come work for me, and my leadership said to me, how would you like the opportunity to do business development full time?

Guest:  JR Glass:               03:44

We had been very successful. We grew the company from about 50 people to about 200 in a span of about a year and a half. We were going to grow and I needed a Deputy, this opportunity was presented to me to go and do business development full time. And I said, well, um, I know how to deliver, I know what success looks like from delivery so it was an opportunity for me to learn and to learn how to get business in the first place. So with my career I've always looked for new opportunities to learn new and exciting things. So I did that and that's kind of how I ended up in business development. And it's been a wild ride ever since.

Host: T Neighbors:          04:22

That's interesting. And you know, it's kind of consistent kicking off this series we interviewed an author and the book that’s pretty funny in terms of its title, but it's really a business book for children - it's about wanting to be in sales when you grow up. And of course there's the play on that, right? No one really by design interests, sales though that is changing. And we talk about that in that prior episode, episode 14 but you mentioned two things that I'd like to make sure we capture, which is that there was someone who mentored you and that you also kind of had experience in an environment where you had to do everything. You mentioned the term 8a and of course for those in the audience who aren't familiar with the government space, that's a small business, almost the equivalent of a startup in the commercial world. Can you tell us a little bit about that particular growth experience where you had, as you said, experience growing that organization or contributing to growth from an employee base of 50 to 200 so with mentorship included and that prior experience delivering that opposite side of the sales process, what do you attribute to your success in that moment?

Guest:  JR Glass                05:31

Oh wow. So that's a great question. It's interesting how many times people have asked me that question like, Hey, how did you guys grow that company so quickly? Because by the time I switched to business development full time, we had grown from 50 to 200 by the time I left several years later we were at about 800 employees, so we had 40% year over year growth. And I attribute that success in a large to the hard work of a lot of people. You know, I jokingly used to say when you're at a small business, you're chief cook and bottle washer, so you kind of have to do everything. There was no real formal process that we were following. It was loosely based on the Shipley method of business development and capture and proposals, but we were kind of figuring out as we went along and I had a very aggressive leadership that were very all in for bidding, lots of opportunities. So we bid everything. We were bold, we were unconstrained, and we went after a lot of different things that were not necessarily in our core set of offerings. As a company, as you might imagine, when you're a 50 person company, people say, well, what kind of company are you? And we say, well, we'll be whatever you want to.

Guest:  JR Glass                06:47

You know, we can prove it to you. As we started getting more programs under our belt and we were hiring the right people that knew how to deliver those programs, we earned the trust of our client and they said, Hey, you know, if we're going to go to a small business and they have many that they can choose from, they knew the company that I was working for could deliver for them. They brought real resources that understood their business and they could deliver effectively. And I think that that was in large part, a major contributor to our ability to win new business. The past is prologue. You gotta be able to say that you can deliver because there's nothing worse than going in and convincing a client to trust you and give you some work and then you screw it all up and then it looks bad.

Guest:  JR Glass                07:30

From a business development perspective. And just in general. And you know, I came from the delivery side of the house. So I was already managing all the people trying to make the projects that we had one, be profitable because it was my experience at the time that these BD people didn't know what the heck they were doing. They would say, ah, you know, I don't need a project manager on this project. And then we went at and I'd say, okay, who's the project manager? And I say, well, we didn't bid one. And I use that as an extreme example, but I think that the owner of the company recognized, Hey, you know, this guy comes from delivery, he's pretty smart. Let's make sure that we have this guy doing business development so that we can be profitable on all the things that we went. It's one thing to get the business and then you have to make money on it. So I think perhaps that combination of having delivered the business and then having customer intimacy and understanding what the customer's needs were and then having a boss who let me be on constrained and would back me and provide the resources to allow us to bid were key factors in the success.

Host: T Neighbors            08:34                  

I think that a lot of those factors are different, right? In a large company, some are the same, but you talk about the ability to bid in an unconstrained way and larger companies such as the one that you work and there is a little bit more discipline around what opportunities are allowed to go through a bid process. Right. And you've been able to deliver a similar, so I have to put you on the spot to say, okay, so you've delivered in a small environment, but you've also delivered in a large environment, one that is in a very competitive space right now. In the government space where sometimes it comes down to just cost and that's one of those things that we would be dismissive of in the past. Like cost is never really the factor is what we use to say, but you've been able to do both. Can you tell us a little bit about how you've been able to succeed with similar growth results in a large company?

Guest:  JR Glass                09:25

So when I left that small business and ended up at the company I'm at today, we were what I consider a mid sized company. We had about 6,000 employees, but we were a very, again, unconstrained and aggressive. We bid much like a small company, very agile, very nimble. That company merged with another company and at the time we became the largest, only government contracting entity that was out there. We had about 20,000 employees. So now we're on a whole nother scale. We have so much more to sell. You know I have from a business development perspective, multiple arrows in my quiver that I'm shooting, right? I have lots of multiple past performances. But what we found was the company that we merged with was a more traditional large systems integrator in the government space. A bit of a dinosaur, right? They were slow to react. [inaudible]

Guest:  JR Glass:               10:18

the leadership that took place, they recognize the growth engine that we had developed in the company that I came from. Again, being very agile, very nimble, very aggressive, and they said, Hey, we're going to put all that leadership on top of this new company. So I had the support of my leadership who hired me because of my small business mentality and my kind of drive and being able to turn quickly and respond to changes in the environment, whether they be competition or customer needs or procurements that we weren't tracking. They came down, they were in our sweet spot. We would bid things that traditional large systems integrators wouldn't bid because they were stymied by their own internal processes. We were operating at this 20,000 person company thinking, Hey, you know, we're the big fish in the pond. I'm kind of looking around for potential acquisition targets companies, smaller companies we might want to buy. And I wasn't watching my back and we got gobbled up by a very, very large, systems integrator

Guest:  JR Glass:               11:19

and that new company, they basically recognize, Hey, they've got something special here and their growth department, we're going to put all those leaders in charge of this new company. So even though they acquired us, they kicked their leadership out of the growth organization and kept what we had in place. And so we have been growing and thriving ever since. And one of the things we work very hard to do is not be stymied by process. We will go around internal obstacles, we'll flag them, note them. We have to balance the real reasons why companies put policies in place for governance and risk aversion with the ability to still be flexible because the market in federal contracting has really changed. There's a lot of pressure from small businesses, a lot of new digital services, types of companies are coming in and they're being very agile and nimble. So for a large systems integrator like us, in order for us to be successful, we have to adapt and overcome and we can't be chained to our own processes. You like to say we're not going to do stupid stuff. So when we find a process that limits our ability to respond quickly and effectively we go around it, we put in changes and we fix those processes. It's a constant battle and evolution that we face pretty much daily.

Host: T Neighbors:          12:30

You know that ability to navigate process takes a lot of influence at your level, right? The ability to influence your leaders internally. And it sounds like what I hear consistently is that you've had relationships with your leadership team of influence. So that might actually answer a portion of my next question, which was really around tenure. So you've spent a lot of time in the same company. I think in our market Health IT, sales executives are, you know, they are a premium so they tend to get recruited a lot. That means they rotate around a lot and their average tenure is about two to three years. Five years is considered, you know, a long time in our market. How is it that you have kind of defied that trend?

Guest:  JR Glass:               13:09

That's a great question and sometimes I'm not sure if they answer that myself.

Guest:  JR Glass:               13:15

What I will say is, obviously I'm well compensated. That is a big important thing, but to your point, it's a very stiff competition for business development resources. So money will get you so far, but it's, you know, having a good group of people that I work with day in and day out that make coming to work a pleasure. I could not be successful without the type of people that are delivering day in and day out for our customers. So I spent a lot of time unlike probably a lot of other people that do the same job I do interfacing with my teams that are delivering day to day. I attend biweekly project meetings for different teams. I go on customer meetings for monthly meetings. They're the people that give me the energy to make me want to come into work every day. We like to say one of our tagline is small company attitude, big company resources.

Guest:  JR Glass:               14:03

My leadership is really invested. They know, particularly in the federal health space where the opportunities are in the 30 to 100 million dollar range on average, right? I'm competing in currently with my company against opportunities that we're bidding, like at NASA for example, that are $1.5 billion. In order for me to be successful, I have to feel like I've got support from my leadership that says, Hey, you know, it may take us ten $50 million deals to get to a half a billion, but we'll do that and we'll invest in it. Versus just only going after the billion dollar deals at NASA and FAA where the deals are our leadership team from the set health side of our organization, they're all in. Oftentimes what I do is I work with my teams here at the account level where I'm them, how to do business development, how to bid and respond to customer requests for information or request for quotes or proposals so that we don't have to rely on our corporate resources from the central office who are chasing those billion dollar deals at NASA. So in the course of these meetings and interactions, you develop great personal relationships and it's been one of the things that keeps me here.

Host                                    15:14

That's fantastic. So I have to ask the opposite question. You've probably seen a lot of turnover with your peers, right? Other vice presidents of business development, other sales professionals. What do you think contributes to underperformance of a sales rep?

Guest:  JR Glass:               15:29

Ooh, that's a good question. And I'm not sure, but I can speak for myself and I can say what I think was a tough, interesting lesson from me. After I moved out of the small business world to the large business, we were so successful at that small business. Our win rate was something like 55-60% and that's because our competition was smaller. When I got to the large business and we were winning everything, my boss said to me, Oh, don't worry. You know, the average wind rates 25 30% so that means that you know, 70 to 75% of the time you have to get okay with losing and losing sucks. No one likes to lose. But if you're not able to overcome those losses and keep bidding, and when stuff in it becomes almost a demotivator, right? So having a leadership team that recognizes that 70% of the time you're not gonna win.

Guest:  JR Glass                16:17

But putting good solid captures together and wins, will you know, absolve the sins of losses. So you have to keep winning. And I think a lot of companies don't get it. Maybe some of the mid sizes, smaller companies don't understand that the average federal sales cycle is 12 to 18 months. And you know, they may hire a BD person to come in and they have a one day thing and nine or 10 months. So their leadership starts pressuring them and they start saying, geez, you know, have a one day thing and the one or two deals, maybe they did work, they don't win. So maybe they say, Hey, what's the next gig I can go to? I don't know for sure because I haven't really pulled them. But you know, I often wonder that myself. So for me personally, I like to spend some time in an organization and prove that I can deliver here.

Guest:  JR Glass                17:03

And it's kinda like if you're delivering and you're winning and you're being compensated and appreciated, why would you leave? You know? So that's kind of where I find myself and again, I want to feel like I can make a difference and make an impact where I'm at because all that really does is make you more attractive as a, as an employee for others. So even if I don't stay, you know, more than five years somewhere I will have five years of experience where maybe I had a 30% win rate, but boy that I'd been a lot of things, I honed my skills as a professional,

Host: T Neighbors            17:34

you know, on the sports side where I look at high performers and kind of look at the parallels between business and sports, high performance, we see that sports high performers tend to prepare themselves mentally.   Very often they have a training, mental thinking coach. They also do a lot of personal preparation. I think Larry Bird, when he was active, he made it a habit to shoot 500 free throws a day just to prepare himself to be great at what he does. How do you as an individual prepare yourself outside of the organizational dynamics that you have to influence as an individual, preparing yourself for performance as a sales rep? How do you do so?

Guest:  JR Glass                18:19

You know, I wish I could say that I had some secrets that I follow. You know, uh, I wake up in the morning and I have a nice cup of stress. I go to lunch, I drink stress for lunch, and I have stress for dinner. I'm not sure that there's a method to the madness, but you know, one thing I will say, I have a giant whiteboard in my office and I have a couple of sayings that I write on it. They follow me for the last four jobs I've worked. One is work smarter, not harder. And the other is positive mental attitude. I try to wake up every day with a positive mental attitude that says, how am I going to be successful today? How will I react to even a loss? You know, if I don't where I did something and yeah, it hurts and losing sucks, but what can I take away from that as a lesson learned that I will apply to the next thing I'm chasing?

Guest:  JR Glass                19:11                  

I think that having that positive mental attitude, not doing dumb stuff mentality where you're working smart, just not working harder I think keeps me going. Also, I'm very lucky in that you know, my customer primarily the one I'm supporting at this moment and for the last 20 years has been my primary clients, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services is that I keep in mind that I'm helping them fulfill their mission, which is delivering healthcare to the most needy populations in our country. The sick, the elderly, the infirmed children, and that's really important and that kind of makes me feel a little special life. When I get up, I'm like, Hey, I'm helping people live and thrive and have healthy lives. Yeah. All the BS that comes with, Oh, I got to do a gate review or a pipeline review and I've got to write a proposal. The ultimate recipient or beneficiary of that work will be the people in our society who need their help the most. That can't help themselves and that's a very motivating thing.

Host: T Neighbors            20:11

That's fantastic. Well, you've certainly shared a lot. One of the things I didn't get to ask you, which I'm sure the folks in the audience would want to know is, you know, you mentioned the centers for Medicare and Medicaid. That's obviously the nation's largest payer and they have significant opportunities and contracts. Can you tell us the largest deal size that you've ever closed?

Guest:  JR Glass                20:33

Well, you know, I don't want to jinx myself, but at CMS probably about $350 million deal. But you know, unlike a lot of companies that do work at the agency, they tend to get pigeonholed into one area. My company is very in that we're not just like an infrastructure contractor or a systems developer or somebody that does mission support. We run the whole gamut, so our deal sizes tend to vary. We'll chase things that are $10 million task orders under one of the IDIQ vehicles that we have, which is an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracting type. The government will issue task orders under two full and open $300 million healthcare integrated general ledger accounting system. You know, so we will bid where the opportunities take us, right? And that creates a scenario where, because we've been so successful every three to five years, you're defending your work because they come up for recompete this year alone.

Guest:  JR Glass                21:29

Just give you some high level statistics that we've captured and successfully won close to three quarters of $1 billion worth of work just this year alone. And that comprises recompete work from old contracts, new work, and all contract growth. So one of the things that I do, as I alluded to before, is work closely with the project delivery teams. And I really try to, he leaves folks up to say, Hey, you need to be listening to your customers when opportunities present themselves. So I work with them to develop business cases for them to modify their contracts. So we pay close attention to the things that the administration thinks are important and that the administrator of CMS is trying to accomplish. And we will try to proposed changes and innovations to our existing work that will help them achieve their mission. So that if the government comes up with any additional funding, as they often do throughout the period of a fiscal year, they'll say, Hey, I've got an extra $5 million.

Guest:  JR Glass                22:25                  

I want to go spend it on something that can make a difference. They'll look to contractors like us and they'll say, what do you guys have teed up for me? Right? So we've had over $150 million of on contract growth this year alone. This year alone. We've so far submitted 80 different proposals to just CMS alone. Those comprised on contract growth, new business bridges, extensions, recompete. So we are all in at the agency because of the nature of the work that we do. You know, the infrastructure, like cloud computing, that could be hundreds of millions of dollars, but we're also very focused on clinical quality and standards. So we may be chasing a deal while we have clinicians and coders and policy experts, that's only 10 or $15 million. And that work is just important to us as a company, as the $300 million deal. So we're all in and we take different approaches depending on the size of the opportunity, which vehicles the government is using to procure those opportunities and the different needs of the client as we understand them. So it's a very busy and exciting environment.

Host: T Neighbors            23:29

Well, I think that range that you've kind of captured is very significant because it takes a lot to one influence that many transactions in a large organization, especially one as large as yours. It also takes a lot to influence things internally with that different range to create that excitement for a $10 million deal as much as you would for $350 million deal. But I think it goes back to a lot of the things that really have made you successful, which is that connection with the mission, which obviously you've conveyed to your leadership team. That ability to influence the leadership team is obviously they are that relationship and that trust with your client base that you've established through not only being a business developer but being the delivery arm, which is really where that trust is solidified. Right? And then I think that ability to navigate all of the nuances with the managing process but then also having that driving mantra, which I think I heard, which is being all in right? And so that guiding principle or that guiding mindset allows you to kind of be creative, which is another thing that I heard and I think lastly, the one thing that I have observed about you is having that positive thinking component. And so when we collect all of those things, I think that from your success we can attribute those things. And I just want to thank you for coming out today.

Guest:  JR Glass                24:49                  

I really appreciate the opportunity and I thank you for the podcast you're doing. And for thinking of me and inviting me to be a part of it. It's been a pleasure to talk business. I bore the heck out of my wife and my friends when I talk, so it's good that I get to talk with you and people that really care about it.

Closing                               25:07

Thank you. Thank you for joining today's conversation. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and join us again to learn more of what it takes to consistently win when the stakes are high. For more information on our company, visit our website at www dot [inaudible] dot com that's