Yes We Can
A recurring series presented by Cloudflare co-founder and COO Michelle Zatlyn, featuring interviews with women entrepreneurs and tech leaders who clearly debunk the myth that there are no women in tech.
This week's guest: Marjorie Janiewicz, Vice President of Sales at HackerOne, is responsible for leading the go-to-market strategy globally. She has more than 21 years of software and SAAS sales experience having recently served as Vice President of Global Corporate Sales at MongoDB the database software company.
Prior to MongoDB Mrs. Janiewicz served as Vice President of Global Corporate Sales at SuccessFactors then acquired by SAP. Previously Mrs. Janiewicz served as Director of EMEA Corporate Sales and Global Lead Development at MySQL the Open Source Database software company then acquired by Oracle. Mrs. Janiewicz also held sales leadership roles at Oracle. She received a Master's Degree in International Business from the University of Nantes, France.
Hello everyone, welcome back to Yes We Can. It's so great to see everyone and I'm just so excited to have Marjorie here today.
Marjorie Janiewicz, welcome. Thank you very much for having me, Michelle.
I'm super excited about sharing 30 minutes with you all this morning.
Me too. I've said this a couple times, but I'll say it again, is one of the highlights of this very cloudy 2020 has been doing Yes We Can and meeting amazing people like you through it.
So I'm really looking forward to chatting for the next 30 minutes too.
Thanks to everyone tuning in. A couple housekeeping items.
Marjorie and I are going to chat for the next 30 minutes. If you have any questions, there's a link at the bottom of the screen that you can submit them and we'll try and get to them.
So let's dig in. So Marjorie, you've had such an incredible career.
You've worked in sales at many large organizations and currently you're the VP of sales at a great company called HackerOne, which we'll learn more about.
But let's start with how did you decide to pursue a career in sales?
Yeah, it's not going to sound super exciting. And then like many professionals, I would say in sales, it's been a little bit of an accident.
After I finished my master's in international business, I was looking for kind of a dynamic industry.
And first tech made a lot of sense. But I think most importantly, I was looking for a career where if you put a lot of work, you're going to be able to measure your results and how good you are in a very straightforward way.
And I have to say, with sales, the big measurement is, of course, how many customers you acquire and revenue.
So that ability to clearly measure impact is something that was appealing to me in sales.
And from the moment I got a test of it working at Apple and Oracle in my earlier days, I kind of fell in love.
So measurements of success is what drove me to sales and I never look back.
I love that. I've actually never heard anyone describe that. So now I'm going to go ask some of our sales leaders if that's why they fell in love afterwards.
So I'm going to make the little note for myself. That's great. Sometimes the best things are accidents.
So thanks for sharing that story. And there are many engineers who are tuning in right now and they might be saying, I actually don't even know what sales does.
So for those of us engineers or others who are tuning in saying, I'm excited to learn more about this, but I don't even really know what sales does.
Maybe you can also share a little bit about how you think about what a sales team and sales organization does.
And I know you mentioned customers, but maybe you can give a little bit more color.
Yeah, I actually particularly adore this question.
I've joined a lot of engineering driven organizations.
And as a matter of fact, I've made a mission of my life to really show engineering driven organization that sales is actually a true profession.
There's a lot of myth around what sales is.
And I'm sure some of it's, you probably have them in your mind, sales being about chasing purchase orders, giving cold calls, disturbing people when they are busy doing something else, or myth around sales people hanging around on golf courses to try to get money out of decision makers.
So sales is not that, or at least best in class sales teams do not do that on a day-to-day basis.
The way I would describe what sales does is actually very much about understanding business and technical problems organizations may have and trying to identify solutions that could help customers achieve their goals.
So the bulk of what a sales team does on a day-to-day basis is doing a lot of discovery, understanding again, the business really goals of a customer, what they are trying to achieve, doing a lot of solution mapping, understanding how our solutions could add the customer achieve their goals, helping our customers building business cases to obtain budgets.
And then the fun part at the end, which is kind of the negotiation of terms and getting deals closed.
But the deal closing, PO chasing process is like probably 20% of what a sales rep actually does.
So it's a very dynamic process. It can be very strategic. And at the end of the day, sales is all about solving customers problems.
I love that. That's amazing.
So if you've made it your mission to help these engineering driven companies that you've joined, whether it's MongoDB or SAP or Oracle to help them understand how important sales is and now HackerOne, have you been able to convince the engineers how important sales is?
I think so. And there's secret sauces to do that. Oh, well, please, will you share some of the secrets?
One of the things that we've done at HackerOne and things that I've seen done very well also in other organizations is very early getting cross -functional groups together, sales, engineering, product, customer success to really align on who are our customers, what are they trying to achieve and build kind of a joint framework around the customer.
I think by creating that joint framework and getting really every functions to talk about the customer and how our solution fits into their ecosystem allows to create a common language.
So I do think that convincing engineers or showing engineers what sales actually means is all about actually getting them involved in the sales process.
They are building solutions that sales is going to sell.
So creating that alignment is critical enough to say creating and allowing that alignment to exist is probably some of the milestones I celebrate the most in my career.
I love this. It reminds me of something that I like to say, but I think you said it much more particularly is it's amazing to build products, but there's no better compliment to actually having a customer adopt that solution or use what we built.
And it's the combination that is what is really magical.
But I think this idea of aligning and getting people involved and under common language is really well said.
Thanks for sharing that. That's great. So let's switch gears a bit.
We'll come back to the working engineering teams in a little bit, companies in a little bit, but let's switch to, again, you're a VP of sales at, again, a great growing HackerOne company, and you've worked at amazing organizations, SAP, MongoDB, or you started your career earlier in Oracle, and you've worked with many superstar account executives in your career.
I'm sure you have, and I'm sure you manage many today.
And many of them want to be a VP of sales like you.
They want your job. They want to say, Marjorie, I want your job. Why can't I have it now?
And so what advice would you give to those account executives who are incredibly poised, extremely good at what they do as an account executive, a seasoned account executive who is mapping these solutions with customers and closing the deals, negotiating, who want to move into the people side, on the management side?
What advice do you give those high performers? Yeah, and I think one dimension I'm proud of is that over time, account executives that have been in my teams have today become VP of sales.
So it's wonderful to see folks that may have joined an organization early, five, six, eight years later, being VPs of sales.
So I hope that some of the advice I may share with you all today, our advice, they also share that worked out for them.
So, you know, I think there's two dimensions. I think there's first behaviors, and then there's really competencies folks have to develop.
At TackleOne, because we really focus on development and career enhancements for our reps, we've actually documented those behaviors so that it's front and center for everybody.
But what's top of mind first is discipline. Discipline is very important, not only to be successful as an account executive, but when you're starting to look at developing your career into leadership, discipline is going to be essential.
With that, knowing how to collaborate with others within the sales team, but also across other departments, is absolutely fundamental.
Sales is not a one person game, it's a team sport.
So going back to that connection across the company, it starts with DAEs also.
One thing that's a quality that's not often spoken about in sales, but I think it matters when you think about developing your career, is actually authenticity.
When you're authentic, you're open for feedback, you learn every day.
So I think staying authentic throughout your career is important.
And then grit and patience. You can't go from account executives to VP of sales within a year, there's a lot to learn.
And I think you do need to be really focused on progression at the skill level.
But overall, if I think about some of the other attributes, strong business acumen, literally had a session with my director of enterprise sales earlier this morning, and we talked about understanding the metrics of SaaS to build plans.
So folks should really focus on developing their business acumen, developing strong emotional intelligence, being able to understand the impact you have on people and vice versa.
And then finally, being very data driven. Not only as a rep to understand how you get to your number, but of course, as a VP of sales, you need to understand market trends and trends in your customer base to make decisions.
So I would invite listeners interested to become VPs of sales in the future to really focus on those attributes.
And with patience, great things happen. And hard work.
Right, exactly. I mean, that's so clear. And I think that's been one of the biggest surprises that as I've learned more about sales, building Cloudflare and over my career, is how data driven process driven it is, like it really is.
In fact, I think the best sales organizations are ones that are so process driven and data driven.
And I did not appreciate that early on at Cloudflare. And it was really took our sales leadership to say, hey, no, no, no.
It's all about a repeatable process, the processes and the data, the data driven.
That's what builds predictability.
And that's where the secret sauce is.
And I was really appreciative when they kind of stood me up and looked me in the eye and said, hey, Michelle, you got to listen to what I'm saying.
And I was like, oh, that makes a lot of sense. So it's great to hear you echo that here.
Yeah. It also means that great sales organizations are not only going to build a great sales team with great sellers, but the foundations of sales operations and sales enablement are as important.
When we built the sales team at HACO one, literally year two, we invested in sales enablement and sales operations just for that reason.
That's what brings scale over time. Yes. Yeah. Actually, it's so interesting because who runs our sales organization is someone named Chris Merritt.
And the first person he hired was someone to run sales operations for us.
And I was like, why do we need this role? And he's like, this is what he had the heart to heart with me of like, trust me, this is the most important thing.
He was right. So Chris, if you're listening, you are right. So there you go. I try and pass that along to other founders that I meet being like data driven, process driven is what you want.
It's really good. It's fascinating as a matter of fact.
The data tells you what to do to build pipeline and close deals. It's fascinating.
It really is. And where the bottlenecks are and where you're falling short and there's lots of different ways.
And it's like, you might not like what you see, but it definitely gives you the places to work on.
Yes, exactly. Yeah. Good.
So, you know, again, you've had this incredible career working at both really large companies like Oracle and SAP.
I mean, these are iconic technology companies that the whole legends of technology are built on as well as I would say high growth companies like HackerOne and even MongoDB.
And when you think about the sales culture between, you know, even those four companies, and I know you've worked at many other companies as well.
Like what was, was it all the same from a culture perspective when it came to sales or were there differences?
And maybe you can share some of the similarities and differences with us.
Yeah, there is. And there are a lot of differences.
And I do, I'm grateful for the experiences I've had on both dimensions.
The one thing I would say about cultures in fast-growing organizations and fast-growing startups particularly is, and it's on purpose by design.
I just think that folks are going to be more mission-driven when you work for a smaller organization as a seller or as a head of sales.
Of course, there's a financial side of things you're here to make money.
But I think in startup and fast-growing organizations, everybody is working very hard and doing their best to build a company.
So it gives a really different dimension where in larger organizations, still you're in sales, you're here to help the organization make money.
But I think the mission of the organization and the impact of individuals gets a little bit smaller.
In a 300 employee company or even a thousand employee company, one person can drive and ignite an initiative and move the needle for the company.
It gets a little bit harder when the organization gets larger. So, there's a lot of benefits in being in a large organization because your reach is greater.
And of course, you have a big machine behind you. But I have to say there's something pretty special about building a startup and growing a startup within sales.
All our sellers at Acker One are also here to build a company. And I think it gives a sense of accountability and responsibility that's pretty incredible.
There is something where it feels like, I did this. I did this. And if I had not done this, the company would be behind.
There is something that's really satisfying with that in a group company.
Oh, that's great. That's great. And a great sense of responsibility as well, because the stakes are of course higher.
And so how did you end up? You've been at Acker One for more than four years in the sales leadership.
And did you actively seek out a cybersecurity company or how did that come about?
Yeah. So for the life of me, I would not have betted that I would join a cybersecurity company.
I've always been attracted to organizations disrupting industries at some level.
So I joined MySQL in my earlier days, open source disrupting database, success factors disrupting HR, MongoDB back to disrupting database.
And when I came across Acker One, the idea of leveraging white hat hackers to help organizations become more secure was completely mind blowing to me, speaking disruption.
Leveraging hackers to prevent bad hackers, to exploit vulnerabilities and bridge companies, I think was so disruptive that that's how I got hooked.
So I love cybersecurity, but most importantly, the approach of Acker One to address cybersecurity.
For the first time, we're leveraging humans to find software flaws that haven't been identified by software.
And those hackers, some of them today are millionaires, are finding vulnerability that traditional methods haven't been able to find.
And we're speaking in companies like IOTS, the Department of Defense, Goldman Sachs, and so on.
So cyber was not the plan, disruption was the plan. I love that though.
It's great to have a common theme. And so you did a really good job, but maybe we can double click because I think there's probably a lot of people listening and saying, wow, that sounds really interesting, but I've never heard of Hacker One before.
You've mentioned that you work with large organizations. Maybe you can give a little bit more details of what Hacker One does for the audience who maybe isn't as familiar with them.
Yes, for sure. So Hacker One really is a vehicle, a software platform that enables those large organizations I just talked about to leverage the power of a crowd of 600,000 registered hackers.
So in the world, there's security professionals that really are absolutely fantastic at finding security vulnerabilities, but there's no way to directly connect with them.
So Hacker One really is a platform and a marketplace that allows to elect hackers with specific skillsets to proactively go and identify vulnerabilities in software.
And so far, we've identified 150,000 security vulnerabilities through our model, and we paid $80 million to hackers in bounties when they find a vulnerability.
So every time a hacker finds a bug, we pay a bounty. And that's the model.
So huge growth of companies across financial services, telecom, federal government, automotive, but also companies of all sizes, smaller companies that may not have the scale to be able to hire security talent, being able to unleash those white hat hackers on their systems.
So that's what we do. Yeah, well, it is pretty amazing how powerful that is when you band people together when they're able to.
And one of the things I often hear working in cybersecurity for the last decade is I can't find the talent.
We have so many open roles. And so having a service like Hacker One that helps create the services where it's like, okay, well, I don't need to necessarily employ them, but I need someone to help me come up with a list of what our team can then go patch and fix.
And so it is really making it accessible to more organizations.
And I think that's really important as we bridge the talent gap in the industry.
Yeah, and that, and also I think with really digital transformation that's happening, code is being pushed on a daily basis.
If you do only security checks, when you do a penetration test once a quarter, you have three months where you may be exposed to breaches, you just don't know about it.
So it's also having access to that talent on a continuous basis that's making a big difference.
Yeah, that's actually, you know, it's so interesting. So I was talking to a customer like last week, and their point was our engineering team is shipping product much faster than our security team can keep up to review it.
And we don't want to be a bottleneck.
And so we need to build to like let them ship the product without introducing vulnerability and the risk to the business.
And it was interesting that especially this year where COVID has hit and so many businesses have had to pivot and take in their digital transformation strategies and move them forward or create a digital first new initiatives to survive.
All of a sudden it's like, well, I want the security, but I don't want to slow down getting the new service in the hands of our customers.
And so it's great to hear how HackerOne can help make that more smooth for organizations.
Yeah, that's great.
And I love that you also pay out all the hackers. If I was to go, if we just gave us one more sentence, and then we'll move on from this.
But I'm just curious, like, for these hackers, you described them as white hat hackers, which is hackers for good, trying to help organizations find these flaws, not trying to be exploited in a negative sense.
What do they say? What do they say about being part of the HackerOne community?
I think for them, it's also an opportunity, a financial opportunity that would not exist necessarily without platforms like HackerOne.
So there's literally hackers that are not even in their 20s, able to buy an apartment, a car, being able to pay, you know, buy a house for their family.
The reach of that community is huge. There's, of course, hackers in the US, but also in Europe and in Asia.
Really, we hear so many great stories where hackers in India, with really not much buying potential, suddenly are able to make a living testing those software on the HackerOne platform.
So we sign up, I think it's 500 new accounts on a daily basis.
When I joined, the community was 30 ,000 strong.
It's 600,000 strong today on the registered account level. Yes, around the world.
Literally, we had a hacker that spoke at our user conference yesterday, Security Hat, who started to hack the Pentagon a couple of years ago before he was able to vote.
He wasn't in age of voting. And this year, two years later, he's going to be able to vote, and he participated in making the country safer through his hacking.
There's just wonderful stories everywhere. It's creating opportunities for folks that didn't necessarily have those opportunities before.
I love that. We, Clover, had our 10th birthday a few weeks ago, and one of the big themes, and we had a series of conversations, which was great.
And one of the things that kept coming up is this idea of there's talent everywhere, but up until now, that talent's really had to move to big cities like San Francisco or London or New York to find it.
And what's been interesting is, is this COVID pandemic going to change that?
And I think this is an example of where you're matching opportunity to talent wherever they are and not making them migrate to a certain city, which is great.
We need more stories like that. So thank you for sharing those.
So let's go back to, you hire a lot of people, you're growing your team.
Clearly things are going well at HackerOne. People want to come work for you.
What do you look for when you're interviewing people on your sales organization?
Yeah, I think it goes back to a little bit what I said at the beginning.
I do think a goal when you're building a business, looking for folks that want to build a business.
So finding folks that are going to really have interest in our mission.
So our mission is to make the Internet safer. So beyond wanting to be great sellers and making money, we're looking for folks that are really attached to our mission.
And beyond all of that, I'm doing really all I can to not repeat the flaws of sales organizations of the past.
Looking back at the myth I was describing.
So very much looking for folks that have a strong business acumen, that are looking to really solve business issues is really important.
We put our candidates into practice in our interview process. We have a step called the challenge where we're asking them to sell us HackerOne just as if they were already sellers to test their ability to connect the dots between business and technical solutions.
But the combination of mission-driven and those attributes is really what we look for.
And we have a pretty good process now that's valuable also for the candidates to give them a taste of what it is to sell for HackerOne.
That's great. That's great. When you put them through the paces to say, okay, you're here, present my business case to me of why I should adopt HackerOne, do these candidates do a pretty good job?
Are they all within a range or is it a wide range of things that you hear from the candidates that you meet?
I think if we've done a good job in the interview process, by the time they get to that exercise, we should have like a 50-50 hit rate, but it does vary.
It does vary. It depends how much research the candidates have done and how much attached they are in their understanding of our mission.
So it depends. There's been a few catastrophical moments in our history, but that's okay.
You learn from those. You learn from both sides.
Yes. Well, and what you were saying really resonates where of course it's part process, but it's also if somebody wants to get into this career and they don't know anything about it, if they're willing to do the work to learn, they can really set themselves apart, which is an equalizer, which I love.
I love that.
It's like, if you're willing to show up and do the work and learn, you too can put your best foot forward and show up well, because there's some people who don't.
And that always surprises me as someone who hires a lot of people as well. Same thing here.
And I think it goes back to also what drove me to go to CELS. It's if you put the work, you will see results and that's a great test during the interview process.
Yeah. There's something very, it feels like justice to serve. I put in the work and I'm getting a good grade versus put in the work, I'm not getting a good grade.
That's not fair. This feels very fair and equalizer, which I appreciate.
So that's good. Great. So we have about three and a half minutes left. And so there's two things I want to talk to you about.
The first is, you've been in sales for so long.
How has industry changed? What are some trends that you've seen that have changed over the last few years that, again, just having that perspective, I'd love for you to share some of those trends.
I think there's probably three layers.
Going back to what we talked about around the process, I think over the last 10 years, there's just a lot more best practices and documented process to run an effective sales motion.
And there's a lot of great companies that have built businesses around helping others really build those sales processes.
So I think that's one.
Two, I would say tools. When I think about 10 years ago, how we were doing forecasting or how reps were running their pipeline generation campaigns, there's just a lot of great tools that have appeared on the markets to help with forecast accuracy and automate a lot of the sales sequences we need to do when we reach out to prospects and customers, all the way to tools that are helping with the sales engagement, being motivated every day to eat the phone, do your job, to eat your numbers.
There's a lot of sales tools now that help with just sales engagement, celebrating success along the way, and things like that.
So tools is the other big change in the industry.
And finally, I think just sales as a profession has evolved, going back to kind of the myth of sales and what great sales teams should be doing.
I think if you do not establish a value-based selling process today, you're kind of dead.
I think in the past, there was a choice, a borderline choice between relationship -based selling versus value-based selling.
Now you can't do with the value-based part of the selling.
So I think sales overall has changed.
So that's why I'm really saying it's a profession. It's about process, it's about people, and it's about tools, just like most of everything else.
I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. I think that's bang on.
Okay, so we have like 45 seconds left, and I'm sorry, but I ask everybody the same question of, as a woman in technology, where has the industry lived up to your expectations, and has it fallen short anywhere?
In 30 seconds, Marjorie. Fallen short, but it's in our hands to fix.
I think, particularly in sales, if you make diversity part of your process, diversity brings value, diverse perspective on how to attach to customers' business problems, etc.
So I think by changing our hiring profile and making diversity at the heart of it, we can change the world and bring diversity everywhere.
But it's a long process, but we need everybody to contribute to it.
So we are making progress on the hackathon side.
There's still more work to do. The industry overall has work to do, but if it does become truly, genuinely top of mind, and it's part of our process, we can change the world.
We can. I love that. Everyone, please welcome. Thank you, Marjorie, for being here today.
You are absolutely terrific. Let's go change the world together.
I love that more than ever. Thanks, everyone. You can tune in next week again for next week's Yes, We Can.
Thanks so much for tuning in. Have a great day.