Over the past five years, ZoomInfo grew 10x to an $800 million run-rate business with more than 3,000 employees and 25,000 customers. ZoomInfo’s growth is incredible, especially considering its early beginnings in Henry Schuck’s law school dorm. The journey from dorm room to global business has been a remarkable one, driven by a strategic approach and a commitment to innovation. In this episode, we delve deeper into some of the key strategies, problem-solving, and insights that propelled ZoomInfo to its current success.
From the beginning, Schuck and his team knew the importance of go-to-market-fit, a common thread among our founder guests.
ZoomInfo focused on email marketing that targeted its ideal customer profiles. The company initially sold data to IT decision-makers in mid-market companies, focusing on a narrow target group.
Schuck says, “Because we had a really tight grip on our ideal customer profile and who would buy our product and services, we are able to go out and in a really efficient way, attract leads and attract demand to the product.”
Schuck acted as a salesperson for the first six years, giving him key insight into the process of lead rotation.
“Whenever I talk to startup founders, I tell them, ‘Do not ignore go-to-market motions, you need to be in those meetings, running those meetings, running the sales process—there is no better learning than that,’” he says. “Understanding moments that are important all come from those six years of experience I had on the front line.”
Increase expansion with customer development reps (CDRs)
At ZoomInfo, innovation, problem-solving, and ensuring the right people are in the right roles prompted a new title: customer development rep (CDR). When Schuck realized one of the company’s most valued account managers was not realizing her full potential, it was time to take action. He paired her with a CDR and filled her empty calendar with customer-facing meetings.
“I want her to have three or four meetings a day with our customers because that is how we get the most leverage out of her, and that’s how we have the best relationship with our customer,” he explains.
The CDR is a team member in the account management organization. Their role is to contact customers and find opportunities to help the customer move forward, identifying where a customer can benefit from leveraging another ZoomInfo feature product. Once they find and surface opportunities, the CDR connects the customer and account manager to discuss the opportunities in front of them. Schuck says the existing CDR team at ZoomInfo is large and brings substantial value to the company.
Pay attention to prospect calls
Although Schuck is the CEO, he still keeps his ear to the ground when it comes to the company’s customers.
“I am still listening to Chorus calls,” says Schuck. “It’s probably the most impactful thing I do at the company.” Keeping tabs on Chorus calls allows Schuck to gain insight into customers’ perspectives on ZoomInfo’s competitors. When a teammate informs Schuck that a competitor is being mentioned frequently during calls, he can contextualize that information using his Chorus call data.
“One of the things we do objectively, so we don’t let emotion guide the product or go-to-market, is we actually track data inside of Chorus,” he says. “We have a time series graph for how often [competitors] are mentioned on customer calls, and so then we actually know if that is a thing we should be worried about.”
Listening to Chorus calls also allows Schuck to make informed decisions on ZoomInfo’s mergers and acquisitions. Since 2015, ZoomInfo has completed 12 M&A transactions. Chorus call data has been crucial to understanding key factors in new M&As.
“If we are going to buy a company that’s going to bring us into a new market, I am going to go and listen for how many times those competitors have shown up on those calls,” says Schuck.
Hundreds of thousands of hours of calls help Schuck understand the customer’s perspective about a certain market participant or a competitor in a space that they are currently not competing in but plan to.
Schuck’s top tips for success: Get product-market fit down, identify top talent early, put the right people in the right roles, and don’t stop listening to customer and market insights. Apply these tips, and maybe you’ll be the next $800 million business on the podcast.