In this week’s episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, brought to you by SAP, Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr catch up with Henry Schuck, CEO & Founder of ZoomInfo. We first spoke with Henry after his company’s 2020 IPO. So in this conversation, we wanted to see what has changed for him and his team over the last few years.
What we found is a much larger company, expanding into new areas, and taking on increasingly greater challenges. And for Henry, that has meant changes in how he leads his now 4000+ person team (it was about 1100 when we first spoke). But, the most important takeaways from this discussion may not be in what has changed, but rather in what has stayed the same.
As Henry recounts the stories of how his company took on the challenge of adding a talent acquisition service, or how his go-to-market insights team helped surface opportunities for growth, what is clear is that the same principled approach that brought ZoomInfo to its IPO continues today. That approach is very much based on data, experimentation, and an unstoppable desire to inspire curiosity across the organization.
Even though ZoomInfo is now a very large business, this is a conversation for businesses of all sizes and types. The importance of focus, the value of surfacing insights through data, and planning strategy in an organized way are all topics we discuss that apply to startups and scale-ups alike.
Before you jump in, learn more about SAP’s cloud solutions for mid-size enterprises at sap.com/sme. If you have ambitious goals, SAP is the technology partner you need to scale and drive innovation. Instead of relying on stitched-together solutions to manage business finances, operations, HR, suppliers, and customer relationships, leverage the flexibility of SAP’s cloud-based ERP solution to gain the insights that will help drive your breakout growth success.
Achieve breakout growth success now with SAP at bit.ly/3UUPDxJ
Thanks for listening to the Breakout Growth Podcast, and don’t forget to subscribe and like wherever you listen or watch!
- ZoomInfo today: Expansion and Growth post-IPO (08:15)
- Changing responsibilities as the head of a public company (12:56)
- The importance of communications as companies scale (15:18)
- How the best-run companies plan strategy (16:29)
- “Docusigns per day” as an aligning KPI (17:55)
- Making a lot of big bets and maintaining focus (37:32)
- Leveraging a valuable data asset (38:14)
And much, much, more . . .
Announcer 00:00:08 Welcome to the Breakout Growth Podcast, where Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr interview leaders from the world’s fastest-growing companies to get to the heart of what’s really driving their growth. And now here are your hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr.
Sean Ellis 00:00:25 All right. In this week’s episode of the Breakout Growth Podcast, Ethan Garr and I catch up with Henry Schuck the c e o and founder of ZoomInfo. So if you’ve been a fan of the podcast for a while, you probably remember that I spoke with Henry in 2020, just a few months after ZoomInfo took its place as the largest tech i p o in more than a decade. So they’ve since been Eclipse, but that is an incredible accomplishment. And we were, we were really grateful to be able to get him on the podcast, and we thought it’d be super interesting to get him back on the podcast and catch up and see, you know, what’s new, learn what’s changed in the business, and, uh, you know, just like, what are the, what’s the new normal as a public company and, and, uh, all, all the challenges that come along with that. So it made for a great conversation. But as we went into the discussion, you can imagine that, uh, there were a few things that were unexpected. And so probably one of the, the biggest surprises was really, Hey, how much is actually kind of the same, the fundamentals that got them to that point are, are really similar. Uh, so I don’t know, Ethan, was there, was there anything else that really stood out to you as, as interesting from this one?
Ethan Garr 00:01:34 Uh, a lot stood out to me as interesting, but yeah, I had the same reaction. You know, you know, it’s always fascinating for us to hear about the scale change, and it’s really rapid. I mean, it’s only been, what, two, two years since you spoke to him. And everything seems like it’s tripled, right? I mean, they’ve grown the business like the number of people, uh, they, they’ve increased what the business does. Now they do, um, sales inte beyond sales intelligence. They also do talent acquisition, um, intelligence and, and marketing intelligence really in interesting stuff. And all that’s awesome. But like, as you were saying, the how and why behind their approach seems to be very much the same in many ways. You know, Henry’s still laser focused on all those things. You talked about experimentation, getting people to use data to surface opportunities, and then inspiring his team to really channel curiosity and learnings to power their growth, and that that really is all foundational.
Sean Ellis 00:02:22 Yeah, absolutely. Um, it’s a, it’s amazing to see Henry’s structural approach. You know, he’s, he’s continuing to, to iterate and optimize in the business and, uh, you know, but, but fundamentally, he, he’s just so grounded in that, in that growth mindset. Um, and, and not just for him, I think that’s, it’s one thing to have it for yourself, but the fact that he’s been able to inspire it as a culture in the business is probably a huge driver of success for them. So his responsibilities obviously evolve as, as a public company, as they have brought a lot more people on the team. And, uh, but he, but he still has this, this super disciplined approach to everything that he’s doing. I think they’ve got like 4,000 people on the team now when I spoke to him in 2020, and he said it was like 1100 people. So pretty, pretty amazing, uh, yeah, how, how far they’ve come in that period of time. So part of that’s through, through organic growth, but part of that is also through acquisitions. And so he goes into a lot of that during our conversation, and, but I think at, at the heart of all of it, he’s got this really disciplined approach with a very focused growth strategy that, that he’s guiding.
Ethan Garr 00:03:32 Yeah, for sure. I mean, yeah, a good example was when he was mentioning his, um, I think he called it his go-to-market insights team, which sounds almost like an extension of his own personality, you know, surface the challenges and opportunities in the data, use that to inform the ideation, build the experiments to drive growth. You know, he’s, he’s really been able to lead by creating this infrastructure for sustainable growth.
Sean Ellis 00:03:55 Yeah. Yeah. It’s, uh, I, I think this is gonna be just something that our, our listeners are gonna really enjoy this one. So, um, you know, there’s, there’s so many particularly great leadership lessons here. Even if you’re not a public company, c e o, you just, it, it’s important to remember that the, this guy started out bootstrapping from the very early days as a founder, and now he’s leading this, this massive multi-billion dollar valued business. But he, his, his lessons, I think, apply equally to large companies as, as they do to small ones.
Ethan Garr 00:04:28 Yeah. I, I think it’s, it’s a conversation about leadership and sharing knowledge. It’s not about how do you lead a giant company. So, you know, I, the best thing I can say about this one is that as soon as we finish recording, you turn to me and you’re like, I can’t wait to share this with our audience <laugh>. So, you know, usually, like that’s a good indicator if we, if you and I love the conversation, um, it’s usually, you know, something, uh, that I think is gonna be valuable for our listeners. And, you know, if Henry’s not careful, he’ll probably be our, uh, our first, third time guest
Sean Ellis 00:04:56 <laugh>. Absolutely. Yeah. I was, I was definitely like a boom, that’s a good conversation as we were done with it. But you, you’re right. Like, he could be our third time guest and, um, you know, but, uh, I, I think whether, whether we’re joking or or serious of him coming back like that, most people have not been back for a second time. So, that’s right. Uh, it’ll be a while before we bring him back, but I, I think that, uh, again, the listeners are gonna really enjoy this one. Um, before we jump in, a reminder that this week’s sponsor, SAP is the world’s leading provider of enterprise application software enabling hyper-growth companies to scale quickly to achieve their growth ambitions with their agile cost effective, easy to implement cloud solutions. So if you are working to power breakout growth success in your business, please check out sap.com/sme.
Ethan Garr 00:05:46 All right, let’s get into it.
Sean Ellis 00:05:56 Hi, Henry, welcome back to the Breakout Growth podcast.
Henry Schuck 00:05:59 Hey, Sean, great to be here. Hey, Ethan.
Ethan Garr 00:06:01 Hey, how
Sean Ellis 00:06:02 Are you? Yeah, so I, I’m joined by my co-host, Ethan Ya <laugh>. So, uh, yeah, last time you were on, we were just talking, uh, you you were actually, it was just me hosting and, but Ethan had been, uh, working with me on the podcast. We were, we were planning to bring him in, but he was, he was helping to bring some, some guests. So he was, he was fundamental in, in bringing you in as a, as a guest last time. But it’s, it’s awesome to, uh, to be able to have the three of us this time.
Ethan Garr 00:06:29 Yeah. Sean, Sean already reminded me that the quality has gone way down since, since then. So, uh, take, take that, uh, take that for what
Henry Schuck 00:06:37 You made feedback. Feedback is a gift. Ethan
Ethan Garr 00:06:39 <laugh>.
Henry Schuck 00:06:41 Exactly.
Sean Ellis 00:06:42 Hard to, hard to improve without it. So, um, so there, no, it’s, uh, Ethan is, uh, is an awesome addition and, um, so yeah, I’m, I’m excited to have you back on. Uh, I obviously a lot has changed since then. It was, uh, September, 2020 when you had your on, so we were kinda just, just still in like doomsday of the world coming to an end Yeah. With the, with the pandemic. Um, so, uh, you know, we may be, I actually had my first case of, uh, of Covid a week ago, and,
Henry Schuck 00:07:11 Uh, wow, you stayed. Wow. Good for you. That’s amazing.
Sean Ellis 00:07:14 Yeah, I, I avoided for a long time, but I, I, I like day two of the, of, of the like pretty, like high fever and stuff. I, I recorded a podcast episode.
Henry Schuck 00:07:25 Oh,
Sean Ellis 00:07:25 Yeah. So it’s, uh, it, it feels great to actually not be sick doing one of these
Henry Schuck 00:07:29 <laugh>. I I, I, I told people, anyone who made a past when Anthony Fauci got Covid is basically a saint.
Sean Ellis 00:07:38 Yeah. You know, what’s actually really funny is that I had not worked in an office environment this entire two years, three days in an office environment. Boom.
Henry Schuck 00:07:47 You got it. Boom.
Sean Ellis 00:07:47 Yep,
Henry Schuck 00:07:48 I got it. Makes sense. So, yep.
Sean Ellis 00:07:50 There we go. Um, so yeah, I mean, there’s a, there’s a lot to catch up on. I, I definitely want to hear more about where you are with ZoomInfo, but it’s probably good for us to maybe, uh, zoom back out a little bit. We got a lot of new listeners since the last time we spoke. And just give, give a a bit of a quick introduction to what ZoomInfo is and, and how you create, uh, value for businesses. Sure. Training anyone who’s been living under a rock and doesn’t know the, the amazing company
Henry Schuck 00:08:15 I would love to. So, uh, so my name’s Henry Shuck, I’m the founder and c e o of ZoomInfo. What ZoomInfo does is we’re a go-to-market platform that helps sellers and marketers, and most recently recruiters find their next best customer, engage with their next best customer, know when they’re, know who their next best customer is by evaluating whether they’re in market for your products and services, whether they visited your website, whether they have a project or initiative that aligns with the types of products or services, uh, you’re selling. And so it actually starts with a data asset of about a hundred million companies and 200 million business professionals. We layer on top of that the contact information for those business professionals so you can get to them. And then a bunch of insights that tell you when a company is currently in market for your products and services. And then we’ve built an application stack on top of that, uh, that allows you to, in an automated way, connect with those buyers when they’re in market. And it’s used by 30,000 different companies, uh, primarily sales and marketing professionals. And we recently launched a, uh, recruiting and talent acquisition side of our platform as well. Oh,
Sean Ellis 00:09:24 Interesting. Yeah, I’ve definitely seen very active users on, uh, on sales team, sort of marketers appending a lot of information for the sales team to give ’em that, that leg up of really knowing what’s going on. So, uh, paid a lot more attention over the
Henry Schuck 00:09:38 Last couple of years. Yeah, yeah, that’s right. I think, you know, like for every organization you have to sell, like there’s no company that doesn’t have a sales team, and you have to know who your customers are. You have to know who buys things at those customers, and then in an ideal world, you’re reaching out to them when they’re in market for your products and services, and we endeavor to provide you all of that.
Ethan Garr 00:09:59 Yeah, it’s always interesting that it’s like, it’s not just right person, right place, it’s that right time also that that Absolutely. Sometimes that critical piece. So, um, so I think, uh, when you spoke to Sean last, uh, it was just a few months after your I p o, so your, uh, and I believe it was, was it the largest I p o of 2020? I think so, uh, tech IPO O of 2020. So it was pretty, pretty
Henry Schuck 00:10:20 Cool. It was, he was the first IPO of, uh, 2020, um, since from the, from when the pandemic started. Um, and, and it was also the biggest tech IPO in a decade. Um, and then Snowflake went public like three months after, so then it wasn’t anymore
Ethan Garr 00:10:38 <laugh>. Oh, we’re not gonna inter we’re, they’re definitely not gonna get invited on the, on the podcast. <laugh> <laugh>. Um, so like, what, what have been the highlights for you since, you know, since that time? Like since that transition?
Henry Schuck 00:10:50 Yeah, I mean, look, first of all, when we went public, we were on a great growth trajectory. We felt really good about the future of the company and the company’s nearly three times the size from a revenue, from a profitability, and from an employee size perspective, from a customer perspective. So we feel really good about, uh, how we’ve been able to continue to scale the business since going public. Gave us a platform, uh, to, to go and recruit really talented people to our company. You know, just being public adds a an element of, uh, validation, uh, to, for the best professionals in the world. Um, and so we’ve been able to really recruit an incredibly strong team here, uh, since, since the I P O I gave us like real rigor around how we run the business. We’re a pretty rigorous company anyways, but really thinking through what, what we’re gonna be able to achieve in the coming years and how we’re gonna be able to achieve them, how we’re gonna strategically plan to do that.
Henry Schuck 00:11:49 Um, and then we made a number of acquisitions that took us from really just a contact and company data provider to much more of an end-to-end go-to-market platform with a application stack, really above that contact and company data. Uh, so lots of really great advancements. Uh, since we went public, obviously going public, you have a whole new set of responsibilities. So my job changed, um, you know, the, the none of my job went away, but then like a big new part of my job came online. And so really like I went from having two investors who really knew me and understood and trusted me to having just a whole plethora of investors, many that I’ve never met, some that I just see once a quarter for 30 minutes or an hour, um, and don’t have like that same relationship with. And really thinking about how do you build trust and deliver for that group of investors is very different than people you’re, you know, you see all the time and have a long-standing relationship with,
Ethan Garr 00:12:56 You know, I’m curious, uh, I remember after that interview, I, I don’t exactly remember the details, but it was some, um, I remember being on LinkedIn and I saw a post you made and it was around, I, it must have been something pandemic related, but you, you were saying to, to anybody in, I guess you live in the Washington area or uh, area or something, you were saying if anyone needs help, you know, you’re basically inviting, telling people either come to your house, I think or something. I don’t remember the details, but I thought it was, I thought it was a very, like, just a very human and nice thing. And I guess, uh, you know, I just, as you were saying that about now going from two investors to thousands, and it seems like with three times as many employees, I think you already were probably around six, 800 employees or maybe more when we spoke. When, when Sean spoke to you, has that been, has that been a big challenge for you just mentally to, to transition from, you know, not having the, necessarily the con the, the same context with the individuals you
Henry Schuck 00:13:49 Are? Yeah, yeah. I mean it’s, I think it’s less growth of the company per specific and more remote work specific. So like when we IPOed, we had 1100 employees. We now have close to 4,000 employees. Those 1100 employees, I knew just about every one of them. Um, I knew the organization, their organizations really well. I knew their managers really well. I understood the pain points that they were having at 4,000 employees. You know, I get that information through surveys and data and my direct reports. And so, and because they’re not in the office as well, I don’t see them, I don’t have that impromptu like conversation where they go like, Hey, you know, I had this deal and they said they knew you and this is what happened. And I don’t get to hear what’s going on in the organization the same way as when people are in the office. So I do think like it’s less that it went from 1100 to 4,000 and it’s more that it went from 11 to 4,000 in a fully remote way. Um, that, that you get, you know, you struggle with the connectivity in a different way than when people are in your office. Um, and when you’re in the office with them and interacting. So I, I do think like we don’t have today yet the expertise for how to manage really large organizations in a fully remote way. Um, we’re still improving our abilities to do that.
Ethan Garr 00:15:18 It’s, it’s interesting cuz when you put it that way, it’s, you’d think that it’s 1100 to 4,000, but you have similar issues going from 11 to 40. Um, just because it is a different dynamic.
Henry Schuck 00:15:29 Totally. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Or y yeah, I mean, there are break points along the way. Communication is so important at my l at, at, at a company of this size. It’s important when you’re a 10 or 20 or a hundred person company, but you kind of just yell loudly when you’re a hundred person company and everybody hears you and they know, like they, everybody gets on the same page when you’re a 4,000 employee company. Like people are all around the world, literally. Um, some people really understand the business, some people don’t. Some people are in their fifth year, some people are in their first month. Um, some people are surrounded by managers who have a lot of business contacts, some people are not. And so they don’t really understand what’s going on day to day. Um, and so you are spending a lot of time thinking about how do I make sure that I’m communicating what’s happening at the company throughout the company so people feel that connectivity and really understand the strategy and the direction of where we’re going.
Sean Ellis 00:16:29 Yeah, it’s a, it sounds like such a, such a different beast from, from a couple of years ago. Um, one thing I want to want to dig into, uh, that you, that you touched on is kind of the, the rigor of, of a public company and, and, you know, planning and, and, and, and, and probably keeping everyone on the same page around that planning. Um, how, how does that look different now versus Yeah, like you, you said it’s different, but like some of the details of how it’s, how it’s different
Henry Schuck 00:16:58 Now? Yeah. Look, so first of all, even when you’re a small company, um, and when we were a small company, the best run companies are doing sort of planning and strategy together in a really organized way anyways, but to give you a sense of like, um, maybe just kind of how we forecast and we track today, um, we’ll forecast out the year, then we’ll break that out into quarters and then we’ll break that out into months and then we’ll actually break that out into work days. And so for every workday of the year, we know exactly how many, uh, how much revenue we need to generate on the new business side. We know exactly how much revenue we need to generate on the customer side. We know what the renewal rate needs to be, we know what the upsell target needs to be. And then every day I get a pacing report, we all get a pacing report and it says, here was today’s pacing number and here’s where we ended up.
Henry Schuck 00:17:55 And day over day over day, you see the pacing line and you see how we’re pacing against that line. Um, and then you’re able to, when you’re doing that look in the month, can you make a lot of changes to effective, not, not a lot, but you can make some, um, and then you understand sort of by, you know, essentially by minute what’s going on in the business. By that it’s that level of granularity, you know, like how many DocuSign you have to send out, uh, to get to your number. Um, you know, like, and you can say, Hey, we didn’t get enough paper out today. We didn’t get enough DocuSign out and so tomorrow and the rest of the week might be a bit of a struggle for us because we didn’t get enough DocuSign out. Or you go like, Hey, we put out a bunch of paper this week and not a lot of it came back. Why is that? Right. <laugh>, you know, so Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:18:45 Cuz I guess, yeah, once, once you start quantifying, like sending those DocuSign out as a, as a indicator of, of how you’re doing, then, then maybe people lower the bar on what it takes to send those
Henry Schuck 00:18:56 Out. Totally. Actually I have this great, this really funny story. Early in the day, early on in the history of the company, we’re probably an 80 person company. And uh, I hired a guy who’s probably my 10th salesperson and we were checking in with him. We go, Hey, look, how’s your month shaping up? He’s like, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s looking good. And we always have like this, we have this internal goal, you sell a hundred k a month, like, are you gonna get to your a hundred K number? Yeah, I think I am. Great. How many contracts do you have out? And he is like, uh, not, no, I don’t have any contracts out. And it’s like, you know, the 24th or something, <laugh> and it’s like, well you’re not gonna sell anything, but
Sean Ellis 00:19:37 I had a stack of lottery tickets.
Henry Schuck 00:19:39 Yeah, right. Like, none of these are gonna close. And so then we like told him like, listen, if you don’t have any contracts out, you’re not gonna sell anything. And so the next month he had like every conversation he had, you just sent out a contract, sent out a contract, sent out a contract, <laugh>, and we’re like, that’s not what we meant <laugh>, we didn’t mean just send, send out.
Sean Ellis 00:20:01 But it
Henry Schuck 00:20:01 Feels like the,
Sean Ellis 00:20:02 Like the e even the second one feels better than the first. You don’t out any out, you have no chance. Totally. At least maybe you have a chance if you send somehow. But
Henry Schuck 00:20:11 Yeah, if you get obviously people thinking like, oh, he must have sent me a contract because this is the point of the sale where he would send out a contract. Maybe I’m further along than I think I Right.
Ethan Garr 00:20:21 <laugh> may maybe, maybe you found, figured out a whole new approach to selling. I mean, <laugh>. Yeah. Well, I mean I, I assume now you’re gonna tell us he’s now today he’s our top salesman or something. Right. No,
Henry Schuck 00:20:30 I’m not. Didn’t really work out. But,
Sean Ellis 00:20:35 Um, one, one, uh, other kind of piece there with the forecasting, I’m curious like how much of it is, is these like super predictable pieces, like you’re saying where it’s, where it’s trend lines and trend lines to feed the trend lines. And then like when you, when you set, uh, a, a forecast, like how much of it is based on sort of like, okay, there’s a piece of that that’s gonna be around some unknowns that always 15% ends up being from these things that we hadn’t anticipated and we turn on these, these new levers or, or 5% or whatever that kind of percentage is. Is is everything trendlines or is there sort of some unknowns that make up that forecasting?
Henry Schuck 00:21:14 No, there’s definitely unknowns that make up that forecasting for sure. And you know, over the years we’ve gotten better at selling enterprise opportunities too, where those would historically be That’s a very lumpy Yeah. And then when they’re really lumpy, you actually don’t get like much credit for them at the board level. Either you show up with the biggest deal of the year or the history of the company and the board’s just like, yeah, good for you. Like nice bluebird. Um, and when you can make them predictable and repeatable, not only can you start forecasting them, but you also get credit for running a motion that delivers them with predictability. Um, but yeah, so I, there’s always a piece of the forecast that is, you know, kind of manager discretion and so the manager knows like, okay, even though we’re forecasting up a 2 million number in my segment, like I think there’s upside to two and a half. And so the, there’s a call that’s happening, you know, every week where the managers are making a call against their number and then they can take an up their up or down, um, in the week. And so you have some managers who’ll be like, yeah, actually everything went my way this week and so I’m gonna take my number up. And then you’ll have a manager who goes, like, I had a couple things fall through and I’m gonna take my number down.
Sean Ellis 00:22:30 Yeah. It, it reminds me, I I was just working with a, a company on a sh short term, uh, project where, um, you know, trying to, trying to help them turn on a new marketing channel that would hit the allowable acquisition costs based on kind of average conversion rates, average transaction size, you know, six month payback periods and we’re struggling and we’re struggling and then one deal comes in that pays for like two months of marketing.
Henry Schuck 00:22:56 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right.
Sean Ellis 00:22:57 I’m not used to working in those like massive deal things where, you know, I’m, I I I, I definitely deal a lot better with, uh, predictability of high velocity, you know, smaller transaction sizes. But, uh, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s interesting how that works
Ethan Garr 00:23:12 With, with with that kind of variability and um, you know, also being, you know, you’re, you’re in a public, you’re as a public company, you have certain requirements. How do you, how do you personally sort of think about and manage sort of the goal setting? Like how do you keep it aggressive but not, you know, <laugh>, you know, but keep it within what you think is, is realistic,
Sean Ellis 00:23:35 Keep the realms of reason.
Ethan Garr 00:23:36 Yeah. <laugh>, uh, you know, cuz you want people striving for more, but you also, you don’t wanna set it the bar so high that there’s like, oh, we’ll never get hit that.
Henry Schuck 00:23:43 Yeah, yeah. There is a art and science to essentially setting quotas for your teams. Um, and you wanna set quota in a way that is, um, that is achievable but not irrational. Um, and so really getting that right creates not only creates the right incentives for your team, but creates the right momentum throughout the year. Uh, cuz you want your team sort of running to a number that they believe is achievable. The minute it gets out of the realms of possibility you’re in like not a great place, but you’re using, you know, we have today a team of, um, we call it go-to-market insights. And these are kind of, uh, it’s a mix of sort of data scientists previous like kind of private equity investor type people, um, and analysts, you know, it’s like the, the kid, the the guys who went to Penn and Harvard and Stanford and wanted to work in a company and not sort of go into the private equity route that have an incredible amount of horsepower, who do a number of things for us.
Henry Schuck 00:24:49 And one of those things is helping us set quota, um, helping us understand forecasting, helping us think through, um, you know, they do this scorecard for us of our account executives and it tells us, you know, not only which account executives are our best account executives, but it tells you which ones close the most opportunities at the lowest discount rate. It shows you which ones close the most dollars at the highest discount rates. It shows you which sellers close the least dollars at the highest discount rates. And it shows you which sellers sell the least amount at the lowest discount rates and shows you all of them. And then it gives you an opportunity from a management perspective to go in and say, Hey, John, like you’re selling the least amount of dollars here and you’re doing it at the lowest discount rates. Why don’t you like loosen up the discount anymore a little bit so you can move up your velocity and you can go to the person who has the highest discount rate and the highest and the highest sales number and go like, Hey, listen, you need to bring down the discount rate, you can sell more, bring down the discount rate across all of the deals and you can, uh, you can actually sell more.
Henry Schuck 00:26:02 And so they run all of these kind of like people analytics on our sales teams, on our account management teams, um, that help us coach better. The other thing, you know, they, they they do for us today is they can go through using data, using the data science capabilities of that team and then using the historic hi, you know, using historical data and tell you, hey, of your client base, these five are the most likely to upgrade, they’re the most likely to upgrade to these things and just go run and play at them for these five things. And it’s incredibly predictive, incredibly accurate. And so it helps us be really efficient with the use of our resources in the go-to-market organization.
Ethan Garr 00:26:46 Sounds like a world-class sensitivity analysis <laugh>, uh, that you’re like, yes, totally. Uh, so yeah, so sounds really amazing. I mean, um, is it, you know, do you find it getting easier over time because, you know, just because each quarter, each day that you go through, you’re learning more and you’re learning more about the, you know, the different things that, that impact and affect the business? Or is there still a lot of unpredictability?
Henry Schuck 00:27:10 I wish that the answer to that was yes. Um, but, uh, I think that what, what happens is that, uh, the, as the organization grows, there are new, uh, you know, new challenges that present themselves and that’s been true forever, right? When we were a 10 person company, I had a different set of challenges than when we’re a 50 person company, than a hundred percent company, than a 200 person company. They’re just a new set of things that you’re focused on and trying to learn and get better at. And so, you know, today when you’re a a billion dollar plus 4,000 person company, there are a whole new set of challenges that you’re trying to tackle. And so one part of the business might get easier, but three parts might get harder. Um, I really think like it’s impossible to be good at this job if you’re not a really great learner. You just have to constantly be learning new things, listening to the business, trying to understand where you’re doing the right things, where you’re doing the wrong things and constantly trying to improve. If you can’t do that, you’re just not long for the seat.
Sean Ellis 00:28:13 Yeah. One, one of the things that we talked about last time was kind of the role of experimentation in learning. And I I imagine that with, with 4,000 employees, and just as you’re talking about that there’s, there’s so many insights in the data that with 4,000 employees, you, you kind of like, there’s experiments that happen all the time, even if you don’t want ’em to, people are gonna do things differently. Do you feel like more of that learning comes from studying the data or, or still through active experimentation and, and trying to learn through the, the kind of, uh, experimentation process?
Henry Schuck 00:28:47 I actually think the data tells you where to experiment. Um, and so you’re looking at the data and you’re going, oh, like, let me give you an example. Um, at the beginning of the year, we saw this like weird trend happening in our enterprise accounts where enterprise, our enterprise renewal rates were lower than we thought they should be. And we looked at the data and went like, it’s so strange, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And when you looked at it, what you saw was the enterprise renewal rate was fine except for enterprise accounts. So large companies that were spending less than $50,000 a year with us. So you could go like feel around in the enterprise and try to figure it out, but you have data. And so if you leverage that data, it tells you like, actually renewal rate’s fine over here, but in these accounts $50,000 and lower, it’s bad.
Henry Schuck 00:29:36 And so now you’re like, okay, well why is it bad in those accounts? And then you go talk to, um, some managers, you talk to account managers and they go, yeah, well, like, I’m not gonna pay any attention to that $50,000 account because I manage six accounts and four of them are $500,000 accounts or million dollar accounts. And then two of them are these $50,000 a year account, they’re not worth any of my attention. If they renew, great. If they don’t, it doesn’t really matter because I’m trying to take a $500,000 account to a $2 million account, and I’m gonna spend all my energy navigating that across my four account, across those four accounts. I spend very little energy on those two $50,000 accounts. They’re just not that meaningful to me.
Sean Ellis 00:30:21 Okay. Yeah. And that’s actually within the best interest of the company Yeah. For them to do that either totally
Henry Schuck 00:30:26 <laugh>. So we go, okay, well,
Sean Ellis 00:30:27 But then, then I’m sure it’s like, how do you carve ’em out,
Henry Schuck 00:30:29 <laugh>, what’s the experiment? And so the experiment is, yeah, let’s pull those $50,000 accounts out, let’s make them their own cohort inside of enterprise, and let’s have a team that just focuses on them. Because by the way, it’s a shame because these are big accounts that should be million dollar accounts over time. That’s why they’re sitting in the enterprise segment with our best enterprise sellers. Um, but they’re not giving them the attention that they need to be able to ever be a million dollar, $2 million account. So I, and by the way, immediately you saw renewal rates, retention rates tick up in those accounts. And so I think the data can point you to where the problems are, and then it’s your, it’s your responsibility to take that and drive change in experimentation inside of the company. But the, but the data can tell you, you can’t really hide, uh, you can’t really hide anything that’s going poorly when you’re looking at the data.
Sean Ellis 00:31:23 And, and as you’re digging into those, the, that, those insights there and you, you, you discover, okay, it’s these 50,000, like to uncover that next layer of, okay, now I see that it’s these, these enterprise, uh, reps that are focused on, on just the, they’re much bigger accounts. Does that start with, uh, like forming some hypotheses there? Or is it like you, you spot that opportunity and just digging into more data? Yeah,
Henry Schuck 00:31:49 I think you spot
Sean Ellis 00:31:50 That. Where, where do you
Henry Schuck 00:31:51 Get to the truth? Yeah. So you spot that issue and then you’re going and having a qualitative conversation. So then you want to go like, okay, I have some guesses about why this would be the case, but let me go have some qualitative manager, uh, qualitative conversations at the ma at the manager and account manager level to really understand, you know, that team that go-to-market insights team, they present all sorts of interesting ideas like, Hey, we’re gonna move this or change that or do this. And almost always, I almost always go, Hey, have you talked to our best sales rep, our best account managers? Have you talked to these people? And, uh, because I want it to be validated at that level before we’re like doing anything. And actually the guy who runs that for us, he has a standing meeting every other week with our best salespeople, our best account managers, and our best account executives, just to hear their feedback from the field, to share with them ideas that they have from an insights perspective, and then to calibrate what they’re doing.
Henry Schuck 00:32:55 So d you know what? Data’s never gonna get you all the way there. You need that qualitative aspect of it to make the right decisions. I usually, when you present to me like a, the, the way that I try to like understand data is that if you share with me, kind of like a, a big insight, I wanna go back down to the most granular level that I can and try to understand like, what does that look like at the company level? So in that example of the $50,000 enterprise accounts, I wanna say, show me some of the accounts. And so then they show me the accounts and then I’ll go, okay, pick, let me pick one, pick one of them. Like what did they buy? How did they onboard, how did they implement? Okay, all of that looks good. Then like, who is the account manager? And then you’re starting to get to like, okay, that’s interesting, who are their other accounts? So I always like to go to the most granular piece of data. It helps me understand the rest of the way up.
Sean Ellis 00:33:50 This week’s breakout growth podcast episode is sponsored by S A P S A P helps businesses increase productivity and achieve realtime transparency with a power and flexibility of SAP cloud solutions delivering end-to-end business transformation. If you have ambitious goals and are working to lead markets and industries, then you probably already know how important it is to align with a technology partner who will scale and drive innovation with future industry leaders like yourself. Don’t rely on stitch together solutions that don’t talk to each other to manage business, finances, operations, HR suppliers, and customer relationships. Instead, leverage the flexibility of SAP’s cloud-based suite of solutions. You can power all these in one place and gain unprecedented insights into the performance of your business from end to end. Whether you are on the brink of or have already achieved breakout growth success, learn more by visiting sap.com/sme. Yeah, so, um, I’m, I’m actually working with a kind, I just started an interim VP growth role.
Sean Ellis 00:34:54 Um, I tend to do ’em in kind of three to six month, uh, periods. And I, I started one about three or four weeks ago and, uh, I uncovered, I, I created a, an insights, uh, channel in Slack, and it’s obviously on a, on a way smaller scale than what you’re talking about. We, we’ve got 40 people working in the business, but it, it is a very worldwide distributed team with, with salespeople that probably don’t talk to each other that much because they’re spread out quite a bit. And I saw a bunch of stuff that was happening in user testing and user session videos that suggested there was an opportunity and just shared in the insights that here’s what I’m seeing. And I heard, I had one person in one part of the world come back back and say, oh yeah, we haven’t really had much luck there.
Sean Ellis 00:35:40 Uh, it just doesn’t, doesn’t really work. I don’t, I don’t think there’s an opportunity there. And then a guy on the other side of the planet comes in and says, actually, we, this is the playbook that we’ve been using and we’re getting a ton of business in that area. And, and then, and then I triggered this like very long thread between the two of ’em sharing specific examples. And, and now, now the guy in Europe is, is mining the same opportunity that the guy in the United States had been managing? And so it’s just, it, it is just so interesting how, how there’s so much opportunity in the insights when you totally, when when you share them effectively.
Henry Schuck 00:36:17 I’ll give you a fun tactical one that, that lines up here when, so we have a program where you come in in as, as a sales development rep, an sdr, and from an sdr you be, you start an inbound, then you go to outbound, then you get a pair, you get paired with account executive, then you become an account executive. The first place you become an account executive, you become what we call a Trojan account executive. And what that means is the opportunities that you work are opportunities that are best sellers. Closed, uh, closed and said there’s no opportunity. So not closed, lost, but closed, no opportunity. So all of a sudden you’re a new seller, you’re, you’re the first time running your own opportunities and you’re running the opportunities that Zoomin info’s best seller said, don’t exist. There’s no opportunity here. And then in your first month, you closed five of those, four of those three of those, and you feel like a superstar because all of a sudden you are able to close deals that the best seller said had no opportunity or were bad fits closed, bad fits. And so all of a sudden you’re picking up dollars from the floor and you’re building your confidence that you can do even more than the best sellers at the company. It’s a really powerful motion.
Ethan Garr 00:37:32 You know, I I have a question, uh, se a set of questions I was gonna go into, but I wanted to go back to at the very beginning of this conversation. One of the things you said is different, I think today than when we last spoke with you is that, uh, you’ve added a recruiting component to the business that, did I hear that correctly? Yes. Yep. So I I I, I’m curious what if you can tell us a little bit more about what that is and why, why it exists, but I also, uh, I’m curious about the decision making process that got you there. Um, cuz especially for big successful companies, sometimes, like if you’re gonna take a bet, if you’re gonna make a big bet, like it’s, unless it’s really valuable, it’s not, you know, it’s hard to justify it. So I’m curious about the decision making process for company your size.
Henry Schuck 00:38:14 That’s interesting. So I think first, um, we made a lot of bets, uh, over the last two years. We built a lot of platforms, we made a lot of acquisitions. So the talent platform, it’s called Talent Os was one of the bets. We also built a marketing platform called Marketing Os. And why don’t, I’ll take you through both of those because I think they’re very similar or basically the same. Um, the first thing we s the, the, the way that we think about our business is we know we have an incredible data asset. It’s high quality, it’s really broad, it’s really deep. We’ve made acquisitions to bolster it. We think it’s the best data asset of company and professional information in the world. And so great, we have this really great data asset. How do we leverage it the most? The first most obvious way was, hey, let’s get salespeople to use it.
Henry Schuck 00:39:06 And they can use it for their prospecting efforts. They can use it for their outbound efforts, they can use it for account mapping and account planning. We said, okay, great, that’s working. It’s growing. It’s really successful. It’s the sort of the core of what we do. How else can you leverage that data asset? Well, you can leverage it for enrichment when you’re using your C R M system. We can plug in there and clean all the data in your C r M system and enrich a bunch of insights in there as well. Now you’re continuing to leverage that data asset. Well, how else can you, uh, leverage it? Well, we have a bunch of marketers who sign up for ZoomInfo and they sign up for our sales OS platform because that’s the, the only platform that existed at the time. And they’re using it for marketing activities, build an audience, push that into marketing automation, um, run a program, know who visits their website.
Henry Schuck 00:39:54 And then we said, okay, well we have a bunch of marketers over here. There’s a whole bunch of like purpose-built things that we could build that are specific for marketers that continue to leverage that data asset. And so, and it was the same thing on talent. We had a bunch of recruiting firms who came in. They actually started using our platform for, uh, business development, for finding new customers to use their staffing and recruiting services. And then they realized the data is really good. So they brought the recruiters on the platform as well. So now you have these interesting constituencies who are using the product in a way that you really didn’t build the product for, you didn’t build it for marketers, you didn’t build it originally for a talent acquisition professionals. But there is a value in that use case. And so then you’re asking yourself, how big is that market?
Henry Schuck 00:40:41 And if it’s big enough, should I build its own a platform around that specific use case or should I just include it collectively inside of the sort of the broader use case? And what we decided was that there is a very big market for recruiting and staffing and talent acquisition. And there’s an, you know, an equally big if not bigger I think market for mar for marketing professionals in the work that they’re doing from a B2B perspective. So we took that data asset and then we purpose built a platform on top of it for marketers and uh, talent acquisition professionals. And so you leverage that same data asset, you’re just leveraging a different ui, some different integrations, some different channels that you plug into for the different, uh, for the different personas.
Sean Ellis 00:41:32 Hmm, hmm That, that’s a great example of kind of maybe some of the unknown component of the, of the forecasting. Like you don’t know how much those bets are gonna play off. You don’t have real trend lines to work off of, but some of them are gonna pay off and, and and, and, and make really good contributions over time.
Ethan Garr 00:41:52 It it’s interest, you know, to me it’s, it’s interesting because you, you really seem to look at it from like, how do we drive curiosity in our own business? I mean that you’re like, how do we leverage this? How else do we leverage it? It sounded to me like the five why’s sort of approach, the things only it’s now it’s the five, how’s like how, what else could we do with this? What else could we do with it? And it’s funny cuz Sean and I, uh, were both working with, uh, with some new companies lately and we were just having a conversation recently about like, you know, just how you start to think about these things and how you start to try to branch out and keep challenging each other. So it’s, it, it’s a, I think it definitely starts with that curiosity and it’s interesting how you’ve been able to use that to find those big opportunities.
Henry Schuck 00:42:31 I had a, a board member early on in, in our history, a guy named Charles Rotstein and he was the chief operating officer at Forrester. And um, they were like, Hey, it’s a similar business to ZoomInfo. And I was like, yeah, I don’t think it’s a similar business, but Charles a great guy. Um, so we should get him on the board. And in one of our first meetings, one of my first meetings with him, he went, um, it’s a similar business because we write content, we create a whole bunch of content and then we wanna sell that content in a, in as many places as possible. We want to take that content that we’re building, we have a motion to create really great content and then we wanna monetize it across as many places as we can. And I was like, okay, that’s interesting. We are kind of in the content creation business,
Sean Ellis 00:43:24 Data as content,
Henry Schuck 00:43:25 Data as content, and we wanna be able to monetize that content in as many different places as possible. Um, and obviously there are places you don’t want, like I, you know, we’re not the greatest white label partner in the world. I, you know, we, we wanna like keep the data close to us, but we in that, in that construct, we also wanna monetize it in as many places as possible. And so when you go like, okay, I’ve got this data asset, how do I monetize it in as many places as possible? You go salespeople, marketing people, talent acquisition people, operations professionals. And so our whole strategy, it’s like pretty clear on the, you know, when you look at what we’re doing is how do you take that data asset and then monetize it across as many different places and personas as makes sense. There’s obviously a bunch of areas like people tell us all the time, like, why don’t you build a product for hedge fund managers cuz you’ve got all this really interesting data and hedge fund managers might, we’re not gonna do that yet.
Henry Schuck 00:44:24 We don’t think it’s big enough of a market for our specialty data. Um, but where there are, where we see really big opportunities that then we can, that we can build a platform around that’s really interesting to us. So literally since the last time we were together, um, in September of 2022, September of 2020, we had one platform, our sales os platform. We were monetizing the content or the data that we were, uh, creating through salespeople. Today we have a marketing OS platform, a talent OS platform, and an operations OS platform. And so now we have three additional platforms that we’re using to monetize that asset.
Sean Ellis 00:45:04 And you, you mentioned that you’ve done some acquisitions, so we’re, we’re any of those acquisitions tied into that to help you kind of kickstart those initiatives
Henry Schuck 00:45:13 Faster? Yeah, yeah, totally. So, and for our marketing OS platform, we made an acquisition of a company called Click Agy that provided intent data and a what’s called a demand side platform, essentially an engine that lets you place display ads across the open web. Um, so that would, that’s plugged into our marketing os platform, the intent data. And so our marketing customers can say, Hey, I wanna target all chief marketing officers in the United States at technology companies and I wanna start doing display ads in front of them, in front of that
Sean Ellis 00:45:45 Specific, I I, I literally just had a, a marketer pitch me a couple of weeks ago, not pitch me, but just like share with me a a really excited thing that he’s working on that I think was working with you guys to take that intent data to, uh, to essentially do a a, a demand gen for, for a business that he, he works in for their sales team. Uh, that he, yeah, like I I seeing his enthusiasm makes me think you’re onto something. Yeah,
Henry Schuck 00:46:11 Totally. Uh, yes, a hundred percent. And then, so then, so, so that was that acquisition. We also made, uh, we made an acquisition of a company called RingLead that does data orchestration. So it helps you sort of like route leads and, um, and con and set up territories inside of your CRM system, do data hygiene there, helps us unlock the enterprise that’s plugged into our operations os platform. And then we made an acquisition of a company called Comparably, um, which is a Glassdoor competitor. Um, and it helps talent acquisition and HR professionals manage their brand on the, on the web. And we plug that into our Talent OS platform as well. So yeah, we have made acquisitions to really like, uh, fill out the, uh, the different platforms.
Ethan Garr 00:46:59 That’s awesome. Um, I wanted to, uh, I pulled, I pulled a quote from our la your last conversation with Sean and um, and I wanted to ask you a couple questions around that. And you know, this new context of where you are today. You said, today I’m trying to project out 30% growth for the next decade. You’re making bets and plugging people into that vision for the future. You second guess yourself all the time, but it’s healthy because it gets me to the right point. Um, which, uh, that stuck with me cuz I thought it was, um, there’s a lot in there that’s, that’s really valuable and, and, and obviously, uh, you’re not unwilling to take risks, you’re not unwilling to, to make big bets. Um, and you’re doing that with this projection of what the future’s gonna look like. So I’m curious, um, how do you reconcile what the new learnings will do to change the, the trajectory, the roadmap? In other words, every day you’re running experiments, you’re trying new things, and that’s, that in itself is going to give you learnings that might change the direction, but at the same time you’re trying to say, this is where we’re going. How do you reconcile that? So you keep things going in the right direction, uh, that you think is, is the big future, but you let the learnings take you there.
Henry Schuck 00:48:08 So let me give you the quick answer and then I’ll give you the longer answer. The quick answer is like, it’s just my team really. It’s the team that I put around me that, that is gonna get me there. The, the longer answer is as the company gets bigger, you know, my ability, when you’re a speedboat, it’s easy to just shift left shift, right turn right, go faster. When you’re a cruise ship, um, it’s a little bit more difficult. You want to build in the pieces of the business that still allow you to move quickly, but you are coordinating a lot more. And so my ability, uh, to really drive the direction of the company starts by laying out the strategy. And I have to make sure that the strategy, that that’s like the big piece. This is what we’re gonna do this year, next year, you know, in 2021 it was, hey, we need to bring together, uh, in 2021 and 2022, it was, we need to bring together a number of these different plat uh, uh, acquisitions into one integrated experience.
Henry Schuck 00:49:14 So we have an end-to-end go-to-market platform in 2020 and 2019. It was, we need to build out the best data asset that exists in the world. It needs to be the best company data, the best contact data. It needs to be constantly updated and needs to have insights that are coming off of it. And then if you look out now, sort of the next two years, what is the strategy and like, how are we going to, and, and how do we get there so I can lay out the strategy and say for the next, you know, 24 months or two years our strategy, a key part of our strategy is gonna be, you know, create delightful customer experiences, go up market, have the right talent and drive efficiency in our business. So I can say those things and then I have to go and make sure that everybody understands what those mean, everybody understands what specifically that means for their business.
Henry Schuck 00:50:06 And then every time I show up to a meeting, I have to make sure that the things that we’re gonna work on align back to one of those four criteria. I was in a meeting this morning, uh, there’s this great Johnny Ive video on, uh, you know, Twitter or YouTube or whatever where he talks about how Steve Jobs, um, uh, or, uh, is it Johnny? Ive, uh, it’s one of Steve Jobs, uh, the Beats guy. What’s his name? Um, Jimmy Iovine. Is that who it is? It’s either Johnny I or Jimmy Iovine. Anyways, he worked for Steve Jobs and he, he was talking about what focus meant at Apple and he said, you know, the biggest thing about fo focus and staying focused is saying no to great ideas that you wake up in the morning thinking about how great they are, but they don’t line up to the strategic direction of where you’re trying to go.
Henry Schuck 00:51:03 And so you have to say no to them. This morning I was on an innovation call with our chief strategy officer. He presented this super cool idea and like, and every ounce of my energy wanted to say like, absolutely go do that <laugh>. And then you have this voice in the back of your head that goes like, but no, you said you’re gonna focus on these four things and you can disingenuously shove a square peg into a round hole to tell you that it does fit like the, you know, kind of indel built, delightful customer experiences, <laugh>. But you know, that’s not true, right? Yeah. So I, so you have to stay focused on those things and then I have to make, so, so that’s what I, first part of what I do today is set the strategy, set out the framework so everybody understands what we’re looking for and how we know we’re getting towards that strategy continuously, uh, say no to great ideas that don’t fit that strategy and then make sure I have the best team on the field to deliver and execute against it.
Henry Schuck 00:52:11 That’s what I can do, you know, if something is going wrong in our product organization, I can’t just go like do a heroic effort to fix it anymore. I can’t just show up and go, you know what? Clear my schedule for a month. Put me in all the product meetings. I’m gonna turn this thing around. I can give feedback, I can make sure I can try to, uh, move towards the right place. And then ultimately, I have to make sure that the right leadership is in those roles to get us to the right outcome. That is what I can do. Um, I can develop leaders and I can upgrade leaders, and, uh, those are the two areas that I have the most impact strategy, leadership. Um, and I have to make sure that I, as a c E O I’m focused on those two things. And if I can get, if I can get seven outta 10 strategy and leadership decisions right, then I’m probably the greatest c e o in the world. Um, and if I can get six out of 10 right, then I’m doing pretty good.
Ethan Garr 00:53:13 Sounds good. <laugh>.
Sean Ellis 00:53:15 <laugh>, awesome. Did you have a follow up on that, Ethan, or
Ethan Garr 00:53:18 I, I wanted to give you a shot before we, uh, wrap up. Perfect.
Sean Ellis 00:53:21 <laugh>. Perfect. So yeah, I wanna talk a little bit about the future before we, we, uh, before we wrap things up. So when you, when you think about ZoomInfo over the next, uh, and we, you could kind of zoom in or out <laugh> as far as you want on the future, but, uh, next year, next few years, like, what, what is, what is it that gets you most excited these days?
Henry Schuck 00:53:41 Uh, the opportunity has never felt as large as it does today. Um, every, so I’ve been on the road since September, not of 2020, but of this year. Um, and I’ve been meeting customers, I’ve been meeting investors, I’ve been meeting enterprise customers, mid-market customers. What’s so amazing to me is that every time I go into an enterprise account, I walk out going like, that should be a multimillion dollar account. There are a dozen places we should be plugged into to help digitize the way companies are going to market. And there’s a huge tailwind of companies that want to do this. Like old, you know, in the, in the quarter, uh, in last quarter we sold a number of sort of non-tech, non-digital, digital first companies. So rider systems, um, Sherwin Williams, uh, U S I corporation, Taylor Corporation, all became really big meaningful clients of ours because they wanna digitize the way that they go to market.
Henry Schuck 00:54:45 And that trend is not slowing down. You don’t show up somewhere and they go, you know what? We actually decided we don’t want to go to market in a digital way anymore. It doesn’t really work for us. And so that opportunity is massive and it’s early. The other piece I get really excited about is, um, everybody has a C R M system. Every single company, I’ve never gone to a company and they’re like, no, there’s no C R M here. Um, everyone’s got one and no one’s doing anything about the data that’s plugged into those systems. And it seems like totally intellectually dishonest <laugh> to have a C R M system and not say, well, I need to plug something in there to make sure all the data gets fully enriched and stays up to date. Nobody’s gonna tell you, like, yeah, every company that we sell to looks exactly the same today as it did last year.
Henry Schuck 00:55:34 Everybody will tell you, every company we’re trying to sell to looks meaningfully different on December 31st as it did on January 1st. There are different executives, some got funding, some didn’t, some got acquired, some did acquisitions. E every company is different. The people at those companies are different. Yet our C r M has no mechanism to keep track of those changes. That is crazy. It is not a way to run a business in the future. And by the way, it’s not sci-fi either. You know, I haven’t even gotten into using ML and AI to predict the right companies. I’m just saying the data that says in your CRM is objectively bad. And the fact that for two decades we haven’t done anything about that is totally bonkers. And so I have to expect that over the next decade, every company is gonna go, you know what? There is an infrastructural element of our C R M that is missing.
Henry Schuck 00:56:29 We can’t just have everybody put data in the C r m marketing salespeople, sales ops people, and then jump over cleansing and enriching a pending, keeping that data accurate and go straight into an analytics layer that makes no sense. I can’t just start doing analytics and building applications on a bad foundation of data. And so I have a lot of conviction that over the next decade, every company is gonna be plugging in ZoomInfo into their C r m systems. As an infrastructural must have to keep that information updated and accurate. I just can’t imagine a world where they don’t, um, and
Sean Ellis 00:57:08 Yeah, I can, I can see the like garbage in, garbage out kind of old, uh, old saying that like, it wasn’t garbage in, but it became garbage really fast. Totally.
Henry Schuck 00:57:19 And you totally, these big companies, they’re spending, you know, I was talking to a bank the other day, they’re spending, uh, they’re spending tens of millions of dollars on c r M and no infrastructural data element. You go to their, their investment bankers, their commercial bankers, and they’re like, yeah, I don’t use C R M because all the data is junk. Yeah. I believe it. <laugh>. And so yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:57:42 And then it makes sense that a third party would manage data accuracy of course, but like, yeah. Why, why should every business set up their own unit to try to keep the data up?
Henry Schuck 00:57:51 Mm, absolutely. Makes no sense. There aren’t enough people offshore to do it. For every company who wants to try to manually keep their data up to date, it is just not possible. Um, and so we are such an obvious important part of the go-to-market ecosystem today, but especially in the future. There’s just this tremendous tailwind that we’ll continue to, uh, to benefit from. And then the other thing I’ll tell you is I’m 39, um, I’ll be 40 next year. I, the people that I talk to on the other end of, uh, of our customers are starting to be a lot closer to my age. And the people who are my age, they grew up having access to this data, having access to these tools. They expect the data in their c r m to be accurate, to have access to good data, to have access to digital tools to reach their customers. And so as they, and they are, but as they become more and more senior leaders in companies, this is such an obvious pull through for them.
Sean Ellis 00:58:58 Yeah, that makes, that’s so hard to go backwards. Once you’ve had good data to work with, it’s really hard to say, eh, we’ll just fly by the sea of our pants. Totally. And not, yeah,
Henry Schuck 00:59:07 Actually we’re just letting go with our gut. Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:59:09 <laugh>.
Ethan Garr 00:59:11 Well, I think we’re, uh, we’re running out of time here. So, um, we have this one li this question we always ask guests, we’ve already asked you this, and the question is, what do, what do, do you understand about growth today that maybe you didn’t understand a couple of years ago, but I think for, since you, maybe it’s, uh, for you specifically, it’s since we last spoke and since you’ve taken this company public, what is it that you’ve learned about growth that’s changed for you or that you didn’t, wasn’t obvious for you in the past?
Henry Schuck 00:59:37 Uh, I do you have what I said last time? Ethan
Ethan Garr 00:59:41 <laugh>. I wish I did have it in front of you.
Henry Schuck 00:59:43 <laugh>. I’m so curious. I’ll have to look it up. I will tell you that today what I know about growth that I didn’t know before is, um, so growth starts with what your frontline account executives and your account managers can do and can c accomplish for you, especially in a SaaS business, obviously. And keeping them focused is maybe the most important thing you can do. And sometimes, and we benefited from this, sometimes your product lends itself to a lot of focus and a lot of clarity in the way that you go to market. And when you don’t have it, it’s very hard to get a lot of forward momentum without it sales reps, they can’t do 50 things a quarter, they can do three, and you gotta pick the three that are most impactful. You have to enable around it. You have to provide the right collateral around it. You gotta run programs around it. You can’t do 50, but you can do three and you can enable a whole thousand person team of salespeople to get those three and drive forward. But it has to be focused and it can’t be 50 things. That’s probably my biggest learning over the last couple years.
Ethan Garr 01:01:03 It’s, uh, I think Sean will agree that, uh, we constantly hear that maybe one of the most important things in growth is, is focus and ju like exactly what you said, you can try to do a lot of things poorly or you can do a few things. Well,
Henry Schuck 01:01:16 A hundred percent. And I wasn’t, I don’t think I would’ve told you that. I don’t, I’m certain when you go back and you can splice it into this interview after Ethan <laugh>. I’m certain I didn’t say that two years ago.
Sean Ellis 01:01:29 <laugh>. Yeah. Now we’re all
Henry Schuck 01:01:30 Really
Sean Ellis 01:01:31 Curious. We’ll dig in. Everyone listening, we’ll dig in. So this is perfect. Uh, perfect way to get some more ears on that one. <laugh>. Yeah. Um, yeah, it’s, uh, it’s, it’s interesting just for, for me on that same note, and this is just even on a weekly basis, but Ethan and I first started working together, you know, 20 plus years ago, uh, at a, at a game company called uproar.com in, in New York City. And, uh, it was the last company that sort of had the three things this week that you plan to do this week going forward and, and the three things that you plan to do last week, what happened with those? And back then I was in my twenties and I really, I really like didn’t appreciate it very much. I was kinda, that’s a pain in the ass exercise and you know, kind of want to be all over the place.
Sean Ellis 01:02:18 I, you and I love it now 25 years later that I sit down on, on Sunday and, and just lay out my plan. If I only got three things done this next week, what are the three things I care most about? And then what were the things I set out last week? And I I literally have it right here in front of me. Yeah. Awesome. He’s on the, I’ll even take it like these are my amazing, I won’t show too much, but like, these are my three from last week. These are my three for this week. And I’m, I’m constantly going back at it to keep me on what really matters when I sat down because there is so much stuff you can do in growth. Yep. That I, and, and I’m, I’m pretty a d d so it’s really easy for me to, to go down a, uh, rat hole of, of something I didn’t plan to do and, and just having this bring me back on task.
Sean Ellis 01:03:05 So I know it’s not, and what I like what you’re saying is like, you, you’re kind of talking about it in terms of the year and, uh, <laugh> and so really being able to focus on what matters or around the quarter. Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, but yeah, it’s, it’s been, it’s been super helpful for me as well. Yeah, a hundred percent. Um, cool. Well it was so fun to have you back on and thank you for having me back <laugh>. Yeah. And amazing to hear these numbers of, of moving from like 1100 employees when you were on to, to over 4,000 now and these different business units. Um, it’s, uh, it was, it was a fun conversation last time and, and even more fun this time to, uh, to to live a little piece of the journey for <laugh> for the last 45 minutes. Would you say it was a better conversation this time? Henry just <laugh> part of he can adds a lot, so Yes, he does. He does. Everyone needs a clown in a conversation. No, just kidding. Awesome. Well, uh, Henry, have a great day and, uh, for everyone tuning in, thank you for tuning in and, uh, we’re excited to get this one published. Thank you guys.
Ethan Garr 01:04:13 Thanks
Announcer 01:04:13 For listening to the Breakout Growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And while you’re at it, subscribe so you never miss a show. Until next week.
- Tips for Building a Rocketship from Canva’s Former Head of Product
- Tech Meets Sports & Entertainment: San Jose Sharks Growth Story
- Setting Expectations Around Chaos — Paddle’s CMO on Leading for Growth