Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis interviews, leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis,
Speaker 1 00:00:23 Right? And this episode of the breakout growth podcast, I interview Henry shook, CEO of zoom info on the heels of their NASDAQ IPO in June. Now this was the largest tech IPO this year, and they're currently valued at about $13 billion. Henry tells the story of the company's founding and merger in 2019 to form today's zoom info. So he led one of the entities. He pulled together with another entity, and today it's a, it's a pretty big company. So that combining data tech and insights, the platform is used by about 200,000 sales and marketing professionals at 16,000 companies to help them find their next best customer Henry's side of the business was bootstrapped through 2014. And so he was able to leverage really an automated sales and marketing process to drive breakout growth in a really efficient way because they were bootstrapped so early today, the overall company is about 1300 employees and despite a sales driven model, they have built really a, an always experimenting mindset using data at every step in the customer journey to power growth.
Speaker 1 00:01:38 So in that sense, it looks a lot like a consumer business, but it's really a B2B business. That's had incredible growth and we'll all be able to learn something from this. So before we get started with the interview, you may have seen that I officially launched go practice that IO this past week on product hunt with my partner, <inaudible> Cuban cough, and he's a former data scientist at Facebook. So he really knows this stuff. And it's a great compliment to my experience. We believe that this immersive simulator is the best possible way to learn a data driven approach to growth and product management. So go check out, go practice.io. But for now let's jump in with Henry shook, CEO of zoom.
Speaker 0 00:02:29 Hi Henry. Welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Hey Sean, thank you for having me.
Speaker 1 00:02:34 Yeah, super excited. I think you're the first a recent IPO CEO that I've had on the podcast. And so this is a exciting milestone for me personally, to be able to dig into something where, you know, for the pre pre public companies, it's a, you're often looking at hard to read signals in terms of growth rates, where a public company it's all out there and you guys have clearly, uh, achieved some amazing numbers to get to the point where you could go public. So congratulations on that. And, uh, I'm excited to dig into how the heck you've driven all of that growth, but I think we should start with what zoom info is and really how it, how it came about.
Speaker 2 00:03:13 Sure. Well thank you. And I'm excited to be here. Hopefully I can impart some tips that we've used along the way that, uh, that the listeners can grab and take with them. So, uh, what's ZoomInfo is, is, is it's a platform of data, technology and insights that's used by sales and marketing professionals over 200,000 of them at 16,000 companies. And it's used by them to find their next best customer. And so what that means is they come into our platform, they're able to identify companies that look like their best, their best customers. And then they're able to identify the people at those companies who make the buying decisions for their products and services. And then they're able to have the contact information to engage with those folks. And then we're layering insights on top of that. So then they know not only, uh, what companies to reach out to and who to reach out to at those companies, but they also know what to say when they reach out and when exactly to reach out. And so we work with, uh, B2B companies and so companies that sell to other businesses and we work with everything from fortune 100, many fortune, 100 companies to a pecan exporter in Alabama and everything in between.
Speaker 1 00:04:26 Wow. And then, so I think one of the things that's really interesting with your company is that, um, not that long before your IPO, you merged two businesses together. So I believe you were on the discover org side before. Um, it would be great to get a little context on how the businesses came together and what's different now that they're together.
Speaker 2 00:04:49 Sure. Yeah. So I founded a ZoomInfo the company, the company that exists today. I founded it as discover Oregon 2007. I was 23 years old and I was in, uh, finishing my first year in law school at Ohio state university in Columbus, Ohio, uh, put $25,000 on my credit card and started this business, which was really kind of an outgrowth of a company that I worked at while I was in college. And so I worked at a company called high-profile while I was in college from 2002 to 2006, uh, that offered something very similar to what discover org offered when we launched and the concept behind both of those companies. And we actually ended up acquiring that profile, um, in 2015. But the concept behind both of those companies was can you provide sellers and marketers, really high quality information on the companies that they're targeting and on the people at those companies who make the buying decisions, can you serve it up in a, in a SAS platform and charge an annual subscription to it as this information is constantly changing.
Speaker 2 00:05:53 And so we'd launched the business to kind of go after a market that wasn't being served by the company that w by profile, where I worked in college and their company launched, we had our first come first customer within a, within a couple of months, um, continue to reinvest in the business. And we continue to stay focused on this idea of providing really, really high quality information on companies and the professionals at those companies. Now, the, and we scaled that to close to 5 million professionals at 250,000 companies. It was incredibly high quality information, but what our customers kept asking us for was more, we want more professionals, more companies, we just need more, we love discover org, but we need more. And for the last two decades, ZoomInfo was building a platform that provided incredible breath of information. So now that's like a hundred million professionals at 20 million companies.
Speaker 2 00:06:53 And what we said was, is there an opportunity here to really bring quality and quantity together and one best of breed platform. And so we made the acquisition of ZoomInfo in February of 2019, we brought the systems and technology that we had built over at discover org to, uh, to cleanse and maintain data at really high accuracy. We brought that all over. It says, ZoomInfo, we're able to get the breadth of the incredible breadth of coverage that's ZoomInfo and belt. And so we were, you know, we embarked to give, sell sellers and marketers that they always wanted from a plat, from a prospecting and outreach and sales and customer success platform, which was, they wanted quality and they wanted coverage and putting the two companies together, made it possible for us to offer that. Wow.
Speaker 1 00:07:44 And, um, the, yeah, I mean, it's interesting because the zoom info name is one that I feel like I've seen forever. Um, and, uh, you know, like you just, you see your own name in there a lot of times on, on searches. And, um, but it makes sense then that that's where the breadth comes from is that they, they had, they had a pretty broad data set. And then, uh, with what you'd built to be able to just make that data a lot more useful, because obviously for sales teams, that's, uh, you know, time is money. And if they can, if they can have clean data with, with helpful insights to close deals, then that's gonna be, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:08:19 A lot more valuable for them. That explains partly what's been fueled
Speaker 1 00:08:26 Both, but I would any other like key insights in terms of, you know, from that 13 year period from when you initially started the business to taking it public,
Speaker 2 00:08:38 Um, what,
Speaker 1 00:08:39 Right out of the gate, I guess, one thing to even start with is, did you, when did you feel like we're onto something and, um, was, was there kind of any, any sort of iteration to get to product market fit, or did you have sort
Speaker 3 00:08:56 Of a scalable formula for right at right away?
Speaker 2 00:08:59 I mean, yeah. I think like most, like most startups CEOs are the best ones. I think I always felt like it was a house of cards like that the whole thing could fall apart at any moment. And that really all that was like keeping this afloat was, you know, me coming in every day and working as hard as I possibly could to make the business a little bit better and a little bit better. And honestly, the first time I felt any like real true validation was at the IPO. Like the day after the IPO,
Speaker 1 00:09:38 That's a long Trek of, um, feeling like you. Like, you're not sure
Speaker 2 00:09:43 By the way, like, I feel like that often today too, like today, I'm trying to project out, you know, over 30% growth for the next, for the next decade. And so, you know, you're making bets on a vision for the future and plugging in people into that vision. And so you often still feel like, you know, do I have that right? And you know, I second third guest decisions that I make all the time and it's pretty healthy. Cause it always kind of gets me to the right point. But I think all along, you know, the best story I have for the shot is, um, our business was about 25 million of ARR and it was profitable and it was growing 60%, 70% a year. And we had, you know, a hundred employees and I remember him going to like a networking event in our community.
Speaker 2 00:10:39 And on, I met a couple of other CEOs of businesses and I remember meeting one and he was telling me how his business was going 40% in this like interesting space. And I remember thinking like, Oh man, it must be so nice to be like the CEO of a business. That's growing 40%. Like all of the problems that my business has, I would like go look at at the time and go like, Oh, you know, like marketing's messed up. I need a new leader and customer success. The platform went down last week. I don't have the right software developers. I'm a high, not hiring salespeople. Like my business is a mess. And it's growing like in spite of itself, like these guys who are CEOs and they're like 40% growing company, they're like deep kicked up and everything's running smoothly and nothing's as stressful as my life is. And the truth of the matter is number one, like that feeling should never go away because if you are growing your business, there's always something you're not doing well enough. And then second, like every business owner and every, every CEO, every CML head of sales deals the same way they're playing, whack-a-mole all that. Um, you know, and so, you know, I spent most of my professional career playing whack-a-mole against the next most important thing. Um, so, but I think that's been pretty healthy.
Speaker 1 00:12:10 So is that, so you said earlier that, that it was about kind of getting better. The business gets better every day. Was it really like, those improvements were just so obvious in like, Oh my God, we need to fix this. We need to fix this. Or, um, w was there anything else that you did to kind of drive that continuous improvement of all parts of the business or was it pretty reactive to obvious things?
Speaker 2 00:12:33 So I had a cold call from this guidance Judas office officer, like marketing automation is a little bit different than what you're doing. So just come to this webinar and see what it is. And I went to the webinar and I walked out going, Oh my goodness. Like, I didn't even know that this world of automation existed for going to market. And I bet that there's a lot that I can do with this from marketing automation to sales team automation, to follow up, uh, automation. And so I dove into that software and then I automated our entire go to market motion. It was the first time we automated it, you know, today, even today when we have 1300 employees, um, a lot of that initial automation still exists in the way we go to market. And so, for example, um, if you, if I sent you an email and, uh, and you said, Hey, right now is not a good time.
Speaker 2 00:13:27 Can you follow up with me? And in June? And I go like, okay, sure. And I said, uh, I said, actually, an automation date send this guy, my, Hey, you told me to follow up with you in June email, you know, May 15th. And so May 15th, it sends an automatic reply to this guy. Hey, John, we talked months ago, you said to reach out to you and may, uh, would love to get that 30 minutes that we talked about or after a demo, uh, after a demo, I found that a lot of our, our sales reps and there was two of us, you know, three of us at the time, but our sales reps would miss things and they wouldn't follow up with their prospects as diligently as they should be. And if a competitor got into, uh, into the opportunity and they did a better job of managing those opportunities and following up that we would lose the account.
Speaker 2 00:14:17 And so we created automation. So as soon as you, uh, finished a demo, you hit a button and Infusionsoft, and it started sending, it would send them an email the next day that said, Hey, it was great to talk to you. I wanted to send you a case study. And then the next day, Hey, I wanted to send you some additional content that I think you'd find useful. And so from day one, we were really using email marketing and then coupling that with sales and marketing automation to generate the pipeline that we needed to grow the business. And that was the sole source of how we, how we went market from zero to just over $30 million of ARR. And that's when we shifted the model a bit to start doing SEO and SEM and digital marketing. But up until that point, it was a combination of really good sales automation and really good marketing automation. Right.
Speaker 1 00:15:09 And then you were able to just see, like at the increasing close rates or more, more, more efficiency and just number of conversations. Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:15:19 Totally. I mean, so increased our close rate. And at the time, um, when I think back to those days, we were competing really with, um, kind of one other provider who was offering something that was more directly competitive with us. It was a company called ranking. Um, and they had gotten a bunch of venture capital funding and had a sales team that was five times the size of ours. And the automation helped us play like way ahead of them because, you know, my, my five sales reps could manage five times as many opportunities because of the automation as one sales rep at rain King. And so every time you added an additional sales rep, uh, because you hit like capacity on how much your existing sales team can handle, you got the equivalent of sort of five of your competitors sales reps. As though we were able to build this incredibly efficient, profitable business, which put us in a, in a position later on to be able to do M and a, in a way that we wouldn't otherwise have been able to do, if the business was like barely breaking even, or losing money, because we've built this incredibly efficient engine and put us in a place to do a lot of acquisitions that, that helped fuel our growth.
Speaker 2 00:16:39 Right.
Speaker 1 00:16:39 So were you bootstrapped through this whole thing, or did you re raise money at some point in there
Speaker 2 00:16:44 We're bootstrapped through 2014. So we found the big of seven. We grew in a bootstrapped way through 2014 when we brought our first, uh, outside capital in, uh, it was a firm called TA associates.
Speaker 1 00:16:58 Wow. That's, that's amazing. Congratulations on that, on the grind. I mean, that makes sense in what you're saying is that you can, you can grind and do that profitably if you, uh, if you've got the right systems,
Speaker 2 00:17:09 Grinding is like, uh, it's it's um, when, you know, no other when you know, nothing else. And at the time, like, you know, I thought working on, on, on ZoomInfo was a much easier task than working on law school, like fully is just because my art, my like talents lined up better, but it was much more, uh, much less of a grind was in law school. So, uh, and did you, did you actually find it fun then? Totally. Yes. I mean, in the moment, you know, in the moment, I'm not sure it was fun because you always had some bigger aspiration than where you were at the moment, even when big chips like fell for you, you were like, okay, great. But it's not the thing that I am trying to get to, but I'm glad that happened. Biggest deal of the year, biggest deal in the company's history.
Speaker 2 00:18:09 Awesome. What, you know, what else do we need to do to get to the place that we need to go? And so it is just kind of like, you know, today we're signing, um, we're signing, you know, larger deals than we ever have in the history of our business. We're bringing on more customers than we ever have in the history of our business, and you're still looking at it and going like, yeah, that's great. But you know, it's just a piece of the puzzle for where we die. So it's, you know, I read an interesting post by Jason Lumpkin once. And he said, someone asked, um, our founders and CEOs of startups happy. And he was like, they're full, still, they're excited. They're engaged about their business, but it's just too hard to be happy. There's too much pressure to grow and pressure from your investors and obligation to your, uh, your staff that it's just too hard to be like really, really happy or to really be having fun. But there are moments in there that, you know, bring up our nostalgic. Sure.
Speaker 1 00:19:12 Yeah. And you look back and, and, and probably you look back fondly on it, even if in the moment, sometimes there was smoke coming out of your ears. Totally. So, I mean, it sounds to me like that that really, um, you know, fit, you filled a market gap from the beginning. You, you were able to just go and, and aggressively grab that, that the market that was available and that you weren't the only solution out there as you're doing it, but it, but it's probably probably the combination of a, of a good solution and a, an a, an, a good process for going out and capturing business. And then you mentioned that, that you got to a point where you started to layer in things like SEO. What, um, how, how did that work? Where would people like search for a name and, and then, and then you'd be able to introduce them to, uh, a lot more information about that person that other people like them, or what, where are they searching for a specific story?
Speaker 2 00:20:07 Yeah. So a little bit of both. Um, so we optimize, and so now a mold, some of the discover Oregon, um, on the ZoomInfo side, they were really well optimized for, you know, you're looking for a company you're looking for a person and they ranked really high on Google search results to find those people. And if you wanted additional contact information or information on those people, you can, uh, you could get a free trial. And then they had a motion. Uh, we had a motion where we worked as free trials and to take customers on the DiscoverOrg side, we're much more focused on key, um, kind of key word strategies. And so what we're buyers going to be searching for on a potential buyers be searching for on the web to come to where we would, we would be well positioned in front of them.
Speaker 2 00:20:57 And so if you were looking for sales leads or sales process optimization and how to go to market, or the can spam act, we would rank for those terms. And we'd write really great content for those terms. And so buyers would come to us that way. Uh, and then we spend money on STM. And so we were buying Google ads on a variety of different keywords on branded and unbranded keywords. And that became a bigger part of our strategy as well. And, you know, you tracked each one of these different channels in a really specific way where I wanted to always see, I always wanted to see, like how much money did we spend, and then how much money of the leads that we generated against that spend, did we generate in revenue across any number of those channels? And, um, and then, you know, over time, because the leads you generate in January from STM, don't all close in January. Um, but what we were, what I was always hopeful for was that the spend that we spent to generate those leads in January would be solved for also in January, but over time, we'd get up to a five X return on that spend.
Speaker 1 00:22:05 Okay. Wow. That's a, that's a pretty, that's a pretty good return on ad spend. I mean, it makes it a no brainer to make that spend,
Speaker 2 00:22:12 I mean, yet remember like that's on the marketing, you know, marketing specific spend. And so there's also all sorts of other spend that has to happen for a deal to come to fruition. You're paying your sales reps. The platform has to work all that stuff, but on pure, like dollars out for marketing against dollars brought in from that, uh, from that outweigh, we always look to get a five X return. And so we'd go to events like somebody would come to me and say, Hey, I think it's really important that we go to this. Uh, we go to this, the sales event or the sales conference, and I go, okay, what's the sponsorship fee. It's, uh, you know, it's 20 grand. Great. You commit to bringing in a hundred thousand dollars of revenue from going to this conference. And I'm all about it. Like will 100% spend the money and the frame of the change in frame of mind for folks, when you just tell them that they're like out there at that conference. And they know they need to get to a hundred thousand dollars. And so they need like on average, you know, five deals, and they're just looking for that opportunity versus you don't go to a conference and you can get kind of comfortable going, well, our signage was here and people stopped by and it was like, no, you're going to go there. And you're going to find a hundred thousand dollars, or we're never going to do another one of these techs on the lot.
Speaker 1 00:23:34 That's that brute scout mindset, which is great. And it keeps you efficient. And even after you raised money. So was there any major challenges that come to mind as you were, as you were going through this process of driving growth, even, even in to recent years, like where, where you had to overcome a big major hurdle?
Speaker 2 00:23:52 Yeah, like a couple come to mind at some point that email marketing engine that we had built just stopped working. And so going into 2015, you can put, you can put a hundred leads into the top of the funnel and I would get one appointment from those weeks. And so at some point, I said, okay, well, great. That's a model that's working. Let's just put as many leads into the top of the funnel as possible. And so we went out and we like bought lists. And, you know, today this is so different for us because we just use zoom. And so, but back then, and we weren't profiling the same buyers as we were targeting. Um, so we went out, I bought lists from a variety of different people. I put them into the top of the funnel. None of them were none of the places where I bought data from were particularly reputable.
Speaker 2 00:24:48 And so it just demolished our email deliverability. And when your email delivering deliverability gets hurt that way you're in a heap of trouble, because not only does your email marketing stop working, but your, your sales team's ability to conversation with their prospects were engaged in buying decisions disappears. So now here I am with this stupid strategy, um, that blew up in my face and I've got sellers like basically lined up outside my door, like, Hey, my emails are not getting through, Hey, my customer said, they're not getting my emails. Hey, what's going on with our email? I don't know, like the weight of that, like responsibility for that bad decision that led us to this point was like pretty immense. And then you're like, why built my entire go to market strategy on email marketing? And all of a sudden it's like, it's gone away.
Speaker 2 00:25:46 And so we had to do a lot of work to repair our email reputation. And at one point, um, there, what we got on a black West and not black list, like the pervasiveness of that blacklist was incredible. Like it blocked us all over the world, including our LinkedIn company profile page taken down, like for some reason that was connected to this like black list. And so I literally hired a private investigator and said, go find me the CEO of this company. Like wherever he is, because it was very difficult to find any point of contact at this company that basically runs email deliverability in the world. And so they did it, they found him they're like, he lives in Monaco. They found him, they said he went, he lives in Monaco. And, uh, it was a great someone needs, like tell me where he's going to be. And I'm going to get on a flight and go to Monaco and beg him to take us off of the list. Cause it was the only like solution. Right. Wow. Um, and then ended up, we ended up, uh, we had a, uh, a mutual contact who was able to talk to, uh, to talk to the company and take us, get us off the West after, so you didn't need to go to Monica. Didn't need to go to Monica.
Speaker 2 00:27:10 Wouldn't do that. Wow. Yeah. I, uh, I've, I've been, uh, I had a business where I got blacklisted from advertising on Google and, um, it was literally, I, I, it was like shut down the business or figure out someone to talk to so that I can buy ads and keep this business going. And, um, yeah, I know exactly. It was like every day dedicated to solving this one problem that it could be super painful, super painful. And like, uh, when you're trying to solve this email deliverability problem to like, it's hard to get the like ground truth information about what's actually happening because so many companies are using so many different email systems. And so it's like, wait, why am I being blocked by these guys? But not these guys. Right. You're trying to figure out. And it was, you know, it was a very painful, it was very painful.
Speaker 2 00:28:04 Wow. You clearly overcame it. So that's good. Um, so real quick, I, maybe just a pretty high level, just overview of how you guys are organized for growth now and sort of process wise. It's a lot of, it's been sort of backwards looking up to this point, but you know, what, what teams do you have? You have marketing sales, customer success. Um, but how, how does the sort of process work there? Let me walk you through that. So today, um, we have a sales team, marketing team and account management team of customer success team on the sales team. We have, uh, we do, uh, we have a lot of specialization. And so you have inbound SDRs. Those are sales development reps who just work on leads that come in and down. Um, we have a 92nd SLA. So if you go to our website and you fill out a form, one of those inbound SDRs will call you back within 90 seconds, we have outbound SDR.
Speaker 2 00:29:03 So they're just calling, doing outbound cold calling. We have SWAT SDRs. These are SDRs who work warm leads. So people who, um, people who didn't, uh, fill out a form, but did come to your website and, and, uh, bounce around the pricing page or the solutions page. So they've had some interaction, but they haven't raised their hand for a free trial or something like that. Then, uh, so they're generating appointments for a team of account executives. Those account executives are broken out into three groups. And so you could be working SMB leads, mid-market leads or enterprise leads. Uh, so the SDR sets a demo for an account executive. The account executive works that demo to close. And depending on the segment that you're in from an account executive perspective, once you close the deal, you, you may own it for six months, uh, and actually two thirds of the instances you all for you on that account for six months.
Speaker 2 00:30:05 And so you have an opportunity to upsell an organization, or, you know, let's say a customer agrees to a lower package then, uh, but you think, or less users, Hey, I want to start with five users. Even though I have 10 users, then the account executive is incentivized to bring the deal in with five users. And then over the next six months, upgrade them to the rest of the team. Um, and then, uh, and then after the six months it gets handed over to her and account management team. I should back up a little bit when the deal gets closed, we bring in a learning and development team. That team includes integration engineers and basically training folks. And so they train the customer on the platform. They get them integrated in their CRM or marketing automation or sales, automation tools. And then, and then the account manager comes in six months later, that account manager is just response is responsible for the renewal of the account and also responsible for upsells or additional features and functionality or users that may sell the account, depending on the size of your account.
Speaker 2 00:31:06 You'd also have a customer success manager or customer success engineer that customer success engineers just responsible for keeping them happy. They're monitoring your health score of the account, which is based on a variety of different factors. You know, the biggest one is just usage. So if a company goes from 80% of the users using it on average, and it drops to 60%, there's a playbook that gets into a remediation playbook that gets sent out to the customer success manager, and they're working to bring that usage back off. And, um, if there's a support issue, a support ticket that's been sitting for over 15 days, it customer success managers getting involved in trying to figure out a work around for that or seeing what, where the fix is coming up, uh, in the product and keeping communication with the customer. And so they're just all about success. They don't have a, there's not a renewal, um, there's no variable comp from a renewal or upsell perspective. They just keep their accounts happy and they're teamed up with account managers. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:32:11 But so the integration or that kind of learning and development part is not customer success. They're there, they're just more of a, uh, an onboarding phase. Yes. Okay, cool. And then the marketing you also mentioned, and I assume the marketing is really what's driving those inbound leads.
Speaker 2 00:32:28 Yeah. Marketing is generating about 15,000 hot and <inaudible> a month, um, that the, uh, the endowed SDRs are converting now for what it's worth. That's not how it was always right at the very beginning, the account executive closed the deal and then onboarded the users and then was the account manager at renewal time. And then at some point we migrated to just having account managers after an account executive close the deal on the account manager would be responsible for a new one upsell during the year. Um, and then we added, you know, we added customer success managers and then a learning and development team. And so all of these kind of came, came after. And the way there's actually a great book I read early on was called the email, which is now that it's a great book. And, um, and if you, if you like to consume it and get it stuck in your head, it's a great tool for prioritizing your day.
Speaker 2 00:33:29 If you find yourself working on something that shouldn't be passed off, that you're like it basically the concept is if you're an expert at something, become an expert at everything in your business and then give it to train somebody else to do it. And if you become an expert at something and you're still doing it every day, you need to figure out what I'm, what you're doing from a hiring perspective, to bring somebody else in, to be able to focus on that. Um, and so we did, you know, we did a, we did a lot of that growing up.
Speaker 1 00:33:59 So when you described this like really sophisticated system that you clearly, as you talked about, you know, make the business better every day, keep finding those improvements. This is, seems to be an output of that. Do you think what you have in place now would have worked in the early days, or is it more of a, a big team set up and that's, that's it, or is it, you just hadn't figured it out at that point?
Speaker 2 00:34:25 I think specialization always works. Um, specialization for our business has always been a key to success now. Um, it would have been really heavy for a small company to operate this way. Um, and I think it would be now in every one of these instances, we see ROI from the investments and we track it really closely. And so we're not going to add an additional customer success manager, unless we can see a corresponding return on investment for that. And so what we're saying is, okay, well, we added these five and we're doing experiments constantly. We added these five customer success managers supporting a mid market team. How did the renewals and upsells against those accounts trend after we added those customer success managers. And if you see the right trend line there, then you can start making the case for adding more and more and more.
Speaker 2 00:35:18 Um, and so the organization, as it exists today, every investment we make, we're tracking the ROI against. And so it works for us today in the, in the early days, you know, maybe the system wasn't as, as complicated there weren't integrations to do. It was a pretty system to get onboarded onto. Um, we were selling in some instances like unlimited licenses. So there wasn't like an, an, uh, an up sell ability in those days. And so you really didn't need like three people on one account. Uh, we didn't have that many accounts. And so an account manager can manage, you know, the 10 or 20 accounts that they have. So I think it's just different stages, but I think the, the idea of specialization as you mature is, uh, works everywhere.
Speaker 1 00:36:12 So one of the things you, you touched on there is talking about experimentation. And, um, it's interesting is because experimentation is so, so accepted now as something in a business to consumer business that you, that you have so much data coming through, that, that it's, you know, you should be experimenting and improving out of all those customer touch points. It tends to be a lot harder and kind of a sales driven business. And I think part of it is because salespeople themselves are somewhat variable. How do you, how do you think you've figured out in terms of experimentation in your business that most kind of sales driven organizations don't realize?
Speaker 2 00:36:52 Um, so we metric like literally everything. And so from the number of calls you make to the number of calls that come into you to how many emails you send every day, and how many DocuSign's you send out, how many DocuSign's get returned? We have a daily pacing for, uh, for, for our retention team and our, um, sales team. And so every day we know exactly the dollars we need to sell across the different teams to hit our target at the end of the month. And we've embedded data scientists inside of our go to market organization. Um, and so you have a half a dozen data scientists who are constantly looking at all of these different metrics and how they're changing and where we have opportunities for, for lift. And we just went through a major revamp of the way we think about our account management function, where what we did was we brought all the data into, we brought all data on customer interactions to the platform, downloads from our platform, integrations connected or not connected, basically every activity a customer does.
Speaker 2 00:38:08 We brought that all into a snowflake database. We layered in all of the zoom info data. So we knew the size of the companies, how fast they were growing, whether they got funding or not, what projects and initiatives they were working on. And we base it. And we created a system that, that when there were changes in a customer's behavior or interaction with our platform or with our company, based on those changes, we would Institute a playbook for customer success managers or account managers to go run. And so, like I was saying, it's usage goes down, there's a playbook for that support tickets go up. There's a playbook for that. If an integration gets disconnected, an engineer called you to fix that, like they're every sort of like not every, but many of the things that happen to our customers and users today that impact their health with our business are triggering, are triggering off a set of actions that our customer success managers and account managers are then, uh, then taking and then compliance with those actions is being tracked. And then we're feeding, we're looking at how it affects those accounts. So did it, did that remediation plan increase usage, um, and we're monitoring that constantly, but that, you know, we're a fairly decent sized company today, but that is a new, uh, that is a new addition. That's a, that level of sophistication is new to our company.
Speaker 1 00:39:40 That's interesting. I, I, I smell E-Myth there. It's, uh, you know, like, I think once, once you document the playbook, that repel repeatable playbook, that, that generates a consistent output, then you can work on improving that playbook. And that's, that's part of that experimentation to, to improve that you're talking about. And I think that's the problem in most sort of wild West sales organizations that, that there's not enough documented playbook for doing things to have any kind of consistent way to run experiments. You know, individuals might be experimenting, but spreading that, learning across a sales organization, it's really tough when everybody's taking a different path.
Speaker 2 00:40:20 Yep. And the first time I really, I really appreciated the rhythm of the business was we hired a CFO in 2015 and he came in and built all these dashboards around the business. And so you could see like the heartbeat of the business every day. And he was like, Henry, the business has a rhythm. Like you do these things, they generate these things to generate those things, then you generate revenue. And so my, my job is to make sure you understand, and we all understand the rhythm of those business of the business, and we can start pinpointing where there are issues and remediate them and remediate them before they become problems.
Speaker 1 00:41:00 Right. So do you have any kind of traditional tools and how you're approaching that in terms of like a, like a, um, you know, using OKR or North star metric? Um, no. When I say traditional tools, I guess it would be more like, um, tools that are, that are used by a lot of companies to kind of drive some of these things, or is it more just the way that you've developed that, that dashboard to get the, the heartbeat and the documented processes and, and that sort of replaces the need for things like, okay.
Speaker 2 00:41:30 Yeah, it's basically, we've kind of built a of these ourselves and we, and so every organization does have their own set of metrics that they're managing towards, but, um, the, the ways that, that those metrics come together or report it are, you know, each business, each business unit kind of looks at them differently, but most, most of the data that we're collecting, we're pumping into a snowflake database, and then we're doing an analysis against that snowflake database and, um, in a visualization tool to understand really like what is, what the visualization on those metrics are. Um, and then we, we've also, we've also leveraged pretty heavily here, our FP and a, uh, financial planning and analysis teams where, when we first hired a CFO, I was like, I don't know why we need a CFO. Uh, we have a controller, they're just doing the numbers.
Speaker 2 00:42:23 That's all we need. My board was like, yeah, you just don't know what a good CFO can do for you. And so when we brought in a professional CFO and I, and when we brought him in, I said, look, I don't need someone who just does the numbers. I need someone who's helping me understand the business and can be strategic around where we're making investments and where the business is doing well or where it's doing poorly. And so the finance department really became a key partner to the business and its ability to give us metrics and analysis on what was going on in the business and helping us really see things that you couldn't, you really didn't get to see just by looking across the floor.
Speaker 1 00:43:01 So, so an out there question that I was just going to hit you with is that if it feels like so much of what you're doing is really great guidance. Like I'm, I'm excited for the business of business, um, companies that are listening in on the podcast today, have you given that your customers are, are B to B companies,
Speaker 2 00:43:21 Have you, have you
Speaker 1 00:43:24 Kind of done a lot of content marketing around, around the systems that you've built to scale your, uh, growth organization or, um, I guess, cause it feels like that would be a really attractive way to generate some of those inbound leads.
Speaker 2 00:43:36 Totally. That is. So if you go on our website and you go to the recipes for success, portion of our website, we're basically outlining all of the key processes that we're using to go to market. And, you know, we're kind of a little bit late to this. Um, but we've made a concerted effort to make transparent all of the different ways that we're going to market. So our customers and other B2B businesses can really understand what we're doing and how it works and they can replicate it for themselves.
Speaker 1 00:44:07 Excellent. And I think as you touched on earlier in the conversation that, um, you know, you, you get to a certain point where, uh, w even if you're late to the party on some things, that's like, Oh gosh, there's another thing that we can uncover that can potentially accelerate the business. So it's, it's almost like, uh, an exciting discovery when you, when you think of other things, as opposed to a, Oh, I can't believe we've been missing that one actually liked the way
Speaker 2 00:44:32 You respond to that. So I have a coach that I, that I talk to like every, every other week. And he took me through this assessment called an Eli assessment, looks at like your emotions and how you respond to them and a great leader. They call it a level five leader. They see something like that. And they go just as a great opportunity for us. Like we haven't been doing it, but can you imagine the lift that we're going to get when we start doing this thing, like amazing our business are doing so well, we're not even doing this thing really well. Um, and like a level one leader goes like, we suck. We're never going to be good. I can't believe we can't even do content well. Like how can we ever succeed? This is the way our content walks. And it was really like, you know, the same input and your output against that makes a big difference.
Speaker 1 00:45:29 Right. Oh, that's awesome. So, so many more questions I would love to ask, but I want to let you get back to, to running the business. Um, one last question that I'd like to dig into is, you know, you've gone through so much learning clearly and taken it to such a great level at this point. Is there anything that you feel like you've learned in the last year or two that really stands out as a, an understanding of how growth works that, uh,
Speaker 2 00:45:58 Share with the listeners? Yes. Great messaging is so, so, so important. The way you message the product that you sell is the direction that you're going. Um, the value to your end customers, spending time on how you message that is endlessly valuable. And I didn't really appreciate that until this year when, um, I started doing the road show for the IPO, and you could talk about some part of our business one way, and nobody cares, and you can talk about it another way. And everybody goes, Oh my goodness, you're doing that. And it's like, Oh, you know, like, don't do yourself a disservice to not talk about important things in the best way possible. So iterate on the way you talk about your products, the value your customers get the way you talk about your competitors, like iterating, iterating, iterate on those things because when you get them right, and you're able to paint a picture with that messaging, that's, you know, bigger than your first iteration on it, it is endlessly valuable.
Speaker 1 00:47:10 Yeah. It's really interesting that you say that I launched a new product today, a learning product, and we, we kind of wrote our messaging and, and released it about a month ago. And I said, I don't want to launch right now. I want to do multiple pitches every day to my network of this new education product, until I figure out what resonates, then go back, refine all the messaging. And then, then we can really, so we literally did kind of the, the first kind of publishing of messaging and promotion today. And it's amazing how, how much evolution there was in the last month. That's a, as things that seem so obvious when I communicated them, you could just see people were like, I don't know what the hell you're talking about. And then slight tweak. And they're like, Oh my gosh, this sounds amazing. And so enough of those conversations, I'm sure there's a ton of room for improvement still, but it's, uh, that, that I'm not surprised that on a road show where you have so many conversations that you, you could start honing in on, uh, on, on how do you describe it in a way that gets people excited.
Speaker 1 00:48:14 And then, you know, the thing to remember there too, is that it doesn't, doesn't just stop at where you, how you describe your product or your business, like the way you describe a new initiative to your team, the messaging you use to persuade your direct team to about your vision for the company or the direction that you're going, or why you're doing something, why you're doing one thing and not another thing, and how you're prioritizing like messaging internally is also really, really important. So you, should, you have an important something important that you're releasing to the team, really thinking through how you present that and how you message it is also really valuable. Awesome. Yeah, I'm a, I'm a big fan. I'm sure if you've, if you've read E-Myth, I'm sure you've read a bunch of other stuff, but a chill, Dinis influence. Have you read that one?
Speaker 1 00:49:04 I have not read that one, but that's like the, that's like the, um, almost the Bible for, uh, the growth community. I, I, I first heard about it when I moved to Silicon Valley in 2007. And, uh, and yeah, it's, it's definitely up there at the top of my books in terms of, um, how, how to communicate in a way that drives the desired action that you're trying to drive for people. So that's a good one to take a look at. I'm buying it right now. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Henry, for, for opening up and sharing how you got to where you are. Um, I know it's not a finished line. It's a, it's just a new starting line, um, being a public company, but it's a, it's definitely an amazing milestone. And, uh, it's, it's, uh, it's exciting story that I was excited to be able to ask you about and share with the audience that listens to the breakout growth podcast. Well, thank you for having me on here to get to spend the time. Absolutely. Thanks everyone for tuning in.
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