Interview with Chris Hays, VP, Business Development and Operations, DiscoverOrg

Chris Hays, VP of Business Development and Operations at DiscoverOrg

“I believe the next transformation that will occur in sales will be fueled by AI. A company’s ability to execute AI successfully will have a clear advantage in the market.”

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Tell us about your role at DiscoverOrg and the team you handle.

I manage the Sales and Marketing Operations team at DiscoverOrg. My team handles the sales and customer engagement process, plus all of the applications and technologies that touch that process. Additionally, I am in charge of our Sales Development and Customer Development teams, currently about 70 people.

What’s the biggest attraction for you at Dreamforce 2018?

I’m looking forward to connecting and reconnecting with people that I have been working with virtually throughout the year. But I am most interested in the evolution of AI: from the perspective of Salesforce’s Einstein, as well as the other providers that will be at the show. We have been doing data modeling and advanced analytics for years at DiscoverOrg, and we have watched the industry transform from predictive analytics to machine learning and AI. It seems that SFDC is close to making that available, at a certain level, to companies who haven’t invested in data science.

Which sections of the event particularly interest you?

I am especially interested in the Einstein sessions that are planned. I believe the next transformation that will occur in sales will be fueled by AI. A company’s ability to execute AI successfully will have a clear advantage in the market. DiscoverOrg is fortunate, in that the service we provide is a key component in the evolution of AI.

Do you see Salesforce changing the tech equation with diverse acquisitions and new product launches?

SFDC continues to drive change every year. Their evolution has been incredible. With their acquisition of MuleSoft, for example, they’ve positioned cross-platform data integration as a service. This avoids a gap in feeding relevant non-SFDC data into their Einstein Analytic and learning platform; additionally, the MuleSoft acquisition helped them position themselves as integrators outside of the core SFDC platform.

How do Salesforce trends and technology impact your business?

SFDC basically started the SaaS space. As it has grown, the ecosystem of ancillary providers, integrators, and partners has grown as well. These companies are some of our best customers and partners, and they’ve continued to innovate and push the envelope of what is possible from a sales and marketing perspective.

How do you plan to extend the benefits of Dreamforce to your employees, customers and technology partners?

As we review the solutions and approaches highlighted at Dreamforce 2018, my team will be looking for relevant learnings that we can relay back into our own sales and customer success processes. We’re looking at anything that helps us serve our current and future customers in the most efficient and relevant way possible.

With 6000-plus MarTech and SalesTech companies in the competition, how do you stay on top of your sales revenue targets?

We’re hyper-focused on delivering our targets, in both new business and retention. We have built a pretty robust set of metrics to help us identify leading indicators that affect our ability to achieve targets, and we use these to modify behavior. We’re fortunate to have a nimble marketing team that can react quickly and help us course correct when needed. The other encouraging thing about those 6000 companies is that they are all customers, or future customers, of our platform.

How do you see marketing and sales operations evolving with the availability and maturity of better intelligence and reporting tools? How much of that impacts your own work at DiscoverOrg?

Marketing and sales operations will continue to evolve and to be more and more data-science driven. Operations will be tasked with collecting, analyzing, and building out modeled plays, paths, and touch points, all based on persona, level, and industry. These paths will be closed loops with positive and negative results that feed into the process, allowing for real-time modification and execution.

Reporting and KPIs will move further up the sales and retention process. When we want to understand revenue growth quarter over quarter, we’ll be able to have discussions about our engagement rate with leads by seniority and persona. And we’ll know what the expected conversion rate of those MQLs will be, two quarters out, in order to fill the sales pipeline for the next three quarters.

On the retention side, we’ll be looking at how new customers are onboarded and their engagement rate in the first 60 days. We will modify that engagement to find ideal bands of engagement that ensure upsell opportunities and optimal renewal circumstances. Sales and marketing operations will own these models, the automation, and measuring the outcome.

Would you provide us your take on turning AI-driven and enabled by 2020?

Sales, marketing, and customer success/enablement are all moving to an AI-informed path. We’ll be able to have a continuing understanding of our prospects’ likelihood to purchase, plus which actions, content, and products we need to put in front of them—and when to offer them—to ensure an optimal outcome.

An inspiring quote from past editions of Dreamforce that you have ever heard:

“We’re now in the 4th Industrial Revolution: Steam, Electricity, Computing, Intelligence.” – Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

Thank you, Chris! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Chris Hays is an established leader with 20 years of B2B sales experience. After holding global sales, marketing, and operations roles at Lucent and Avaya, he founded Inside Sales Team, a sales enablement company that became one of the fastest-growing companies in upstate New York, with over $10M in revenue. He joined DiscoverOrg in 2016, where he leads Sales and Marketing Operations.


DiscoverOrg is the leading global sales and marketing intelligence tool used by over 4,000 of the world’s fastest-growing companies to accelerate growth. Our award-winning solutions provide a stream of accurate and actionable company, contact and contextual buying intelligence that can be used to find, connect with and sell to target buyers more effectively – all integrated into the leading CRM, Sales Engagement and Marketing Automation Tools on the market. Data is gathered and updated through DiscoverOrg’s proprietary combination of technology, tools and integrations, and then verified by an in-house research team – resulting in the highest guaranteed level of accuracy available across B2B sales and marketing data providers.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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