MarTech Interview with Henry Schuck, Founder and CEO, DiscoverOrg

Henry Schuck, Founder and CEO, DiscoverOrg

“With a surge in data, the customer is faced with making intelligent, data-driven decisions on a minute-by-minute basis.”

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Tell us about your journey in Marketing and Sales Technology.

I guess you can say my journey dates back to my college days. In 2001, after my freshman year, I landed a job with iProfile, a company which focused on sales intelligence and profiling for technology organizations. Initially, the business took in around $300K in revenue; we grew this figure to over $5 million in the next five years. At the same time, in my mind, this wasn’t a true business — there were only five of us, including four college students. I didn’t see an opportunity for growth and knew I needed to refocus and pivot my energies elsewhere. So, I left iProfile and went to law school. However, just six months in, one of my past colleagues from iProfile reached out with an idea about starting a new business, similar to iProfile, but one that doesn’t exactly compete with its model. And the rest is (DiscoverOrg) history.

What inspired you to start DiscoverOrg?

Building on our experience at iProfile, we started DiscoverOrg in 2007. As a small and nimble team, we moved fast. We put $50K on our credit cards and began growing a database of IT decision makers and profiling the IT departments of companies. Soon, by the end of 2007, we went to market and quickly sold our first deal to a publicly traded staffing company. From there, we continued to innovate and grow the business in a bootstrapped, organic way. Now, here we are.

What is DiscoverOrg today and how much has it evolved since its inception?

Today, DiscoverOrg is a robust sales, marketing, and recruiting intelligence platform. It gives people who are selling to other businesses deep, valuable insights on their target buyers. The platform also provides various other information that’s key for selling, marketing, and recruiting purposes, such as company size, the technologies previously used and currently in use, the projects and initiatives employees are working on, the industry, the number of sales people, the type of CRM solution and networking system — the list of attributes goes on.

In the beginning, we profiled around 9,000 people at 1,000 or so companies. Now, we house significantly more data on roughly 18 million companies and hundreds of millions of people employed at those companies. In brief, from obtaining smaller data sets designed to serve a more narrow market, DiscoverOrg matured into a comprehensive network of data intelligence for people who sell into the B2B space, regardless of industry, as well as for those who are recruiting candidates from other companies.

Your recent acquisitions – ZoomInfo and NeverBounce – how did you plan these? How do you intend to extend the benefits of these acquisitions to your customers and technology partners?

The trajectory and vision of the two companies are quite similar. DiscoverOrg spent 12 years compiling and providing unique, high-quality data sets of companies and people. However, we played in a fairly niche space; our buyers were fundamentally software and technology companies. While ZoomInfo spent 20 years amassing a large database of B2B professionals and companies. Together, we are marrying 12 and 20 years of discipline on quality and quantity information. B2B sales and marketing professionals have always wanted significant coverage coupled with measurable quality. Now, we like to think they have the best of both worlds.

When it comes to NeverBounce — one of the ways we cleanse data in our systems is through email validation technologies. Before NeverBounce, we were spending half a million a year on email validation to cleanse our data using these technologies. Why not bring these critical capabilities in-house? So, we tested a dozen different providers — NeverBounce checked all the boxes.

Email validation and verification technology is growing. Plus, it’s a tech that’s core to our business as well to our customers. In this sense, the acquisition just made sense. Today, we are integrating NeverBounce into our Enrich product and our cleaning and appending tools. Every single one of our customers has a clear application and need for email validation and verification, and as leaders in quality data, the solution was an obvious extension.

How different is Customer Success for Marketing and Sales Technology products compared to other technologies, for instance, IT SaaS and Cloud?

The difference is in the knowledge the customer possesses. Our customers understand their use cases. They live and breathe them. Our products are designed to simplify their jobs at each step of their workflow. In our business, Customer Success is what keeps the domino pieces standing; without the right data, little by little, some critical component of our customers’ workflow can topple. We have resources in place to prevent that: University program, hands-on training, and various types of support.

How do you differentiate Customer Success from Customer Service at DiscoverOrg?

Customer Success provides continuous education and it’s proactive, offering help and resources before the customer asks for it. Customer Service, on the other hand, is more reactive. It’s there for when the customer raises their hand.

How have these changed in the past 5 years with the arrival of Sales Intelligence, Data Analytics and Automation tools?

The past five years have been all about data. With a surge in data, the customer is faced with making intelligent, data-driven decisions on a minute-by-minute basis. However, data proliferation has also created quite a bit more room for error, so success really depends on the customer’s ability to understand, segment, and use the data at their disposal — as well as discern from and properly employ the growing number of platforms available to solve today’s business challenges.

What are the core strategies you focus on at DiscoverOrg for global business development? How does it impact your revenue channels?

We have a direct sales model, so our sales team is selling directly to our end customers. In this sense, what we focus maniacally on is making sure that the machine that generates leads, routes them to SDRs, books demos with AEs, and closes those deals is optimized. One day we are talking about bringing more deals into the top of the funnel, and the next day about converting more of those leads to demos and opportunities. Getting that system optimized is one of the key pieces of our success.

Which business groups are using your product?

Both inside sales and account executives on the sales side. Really anyone in marketing. And talent acquisition and sourcing on the recruiting front.

Which geographies have been the fastest to adopt your product offering?

Our primary target geography is North America, although all companies doing business in B2B have a need. Because the content is in English, North America has traditionally been the fastest at adoption.

What role does Customer Success play in retaining these customer groups and in the consolidation of the market?

At DiscoverOrg, account executives close new business and pass deals over to customer success managers, who, in turn, own the relationship post new business sale. Following which, customer success is responsible for onboarding, training and answering questions, adding new users, enabling new modules inside the product, renewals, and so on. They’re advocates for our customers.

What is the sales culture that you represent? Why is it important to build a sales-focused culture for any business?

We want our teams to compete against themselves and each other. It’s exciting to set goals and to achieve them. For this reason, we give sales teams a lot of visibility into our goals and where we are in their achievement. When it looks like we may miss our targets, management is always ready to re-adjust, run new campaigns, think creatively about our current deals and how to progress them, as well as get involved in any size opportunity when we feel confident that our product will help a company grow.

Tell us how you achieve Marketing-Sales alignment. How does it impact your targets?

Marketing and Sales alignment is huge. For many companies, including DiscoverOrg, marketing is responsible for the vast majority of new business sourcing. On the ZoomInfo side, the number is close to 80%, and at DiscoverOrg it’s just over 50%. In other words, sales is completely reliant on marketing to hit their numbers. Without marketing, there is very little revenue for sales to bite off. It’s this very reliance on marketing that almost naturally forces alignment — in a mutually beneficial way.

Tell us about your product strategy and your vision to build high-performance data-driven teams.

Essentially, our product strategy has two key elements. The first is to have the broadest, deepest and most accurate B2B data available, including contact information, company information, firmographics, technographics, and intent data. The second element entails making that data easily accessible and available within our customers’ go-to-market systems.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Sales Technology leader?

In my mind, AI is a tool used to identify patterns of behavior that lead to some level of the desired outcome. For example, depending on the number of replies to our emails and phone calls, we can say with 80% confidence that a prospect will become our customer. By forecasting prospecting and looking at customers who have replied four times, for instance, we know how to push for the fifth reply.

Alternatively, we can look across our pipeline to see how many customers are past the fifth reply and forecast our end-of-month or quarterly numbers with some accuracy. This way of deciphering patterns is very difficult to do without AI tech. AI can also look at a variety of metrics, and take all of that data and build a predictive score around whether or not particular companies are likely to turn or not. Once you have that data, you can build your decisions and your engagement with customers around what AI is telling you. It’s powerful stuff.

Which events and webinars do you most occasionally attend and why?

I try my best to attend anything that addresses solutions to challenges in today’s technology-driven landscape. I’m interested in how data intelligence continues to advance, shape and serve the likes of sales and marketing pros in new and profound ways.

Your advice to other CMOs and sales professionals in the Sales Tech industry —

My advice? Build an engine. It’s imperative to understand the rhythm of your business and what needs to happen at every step for you to hit whatever revenue, lead, or opportunity goal is in front of you.

At DiscoverOrg, we know exactly how many calls it takes to secure a certain number of appointments, demos, opportunities, and revenue. And we know how to work backwards from there. Unless you’re thinking about your process in this very way — tracking every single metric — you’ll continue to come across surprises. You won’t really understand what makes your business tick.

To diagnose a problem, you have to measure each one of these moving pieces. For instance, if your instrument leads to appointments to demos to opportunities to closed-won business, and you track all of this over time, you’ll better identify your problems. You’ll answer many of your most pressing questions: What’s causing ABC? Is it marketing? Is it sales? What’s at the heart of the issue?

At the same time, getting it right today doesn’t mean it will be right tomorrow. Something is going to break along the way. The key is to understand what’s missing and to use it to your advantage the next time around. If you instrument this way of thinking – of doing – all the way through the cycle, you’ll find the places where something is breaking, and you’ll be able to go back and fix it. Otherwise, you’re flying blind.

Tag a person whose answers to these questions would like to read from the industry.

Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet, and Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Conferencing — both are founders who have scaled their businesses to IPO.

Thank you, Henry! Hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Henry Schuck is the founder and CEO of DiscoverOrg, the leading source for information technology sales intelligence. Henry founded DiscoverOrg in 2007 when he was 23, and has led the company on a rapid growth path without the benefit of outside funding.

Henry is regarded as a market disruptor in IT sales intelligence. This led to his pursuing what he calls “innovation through dis-innovation”: building the industry’s most accurate contact database not through technology like webscraping or crowdsourcing, but by employing a team of 85+ data analysts continually calling into thousands of IT and finance departments.

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DiscoverOrg has connected growthbound companies directly to their ideal prospects, creating a fast track to decision makers by providing direct-dial phone numbers, verified email addresses, and department level org charts. The company predicts who is most likely to buy and reveals the context necessary to nail the pitch every time.

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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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