ZoomInfo CEO Schuck: Mining CRM's 'wasteland of information' for insights

CEO Schuck believes the company can correct the mess that resulted from a decade of investment in CRM systems.
Written by Tiernan Ray, Contributing Writer on

Following better-than-expected Q1 revenue and profit, and a raised outlook, ZoomInfo CEO and founder Henry Schuck spoke with ZDNet Monday evening via Zoom. 

ZoomInfo's software is changing from being just a Rolodex in the sky to being a tool for automating front-office tasks of a company.

"A big part of what we're doing in 2021 is driving more adoption of the ancillary and more valuable signals," said Schuck. That includes things such as when a new CTO may come to a company. "That includes the opportunity to build automated workflows, so that every time there's a new CTO capture that person, put them into this automated sales campaign, alert the sales rep."

The company is "early in that evolution, still," he said. The company's Engage software is the next step in that forward march, the ability to automate sales campaigns and the like, the get analytics back, in a kind of feedback loop.

The effort is as much about fixing what's broken with CRM and other so-called systems of record of Salesforce and other vendors. 

"When we talk to customers, they invested a lot in CRM a decade ago, and they opened the door to peoople putting information in, with no governnance, and it became this wasteland of information," said Schuck.  "Sellers didn't want to engage with CRM because there was nothing interesting coming out of it." ZoomInfo plugs into CRM and "you can really turn CRM into a system of insight and away from a system of record."


ZoomInfo's customers "invested a lot in CRM a decade ago, and they opened the door to peoople putting information in, with no governnance, and it became this wasteland of information," says Schuck. With his software, "you can really turn a system of record into a system of insights."


Schuck said ZoomInfo is preparing for a time when its annual revenue will be much higher than the nearly $700 million projected for this year.

"We are focused on building the the infrastucture and the talent to be a $2 billion revenue company," said Schuck. "That's everything from talent to metrics to systems and infrastructure that we're investing in, because we can see a clear path there."

Schuck said he gets asked by analysts about the company's torrid rate of growth -- sales were up 50% last quarter. "People ask, you are three quarters in, why is the growth accelerating, what's happening," he recalled of that evening's conference call following the report. "The big thing for us over the past year has been really staying focused on being a best-in-class operating company: best in class from a PR perspective, from an accounts receivable, accounts payable, sales, marketing."

"What you're seeing in our results today are the benefits of all that focus on being best in class driving high growth rates with high profitability, which you almost never see in a software company," said Schuck. 

One of the priorities for the company is winning more enteprises customers from having started in the small and medium-sized business market. Customers buying over $100,000 worth of product from ZoomInfo this past quarter rose to 950 from 850, he noted.

Acqusitions will continue to be a strong focus for ZoomInfo as well, Schuck indicated. However, the market for promising software targets is expensive, he conceded. "Valuations are historically high, for sure," he said. 

Prices can be worth it, nonetheless, he said, if ZoomInfo can make the acquired property more productive. 

"When we evaluate M&A transactions, what we really look for are companies where we can significantly increase the speed of growth by leveraging our go-to-market engine, which we believe to be one of the most sophisticated and efficient go-to-market engines ever built."

"You can look at a vlauation, and on its face, the company is very expensive, but when you look at that company into ZoomInfo, being sold by all of ZoomInfo's go-to-market teams, you can make it much less expensive in a short period of time."

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