The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode 180 · 2 months ago

What it Takes to Lead 1,200-Person Company like ZoomInfo

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Tim Strickland, CRO at ZoomInfo, a sales tech company that empowers revenue teams to drive business growth with its suite of multiplatform tools. Join us for an in-depthconversation about ZoomInfo’s growth, how to lead large organizations, and how to dominate the market during economic difficulty.

What You’ll Learn

How ZoomInfo grew from a small company to one with a billion in annual run rate

The importance of resilience and adaptability

What it takes to lead a high-growth company

How to approach leadership in a large organization

One, two, everybody, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the sales hacker podcast. We've got a special guest on the show this week, Tim Strickland, the chief Revenue Officer of Zoom Info. It's a great conversation. We talk all about the growth of Zoom Info, all about their mergers and acquisitions activity, particularly over the last two years, and the vision of Henry Shuck and how the company has grown from what it once was to something that is over a billion in annual run, right or close to it. Multibillion dollar market cap and one of the leaders in the sales tech space. A really inspiring story and him as a great leader and a great communicator. So I think you're gonna love this conversation. First we're gonna hear from our sponsors, then you're gonna hear the interview. Thanks a lot. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is brought to you by outreach. outreaches the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators. Outreach allows you to commit to accurate sales forecasting, replace manual process with real time guidance and unlock actionable customer intelligence that guides you and your team to win more often, traditional tools don't work in a hybrid sales world. Find out why. outreaches the right solution at Click, dot outreach, dot io forward slash thirty MPC. That is click, dot outreach, dot io forward slash thirty MPC. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is sponsored by pavilion. Pavilion is the key to getting more out of your career. Our private membership connects you with a network of thousands of like minded peers and resources where you can tap into dozens of classes and training through Pavilion University. Make sure you take advantage of the pavilion for teams corporate membership and enroll your entire go to market team in one of our industry leading schools and courses, including marketing school, Sales School, Sales Development School and Revenue Operations School. Unlock your professional potential and your team's professional potential with a pavilion membership. GETS STARTED TODAY AT JOIN PAVILION DOT Com. Once again, that's joined PAVILION DOT COM. This episode of the Sales Hacker podcast is brought to you by fresh works. Have you ever been in a digital sales room? Well, if you haven't. Your sales team should be in one soon. Gartner and its latest report predicts that of all enterprise B two B sales technology implementations will include digital sales rooms. Create an immersive digital sales environment with fresh sales. With fresh sales, you can develop digital customer journey maps, integrate advanced digital commerce capabilities and to be two B sales, create unified experiences across touch points and enable visibility for your sales and marketing teams. See how thousands of businesses use fresh sales to shorten sales cycle and improve sales conversions faster. Get a free trial of fresh sales at fresh works DOT com. Slash fresh sales. Get a free trial again of fresh sales at fresh works dot com forward slash fresh sales. Everybody at Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the sales hacker podcast. Today on the show we've got Tim Strickland. He is the chief Revenue Officer of Zoom Info, one of the companies that everybody talks about a lot. We know a lot about. He brings more then decade of experience to his role as C R O. based in the bay area, Tim Leads Zoom Mempho's new business sales, new customer sales, emerging product sales, sales development, partnerships and alliances and sales enablement. He's been with the company since two thousand nineteen, driving sales and productivity, joining the company as VP of account management and channel sales and earning a promotion to senior vice president. Before Zim Info, he served as an associate vice president of enterprise sales at Marcato, where he led new business customer sales and customer success teams across North America. He began his five year tenure at Marcato as senior director of account management and customer success and assistant in both Marcatos take private acquisition by Vista and its acquisition by Adobe. He started his career in real estate development and its free time, he spends time with his wife and his three children, and it seems like he might be from the Atlanta, Georgia area. Tim. Welcome to the show, Sam. Thanks for having me. We're excited, DANV so, there probably are two or three people out there that don't know who Zoom Info is at this point. So we like to start to give you an opportunity to pitch your business and and give us an overvie. So, in your words, how do you describe...

...the platform that Zoomnfo is built? Ye, have zoom Infos platform helps our customers find their next best customer. So we helped companies do digital customer acquisition and customer expansion inside of their install base via our our collection of applications. So pretty straightforward. We Sell Sam pretty much to any company out there who is selling their product or services to other businesses. But yeah, I've been around since was founded by Henry Shuck, who still our CEO. We service about thirty thousand customers, UH, close to a billion dore annual run rate employees, and in my organization that you outlined, we have about people today. Wow. So, I mean that's an incredible an incredible run, and you've been at the company for three years. Tell us a little bit about the last couple of years, particularly you know there was an I p o right in the middle of covid. Talk to us about the journey over the last couple of years, because it's it's like Zoom Info has been everywhere, making acquisitions, integrating new companies and just growing at a Tory pace. What's Your Perspective on the success? Yeah, definitely. I think M and a has been a big part of the success and I think generally speaking, Sam the M and a has been a large part of our success because it's given us new pathways to growth, for sure, but it is also enabled us, I think, to push the market from a competitive spected perspective in the way that allows us to dictate how people consume go to market technology. And I think, like, as I talk to my organization on a very regular basis, the way that we think about who we are as a business is change. Change is always going to be kind of forced upon you that you have to react to. But but our our kind of motto and motion is to dictate change on others as much we possibly can, while also still being able to deliver an effective and efficient go to market motion. But yeah, like that. I think at a high level that's kind of how we view that area of our business. We've done, I want to say, somewhere between seven or eight M and a transactions in the last let's call it, sixteen to eighteen months. That's a pretty fast spree. I don't we can't keep up that pace and have an obviously, over the last like let's call it back half of that. But yeah, it's it's provided us new avenues to growth. My first day I actually joined the discoverer business that Henry founded before we acquired Jumanfo, who at the time was our largest competitor. My first day was the day that that deal closed and then my first responsibility was to kind of integrate the customer sales organizations and make sure that we had a path to success and expansion. And we you know, but at that time we were running, we were selling a point solution. Mostly it was a single application with value that was very easy to consume and deliver and talk about our transition as a result of a lot of the M and a that has happened since then has been US evolving from a point solution to a platform company and then being able to successfully deliver and build go to market motions that extract the most value out of that transition. So we've been focused a lot there. That takes a lot of enablement from the sellers. It takes a lot of new people in the business who know way more about those new motions that we have to build than even I do. So we've been full speed. Well, for the first very specific question, I have is when I became aware of Discovery Org. I was surprised that it acquired Zoom Info. I wasn't sure if they were the same size company or if one was bigger than the other, but it felt like all of a sudden zoom INFO just became a massive company. Was that original transaction? was that like a merger of equals? How did how was that pulled off? Discover Org was a little...

...bit larger from a run rate standpoint, but I've I've actually heard Henry talk about this in other podcasts that he's done and I think Henry went on a customer tour before and this was before I joined the organization. So I'M gonna try to do right by his storytelling of this before the Zoom Info deal happened, and was hearing in all of those meetings like a lot of companies who had been with discover work for a long time right who were very happy and we're receiving a lot of value from that solution. But they were also evaluating Zoom Info because of the disparity of the quantity of data that zoom INFO had in relation to discover orgs. So at the time discover org was focused on less data but super high quality, where a zoom info had built this engine to acquire lots of data about companies and individuals, and so it's Henry learn more and more kind of about the business and the competitive threat that existed. He was like K, look, I want to make this move, convinced the board to make the move, made the move and then we were able to scale that business at a point solution. We had a good eight team month run before we started layering on other applications. That's awesome. So you know you've done a ton of M and a at this point. And Yeah, to the point, you must have worked with Bill Bench when you were at Marcato. If I'm not mistaken, I did. Bill was way more senior than I was when I was there, so we had like limited interaction. But yeah, Bill is very well respected in the industry. I have a ton of respect for him. He took Marcato from a very small private company to a very successful publicly traded one and then was at Pendo for a long time and then recently pivoted into a venture role. But yeah, Bill, Bill and I are familiar. Yeah, so I guess the point being you've done a ton of deals at this point. I mean, you know, large transactions and at this point, just to what you just told me, right, something like eight to ten M and a transactions in the last eighteen months or so. What have you learned about integrating companies? Because I can tell you that, from everything I hear from the CEOS that I talked to, it's way more work and way more fraught with peril then sometimes people appreciate. And I'm sure there's best practices that you've picked up over the course of the last two years. I honestly, Sam think that, like the operational best practices are almost secondary. Usually the major challenge exists on the people side of the House and making sure that those people who you bring into your business have a very clear path of how they can go be successful inside of the Zoom Info engine, right, and that might be as a standalone organization, it might be as an integrated in organization, it might be as sort of a hybrid of the two. But if, if you can provide a path for those individuals to be successful, I think you you set yourself up for success because it's way easier to retain those folks. But on the on the Zoom Info employee side. I think that culture, the cultural aspect of M and a and the people aspect of M and a is also is also a challenge, because what you're asking your sales people to do and your marketing organization to do, and your operations organization to do and your analytics organization to do is to support this new sales motion that exists, especially when you're selling into an install base where you've got, you know, where you've got to coordinate multiple people and multiple actions. And do you double up quota? Do you have your core people sell? Do you you know that new set of applications? Do you have those people who know those applications really well continue to sell those for how long did they do that before you transition into the court?...

Getting your core sales people comfortable with the change that that comes as a result of layering in new capabilities? I think like that. That is always a challenge, but we've I think we've done it enough at this point say. I'm not not to say there were experts, because there's always room for improvement there, but but we have built a sales culture that I think, enables that to happen more succinctly than it otherwise would because we give our core sales people inside of Zoom Info a path to success there too, and we we wrap our arms around those people and have them embrace that change. And that's I think that is the crux of how you drive successful woman a integration. What I'm imagining is that to the point about people is that you've got to get people that are resilient enough because at any given time, as good as you are at m and a and and aation, and I'm sure you all are the best in the business, it must feel at any given moment like everything is an absolute chaotic disaster, even though objectively it's not. Yeah, totally totally chaotic disaster. I think maybe that disaster. Maybe that's a strong word, but it's like, you know, but but organized chaos for sure, is a way that you could characterize change right and like change management, is something that you can proactively manage. But you're common about resiliency and having people in an organization who want that type of opportunity to take on something new and to drive their career in a direction that they maybe didn't anticipated going, but they see an opportunity and they'll like go drive that on behalf of themselves or the organization is something that we've very consciously built inside of our organization. You know, there's a lot of people listening. Maybe they're a ES, maybe there first time managers at smaller companies, but when you think about running Ason Organization, how do you approach it on a daily basis? What's the mindset that you have? What are the frameworks that you rely on most crucially, like, what's your operating system look like? I was talking to our CEO, Henry, about this a couple of weeks ago. The way that I think about my job, and I think that the way that any you know, regardless of whether you're you're a salesperson, early career salesperson, late career salesperson, first time manager, and you're like your primary job is to make sure that you manage your time well. Now, does that get a little bit more complex across individuals? Yeah, but I think the the challenge is the same to try to solve for it's about how how can I effectively eliminate the noise that exists, you know, in a world that's feel with constant change, and and be very clear in prescribing the direction that people need to sprint in order to live to deliver results with the least friction possible. Do you have any tips or tricks? Like you know, I write down my to do list before I open my email or I have no meetings on Thursday, or give any productivity hacks that you rely on to help sure that you keep the noise down? Not Not necessarily productivity hacks, but you the second part of your question that you asked, I think, is what I lean on and it is kind of the framework that we've built inside of the organization to Glean insights about areas of our business that could possibly be going the wrong direction, and so the regular meeting cadence that we have with cross functional organizations that support our go to market or with our marketing organization operations analytics, I mentioned even up front, to help us look at early morning signs,...

...either positive or negative, allow us to kind of quickly either run plays or make organizational changes or other changes that allow for those obstacles to not be obstacles as quickly as possible. That is what I rely on every day and we're looking at those things every day in the business to make sure that when we see productivity obstacles were removing them right, or we're coaching them the other part of that Sam and it sounds like really simple. And this is a plug for Zoom Info, because we sell this technology is as a sales leader and even as a sales rep. if you want to get better, you have to listen to phone calls, right like I run a pretty large organization. My CEO runs a larger organization. We listen to sales calls almost every day. So our ability to react to change in the market is not only fed by kind of the macro framework and the analytics that we look at in the business on a daily basis, it's also it is also fed by real interactions that exist with our reps on a daily basis, and I love that. So let me ask you a question. To the point of DASHBOARDS, KPI is looking for leading indicators. What's your take on because you know, used an interesting word when you were talking about the business. Uses word dominate, and I just wonder if that speaks is sort of the culture at Zoom Info about how you want to dominate the change or dominate the market, not just react to it. Now we're we find ourselves in a different economic circumstance than we were nine months ago. Looks like maybe we're heading into recession. We could be in recession. How are you preparing your team, if at all? Is it steady as she goes? Don't don't worry about you know what you see in the newspaper, or is it let's make let's introduce some new plays, let's let's think about repositioning. How are you adapting to the current economic climate? Yeah, I like the heart. I think the harder environment to sell in is the one of uncertainty. And what I mean by at is like Hey, you can sell growth into growth times, right you. You can also sell efficiency and doing more with less into recessionary times. The most difficult is kind of the middle ground, right where people are kind of like, well, it's not either one of those two things, so what should I do? Like that, that is the harder of the three kind of macroeconomic conditions that I think any sales organization has to sell through, and for us, again, it's kind of about it's like hey, look what what areas of the business could potentially be impacted by some of the leading indicators that we see, and if we have a beat on that and we're able to make decisions based on it in near real time. Then like we've done what we can do as a leadership organization to manage right. I think the bigger challenge comes when like those things blindside you and it takes you three or four months to react. That's where you can be in a precarious situation. That makes sense. So does that mean? Are you waiting for more information? Are you saying, you know what, let's let's assume we're no longer in growth mode and we're in recession mode and like let's just pivot hard into that, because we don't want to be in that sort of middle zone of I'm not quite sure what's happening. I think it depends on where, like I think it depends on the on the company itself, to whom you're selling. Right, like funding maybe more difficult right now for companies, but that doesn't mean that it's dried up completely, right. And then you've got companies who are trying to pivot in this economic environment because they have to go find a new market, right, or because they're launching a new product which is going to enable them to grow. And like all of those changes in companies go to markets allow for Zoom Info to have the opportunity to provide value right, like, if you need to be better about driving rep efficiency because you're not going to grow your sales organization as fast as you were planning to,...

...you know, three or four months ago, then like that's a value proposition that we can clean onto. If you're taking a new product into a new market because you have to unlock another area of growth, like that is a value proposition that we can clean onto. So I think it's it's more about enabling our reps to have the right dialogue to generate value it versus like having them think about a mindset where I'm gonna go sell the same value proposition based on some macro economic condition that may or may not impact the business that I'm talking to today and the other part of it, and I'm curious what your thoughts are. Is like exactly to your point. The more that you talk about economic slowdown recession, the more you're kind of introducing an excuse into your sales organization. And it's not that they are naturally, you know, not committed or or want to make excuses, but it can become a self fulfilling prophecy. So it's probably better to instead of focusing on your self and you know whether we should lower quota. It's more like let's adjust the value proposition to make sure that we are serving our customers in the right way given the current environment. And so, to that point, like one of the players that we're running, you know that we've that we've run in the past, but we haven't run it as aggressively. Part of that is due to enablement around the selling team, and I mentioned like M and a before and bringing a bunch of applications together. You know, moving away from a point solution to a platform sale is like cost and cost efficiency and expense is a value proposition that that we're enabling our reps, I think, to sell into better via our multiple application set, because we can help companies consolidate their tech stack and consolidate costs right like. And if if we enable a company to do that and free up, you know, x hundred thousand dollars have spend like that allows them to go reinvest that money into head count or marketing spend or other areas of the business that they can drive growth in. And so you know, that's a play, right, that we're leaning into now in the areas where it makes sense, because we feel like it can be a play that enables our sales reps to be to be successful. I love it coming to the end of our time on this episode. Tim You've got a ton of people working for you that are early in their career and they all aspire to be you one day, running a massive organization for an incredible company, Public Company. What's the advice that you give young people entering the workforce when you reflect on your success? What's the advice you give people that want to be you one day? Just keep your head down and work really hard. I think the first thing that I always tell people is deliver results, because if you do that, you don't have to sell yourself nearly as much. And then I think you know to be really open to change. We talked about that early on in our time together, Sam, but like, I think, the people who are not only open to change but but thrive in that type of environment and like being open to finding new opportunities and Growth Levers. If you couple that with results, I think you're going to be in a pretty good place career wise. It's great advice. Kim. Almost at the end of our time to get the last question for you. No Man is an island, no woman is an island. Everybody has people that influenced them, that help them, that mentor them over the course of their career that maybe we should know about. If you think about great authors, great leaders, great CEOS, great investors that have had a big impact on your career that you think the audience should know about, who comes to mind? Who are people that you think we should know about? Yeah, I mean you guys should tune into everything that Henry Shuck does. He's the founder of this business and has scaled it to multiple billions in market cap across several thousand people, and he's probably pushed me harder than anybody in my career and I'll always be indebted to that man for that for sure. So tune into the CEO of zoom and film. That's awesome, Tim. If folks want...

...to reach out to are you open to it? If so, your preferred method of communication? Yeah, Timothy Dot Strickland at Zoom Info Dot Com. Hit me the email. Awesome, Tim, great great having me on the show. We're gonna talk to you on Friday for Friday fundamentals, but it's been great chatting with you. It's good. Thanks, Sammy too, everybody. Sam Jacob Sam's Corner Pretty Cool. Tim Strickland running on a twelve person organization for Zoom Info, one of the top sales tech companies in the world. Sales Tech platforms in the world, maybe customer intelligence platforms? I guess I have to figure out what the category is. But so many great nuggets in there and I think one of the big things for me that it comes down to is it is. It really comes down to one of the key skills, traits, characteristics of great leaders, great sales people, resiliency, you know, the ability to adapt to change. I can tell you that it may look up into the right on a spreadsheet, but inside an organization, particularly one that's growing as quickly and changing as quickly and as is inquisitive as Zoom Info, I can tell you that there are things that are breaking all the time, there are processes that need refinement and adjustment and, as I tell my team, ship being broken is a feature, not a bunk, of a high growth company. Right by definition, high growth companies are trying to become something different, they are trying to become something new. That's what growth means right. You were one thing if you wanted to just do the same thing over and over with no growth. Every you can perfect every process. Everything would work perfectly, but it would work perfectly in a stagnant environment that nobody would probably want to work in. But the truly audacious, the truly ambitious, they sign up for intensity, they sign up for change, they sign up for frustration, they sign up for different levels of communication, efficacy and feeling like sometimes they're in the known, sometimes they're not in the known, sometimes the F A Q isn't fully written out, and it's really just a testament to the kind of culture that they've built it to Menfho that they can take this organization and him can lead at twelve hundred people all in the same direction, even as they're adding new products, new services, new technologies. Really really cool story, really inspiring, and clearly tim has those qualities that you look for in a great sales leader, you know, relentless drive and focus and vision and ambition, but also cares about his team and wants to nurture them and wants to develop them, and so I really like that conversation. Reminder, if you want to get in touch with me. You can, you can reach out to me. SAMA JOINED PAVILION DOT COM. If you haven't given us five stars on Itunes, please do so. We would really love it. If you haven't followed me on Linkedin, definitely do that. I've been posting a lot more and if, frankly, if you haven't checking a look at pavilion for teams or corporate membership, or if you're a founder of CEO and you haven't looked at CEO Pavilion, I encourage you to do that. Also, there's a sales hacker community out there that I think you should really take a look at. And then, of course, we have sponsors that you'll hear from in a minute. But I hope you're well. I hope you stay sick. We'll talk to you next time. Thanks again for listening to the Sales Hacker podcast. Once again, thanks to our sponsors. Outreach, the first and only engagement intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators. Go to click dot outreach, dot Ao, forward, slash thirty MPC to learn more. Also, pavilion enroll your sales team, your marketing team and your entire go to market organization in Sales School, Sales Development, school, marketing school and many, many more. LEARN MORE AT JOINT PAVILION DOT com. And finally, fresh works and their new product, fresh sales. With fresh sales you can develop digital customer journey maps, integrate advanced digital commerce capabilities and create unified experiences across all of your digital touch points. Get a free trial of fresh sales at fresh works DOT com. FORWARD SLASH FRESH SALES.

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