The Secrets to Scalable Growth: How DiscoverOrg Crushed 2016

I remember it so vividly that it’s crystal clear. Nearly a year ago on Monday, January 25th, 2016, during the review of our 2016 budget at the Board meeting, one of our Board members questioned whether we were sandbagging our aggressive budget and asked CEO Henry Schuck the quintessential question on every Board’s and CEO’s mind: “How can you grow the company faster?”

Really? They want faster growth?

That’s a monumental challenge. DiscoverOrg has already achieved a 49% compound annual growth rate over the past 5 years, and with an ever-growing customer and revenue base, the law of large numbers makes it that much harder to actually accelerate growth. Here’s how the math works out:

  • if you add $10m of new sales when you’re a $10m company, you’re growing 100% a year;
  • if you add the same amount in new sales when you’re a $50m company, you’re only growing 20% a year.

Fortunately, we hadn’t waited for a Board member to ask us this question, as we’d held a growth offsite planning meeting two months earlier and were already implementing our growth acceleration ideas.

So…How Did 2016 Turn Out?

DiscoverOrg delivered a record performance in 2016 and achieved the rare feat of accelerating growth while maintaining profit margins by growing revenue through our new products and technology and an even better customer experience, As a result, DiscoverOrg’s new business sales exited the year with 36% year-over-year (YoY) growth, upsells to our 2,200+ customers increased a staggering 142% YoY, and our retention was the best we ever reported.

How Did We Achieve This Growth?

We’ll fill you in on our secrets to success so that you can replicate them at your company, but let’s be clear – there’s no silver bullet, single strategy, big idea, or great salesperson that’s responsible for success.  Rather, it’s about the execution of hundreds of ideas and process improvements by a dedicated and passionate team that has an all-in DNA and a company culture of relentless innovation.

We Invested In Accurate Sales Intelligence, For Us.

Accelerated Growth Achieves G-ForceOne of the biggest changes we made in 2016 for our own sales team was building “DiscoverOrg for DiscoverOrg”. Yes, we know this seems really obvious. And after nearly 10 years of building datasets for our customers, we finally realized that we needed to build “DiscoverOrg for DiscoverOrg”. So, we started 2016 off by building our new Sales Dataset.

The results couldn’t have been more dramatic.

After building the dataset and implementing it in Q3, our new business sales skyrocketed. New sales in the second half of 2016 were up a staggering 49% compared to the first half. That’s acceleration with some serious g-force!

Sales & Marketing? We Aligned Them.

We further drove this success by implementing a weekly pre-funnel dashboard and tracking  all of the pre-sales metrics – from qualified leads passed over from marketing, to demos set, demos completed, opps created, and sales pipeline.  Distributed every week, this key dashboard shows our performance in aggregate for marketing and sales as well as by Team, location, and even the individual SDRs and Account Executives. This roll-up of transparent, data-based insights also includes our performance vs. budget as well as the performance of both ramping and experienced employees.

Sales & Marketing Dashboard

Our Sales Ops group also accelerated the team’s performance by implementing new sales productivity technology – using tools like Tellwise, Outreach.io, and FrontSpin – to setup campaigns and track performance. Our Marketing Ops group performed a major overhaul of our Marketo to Salesforce tracking system and deployed a cohesive view into marketing’s revenue contribution through the implementation of Full Circle Insights so that we could spend our efforts and money in the right places.

Finally, we made sure we had the right people on the two teams and that everyone was crystal clear on what’s most important, what they needed to deliver on, and that hitting their number was absolutely critical to our success. The end result was an all-time record number of leads, demos, opportunities, all of which resulted in 51% more wins in Q4’16 than we had a year earlier.

New & Expanded Products for Our Customer’s Success.

Another driver of our 2016 success was the launch of multiple new products – including datasets for TEDD (Technology, Engineering, Design, and Development), Sales, CXO, and HR – all of which performed exceedingly well with rapid customer adoption.

Delivering extraordinary value to our customers was another core focus in 2016, and part of the way we achieved this objective was through the rapid expansion of our existing datasets.

Over the past two years we’ve made a massive investment in our U.S.-based research team, which at nearly 250 is the best and largest in the industry. Combining this depth of resources with our advanced technology, we increased the number of contacts in our datasets by 138% — in ONE YEAR!

Think about that. We added more contacts to our datasets in the past year than we did in the prior 8 years combined.

Simultaneously we:

All of these enhancements ensure that DiscoverOrg’s customers have the best sales intelligence and customer experience in the industry, bar none.

A Focus on Customer Experience.

Delivering an amazing customer experience takes not just better data and great technology but also an outstanding customer experience. During 2016, we continued to deliver on that commitment.

Since January 2016, we’ve increased our Customer Success team by a staggering 70%! As a result the number of accounts that each Customer Success Manager supports has dropped 52% since early 2015, which gives us more time to spend with customers to ensure their success. Similarly, the support team has increased 50% over the past year. And with the additional resources, customer support cases are being answered faster than ever, we’re providing more feedback to our development team to improve the product, and new support cases are at record lows.

Learning & Development: The Art to Our Science of Sales.

Ensuring that new customers successfully adopt DiscoverOrg and that employees at our existing 2,200+ customers learn about our new features and platform is no small feat. Beginning with the creation of a dedicated Learning & Development team in late 2015, last year the team:

As a result we’ve switched from a “one-and-done” webinar training to continuous learning, with ~8,000 training activities being completed each month.

Investing in our Outstanding DiscoverOrg Employees.

Building a great company takes an outstanding team of highly motivated and successful people that are committed to our culture and your success. It’s our fundamental belief that achieving this is only possible if we take care of our employees and make DiscoverOrg a great place to work. And during 2016, we delivered on this commitment in spades. Last year we:

  • Increased pay across the board so that every person on our team makes a living wage
  • Expanded our benefits and lowered costs –  employees now can have great medical coverage for just $25 a month
  • Created a dedicated employee training team that now provides onboarding, ongoing training, new management training, and leadership training across the company
  • Implemented a CARE committee to drive engagement and implement employee suggestions, and
  • Celebrated wins, victories, success, and rewarded those that go above and beyond

So, how do employees think we’re doing?

On Glasssdoor.com, DiscoverOrg has an impressive 4.5 star rating and 90% of employees would recommend the company to a friend. As one employees said, “I’ve seen a lot of tech companies and DiscoverOrg is hands down the best company I’ve ever worked for. Period.”!

Our Commitment to the Community.

DiscoverOrg support local community and schools

Henry Schuck, CEO, and John Gardiner, CFO, of DiscoverOrg present donation from the company’s pre-holiday drive to Dr. John Steach, Deputy Superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools, and Melanie Green, FCRC Administrator

It’s an honor working for a hyper-growth tech company with so many outstanding customers. It’s even more amazing when that company cares about its people and the community it operates in.

While we supported many groups each year, last year DiscoverOrg raised the bar to an entirely new level. In Q4, we committed to helping the 1,100+ homeless and needy children attending local schools near our Vancouver, WA headquarters. Employees were split into teams, competing against one another to raise the most money or goods for the cause, and the results were amazing, with DiscoverOrg making the largest donation ever to the Evergreen Public School Foundation, contributing $40,000 in cash and thousands of pounds of clothing and household supplies.

A Final Look Back Before We Look Forward.

Last year DiscoverOrg achieved what would be the envy of any tech company: accelerating growth while maintain profit margins; record retention, sales, and upsells; and a dramatic expansion of our products, infrastructure and teams. We’re focused on making DiscoverOrg a great company to work for, that makes you successful, and we appreciate your trust and support as we continue to be the industry’s premier sales intelligence provider.

Now, on to 2017 and more record growth!

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John Gardiner

John brings nearly 20 years of experience in the technology and SaaS industries as a President, Chief Financial ..read more