CEOCFO Magazine – May 12, 2014
CEOCFO: What is the concept behind DiscoverOrg?
Mr. Schuck: We founded DiscoverOrg in 2007 with the idea that while people have been selling business-to-business contact and company information for over 100 years, no one had taken a quality view of this valuable intelligence. So many vendors were looking for a technological shortcut to a big problem – getting good data for sales and marketing teams – but there is no technological shortcut.
So we decided to build a hand-curated database that would map out who’s who in the information technology departments and finance departments of public and private sector organizations. Today it covers more than 16,600 companies in the enterprise, mid-market, small business, government/education and CFO/finance areas, and the entire database is refreshed every 90 days. This is all sourced by human beings, not by technology, which we have found is the only way to make sure the data is fresh and actionable for sales and marketing professionals.
CEOCFO: Do you have a team making phone calls? How do you collect the data?
Mr. Schuck: We have a team that is constantly making phone calls into the companies that we profile, having conversations with IT decision makers and different folks in the organization to try to understand the IT and finance decision-making hierarchy. They also confirm phone numbers, email addresses and technology that the company is currently using. We do this nonstop, every single day. We’re not trying to boil the ocean here by providing a little bit of information on all the companies out there, but instead we focus on providing deep information on 16,600 of them that represent true IT and finance buying opportunities.
CEOCFO: Do you find that most companies are forthcoming with information? Where are the areas you need to probe a little deeper or where you have learned how to get information that others have not?
Mr. Schuck: It depends. Our process is about politeness and persistence. It might take 10 calls to get to the right person who is willing to have a conversation with them. As long as our analysts are making the 10 calls, they’re going to hit that one person. We uncover IT projects and initiatives that are taking place and then store that information so the next time we profile that company, we know where to look first.
CEOCFO: How long did it take you to realize you didn’t want to create a technology-based solution?
Mr. Schuck: It may have just been an outgrowth of how we started the company, which was bootstrapped by my co-founder and myself, because we’re not tech people. We did not go out and try to build some sort of elegant or sophisticated solution that would attempt to gather information through technology. Instead, because of our own limits, we built it over the telephone. Our initial customers told us, “This is far and away the best data we’ve ever seen, and we subscribe to every vendor out there who does crowdsourcing and webscraping. But your information is just head and shoulders above theirs.” That told us we had hit upon a big differentiator. In essence, we’re doing what every good sales team is doing every day; we just built some core competencies around it and organized it in a way that makes it easily accessible and actionable for our customers.
CEOCFO: How do you make it the data actionable and provide it in a format that really is user friendly and does not just claim to be?
Mr. Schuck: Users get access to our site where they can run searches on the companies they are targeting and build lists for marketing campaigns. We give them hundreds and possibly thousands of different ways to slice and dice the data. They can set very specific search criteria, such as vice presidents of infrastructure at banks in New York that uses Oracle E-Business Suite and have at least 1,000 employees. Once you have a sense of who your ideal buyer is, you can target those specific people.
We have also built connectors that sit within the user’s workflow, including APIs into Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM, NetSuite and Talent Rover. The core of what you do in your CRM or marketing automation tool is absolutely dependent on how good your data input is. In fact, Gartner said in a study that the number one reason for CRM adoption failure is bad data. Because our data is constantly refreshed and hand curated, that problem goes away.
CEOCFO: What do you find when you or your team approaches prospective clients? Do they understand immediately?
Mr. Schuck: Well, yes and no. When we get the right person on the phone, they understand immediately. Others don’t recognize the problem of bad data or no data, and the costs associated with it.
If I’m the VP of sales for an IT provider and my team of 10 reps is calling on prospects every day and getting to their numbers every month, to me the system seems to be working. But what I don’t realize is half of their days are spent doing research on prospects, searching Google and hunting down their social media profiles, scouring the web for phone numbers, calling the prospect, going through the switchboard and trying to get transferred. Right off the bat, not only are you losing 50 percent of the salary you’re paying these people to sell, but you’re also losing the opportunity cost because that time could have been better spent having conversations with real IT and finance buyers. When you hired those reps, you trained them how to sell your products, how they work and what the decision-making structure looks like in prospect accounts – not how to do research. Instead of having to rely on them to do a job they weren’t trained for, we do all the heavy lifting of research for you.
CEOCFO: You have a number of different products. Do many people pick and choose or do they take a suite of products? How does it work?
Mr. Schuck: Customers can choose different datasets based on who their target prospects are. If my company just sells into the enterprise, I would just buy our enterprise dataset that just includes companies with 5,000 or more employees. If I also sell into the mid-market, companies with 1,000 to 5,000 employees, I can also purchase the mid-market dataset. Alternately, if I’m a staffing firm that only sells to two states, I can just buy those two states.
CEOCFO: You are making it very easy for people to use?
Mr. Schuck: Yes, and to grow. We have many customers who start using one dataset and that goes incredibly well, so they expand into others as well.
CEOCFO: How do you reach out?
Mr. Schuck: We have a really strong marketing team that goes out and identifies perfect fit companies and contacts who would or should be interested in DiscoverOrg. They invite them to webinars and send them targeted profiles that they would find interesting. Then our inside sales team reaches out to those leads who said they were interested and conducts demos. We’ll conduct a demo, answer any questions and find out what their pain points are. The inside reps will also follow up with people who have taken some sort of action on our website or shown interest in DiscoverOrg but haven’t specifically raised their hand to take the next step. We also sponsor trade shows, such as the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit and the TechServe Alliance.
CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach?
Mr. Schuck: We’re primarily in the U.S. and North America but we have customers in New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and really all around the world.
CEOCFO: What is next for the company?
Mr. Schuck: We are continuing to build adjacent datasets that we think our customers will find valuable. We just built a dataset that covers companies in the UK and Europe that have IT buying capability. We are also in the process of building a marketing dataset that will start with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and map the entire organization underneath.
CEOCFO: Do you get information on universities and government entities or might that something for the future?
Mr. Schuck: We do. We have a government and higher education dataset as well.
CEOCFO: Are people as interested in that data?
Mr. Schuck: When there is a dedicated group within a company that sells to the government, they are interested. We get a great deal of traction from companies that not only sell to corporate entities but also to government.
CEOCFO: How is business?
Mr. Schuck: Business is great. We have made the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for the past three years. We grew significantly last year as well, with almost 60 percent year-over-year growth, and we just had our best quarter ever in Q1 2014.
CEOCFO: What has surprised you as DiscoverOrg has grown and developed?
Mr. Shuck: The biggest surprise has been that so many sales organizations waste so much precious time by not having good data practices in place and not partnering with real high-quality sales intelligence providers. You would think that because so much time and energy is spent prospecting and mapping out an account, many more organizations would have made data accuracy a top priority. It is surprising but also great for our business. I would be lying if I told you that I thought it would grow this fast. It has been a tremendous growth curve. To give you a sense of numbers, we went from $2.7 million in 2009 to north of $21 million in 2013, so our growth has been pretty amazing.
CEOCFO: Put it all together for our readers. Why pay attention today to DiscoverOrg?
Mr. Schuck: The future of your business absolutely relies on the ability of your sales and marketing teams to execute on the plans you have put in front of them, and they just cannot do it without good data in their system. No matter how much money you spend on your CRM or marketing automation system, at the end of the day they are both engines that need fuel and that fuel is good data. With it, you can realize the full potential of those powerful tools.
CEOCFO: Final thoughts?
Mr. Schuck: One thing that no one else offers in our market is our in-depth organizational charts on each company that we profile. This gives you not only names and contact information but also a hierarchical view of a department, so you know where the person sits in the decision-making structure. Another differentiator is the fact that our researchers are gathering up-to-the-minute intelligence on projects taking place at these companies. We can tell your if a company is looking at a bring your own device (BYOD) solution, a big data initiative or a distributed denial of service (DDoS) solution, or if they just hired a new chief information officer or a vice president of infrastructure. We are running those types of scoops and projects down in real time so that sales reps and marketing people can act on them as they happen.
DiscoverOrg provides IT companies ranging from the Fortune 500 to tech startups with access to the most up-to-date and accurate contact data and sales intelligence in the enterprise, mid-market, SMB and CFO/Finance categories. This includes in-depth IT organizational charts that identify the decision-making structure, and real time scoops that alert sales reps to buying signals like new IT projects and executive moves at their target accounts. DiscoverOrg provides the highest quality data in its market, with a guarantee of 95 percent accuracy, and customers consistently report significant ROI through use of its solution.
Co-founder & CEO
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. Under his leadership, DiscoverOrg has grown sevenfold in the last three years, has been on the Inc. 500 for the last three years, and won both a Stevie and a CODiE award in 2014. Henry sees himself as a market disruptor in IT sales intelligence, building the most accurate contact database in the industry not through technology like webscraping or crowdsourcing, but by having a team of 85+ data analysts make millions of phone calls into thousands of IT and finance departments. For this reason he is considered one of the most influential people in transforming the market for sales intelligence. In 2013, Henry was named the Honors Alumnus of the Year by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.