Following better-than-expected Q4 results Tuesday afternoon by go-to-market cloud software mavens ZoomInfo, CEO Henry Schuck talked with ZDNet Wednesday via Zoom.
“In a pretty volatile market, we delivered well above what we guided to, from a top-line perspective, and a bottom-line perspective,” said Schuck, referring to the company’s revenue and earnings beating Wall Street expectations.
“We’re growing [revenue] organically over 50%, and the unique thing about our company is that we’re doing that with robust operating margins and profitability, and you just don’t see that with software companies.”
Volatility, in this case, refers to the SaaS stock landscape, where investors have been punishing high-flying software stocks since the end of last year. Schuck attributed that to a greater demand for profitability as opposed to growth at any cost. “Investors are now pushing on software CEOs to talk with them about pathway to profitability, and we’re already profitable, I think that’s a big thing.”
Regarding a 9% drop in ZoomInfo’s stock price Tuesday, after hours, “It’s just an over-reaction,” said Schuck. “You see today that we’re largely trading in line with the other growth stock names,” he said, referring to peer SaaS companies that were generally trading down. Schuck attributed the over-reaction, as he terms it, to the company’s forecast for 36% growth this year. “We’ve always been a company that guides to an outcome that we can beat and then raise on, throughout the year,” said Schuck.
A good chunk of ZoomInfo’s proposition to customers these days is its breadth not as a single tool but as a series of modules that are interconnected as what Schuck describes as a “platform.”
“What ZoomInfo was for sixteen years was just a contact and a company lookup tool,” said Schuck, like a rolodex in the cloud. That meant it was primarily used to look up someone’s information.
“We started building on top of that rolodex, building signals on top of that,” said Schuck, referring to the enhancement of the ZoomInfo software in recent years.
Those signals are developments that tell a salesperson using ZoomInfo things on which to act to further a sale. “This person has a new job, and this person is buying something, and putting all sorts of signals around the rolodex, and then we started building an application layer on top of that.” That leads to automated activities, such as sending someone a greeting for their birthday or wedding anniversary, he explained.
That system of automation is increasing customers use of the product, in the sense of “engagement.”
The key to the product’s appeal is that “there are dozens of different activities that go-to-market teams are doing that have nothing to do with CRM,” said Schuck. “They’re not in the CRM, they’re not kicked off by the CRM, they’re just doing it outside.” Those activities include outdoor display ads, social advertising, building audiences for events or advertising or marketing automation, or B-to-B chat on a Web site.
Those functions tend to be siloed, said Schuck. The ZoomInfo achievement, he said, is to bring those disparate programs together into one product, as a platform. The CRM program, he said, remains the “hub” for sales. “But these key activities that you’re using to run your go to market motion, we are building underneath the ZoomInfo platform, and then data at its foundational layer.”
That combination of functions is increasing engagement with ZoomInfo’s software, he said. “Absolutely, we are seeing engagement higher, better engagement on chat, on workflow solutions — everything that’s pulling the data together and driving another go-to-market motion.”