Smarketer. Sure, it sounds weird at first, but “simulcast” – a portmanteau of “simultaneous and broadcast” – probably sounded funny when it first hit the national lexicon in the late 1940s. Smarketer, a blend of “sales and marketing,” may now be ready for the mainstream, what with companies increasingly putting practices in place to align sales and marketing in terms of integrated communications, goals and metrics. Sam Zales, president of ZoomInfo, who got wind of ‘Smarketer’ at a recent sales conference, said the word is a pretty good indicator of where things are headed in b-to-b sales. As he prepares for his second year at the helm of ZoomInfo, we recently spoke with Zales about what’s on top of his agenda and how he intends to take the company to the next level.
ZoomInfo: In light of the ongoing upheaval in b-to-b sales, what are your biggest challenges for the remainder of the year?
Zales: The biggest challenges for us are, one, hiring more sales people because we’ve proven that the current staff is generating lots of new business. We have leads and opportunities to continue to sell and we need to make the new [sales] people execute as well as the best people we’ve got in the business. I say that because we’ve had marketers and sales organizations in the b-to-b world that have had tremendous success with our solution and they’re saying, ‘How can I use it in different ways?’ and ‘Give me more data…Help me with my data problems,’ and we literally have not been able to keep up with that demand. The second big effort behind hiring and execution is repeating our successful processes in sales. We’ve had tremendous traction, particularly in selling to marketers with our data services (data appends, lists sales) and have seen success across several vertical industries. We’re trying to get smart about creating repetitive scenarios to do that over and over with all of the major players in those industries (financial and business services, software and technology, government and education). We want to get to those decision-makers in those companies and say, ‘The success we’ve had with ABC Company can be replicated in DEF Company,’ and that takes smart thinking and process management.
ZoomInfo: What kind of strategies are you deploying to better align sales and marketing?
Zales: We recently hosted a NETSEA (New England Technology Sales Executive Association) conference where we brought in leaders from sales and marketing organizations working together to get things done. One guy coined the term, ‘smarketing,’ which I thought was really interesting. Then Dave Fitzgerald, [executive VP-sales] at Brainshark, said in his presentation at Sales 2.0 that it’s not just one organization anymore, but it’s ‘cross-functional.’ It’s a sales and marketing effort, not just sales, that is responsible for the dollars that are coming in. We’re starting with one very important, yet basic thing which is aligned goals; both [sales and marketing] organizations have the same goals. If you break down your revenue targets in a business plan on a quarterly basis and you know approximately how much of that you want to get from the marketing team feeding leads into the sales team, you have to have specific targets for the marketing staff: ‘Here are the numbers you have to hit,’ which is unusual for a marketing team…Marketing needs to own a certain dollar amount, not the number of leads; not the programs you’re going to manage from a campaign perspective; not your objectives as a cross-functional partner, but you actually own the quantitative dollar goal. That goal-setting is an activity that is probably rampant among good companies and, at companies like ours that haven’t been good enough about getting the organizations to work together, it’s a great start. On top of that, we’re working on incentives and joint business planning to ensure complete sales and marketing alignment.
ZoomInfo: Where are you focusing your efforts with regard to improving data management and data hygiene?
Zales: We’re focusing on data quality and quantity; it’s our number one objective, not only to support our clients but to support ourselves through sales automation systems, marketing automation systems and other systems that we use to manage our business. We’ve now moved to being a multiple data source provider, as opposed to just using web-crawling as our means to get people and company information. [Later this year] we’re re-launching our public web site in the hope that we get to more of those five million visitors who come to our site every month to continue updating their profiles. We want to say to them, ‘Update your online profile, we’ve got nine of the top 10 executive search firms that use us, continue to come in and give us more day-to-day information to update your profile to keep it fresh.’ FreshContacts has been a phenomenal success for us, in terms of community-contributed data, and we’re also embarking on more and more data extraction on the web to update and freshen the data. We’re also expanding the classification of our data, moving from simple SIC codes to industry terms and keywords that are critically important to our clients when searching for prospects. Likewise on the people side; we’re getting more and more of the new titles in the b-to-b marketplace, knowing, for example, that this person is classified as a ‘Chief Data Officer,’ but he is also a marketing person.
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