Turning the Market On Its Head: How ZoomInfo’s CFO Cameron Hyzer drives growth and profitability

Turning the Market On Its Head: How ZoomInfo’s CFO Cameron Hyzer drives growth and profitability

As CFO of ZoomInfo, Cameron Hyzer is more than just a numbers guy.

In a career spanning over 20 years, he’s expanded the role of the modern CFO to include everything a successful company needs.

Under the title CFO, he’s been an internal growth driver, investor, spokesperson, and professional comfort-zone breaker. And that’s just the start.

Now, he’s paving the way for ZoomInfo’s data-driven revolution— and changing the way businesses sell for good.

The many roles of today’s CFO

For the growth-minded CFO, there’s almost no aspect of the company that’s out of reach.

Focused primarily on capital and business operations, the CFO is also responsible for bridging the gap between what the company does and how they make money doing it.

“As the CFO role has evolved over time, there is a lot that gets bundled into that. Everything from the ability to report and understand drivers of the business, to helping the management team itself improve and grow,” Cameron said.

While structuring a profitable business model is an expected part of the job, Cameron also recommends putting investor relations on the top of the to-do list.

As the company’s most visible money guy, the CFO is in a prize position to keep investors in the loop and get them excited about future growth.

Putting profit first

Although the CFO’s role is now broader than ever, Cameron cautions against forgetting the basics.

Instead, the smart CFO balances long-term growth planning with one immediate goal: increasing profits for investors.

“You don't want to be entirely focused on just capital structure and transactions, but that is ultimately what drives returns for shareholders,” said Cameron.

The modern CFO is walking a tightrope; generating returns today while investing in long-term decisions that can increase profitability as the company matures.

ZoomInfo shakes up the market

So what is ZoomInfo, anyway?

ZoomInfo is a fast-growing B2B database providing businesses with in-depth information on their customers, prospects, and market.

Initially geared to sales & marketing team teams, ZoomInfo is increasingly useful to recruiters keeping track of their customer’s markets.

But don’t underestimate the platform’s usefulness. More than just a survey of people and positions, ZoomInfo scours millions of sources to report every relevant detail: from revenue to org charts, new hires, and indications of future purchases.

For the company selling security systems, knowing their lead just hired a new Director of Security is priceless intel.

“With that information, a salesperson can identify who to talk to and figure out when, how to prioritize the different prospects that they have,” said Cameron.

ZoomInfo is ready to find that information (and much more) in just a few clicks, accelerating go-to-market motions for B2B companies.

Pioneering the data trend

Even before COVID-19 hit the scene, businesses were starting to recognize that traditional sales & marketing needed a modern overhaul.

“People were looking for better ways to engage with their customers...making their sales and marketing teams more effective and more efficient. And the natural way in our minds to do that is to use data to make better decisions,” said Cameron.

While ZoomInfo isn’t the only one pushing the value of data, they may have been among the first.

“High-quality data drives better outcomes. And that's been our mantra for the last 14 years,” said Cameron.

The 2020 rollercoaster

So what happened to ZoomInfo when the world shut down in 2020?

“2020 is a story of two halves,” said Cameron.

March and April’s stalled markets slowed down ZoomInfo’s growth. Customers were putting sale cycles on hold while trying to regroup in the face of a global pandemic.

But soon enough, businesses began to pivot to the new, virtual workplace and widespread lockdowns. That virtual adjustment quickly led to a tailwind growth for ZoomInfo.

“That secular trend that we'd seen of people trying to improve their go-to market motions became a much starker relief when you can't go to a conference and collect business cards anymore,” Cameron said.

With in-person dinners and events off limits, businesses eager to improve sales began digging deeper into their data to identify and research their prospects.

“Our platform allows people to do all of those things from their desk or home or whatever else,” Cameron said.

In a digital-only world, ZoomInfo quickly became a go-to resource that kept business going better than usual.

Cameron’s key to navigating crisis

If 2020 taught businesses anything, it’s the importance of navigating the unexpected. Cameron recommends keeping focused on your plans for the long-term, even when you want to panic about today’s changes.

“You need to look past what the current hurdle is and understand what you are going to do to overcome that hurdle that isn't just a quick fix, but it's going to actually drive value for the company in the long term,” said Cameron.

But that’s hard to swing without staying level-headed - so Cameron recommends learning to keep cool in unexpected situations.

“Being calm in the face of pressure and being able to have that long-term view, no matter what's going on is the most important aspect,” he said.

Lessons from the pre-internet bubble

Cameron credits his early years in the workforce with his practical, long-term business perspective.

After graduating in 1998, he worked for an investment bank that focused on tech companies. Software companies were growing frantically, changing the world as quickly as they could.

But following the collapse of the internet bubble, Cameron realized that hype is a short sale.

Instead, he developed the view that, “valuation isn't about how many eyeballs you make, but ultimately about how much money you can make in the long-term.”

Two success mentalities

But staying pragmatic and profit-focused is only half the battle. High-quality CFOs continue to learn new information and welcome the opportunity to explore the latest approaches.

If they stay focused on doing what they’ve always done, they risk missing out on better outcomes from the modern market.

The best way to learn new things?

Cameron suggests getting hands-on - and out of the comfort zone. Rather than relying only on your specialized employees and team members, he recommends trying to solve the problem on your own first.

As you expand your skillset and adaptability, you’ll be better prepared to deal with unexpected hurdles and come out on top.

Growing with a high-growth company

The CFO of an early-stage startup has very different priorities than a CFO in a public company.

But if you want to stay at a company long-term, you’ll need to continue developing your skills - and your focus - to keep up.

An early-stage company will require a CFO focused on internal growth: building out processes, building teams, and exploring an exciting new world for the business.

As the company grows up, the CFO’s position shifts to an outward-facing role.

Communication, articulation, and inspiring confidence in the vision of the company become increasingly important.

As the company matures, the role only grows more complex. The CFO needs to communicate a vision and a complex business with curiosity and clarity.

“That complexity starts to mean that you do need to round out more of that curiosity aspect of things. That you're able to articulate that curiosity and manage it in a way where everyone feels comfortable with the risks that come along,” explained Cameron.

ZoomInfo’s next steps

As companies switch over to automated processes in every aspect of their operations, ZoomInfo is poised for major growth.

So far, their vision has transformed a service that started as a lookup tool into an engine that drives stronger go-to-market motions with dynamic information updates.

From funding increases to acquisitions and changing roles —ZoomInfo captures key signals for sales & marketing teams to allocate their time efficiently.

But these features are just the beginning. Over the next 3-5 years, ZoomInfo has big plans to expand its service and client base.

“We're investing more behind. Rolling out additional features in terms of automation, or rolling that out to recruiters or pushing out internationally,” Cameron said.

More than a shortcut

There’s no shortage of SaaS tools for business. But many new softwares essentially just take the business experience online while the processes remain unchanged.

“Much of the accounting software that people use on a corporate setting, they still have general ledgers. It's still automating the green-shaded people in the back room. It's just putting it into a computer and using your ledger in a very similar way,” Cameron said.

Popular CRM tools have also simply provided shortcuts for the traditional sales experience.

“CRM systems codified the experience that sales and marketing people have had. So it's helping them. It's helping managers manage the process, but it hasn't changed how people go to market,” said Cameron.

Sales teams still rely on in-person meetings, wine-ing and dining their prospects to get crucial intel.

But, as Cameron is quick to point out, ZoomInfo is more than just a digital way to conduct last year’s business.

“A big part of our being profitable is that we've turned our sales and marketing motion on its head. We use our own data and insights and our big investors in technology in order to drive an industry-leading efficiency around go-to-market, which ultimately makes us profitable and able to grow,” he said.

Ultimately, what powers ZoomInfo’s success? It may just be the people behind the company.

The CEO of ZoomInfo, Henry Schuck, captures the spirit of driving success each day.

“His view on the world of just getting 1% better every day,” Cameron said.

“Ultimately, changing what you do is very refreshing. And I think that focus on driving success, but doing it efficiently, is something that everyone should aspire to.”

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