How to prioritize your marketing initiatives to ensure success with Arjun Pillai of ZoomInfo

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Welcome to another episode of 3-Minute-Marketing, the only podcast where you can find binge-able tips and insights from the world’s top growth marketing leaders broken down into easy-to-digest 3-minute segments.

I’m honored to have Arjun Pillai, SVP of Products and Growth at ZoomInfo, on the podcast this week. Arjun has a deep background in data and is an engineer by training, but he made the switch and became a very impressive B2B marketer. Previously he was the Founder and CEO of, a top conversational marketing platform which was acquired by ZoomInfo.

We live in a busy, noisy world with so many different ideas flying around. So my question for Arjun is, “How can marketers, companies, and brands prioritize their marketing initiatives to ensure success?”.

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Show notes:

  1. Marketers should always start with the data quality that they have in their Salesforce. If you have bad data there, clean it up first.
  2. Some marketers get aspirations to focus on things like videos and podcasts, which are good. But you have to cover your basics first. You can’t fail to hit your MQL target and say you’re building a branding podcast.
  3. Doing something swanky or more strategic is important, but not until you’re hitting your numbers.
  4. Do the basics. Make sure you have a product marketer who’s good at talking about your product. Have a G2 or Capterra with at least ten reviews even if your product is new. Start doing outbound emails. Get a couple of SDRs and work with them to write copy so they can get emails out to potential customers.
  5. Run some simple B2B ads on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  6. How can you align super closely with your sales? Forget the mindset of “handing-off” to sales. Don’t generate something, hand it off to sales, and let them run with it. Make sure you’re working off of the same targeted list. Use as much data as possible to make sure the targeted list is targeted enough.
  7. Practice opportunity acceleration. Reach out to opportunities that haven’t yet closed on Salesforce. Help your sales team prioritize their accounts. You know intent data, ICP data, and targeting better, use it to prioritize for the SDRs.


– You’re listening to Three Minute Marketing where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders. It is still their knowledge and the actionable bite-sized insights. Now here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– [Chris] Hello again, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Three Minute Marketing. I’m your main man, Chris mechanic here today with Mr. Arjun Pillai who’s a very, very impressive B2B marketer. He’s currently SVP, senior vice president of products and growth at ZoomInfo. He made his way to ZoomInfo after they acquired his last company which was one of the leading conversational marketing platforms. But Arjun’s got a deep background in data. He’s an engineering, an engineer by training turned marketer. So, he kind of turned to the dark side and that’s where a lot of the best marketers I’ve found have come from. So Arjun, welcome to the show. It’s a pleasure to have you.

– [Arjun] Thanks a lot Chris. Thanks a lot for having me here. Excited to be here.

– [Chris] And fun story actually. So, Arjun comes from India. Originally came here four years ago. He was in Denver but then he happened to move, basically right to my neighborhood. So we’re neighbors now, which is really cool.

– [Arjun] Yup. Small World.

– [Chris] Yeah All right. Well, let’s get right into it. I know that everybody wants to hear Arjun. What I’m wondering today in a busy world, in a noisy world with many people, many team members, many ideas flying around. How can marketers and companies, and brands prioritize their marketing initiatives to ensure maximum success throughout the execution process?

– [Arjun] Interesting. Yeah. No, Chris. I mean, you know, to your point, right? I have had the good fortune of working with a ton of marketers because my company that ZoomInfo acquired was into conversational marketing. So before that, I was in data. When you think about prioritization, right? The thing that I have always seen with marketers is they should start with the data quality that they have in their marketer and sales forces. There was this CMO who is now part of a high, rapid growth P&G company. She told me, “Arjun, I have 14 years of bad data in my sales force.” Right? Like, anything for me to do, I got to go clean that up first, right? So, that is the thing that I would put to any marketer. When was the last time you checked that your data quality, is your bounce rate at 8%? If not, then you have some work to do there. So, that’s like number one in my mind. Number two is, a lot of the marketers always get carried away. Carried away is a wrong word, but want to do some aspirational things like, you know, running a podcast and those kinds of things, which are all amazing things, right? Videos and podcasts, and all of that. But you have to cover your basics first. You cannot, not hit your MQL target and say that, “Hey! I’m building this branding podcast out there.” Right?

– [Chris] Yeah

– [Arjun] So, you have to do the basics. Like, you got to make sure you have a product marketer who is good at talking about your product. You have to make sure that you have a G2 up, Capterra up, TrustRadius up. You need to make sure you have 10 reviews, at least each, even if your product is new, right? You have to start doing outbound emails. Get a couple of SDRs, work with them, write copies for them. Let them go out and get those emails out to your potential customers. Now, in some simple B2B ads. Do on Facebook, do on LinkedIn. Those are pretty easy to run. So, you have to do those things. Maybe kick off an SEO, SEM kind of things on the side. But, you know, have these basics covered really well before you get into some of these, you know, more swankier things, which you should do, take your time. The third thing that I have always thought, and it is becoming more and more important these days. How can you align super closely with your sales? Some of the things that I have found, again, being more actionable, you have to forget this mindset of handing off to sales. That was past. You don’t generate something and hand off to sales, and let them run with it. That’s an old world. You know, that’s over.

– [Chris] Yeah.

– [Arjun] What you have to do is you have to make sure you are working off of the same targeted list. You have to use as much data as possible to make sure the targeted list is targeted enough. You have to do opportunity acceleration. Things like, which are the opportunities that are yet to close on Salesforce. Take that list and run air cover ads for your sales people. They’ll appreciate it, right? You have to help your salespeople to prioritize their accounts. You know intent data better. You know ACP data better. You know targeting better. Use that to prioritize it for the SDRs. So, you know, by doing some of these simple things, you can definitely align better with your sales counterparts. And that’ll ensure success for you.

– [Chris] Boom! There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Straight from the man himself. So, just to recap very quickly. Data first, we’re firm believers in that. To get to the quality of that data, we can have a whole two-hour long podcast, probably just on that. We’ll unpack some, maybe in the, in the bonus footage and then start laying the basics. Like, just start hitting your numbers before doing something swanky. You do acknowledge that doing something swanky or more strategic, or longer term is important. But not until you’re at least hitting your numbers and you got like your foundational things in place and then aligned with the sales team more than aligned, you know, snuggle up to them and work off the same list with them. Go to lunch with them. I think that’s brilliant and there’s a, I think a lot of the best marketers in the world follow that every, every single day. They’re very, very close with sales teams. As I’m sure you guys are doing at ZoomIn focus. You’re killing it. I mean, congratulations on all the success.

– [Arjun] Thank you. Yeah. A lot of the credit, I mean, all the credit goes to the team. But yes, we run a bunch of plays and we recently put out a document also that talks about the hundred plays that we run here at ZoomInfo. We’re growing insanely fast and part of the reason is, because we run this high efficiency, sales and marketing aligned engine.

– [Chris] That’s awesome. Well, hey! Stay on the line. Let’s wrap the official show but we’ll continue having a conversation. If you’re enjoying the conversation that Arjun and I are having right now, you should find a link probably in the show notes or somewhere around where you’re listening to the bonus footage. But I’m excited to continue this conversation. I want to talk more about what you guys are doing at ZoomInfo. Arjun. Tell us, tell everybody how they can learn more about you, more about ZoomInfo, maybe where we can download your hundred, your hundred plays.

– [Arjun] Yeah, absolutely. So, LinkedIn is probably the best place where you can find me. I find writing, post everything on LinkedIn. So, just search for Arjun Pillai and you should find me pretty easily on LinkedIn or in other social networks. In terms of finding more about my company, most of you might be familiar with ZoomInfo. It’s just and we offer everything there. There is also LinkedIn. ZoomInfo LinkedIn handle. We recently posted our hundred plays there. So, that’s also a really good place where you can go and get all that base that we have brewing here.

– [Chris] Perfect. Yeah and we’ll link to those in the show notes as well. Both Arjun’s profile as well as the a hundred plays. So, stick around. Both Arjun, and if you’re listening right now, stick around. Grab the rest of our conversation. As always, if you liked this, if you want more of it, please drop us a like or a comment. Let us know who we should interview next. Let’s go through some ,through some of your three pillars and kind of just dig a little bit deeper. I’m really curious on the data side. Cause I know it’s, you know, bad data is rampant. Like even the best brands sometimes have data quality and cleanliness, and completion issues. You’d mentioned Salesforce as the first or CRM really as the first place you would look. What things would you look at within CRM to determine data quality or what, what metrics or what dimensions are you hoping are, you know, highest quality?

– [Arjun] Yeah, obviously it depends on company to company, right? The things that I care about might be slightly different from what you care about, depending on how you go to the market. But the baseline is, bounce rate is probably the single most important one, right? How, what is your current bounce rate? If it is eight, if it is more than 8%, take any random sample and run it. And if the bounce rate is more than 8%, you have the work to do their. You have to go through it and make sure that all the bounced ones are removed and cleaned up

– [Chris] You’re talking about bounced emails.

– [Arjun] Emails. Yes, exactly.

– [Chris] Got it.

– [Arjun] And you can do it manually. You can use a tool, you know, whichever way you handle it. It’s totally up to you. The second thing that I would say, the other thing you should look for is what are the most important things that your sales person looks for when they are reaching out to a prospect? For some companies, it is techno graphic data. Like, for conversational marketing, when I was selling my tool, I wanted to make sure those guys have HubSpot and Marketo or Pardot.

– [Chris] Right.

– [Arjun] Because those are the integrations that I have, right? So, If they don’t have it or if I don’t have it in my CRM, my targeting is off, right?

– [Chris] Right.

– [Arjun] So I would make sure that my CRM is enriched with these additional fields from techno graphics. You know, for some people it is Coops. Like, when a vice-president change happened, you know, like, for some people that is the most needed thing. So, you’ve to get that in there. And the other thing that I always felt that people are not really leveraging in terms of data quality is, when there is a bounce happening, you know, especially for closed won or closed lost kind of cases, that person just moved to another company opening up a potential opportunity for you. You just don’t know that bounce happened. So, when that bounce happens, go and figure out where exactly that person went. So there, you can open up a new opportunity because there’s an existing relationship there.

– [Chris] A 100 percent.

– [Arjun] Yeah, that’s another low-hanging fruit that I’ve observed. The other thing that I’ve observed is when there is a closed, lost or a silent gone, silent kind of opportunity in my Salesforce or CRM or market, wherever that. After sometime, going back to those and having a nurture campaign based on that is another very interesting way in which you can, kind of

– [Chris] Yep. Yes. So it’s almost like-

– [Arjun] Did you get that bit?

– [Chris] Well, you broke up a little bit but I think I got the main thing. Having some kind of rainy day campaigns to go after the deals that you’ve lost out a period of time. But no, that’s an interesting paradigm. An interesting way to think of it. Most people think of bounces as a bad thing, But if you think of a bounce as almost like a lead, it’s like, okay, this prospect bounce, where are they now? I think that’s brilliant. And actually just earlier today, I got an email from, from a client asking if there’s some systematic way. They wanted to do it on LinkedIn specifically, but some systematic way to identify what we, we call them team travelers. So, if you’re my client at ZoomInfo and then you go to, you know, whatever it is gong, you would be in our, we would categorize you as a team traveler which is an opportunity to reach out and do business with your new company. But is there some systematic way other than, just like, looking for the bounces and then looking that person up on LinkedIn manually that you know of to identify where they ended up?

– [Arjun] Yeah. No, I mean, I don’t want to put a plug. But you know, company like ZoomInfo is the right place-

– [Chris] Oh, that’s right. That’s what ZoomInfo does.

– [Arjun] Yeah, right. We are really good at tracking the job changes. And then when that happens, you know, there are ways in which you can initiate what we call as work flows to send an alert to you. When somebody, you can keep track of people. And then when they change, you know, you can send alerts to you. So, there are that ways. There are also some tools which will automatically scrape bounces and then, figure out when a person left the organization. We also have a tool that does that. Like, so there are a lot of the tools that we have. There are other companies in the world that do these things. But depending on the volume, I would either go manual or automated.

– [Chris] Got it. This is really useful, man. So, but in order to receive bounces, you have to send an email. Is one of the things you look at, basically like, you know, show me this universe of contacts, who hasn’t gotten an email in the last year or two?

– [Arjun] Absolutely. So that’s one way to look at it. You know, if you’re having a newsletter, you have to, you know, keep sending newsletters. So that’s another way you get it. If you remove all of this, right? You have so many email verification services out there. Again, we have one. There are so many out there. You just take your list, run it against them. It’s super cheap, right? It’s like a few cents per email. You just run it and it’s going to give you either hard bounce or invalid, or catch all which means, you know, unverifiable and then verify it to be true. Right? So, these things are easy to just run it through an email verifier. So, if you don’t want to email them, just do the email verifier. Only send emails to only the ones that the email verifier could not give you a good answer to.

– [Chris] Yep. That makes sense. That makes sense. Now the block and tackle portion or cover the basics portion. I think is pretty self-explanatory for most people. But at what point do you start coming up with those bigger strategic ideas? Like, start a podcast, like, after you’ve hit your numbers for three months in a row or three quarters in a row, or is there?

– [Arjun] Yeah, the way I think about it is, when your pipeline is starting to become predictable, you know, at least directionally it is predictable, and, you know, as humans, we are all good at almost identifying. Okay! It looks like it’s going to go up and took the north with whatever I’m doing right here. That is probably the right time. Again, it’s not like you shouldn’t do anything until that time. Like for example, SEO and SEM is not going to give you anything on that day. But it’s not something that you should wait for like, two years. Right?

– [Chris] Right.

– [Arjun] So, the way I would handle it is, instead of bringing in any NSU expert in-house, I would find a consultancy or something, give an SEO to that company and ask them to kick off a project that gets me to my base. Right? So, there is some efforts going on, on the site. On the podcast, I would keep thinking about it. I would understand the point of view. Here is what I want to talk about when I end up doing the podcast. I would start doing a little bit of posting here and there on LinkedIn, start gathering some subscribers from there. And eventually so, I’m not saying you should not do anything until you hit the numbers, right? But the focus should be on the numbers and it should be clear between you and your team. And then, slowly start diversifying. And then, start building up a brand, and going into this, rank your things. When you think that sales people are fine with the numbers that you are giving, fine with the quality of leads you’re giving, which is probably the more important thing. Because giving numbers is easy. You can simply run on a content syndication, get a bunch of leads

– [Chris] Right.

– [Arjun] and then give it to sales. But, to give it at the quality that is factory quality to sales at a number rate that they are happy with, that’s when you can start going into some of these other things. That will also give you footing with the leadership, right? It’s like, if you go day one and say, I want to do a podcast, I have no idea how many leads are going to come, leadership will be like, “Okay!” So, if you have a footing with your leads, then your leadership will give support for you to do these additional things.

– [Chris] Yeah. Now that makes a lot of sense. Now, the sales alignment piece. I don’t know if you consider that to be more in the basics category or more in the swanky category, probably more in the basics category. But what are, what are some things that you guys do at ZoomInfo to, you know, encourage that level of alignment, measure it, optimize it, deepen it. Do you guys have any routines or rituals, or practices that have been useful for you?

– [Arjun] Yeah. So again, this is combination of ZoomInfo and some of the other customers, and people that I talk to all the time. At ZoomInfo, we have sales and marketing role rolling up to our president and COO, Chris Hays. And like, this amazing guy. And that is one level in which companies are trying to do that sales and marketing alignment, right? You haven’t been seeing CRO as a title come up more and more, and more. And the whole point is we don’t want like a CMO and VP of sales, our CSO and going to the senior right. You want an alignment and then going to the CEO. So, the CRO thing is kind of, like a, a vein which companies are trying to do sales and marketing alignment to varied success. Some companies are insanely successful. Some companies are struggling, obviously. But they are trying, that’s one. The other thing that I’ve seen successfully aligned to companies do is working off the same targeted list. So, it’s like a very tactical approach. Every week they sync up. They come up with a list of accounts and agree. Okay, based on these filters, we are agreeing that this is account list that they’re going after. If there is any ABM, like an account based marketing motion by marketing, they have to ask and run the accounts through sales before they do ABM. So, working off the same targeted lists, whether it is for top of the funnel, bottom of the funnel, middle of the funnel, opportunity acceleration. Any campaign, if it is a ABM segmented, targeted account campaign, then there is, there should be an agreement with sales in terms of which are the accounts being targeted. So, that’s like a really articulate way. And to ensure that companies run weekly meetings on this tactical targeted account, right? So, that’s an actionable thing that people can do very quickly. The third thing that I’ve seen is, this is probably a little bit more matured companies. They spend some time to create Salesforce dashboards. So, the marketing would take up the initiative to build the Salesforce dashboards for salespeople based on some filters.

– [Chris] Yeah.

– [Arjun] You know, based on internet searching, based on a website traffic, based on IP to company resolution, you know. Like, several ways in which they will say, “Okay, here is the list of accounts that are prioritized for you Monday morning, every week.” And it is a dashboard or a Salesforce list. Need not be a dashboard. It can be a Salesforce list.

– [Chris] Yeah.

– [Arjun] I can click on list. It’ll give me the Top 500 companies or 300 companies, whatever that is, right? Or even 30 companies, depending on how big or small you are.

– [Chris] Now, do your company list tend to change from week to week and month to month. Or is it, like a, fairly static list that changes a little bit?

– [Arjun] It changes a little bit. And the change is primarily based on two things, right? One is the external intent data, like, is the intent surging? And that intent data could be coming from intent data provider, could be coming from G2, Capterra. There are several intent providers, right? So, that’s one reason why that list would change a little bit. And it’s not hundred percent change. It’s more like a few, single-digit percentage point changes. But those 10 more critical, because you have to hit the iron when it is hot. So, that is a big dynamic change that happens. The other reason it changes is because, you know, somebody is coming to your website and your IP to company resolution just picked it up. And there is an engagement spike that happens, right? Four people from the same company visited in the past seven days, like 12 times. So, I had this a client of mine who ran this experiment. Every time the deal was more than 100,000 dollars, 35 people visited from that company before that deal was signed.

– [Chris] Wow!

– [Arjun] And that particular engagement grow before, you know, that signature happens. So there’s a very, very significant way in which you can track and see that, okay, these guys are at the critical mass. These guys are at the escape velocity. This is the time for me to reach out, right? So, those are the two big reasons why that list changes a little bit here and there.

– [Chris] I got ya. All right. Well, I want to sensitive to your time. I had one more question about Web3 which I’ve been dying to ask and talk about with everybody. But we’ll save that for next time. How about that? Will you come back sometime?

– [Arjun] Absolutely. You know, I can come back. You know, we can keep in touch. I enjoyed this conversation and yeah, I would love to be back.

– [Chris] Perfect. Well, hey! Great to have you.

Arjun Pillai

Arjun PillaiSVP, Products & Growth

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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