How Zoom grew to Millions of Businesses

Zoom, the leading video communications solution, has gained millions of business customers within seven years of launch.

Zoom’s growth doesn’t just stop there:

  • Customers include 58% of Fortune 500 companies and 96% of top US universities.
  • Triple-digit YoY user and revenue growth.
  • $145.5 million in total funding.
  • Industry-leading Net Promoter Score of 71.

Greg Holmes is the Head of Sales at Zoom Video Communications. After 11 years of running sales at Webex (before and after its acquisition by Cisco), Greg joined Zoom over five years ago and built a sales team from scratch—from 1 to over 500 members and counting.

As part of the Secret Sauce to Sales series by Freshsales, we got the opportunity to find out how he built their sales army and led them to success.

Zoom Video Communication


Zoom is certainly a great product-market fit. How does your team culture play here? What sort of principles do you swear by while selling the product?

Delivering happiness.

It’s written on our walls, and it’s so much more than a clichéd slogan. Once you put it into action, the power of it is incredible.

Everybody wants to live for happiness, to do the right thing, and treat people well, but guess what? It doesn’t happen as much as it should. So, if you work to make it happen, then it makes all the difference in the world.

As far as sales is concerned, we go by treating people with respect and really listening to them. Always try to deliver, do what you say you’re going to do and do it with the highest integrity. Always make it about the people you’re working with and what they need. We also try to do all this internally, within our culture, with each other, and not just with our customers.

Zoom Office Photos
Courtesy: Built in Colorado. Photography by Haley Samuelson.

We noticed on LinkedIn that your sales organization has over 500 members. Tell us about the training processes you have in place.

We have a sales academy for training our new hires. Every new hire, no matter what department he/she is in, undergoes training for at least a couple of days. Most of our sales reps or customer success teams stay for the entire time. They delve into Zoom’s technology and vision, meet with different department heads and understand what their focuses are, and even cover some product training.

Once they graduate from the sales academy, they go back to a boot camp to learn more about the specifics, depending on their role and segment. When you have such a big team, there’s so much power put together.

Some of our veterans have been at Zoom for a while, and they bring all their knowledge and experiences to the table. They know a lot of the answers to the questions, and they know how to position things.

We also have a dedicated program called Elevate, for our reps. It focuses on professional growth across teams. Our movement is about working hard to leverage this power and getting the team to work to elevate each other.

Zoom Team Photo in December 2017
Zoom Team in December 2017

How does Elevate work along with your mentoring program?

Every month, our reps are required to do some engagement with each other. Be it to meet their peers, their team members, or even different segments to get a good mix of interaction and learning. We give them topics, and hopefully, they will walk away from that, both teaching and learning from each other.

‘Elevate’ is probably the biggest movement of knowledge and training outside of what our enablement team can do. That’s the power of a growing team teaching each other.

Our mentoring program makes sure our reps get up to a good start and points them in the right direction. We have somebody who can take them out for coffee and address their questions or even guide them. Combined with ‘Elevate,’ they get exposure to the greater teams in different segments. We are about five months into it, and so far, we’re getting great feedback.

I think some deals would not have happened if the reps hadn’t learned from each other. Now, both the business and the customers are happy. You just can’t have a better story than that. These are the good things that come out of our growth programs.

Let’s talk about your customer base. Who are they and who is your ideal customer?

Frankly, everyone.

The beauty of this market is that everyone communicates, and everyone connects.

Whether you’re a University, a small business, an emerging or fast-growing start-up, or a growing enterprise company, everyone has a reason to communicate. It could be a meeting on video, chat, or even audio—it’s all about bringing people together and connecting them to drive business.

Companies are getting more dispersed, more global. If not global, they are at least spread across multiple offices or have people working remotely.

Of course, tech companies tend to get ahead of the curve— especially when a company like Zoom emerges. They want to be the first to try out a technology that’s new and making the news.

Zoom: 3rd Rank among Business Apps on AppStore
Zoom: 3rd Rank among Business Apps on AppStore

We’ve also been doing well in higher education for a long time. It’s been a great market. And, small businesses have always been there. What we have seen in the last couple of years is a  surge in enterprise accounts.

Sometimes, the larger companies want to wait and see how the technology delivers. And I think that belief and recognition has happened over the last couple of years.

The beauty is in the challenge. You see companies that are focused on either just enterprise or SMBs but we are concentrated in all market sizes. It’s a blessing but also a challenge. There are different intricacies involved in serving each one of them.

Instead of one team trying to do everything, we have built teams that can connect to each market segment, focus on them and serve them the right way.


Zoom Ranking on Gartner PeerInsights
Zoom Ranking on Gartner PeerInsights

With multiple kinds of teams using Zoom, who would be your target buyer persona? Who are you more likely to reach out to?

IT is our real focus—CIOs, directors of IT, VPs, or whatever title they go by. Sometimes, we even serve people who have an open infrastructure. When you’re dealing with audio, video, desktop, mobile, or conference room technologies, a lot of them converge into IT.

Often, IT is not quite ready for a full change, but the same organization’s marketing team might need a robust webinar solution. So, we work with their marketing or sales teams to get a foot in the door.

We also see HR using our technology for interviews and training. It’s a nice thing that we can work with departmental contacts in all those business units.

How do you allocate teams for inbound versus outbound efforts?

Each business segment has it differently. Our small businesses team is primarily inbound. We get our lead flow and visibility from a variety of sources.

For larger companies, we get a steady lead flow, but we also have reps targeting accounts for some outbound. We also use tools to help build cadence with customers who aren’t keen on buying the technology at this time.

Zoomtopia: Zoom User Conference
Zoomtopia: Zoom User Conference

Considering the intricacies, how does a typical sales journey look like at Zoom? When does your team get involved?

As far as taking an account is concerned, we have the free trial option which draws a lot of sign-ups. And we don’t necessarily need to have a rep make every sale. We have certainly built some effective ways to reach out to every single person who signs up and deliver the right content. This way, they know where to go for best practices and how to make sure they utilize all the capabilities of Zoom.

Mostly, we are selective about how we reach out to new users. Sometimes, it could be a grandma in Ohio who wants to virtually watch her grandsons play, so she could be connecting over Zoom’s free account. We understand cases like that and want to let them enjoy the technology instead of putting in a bunch of calls and pressurizing them.

We get in touch with them and thank them for purchasing it, and understand what led them there. Then, we see how we can help them grow their Zoom use cases and deployment.

Slide about Zoom in Mary Meeker's Internet Trends 2018 Report
Slide about Zoom in Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018 Report

Zoom is spread across three continents. Where does your team work out of?

We are expanding across the US, EMEA, and APAC. Most of our team is represented in one of these office locations. The beauty is we can have a high quality, engaging interaction with our customers and prospects using Zoom. In fact, our offices make a great setup to have people over and show them how our technology can be leveraged.

What do you think are the biggest reasons for Zoom’s tremendous growth?

One, we have a very large market opportunity. Whether it’s for business or personal reasons, everyone is trying to connect with each other.

Two, while there were a lot of big players in the market, they just weren’t working well or were too cumbersome for use. Zoom swooped right in and also had some unbelievable functionalities, like the virtual background feature.

At the end of the day, the biggest reason for our success is that we came into a situation where people were collectively frustrated with their web meetings. Once people saw Zoom, they realized it was something that worked every time, and they could count on it to get business done. We saw that they were happy and that was not only because we were delivering a better service.

In the past, they had resigned themselves to the fact that their meetings were never going to go as planned. Zoom took away all that. We see how excited our customers get, and that helps us deliver better and better every day. It gives us the energy to keep going.

It started with our leader, Eric S. Yuan, who is so humble and passionate about solving problems—connecting people and making them happy. This journey hasn’t just been about how much money was made in the end.

Obviously, it’s great if your company is profitable but when you look at the core of it, our mantra has been to find a way to make people happy and deliver great service.

Aside from those reasons, we attribute our success to our hiring too. We have a great team to help our customers, and I think that’s always been our biggest focus. We want our people to embrace it, be a part of that fast-paced change and know how to deliver happiness.

Eric S Yuan named in Glassdoor Top CEOs 2018
Eric S Yuan named in Glassdoor Top CEOs 2018

Things you look for while hiring for your team.

It’s kind of clichéd but I focus on their willingness to learn. That’s passion, and hopefully working at Zoom brings it out even more. We find those people who jump out of bed every day and have this burning need to tackle challenges and make things happen.

I try to ask questions that tell us what type of people they are, because if they don’t have that drive, then we don’t have that kind of time to get them motivated. It has to come from within. Some people just like things to be steady and for things to not get ruffled, and that’s okay.

That’s their personality and that’s how they are wired—they just won’t do that well here because it’s going to be a crazy rocketship ride. Every day is a change here and we are going to go too fast. If that unsettles them, then they may not have as much fun here.

The next big thing I look for is around delivering happiness. I find out how they have made an impact on someone’s life and their biggest accomplishments. How much they cared about that person or team, and the things they did to help them overcome a challenge. I want to hear all that because we are all about delivering happiness.

Doing the right thing, treating people with respect, truly being happy and wanting to help. You’ve got to have them in you.

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