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Since We Last Spoke: Highspot’s CEO on the Importance of Business Agility During COVID-19 and Beyond

The age-old cliche “expect the unexpected” has turned into words to live by in 2020. Many businesses have felt this firsthand, having to rethink how they operate and drive revenue. While some industries have seen a surge in demand, others have been forced to get creative in order to stay afloat. Throughout it all, one thing’s for certain: agility has been key, and it will remain a priority post-COVID-19.

Highspot, a leader in revenue enablement and a Sapphire portfolio company, has been helping companies drive revenue since its founding in 2012. During these changing times and beyond, we believe that Highspot’s technology platform empowers businesses to get the most from their customer-facing teams. Just last week at the company’s first-ever customer conference Spark 2020, Highspot announced its unified revenue enablement platform, introducing new capabilities that allow revenue leaders to drive consistent revenue performance and connect go-to-market initiatives to business outcomes. 

Following the event, I caught up with Highspot CEO Robert Wahbe to hear about how Highspot is advancing the enablement category and helping companies everywhere thrive in any economy.  

Can you tell me about the current state of the enablement market?

It’s an exciting time to be in enablement. I remember when we founded Highspot in 2012, sales enablement was a nascent category. Fast forward eight years later, and the market has taken off. Enablement now empowers everyone who interacts with the customer, and analysts regard it as a multi-billion dollar category as companies across industries and geographies rely on it to drive growth.

The remote reality has only accelerated the pace of digital transformation and the need to unify go-to-market teams--revenue leaders are using enablement as not only a primary lever to virtually enable people today, but also to ensure they can drive business outcomes regardless of the environment tomorrow. In short--a huge opportunity lies ahead for enablement. Investors like Sapphire Ventures have taken note, and at Highspot we’re grateful to have their support as we continue to advance the category.  

We keep hearing that it’s a lopsided recession where certain industries are booming while others are just hanging on. How can the right kind of enablement support both sides of the spectrum?

It’s true--the effects of this downturn have been unequal. But regardless of economic opportunity, all companies need a cohesive approach to enabling their teams to respond with agility and turn strategies into action in the face of change. 

For businesses facing headwinds, customer acquisition is more difficult than ever. This makes customer retention the key to survival. Enablement supports post-sales teams in delivering amazing, holistic customer experiences that keep customers satisfied. It also gives sales teams the best chance at success, preparing them for the new reality awaiting them in the field. 

Companies flying on tailwinds were equally unprepared--facing challenges in the form of unexpected opportunities. Take Zoom for example: before the pandemic hit, Zoom was a popular business app. Now, it’s a cultural phenomenon. Many businesses that experienced rampant growth may not have had the necessary resources and processes in place to keep up, let alone capitalize. As leaders ask how they can enable their teams to make the most of the new opportunities that no one saw coming, they are turning to enablement to arm their teams with everything they need to know, say, show and do to make each new conversation count.  

Agility is incredibly important right now--no matter the industry, team or department. How does enablement drive agility for businesses? 

Enablement brings go-to-market teams together. From sales to marketing, each team has a clear picture of what the other teams are doing and what they’re working on together. When teams are in lockstep, it makes your organization more nimble, faster to act and ultimately, more efficient and effective. These functions can adapt more quickly, staying aligned in the midst of change.

What’s more, an end-to-end enablement platform that offers content, guidance, training, coaching, engagement and analytics helps companies get the most from their customer-facing teams. You can give your teams content paired with guidance on how to use that content, train them on it, measure how it’s working in the field, and then iterate to improve--all in relatively real time. With enablement, teams are much better prepared to respond to the unexpected than they would be otherwise. 

There are a lot of companies in the sales tech and enablement space. How is Highspot transforming the industry?

Our team is committed to the technology, function, practice and people of enablement. We believe there is incredible potential when individuals unite under a common mission, and as such we’ve made huge investments in supporting our community--from holding a customer conference designed to support knowledge sharing, to investing in Sales Enablement PRO, the world’s most sought-out source of sales enablement expertise with 10,000 members across the globe. Together, we can push the boundaries of our industry farther than Highspot ever could alone. 

From a technology perspective, Highspot strives to deliver beautifully-designed software with a spark of magic. For decades, enterprise software has been complex, difficult to use and even more difficult to learn. Highspot turned this norm on its head by using the principles of consumer design, inspired by popular applications. Just as Pinterest and Spotify delight users with flexible content organization, Highspot does the same for customer-facing teams around the world.

We remain focused on building capabilities natively with our extensible platform. This allows us to provide a user experience that is seamless and intuitive. Many of our features are powered by the same foundational technology, which reduces learning curves. For instance, if you’re a sales trainer and you know how to use SmartPages to make a play, then you already know how to create a training course. 

You recently launched new product capabilities to better help CROs and their teams drive revenue. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Introducing our unified revenue enablement platform at Spark 2020 was a milestone moment. Highspot now delivers content, guidance, training, coaching, engagement and 360-degree analytics--all wrapped up in one seamless solution. We’re proud to bring our customers industry-first capabilities that will fundamentally change the way they run their businesses. 

CROs can use Highspot’s Scorecards to answer three foundational questions: 

  • Does my customer-facing team understand the strategy? 
  • Are my customer-facing teams executing the strategy? 
  • Is the strategy driving business results? 

With a holistic view of the impact of go-to-market initiatives, leaders can pinpoint what’s working, what’s not and take action with their teams in real-time. The end result--consistent revenue performance and a direct line from go-to-market initiatives to business outcomes.  

What were some of the most interesting learnings coming out of your first customer conference Highspot Spark 2020?

As much as the current reality has been challenging for many companies, the recurring theme from our customers is that now is a time for reinvention. By using the current events as an impetus for change, enablement teams can reimagine everything from onboarding to outreach--improving internal experiences for teams and external experiences for customers. 

Many of our customers spoke to the broadening scope of enablement and how they are elevating their function to earn a seat at the table as a strategic business partner. There is a heightened need to get scientific about maximizing enablement’s potential--using data to quickly pivot strategies. 

And through it all, as things continue to inevitably change, teams of all sizes and industries are bringing the human element of business front and center--focusing on how they can improve company culture in a remote world, care for their people and delight their customers. At the end of the day, what will always matter most is putting people first. 

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