A $2 billion software company backed by Salesforce and Bain & Co. could become the 'holy grail' of B2B sales by solving every rep's biggest problems
- Highspot just raised $200m from a group of investors including Salesforce Ventures, Bain & Company.
- The product uses AI to help sales and marketing collaborate and track the effectiveness of sales content.
- The data and insight can train sales teams and offer guidance to product and content marketing.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Any salesperson knows how messy it can be to organize all the different marketing collateral they use in customer conversations: You receive a slew of marketing content and scripting from above; a chunk arrives at the beginning of the year and perhaps more comes in as new products or features are launched; and then you quickly get to work customizing it.
If that works out well you may share your creation with colleagues. But then marketing, content, and product teams are in the dark, and often miffed that their work is being chopped up. Jarod Greene, vice president of product marketing at Highspot, knows this problem all too well.
Before joining the company, he was a user of Highspot in his previous job in the same role at Apptio, a Seattle-based IT software company with around 1,000 employees.
“The tension doesn’t come from a malicious place,” Greene explained. Each team just has different priorities along the chain, and then communication breaks down.
Highspot believes it has the solution for this conflict and the challenges of onboarding and continuously developing salespeople: a tool that measures the effectiveness of sales content and scripting. Highspot has already made believers out of clients Twitter, SAP Concur, Fiserv, and RedHat, and investors like Salesforce and Bain & Company, both of which are part of the latest $200 million investment round that now puts Highspot at a $2.3 billion valuation.
“We have the ability to take the company’s product initiatives and their content, and attribute that to actual business outcomes,” founder and CEO Robert Wahbe, a former Microsoft exec, told Insider. “By having this single system, it absolutely helps marketing and sales come together, because it gives them a common language.”
The benefit of solving these problems could spread far and wide. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates from 2019, over 14 million people work in “sales or sales related activities” in America and nearly another million work as marketing analysts or marketing managers.
The opportunity in using Highspot comes down to enabling sales reps to be more consistent over time and allow content marketers to better understand their internal partners’ needs. If it can make good on those promises, it could be the holy grail of B2B sales technology and strategy.
“You don’t want to wait till the end of quarter, or the end of the year to figure out if the strategy is working,” Greene said. “It would be great if you could see in real time with these leading indicators.”
Improving the consistency of sales and marketing teams
Wahbe equated the work of sales reps to sports, with marketing and product playing the role of coaches and reps as the athletes. Highspot, in that analogy, is the “film room,” which helps sales and marketing teams understand the company’s go-to-market strategy and refine their craft.
The software can track which marketing materials and scripting are most effective overall, and for which types of clients. The data component is what separates the Highspot offering from Google Drive or another fileshare or content management service.
“I can build an editorial calendar that starts by answering: ‘What are the reps actually using?'” Greene said. “What do they see value in? What’s the number of views, downloads, how many times they pitch this to customers, and then how many customers have actually engaged with that content?”
This product and its insights can be useful for onboarding new reps and development of experienced sales reps and managers.
“We built an end-to-end platform that helps you do all those things: equip the team, train the team, and coach the team,” Wahbe said, “ultimately, so that you can have better conversations with your customer, happier customers, and grow your business.”
The platform also provides a custom experience for prospects, in part by incorporating data from systems all over the enterprise into content decisions. By connecting to Salesforce and hundreds of other apps, the content platform uses information such as the prospective customer’s company size, geography, and contact history and customizes the collateral based A.I. that determines preferences.
“We can build basically an entire branded customer experience,” Wahbe said. On top of that, the selling company receives information on whether the client opened the document, how long they looked at it, and if they clicked on anything. “That actually helps marketing figure out where they want to invest.”
Train reps and manage quality control, with scale
Like many technologies that help users with information sharing and collaboration, Highspot is a particularly helpful tool as work teams are either fully remote or hybrid.
Highspot’s early success shows how technology in B2B sales and marketing eventually catches up to the consumer market, bringing customization and customer journey tracking into the fold of processes that were previously very analog.
B2B sales lagged on technology adoption in part because of an old-school way of thinking in which sales managers believed too strongly in their innate ability to see when a rep has that “it” factor, or to know which material works best depending on the situation in a sales process. They rely heavily on guesswork.
Selling is a relationship business, and probably always will be, but now those relationships increasingly need to be built online, and Highspot’s platform aims to equip reps to do that more effectively.
“The challenge is not content per se, or playbooks, or training, or coaching,” Wahbe said. “It’s taking the insights that you have in the morning and turning those into the execution by your customer-facing teams. If you can do that, you truly unlock the potential of those people and potential of the company.”
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