Highspot Blog

Redefining Modern Sales Enablement

Modern sales enablement solutions make their predecessor versions unrecognizable.  Not because they’re solving different problems, but because they present radically improved approaches to delivering what sales reps need. 

Today we’ll illustrate the significant limitations of legacy solutions, as well as the fragile characteristics of platforms claiming to be modern. For sales and marketing teams evaluating technology alternatives, understanding the evolution from legacy to truly modern is essential to making informed decisions.  It also provides a view into how Highspot has rewritten the definition of modern sales enablement. 

Then and Now

Early attempts at sales enablement technology were defined by on-premise file systems and Windows XP-era user interfaces.  These early systems built on previously deployed Sharepoint-web-portal and random shared network drives used to distribute marketing content to the field.  Though the goal of these systems was worthwhile, the underlying technology was based on rigid nested-folder structures.  Some early sales enablement vendors also attempted to include reporting and integrate with CRM systems, yet delivered little more than simple data downloads.  Like most first-generation technologies with rigid architectures and clunky user experiences, reality fell far short of the original vision.

The introduction of cloud technologies and new content management features elevated interest in sales enablement.  Legacy vendors retooled and new competitors entered the market. Still the same old architectures and experiences that focused more on content producers than sales reps did little to remedy content sprawl or consolidate already fragmented capabilities. The sales enablement race was on, but no clear winner was emerging.

Fast forward to today.  Sales enablement technology is now a strategic investment for companies of all sizes and varieties.  It is helping sales teams solve their content problems more efficiently than ever before and achieve sustained improvement in conversions. Once a nice-to-have, sales enablement has become a competitive necessity.

Driving the Industry Forward

At Highspot, the leap from legacy to modern is part of a much larger story.  The reason is that we’ve redefined modern sales enablement, through the lens of pain points organizations need to solve and criteria integral to sales rep success.  

Content Management.  For all the improvements modern sales enablement has introduced, the nested-file-folder structure remains a conspicuous link to the failed products of the past.  The uniform hierarchical nature of file structures does not match the content organization needs of dynamic, global, multi-product, multi-go-to-market sales organizations.  Much as they’ve been worked around and managed, tagged and made more searchable, file systems burden every platform but one.   

Only Highspot has dispensed with folders, in favor of more dynamic and flexible spots.  Spots are the type of advance that once implemented, users struggle to rationalize how they lived without.  They help reps and sales enablement leaders organize content suited to the unique needs of individual teams, all while providing a single point of management and versioning.  In short, they completely reimagine what content management should be. 

User Experience (UX).  Reps demand time-saving design corresponding with world-class, friction-free experiences.  They expect content management systems to be intuitive, easily accessible, and enjoyable to use – and justifiably so.  These are often-overlooked but critical considerations that have hamstrung legacy solutions and are among the root causes of user adoption rates falling below 30% on many platforms. 

Inspired by the best UX of companies like Amazon, Pinterest, and iTunes and how they make navigating millions of pieces of content easy and intuitive for everyday users, Highspot has remade sales enablement experiences from the ground up.  For sales reps, there’s no going back.          

Machine learning.  The emergence of data-optimized solutions helped reps work smarter than ever before.  With machine learning, reps are able to capitalize on better search, content recommendations, and content performance tracking.  However, what was once a key differentiator is now core to any modern solution aiming to provide intelligence to their users.  With Content Genomics™, Highspot’s proprietary methodology for optimizing and recommending content based upon performance, audience, version, and purpose, the bar has been raised again.  As Highspot customers know, not all machine learning is created equal. 

Customer engagement.  Organizing content is the first pillar in any end-to-end sales enablement solution.  To help reps be more efficient and effective, modern solutions must help reps engage customers via the best channel and format for every potential situation.  They cannot make customer engagement and sales enablement either/or propositions or revert to opening and closing modules for specialized needs.  They must remove friction and keep reps on-platform and on-target.  

By seamlessly integrating email (including deep integration with Outlook), Slide Cast™ and screen share presentations, and customer content portals, reps on Highspot have a variety of ways to professionally engage with customers.  Combine Highspot’s real-time alerts on content open and view with CRM activity tracking and pitch dashboards and sales reps can instantly upgrade the quality and timeliness of every engagement.  This is another category in which Highspot is surpassing expectations for sales reps.    

Performance analytics.  Modern sales enablement platforms offer businesses comprehensive analytics on content performance and visibility on quality and best practices.  They deliver data science and deep-dive analytics far beyond legacy content reporting.

As in other categories, offering a full array of features on a single platform provides marketing and sales leadership with a closed-loop view on content that is and isn’t working.  With comprehensive BI analytics on content usage, customer engagement, pitch performance, business impact, and the ability to segment results by Salesforce.com fields, Highspot has again leapfrogged competitive alternatives.  Using Highspot’s BI Kit™, sales and marketing teams can join sales enablement data with other company data and leverage in-house BI solutions such as Power BI, Tableau or SiSense.  These real analytics allow teams to validate content performance and pivot strategies based on data, not intuition.

Modification tracking.  Every rep modifies content to suit their unique style and the opportunities they pursue.  However, without modification tracking, sales reps are unable to assess the upside of their edits.  Given approximately 80% of sales presentations are modified before they’re pitched, a shortage of modification tracking quickly leads to content fragmentation and makes closed-loop insights impossible.  With Highspot’s Content Genomics™, sales and marketing teams can follow how content is morphing in the field, which subsequently allows content to be improved in real-time, all while preserving brand identity.

Technology integration.  The days of siloed solutions and data are ancient history.  By fitting seamlessly into existing workflows and business processes, modern platforms create a multiplier effect: the more products that plug into them, the more valuable they become.  At Highspot, technology integrations with enterprise solutions ranging from CRM, cloud storage, and productivity tools to collaboration and BI help reps improve visibility, save time, and consolidate resources.  No other sales enablement solution comes close to offering Highspot’s range of integration features.       

Onboarding. Long and complicated deployments plagued first-generation sales enablement platforms, causing performance delays and lowering ROI.  Modern cloud-based solutions have recognized this and made onboarding services a top priority.  As a result, the time from platform commitment to usage has been dramatically shortened and in turn accelerated reps’ ability to improve sales velocity.  The Highspot team has raised onboarding to an art form.  With a catalog of best practices and experience adapting to varying circumstances, Highspot helps sales and marketing teams maximize their time and investment.       

Usage rates.  If there’s a single piece of evidence distinguishing legacy from modern sales enablement platforms, usage would be it.  It is the ultimate reflection of whether or not sales reps are creating value.  Usage is also a flywheel: the greater the number of reps aboard and using a sales enablement platform, the more important the platform becomes.  With industry-leading average monthly recurring usage of nearly 90%, it’s clear sales reps love Highspot. 

Proven ROI.  No business has time for investments that don’t pay.  With low usage rates, high price tags, and onerous demands for management and upkeep, legacy solutions were more anchors than enablers.  (The same applies to many so-called modern alternatives.)  This, too, has changed for the better.  With clear investment benchmarks, quick time-to-value, and engaged users, modern sales enablement has claimed its place at the top of the sales tech stack.  According to Highspot research, more than 50% of companies that have committed to sales enablement are increasing sales conversion rates by at least 10% and a full 23% of companies have increased conversion rates by over 20%.

Stretching the Definition

The sales enablement industry wouldn’t be where it is today without having progressed through years of iterative improvements.  Like the Rio player preceding the iPod, the GM EV1 before the Tesla or VHS before Netflix, each generation of an idea contributes to the eventual breakthrough.  A similar pattern has emerged in sales enablement. 

As the industry continues accelerating into the future, the definition of modern will stretch.  And Highspot will continue stretching it. 

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Going to Sirius Decisions Summit from May 24-27 in Nashville, TN?  If so, drop by booth #126.  We’d love to demo Highspot in action.  If not, drop a line to sales@highspot.com.  We’re ready when you are.