Episode 54: Globalizing an Enablement Strategy


Shawnna Sumaoang
Shawnna Sumaoang
Vice President, Marketing -Community, Highspot
Conrad Walsh
Conrad Walsh
Director of Global Product Marketing, Light & Wonder
Podcast Transcript

Research from KBV Research found that the global sales enablement platform market size is expected to reach $9.1 billion by 2028. So, how can organizations begin to globalize their sales enablement efforts to stay ahead of the curve? 

Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi and welcome to the Win Win Podcast. I’m your host, Shawnna Sumaoang. Join us as we dive into changing trends in the workplace and how to navigate them successfully. Here to discuss this topic is Conrad Walsh, director of global product marketing at Light & Wonder. Thanks for joining, Conrad! I’d love for you to tell us about yourself, your background, and your role. 

Conrad Walsh: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Shawnna, I appreciate it. My name is Conrad Walsh, and I am the director of global product marketing at Light & Wonder. A little bit about me, going back before I even got into marketing to begin with, I was actually in a very different field. I was a history major. I was very interested in local politics and public policy, so I wasn’t even considering doing anything in business at all. I went on to get a master’s degree in public administration, and the reason I’m telling you my life story, don’t worry, it’ll make sense as we go, is that what I have found fascinating in my journey is that a lot of those same skills that I was acquiring in that first act of my career.

I was working for public policy think tanks, doing a lot of research, doing a lot of analysis, doing a lot of campaign messaging development, and a lot of those same kinds of topics or skills, I found that they did translate when I made a pivot over into consumer product marketing. I have found that whether the product is like a public policy issue or a widget that you’re trying to sell, at the end of the day, this is what kind of drives my passion in my career, is trying to chase that why of something. Why is this issue resonating with this certain group of people?

I found that that did really translate as I pivoted over into product marketing, so I’ve spent about 10 years focused on mostly consumer brands at work, but recently have pivoted over again into B2B. It’s the same story everywhere you go, you’re trying to find out what content is resonating, and what’s going to work. You need to hone in on your audience, you need to figure out what is being engaged with and what’s not working so that you can make sure that you’re spending your time best serving your customers. 

My role now as the director of global product marketing is to manage a globally distributed team that is focused on really bringing the best games to our customers. Most of our customers are casinos and resorts across the world, so we also like to think of our sales force that we are supporting as our kind of internal customer. We’re trying to set them up to win those deals. It’s a really fun dynamic industry to be in and it’s been a pretty exciting journey. That’s a bit about me.

SS: Awesome. I love that backstory. By the way, I was also a history major, so on that point, let’s reflect a little bit and let’s think back. Before Highspot, what were some of the trends and pressures that led you to invest in an enablement platform?

CW: I was fortunate enough that when I arrived here with this company, the team that I work with had already gotten us on this Highspot track. It was still early innings for sure, but to paint a little bit of color on the context here, what our team was discovering is that we had a real pain point across the organization. This is, this is a global company. We’ve got more than 6,000 people in this company, and one of the pain points, honestly, that we’re still trying to work through is what I would call document scatter. 

SS: Content chaos. 

CW: That sounds cool. I don’t know if I just coined a phrase right then. I don’t know if that maybe that’s like a phrase that’s already out there, but that’s what it is. It kind of felt like you have people on many different teams that are looking to find something, and how much of our day are we spending just trying to chase something that shouldn’t be that hard to find because it’s like a key asset. 

What we found is that we had too many options for people. We had too many places where you could find something, and it’s like the more places that you can find it, the more chaotic it’s going to be, the less convenient, the less easy it’s going to be for our sales team, for our product teams and everyone in between to get what they’re after. That was really one of the key drivers of what led us to start to look for a solution like Highspot. 

SS: I love that. Now that you guys have implemented Highspot, how have you started to solve some of those challenges and kind of alleviate hopefully some of that pressure? 

CW: We’re still on that journey, but we have made a lot of great strides in the time that we’ve been on Highspot. I think that just like anything in life, it takes a while to build a habit of something, especially when you’re working across an organization as large as this one. What we’re finding is that we’ve made great inroads in trying to cut down on the amount of time that people are spending just trying to find what they’re after.

Again, these are key documents that all of our products require. We’re actually in a very highly regulated industry, so these documents are required to have. Just the amount of time that we’re saving in having kind of like a one-stop shop if you will, has been really cool to see. I think we’ve only just kind of scratched the surface.

SS: I love that. Now, as a product marketing leader, I have to say nine times out of 10, they are an absolutely key partner in making sure that we bring to life enablement strategies across organizations. I’d love to understand from your seat as a product marketing leader, what role Highspot plays in your overall enablement strategy.

CW: Honestly, Highspot has become key to us in redefining what our go-to-market motion is as a company. When I was brought in for this role, part of my task that I’m still on the journey of trying to bring about is to really operationalize our go-to-market approach. What that means to me is how can we create a repeatable pattern. How can we create muscle memory for this is how we launch products at the company?

What has really helped in terms of the Highspot tool, as far as that goes, is that it’s allowed us to have something to rally around, if you will. It’s just our go-to tool that we can use really prominently in creating that go-to-market motion. What that really means to me is that when you do something like a sales kickoff call, for example, we wanted that to be a key part of our go-to-market strategy. This is a really key internal event that we want to be almost like a pep rally in some respects. We’re trying to hype this thing up, whatever the product is, we want the sales team to walk away from this meeting feeling energized and feeling really clear on what the messaging is and the positioning for where this product sits in their market. 

Being able to close out a kickoff call by introducing a sales play that we’ve curated that is just like polished up, beautiful, and ready to go. Not only have we already solved the pain point that we talked about at the beginning of our chat about, well, where is the stuff? Well, we’ve already answered that question before we’ve even had a chance to ask it. The stuff’s all right here, and it’s all been conveniently curated for you. Just to be able to close out a call by just sending a link out and saying, here you go, that’s been really well received. I think it’s brought a lot of energy and excitement to what we’re trying to do in creating that kind of repeatable playbook for us for launching products.

SS: I love that. I also know that in addition to your product launches, one of your current initiatives is rolling out Highspot globally amongst your sales teams. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to realize that it was time to globalize your enablement strategy? 

CW: We were getting such great feedback from the North American region where we first rolled Highspot out. It was really starting to make an impact on the business. Teams were really buying into it and we were getting really good feedback. At the time, I had only been with the company for about six months, but I’m still kind of on that journey of trying to figure out how to create this more standardized global approach to our product marketing strategy.

I thought, well, it would make all the sense in the world if we could try and replicate this across each region. Going back to that document scatter that I was referring to before, I mean, it’s a global scatter. There are multiple places across each market where we’re just finding these little dark holes where people are storing content and so I thought, well, wouldn’t it be great to have everything above board and all on the same platform? Certainly from an efficiency standpoint, the way that the product marketing team is working would make a ton of sense for us to just be able to drive consistency across each market using the same tool.

Fortunately, my supervisor was immediately supportive of the idea when I pitched it to her. She thought that that’s great and we should be doing that. Once I started to have some conversations with different stakeholders in these different markets, they were really excited. I would do a screen share and show them, here’s what we’ve built for North America and if you could build one for your region, what would it look like? When I started to have those conversations, I could see people lighting up with that topic, and they started to imagine, wow, what if I had a little hub for my market, for my sales team, where I could have everything I need and it’s custom to my market. 

I knew it was a winning idea because of the feedback early on from all these different stakeholders. It’s been really exciting to be able to do even small things like just being able to customize the way that the individual spot looks for their market. Each market has nuances in a different context. We can key in on visual components of the spot that, sound like such a small thing, but if a sales rep from EMEA logs into their spot and immediately gets a greeting message at the top of the homepage, you are in the EMEA Highspot, they’re like, wow. That was a mind-blowing concept to some because they had never had a little hub that was just for their team and just for their region. I think you had these different teams that were feeling really seen and really thought of from the center of excellence. I work out of the headquarters office in Las Vegas and I think it’s really also helped to have kind of an internal impact because it’s brought our teams closer together by using that tool.

SS: Conrad, can you share with our audience, what your vision for a global enablement strategy looks like and how will your strategy change from North America to EMEA, to Asia, to Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America? 

CW: It’s mostly about what content we’re offering in the spot that’s really where the nuance is coming in because, on the one hand, we’re trying to create a more standardized approach to our go-to-market, so we want it to feel very familiar or similar to what we were doing in North America. At the same time, how can we do that in a way that is more thoughtful to that region? I think we’re still on that journey. We’ve recently built out all of these different spots for the regions, we’ve rolled them out, and we’ve introduced and trained the sales teams on what they have available to them. 

I think we’re really still in those early innings of trying to figure out how we can customize this further. We’re getting some good feedback already on some adjustments that we can make. Simple things like the way that we organize the flow because different markets have different points of focus or emphasis for their market. Just being able to tweak the visual aspect of it, even the navigation aspect of it, I think it’s not like a wholesale change to our approach in the different regions, it’s more like fine-tuning in that way. 

SS: I love that. You have driven fantastic adoption of the Highspot platform with a 90% recurring usage rate. What have been some of your strategies for capturing such high amounts of user engagement?

CW: I’m still a little bit new to understanding the different benchmarks, like, is 90 % good? I had to ask our Highspot team, Josh and Olivia, to shout out to them, I’m nothing without them. They’ve helped me a lot on this journey. I had to ask them if that was good. Is that above average, well above average? And they’re like, it’s well above average. I think as we kind of chatted about that, I thought what I’ve concluded is that we’re an organization that is very hungry for a solution that could help solve rather quickly a pain point that had been existing for a long time. 

I think a combination of having the right tool at the right time combined with a marketing team here that has been really diligent about just repeating the message, just repeatedly getting the word out about when we have a new wave of content that comes in, we send it out. It is just like messaging, messaging, and messaging. The team that I work with here in Las Vegas, they’ve done an incredible job on the training aspect of it as well. We’ve taken a really thoughtful approach, I think, to after the initial rollout, it’s tempting to just say, okay we did it. Great. Good job. Let’s move on, but that’s only the beginning of the journey. You have so many sales reps that even though they’re engaging at a high rate, they still have a ton of questions. 

A lot of them are quite basic because it’s a new tool, so we’ve tried to be really intentional as a team by just following up individually with reps and getting feedback. That’s really opened a lot of opportunities for us to realize, oh, you know what? We had assumed that the team already understood this, but they don’t, so let’s re-message it. It has pushed us to not get too comfortable with being done because it’s an ongoing project for sure. 

SS: That’s fantastic. Conrad, what metrics do you look at to measure the business impact of Highspot globally? Do you have any results or key wins that you can share with us? 

CW: Yeah, interesting question. We recently did a key product rollout in Australia. Australia is a key market for our company and I think that the team in particular was extra hungry for this tool. When we rolled it out, the response was just incredible and the numbers show that. This team is really bought in. 

As far as making an impact on the actual business, I think referring back to what we were chatting about before with using Highspot as a key moment in the go-to-market process, having that sales enablement kickoff call, where we have product leaders, sales leaders, other executives that dial into this call and rally around the launch of this product and really hype it up. It’s kind of that first training moment for the sales team. If you nail that moment, it can have a huge impact, I think, on the business. It cascades through the organization. 

What I like to think happened in part is that because we were so on point with our planning for that key product launch. The product has gone out into the market now and it’s performing at a very high level, but the pre-sales were through the roof as well. I mean, we can’t give all the credit to marketing or Highspot. We can give some of it, but ultimately the product is fantastic. The people that develop the product have a winning product and that’s the key.

I do think that it was a perfect storm for the business because we had just started to refine this sales enablement kickoff process at the time that we were ramping up to do this key product launch in Australia and yeah, it has made a huge impact on the business. I think it gave us a lot of momentum going into the market.

SS: Last question, Conrad, as you continue to evolve with Highspot, how do you plan to leverage the platform to help drive business results that really align with the goals of your executive leaders? 

CW: I think looking ahead into 2024 and beyond, we’ve really started to see an opportunity on the training aspect of it. Now that we’ve built all these different spots for the different regions globally, we now want to kind of build on that foundation. We want to start to build out some proper certifications for products. Also build out some really valuable, useful modules for scenario planning. I think that in talking, especially to some of the markets internationally, it’s come up that it would be a really great resource to have, like a course that would walk you through different scenarios. 

I think the more hand-holding that we can do, I shouldn’t call it handholding, but the stronger we can make the connection between the market, what the marketing team is doing, and what the sales team is doing, the bigger impact we’re going to have on the business. Being able to support a product lineup as robust as the one that we have at this company is no easy task. We have three key lines of business. We have thousands of products. Especially from an onboarding perspective, if you’re a new sales rep and you come in and you’re like, okay, what are we selling? Well, we have this line of business that has 50 products in it, that’s a mountain of information that you have to learn just on that one line of business. 

Then you have two other lines of business. The breadth of the portfolio is so large that having a chance to catch our breath for a second after we’ve built these out for the regions and pause and reflect and think, okay, what else can we do to elevate this experience for the sales teams? How can we make it even more of a valuable experience when they log in each time? That’s something that we’re already starting to work on. And we’re very excited about what that could mean for the business. 

SS: Conrad, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Win Win podcast. Be sure to tune in next time for more insights on how you can maximize enablement success with Highspot.  

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