Martech Interview with Jon Perera, CMO at Highspot

Jon Perera, CMO at Highspot, talks about sales enablement, alignment between sales and marketing, the future of martech, and the need for marketers to double down on customer satisfaction.

The more you walk a mile in sellers’ shoes and know what it’s like to be on the frontlines, the better.

1. Could you tell us more about your marketing experience before Highspot?
Over the last 10 years, I’ve helped grow two businesses from $10MM ARR to well over $100MM, but like many marketers, I got my start as a demo guy. After giving keynote demos for the C-suite while at Microsoft, I’d often burn demos onto CD-ROMs and ship it out to thousands of solution engineers who I thought might find it valuable (This was back in the 1990’s!) I had no insight into who watched it, let alone if it was effective in moving deals forward – but this was sales enablement in the 1990s. At Adobe, I moved deeper into product marketing and industry marketing and was responsible for what was at the time the company’s largest vertical. Since the beginning of my career as a marketer, I’ve been working to solve the problem that sales enablement has now answered. This is what initially drew me to Highspot – it’s incredibly exciting to now be part of a company at the forefront of solving the challenges that revenue teams, and marketing leaders like me, have grappled with for decades.

2. What have been some of the core marketing processes that you’ve restructured or optimized as CMO?
For companies experiencing hypergrowth, any processes created to scale marketing are often outdated within months. It’s not enough to just build a marketing process – you have to be committed to constantly reinventing it.
At Highspot, one process we’re continuously optimizing is revenue team alignment. I often talk about the “four wheels of the car” – getting sales, marketing, enablement, and customer success all executing together, in one direction. According to Forrester, companies that align sales and marketing teams achieve 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profit growth. It all comes down to equipping teams with a shared system of strategy, communication, execution, and goals – and often, the CMO is determining and driving to the North Star of the go-to-market strategy in partnership with other leaders. We’ve reinvented our alignment process multiple times, and will continue to do so to best serve our teams and our business.

3. Can you explain to us what is sales enablement in layman’s terms and how the Highspot
platform supports sales reps?

Sales enablement is the function, processes, and technology that provides your revenue teams with everything they need to sell more effectively. With content to engage customers, guidance to land strategy, training to improve skills, coaching to elevate performance, and analytics to inform action, Highspot equips every rep to execute with impact— empowering you to drive strategy and revenue with the full force of your sales team.

4. Highspot announced the Strategic Enablement Framework. What is the rationale behind this step?
Companies everywhere are recognizing that sales enablement is critical to consistent revenue growth, through economic upturns and downturns. As more companies begin to adopt sales enablement, the reality is most
organizations are in the early stages of enablement maturity. We’ve heard from enablement leaders that it often feels like they’re building the plane while flying it. Highspot strives to not only be a vendor, but a co-pilot – supporting our customers in harnessing the full potential of the enablement technology and function.
Earlier this month, Highspot launched the Spring ‘22 Release, delivering new platform innovations and an industry-first framework to help companies succeed. Highspot’s Strategic Enablement Framework is designed to show you what sales enablement excellence is and to provide a repeatable model for you to achieve it. The framework details the exact steps your company can take – whether you’re a Highspot customer or not – to help your revenue teams perform at their very best, and in turn, drive growth for your business.

5. What do you think the future holds for marketing as we see more and more tech-oriented approaches by leaders?
The global martech market size is $344.8 billion – that’s a 5,233% increase in growth since 2011. There’s a martech app for anything you want. But that also means everyone’s been purchasing one-off solutions, which can lead to business inefficiencies. I predict we’ll see a wave of industry consolidation where companies will have consolidated orchestration, analytics, and command of their budgets and their ROI.
With all these solutions, customers have become exhausted by the buying process. For instance, 44% of millennials prefer a seller-free experience that doesn’t require booking a demo or getting on the phone. Marketers need to create digital sales experiences that are personalized, relevant, and impactful. A huge benefit to the digital selling approach is that there is clear analytics on which tactics work and which don’t. With those insights, we can create more effective digital sales experiences that the entire marketing and sales team can implement.

6. Highspot doubled to more than 8 million users in 2021. What is your POV on customer success and satisfaction?
From the very beginning of the company, we decided to take a wildly customer-centric approach in everything we do, from the product design to the pre-sales and post-sales experience. For example, one of the company’s co-founders was our original “services executive” to a number of our initial customers, and he’s maintained that responsibility for more than 10 years. We take a white-glove approach to every one of our customers, working to provide them with deep expertise on how they can best leverage sales enablement to grow their businesses. As a result of this, the company has seen very high numbers when it comes to customer satisfaction, retention, and adoption.

7. Can you give us an example of how Highspot’s sales enablement solution helped your top customers achieve success and growth?
In addition to helping companies manage their marketing content, the primary ways that Highspot helps companies achieve growth are by a.) helping to reduce the time onboard new reps, and b.) increase average quota attainment with our digital sales room technologies. According to TechValidate, research, 100 percent of Highspot customers agreed that Highspot “improves rep productivity” and 88 percent of Highspot’s large enterprise customers across the Fortune 500, Global 500, and S&P 500 shared that adoption of Highspot has “improved win rates and growth in revenue numbers.”
We’re seeing customers of all sizes and industries, including Aetna, DocuSign, Siemens, and Vodafone use Highspot’s platform to equip, train, and coach their sales teams to success. RingCentral shared that Highspot has influenced more than a million dollars in revenue: increased average rep quota attainment, reduced onboarding time by 30 days and resulted in a 20 percent reduction in employee churn.

8. With buyers getting more sophisticated and product lines getting more complex, what are your top three pieces of advice for marketers for maximizing revenue?
For marketers to maximize revenue, they first need to develop empathy and understanding for sellers.

The more you walk a mile in sellers’ shoes and know what it’s like to be on the frontlines, the better.

At Highspot we recently did a seller confidence survey across our sales team by region and by role – looking into how confident they feel selling against our competition, how they feel about their negotiation skills, and how comfortable they are with conveying our value proposition. The insights gave us a baseline of where sales and marketing need to work together to move the needle. Marketers then need to nail alignment with their sales, enablement, and customer success teams, and work consistently to stay in sync on what’s mission-critical. Finally, I would advise marketing teams to create a “single source of truth” for their content, so that all customer-facing interactions reflect your latest messaging.

9. What are the key market trends impacting the growth of the Sales Enablement Platform market?
We’re at the beginning of sales enablement becoming the next must-have category of software. Trends like Hybrid selling, buyers preferring to not engage with salespeople, and continued economic uncertainty, have created an environment where enablement is a business necessity for driving consistent revenue growth. This demand is driving incredible growth for the category – Gartner found that 84% of Chief Sales Officers are increasing their sales enablement budget this year, and IDC estimates the category is growing at a 23.9% CAGR worldwide.

10. How do you stay motivated? What are your key learnings from your career so far?
I’m motivated by changing the status quo, by collaborating with great people, and by helping our customers. These motivators show up every day – they get me wanting to do more, to invent and reimagine what’s possible with technology. It’s incredible to see the difference Highspot makes in the lives of our customers and to be part of making it happen. When I’m involved in deals, I love to get updates directly from the customers after closing, learning how they’re doing and how we can help them be even more successful.
The biggest realization in my career has been that the more I know, the less I know. It’s so important to keep learning, always. Market dynamics, products, competitors, and the rules of marketing are going to be wildly different year after year. Nurturing curiosity and becoming a “learn it all” is a must for growth.

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As the Chief Marketing Officer at Highspot, Jon Perera leads marketing, community, and the partner ecosystem. Jon directed numerous go-to-market teams over 18 years at Microsoft, including a tenure as general manager of business operations for Microsoft’s international headquarters in Paris, France. Prior to Highspot, Jon served as vice president of the Adobe Document Cloud.

Highspot helps companies worldwide improve the performance of their sales teams by turning strategic initiatives into business outcomes. Our unified sales enablement platform gives revenue teams a single solution to elevate customer conversations and drive repeatable revenue, bringing together native content and guidance, training and coaching, and engagement intelligence – all supported by actionable analytics.

Highspot delivers unmatched customer support, with 100 percent of our customers recouping their sales enablement investment. Trusted by Aetna, a CVS Health company; DocuSign, Dow Jones, General Motors, Nestle, Twitter, Verizon Media and many more, we are proud to drive strategic growth for leading companies across the world. As a global company powered by diverse talent, Highspot has earned perennial recognition on Fortune Magazine's and Glassdoor's Best Places to Work lists.

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