Highspot raises funding to take sales enablement mainstream
This latest round of funding, which now gives Highspot a valuation of US$2.3 billion, follows back-to-back record quarters for new customer wins and annual recurring revenue growth in fiscal year 2021.
Currently used by global organisations such as Twitter, General Motors, Nestle and Verizon Media, Hotspot has undergone recent rapid growth, witnessing a 100% increase of usage in 2020 from 2019, with revenue growing an incredible 1,145% over the last three years.
In November last year, Highspot ranked No. 101 on Deloitte's Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and energy tech companies in North America.
Sales enablement emerges as strategic necessity
Such rapid growth is being driven by the essential role that sales enablement is playing today in helping organisations improve the performance of their sales teams. In fact, the last year has seen sales enablement emerge as a “strategic imperative”, according to Mark Kovac, Partner and Global B2B Commercial Excellence Practice at Bain & Company, one of Highspot’s investors.
Those companies who have built world-class enablement teams and technology are “managing change and uncertainty at scale”, while others continue to struggle with agility and inconsistent performance.
Standing out from the sales enablement platform crowd
But more than just riding the wave of sales enablement demand, Highspot’s success is also testament to the fact that the platform is entirely unique. As the only unified, natively-build sales enablement platform, Highspot has the ability to turn strategy into successful execution.
According to Robert Wahbe, Highspot’s CEO, sales enablement is about more than just sales, it’s about connecting everyone from marketing and sales to post-sales in delivering a unified buying experience that wins, retains and expands customer relationships.
As such, scaling a company’s go-to-market strategy is a complex process with a large gap existing between strategy and execution. And that’s where Highspot comes in. “We close the gap. Our single, unified platform improves sales performance by turning strategy into successful execution,” states Wahbe.
It is Highspot’s differentiated approach, Kovac believes, that “will become the foundation upon which modern businesses achieve consistent revenue growth and market share gains”.
The platform which includes content, guidance, training, coaching, engagement intelligence and 360-degree analytics, is already being used by leading organisations across all industries, from Twitter, Aetna, DocuSign and General Motors, to Dow Jones, John Deer, Nestle and Verizon Media, to help those businesses win and keep customers at scale.
In fact, last year, Highspot connected more than 3 million salespeople, channel partners, services reps and customers in digital sales experiences, and created the world’s largest community of sales enablement professionals, Sales Enablement PRO, which has achieved 13,000 members in less than two years.
Funding global expansion and product innovation
So, where to now? Well, with the US$200 million funding secured courtesy of investors including Tiger Global Management, Bain & Company, ICONIQ Growth, Madrona Venture Group, OpenView, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire Ventures and Shasta Ventures, Highspot plans to fuel its next wave of growth.
This includes investment in the following areas:
- Product Innovation To futher accelerate platform development, including deeper insights into go-to-market strategy and execution offered through Highspot’s industry-only Scorescards.
- International Expansion The company is looking to expand its existing EMEA operations into France and also enter the APAC market.
- Partner Ecosystem The company is looking to expand its Sales Acceleration Partners programme, which features over 25 of the leading sales methodology partners worldwide, and deepend investments in its tech partner ecosystem.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.