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AiThority Interview with Andy Champion, VP and General Manager at Highspot

Andy Champion, VP and General Manager at Highspot

Hi, Andy Welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start at Highspot.

Thank you for having me. My first professional experience post-university was as an officer in the British Army. Having graduated from Sandhurst, I spent three years in Northern Ireland. I look back on the six years I served with immense pride but also deep humility.

The Army taught me a lot about leadership, and in particular, the concept of service to the people that one leads. Above all, this one concept captures the essence of the leadership I aspire to, and also best describes the most effective leaders whom I have worked with.

In the autumn of 1996, I left the Army and started my civilian career making 100 dials-a-day. My job was to source vacancies for a sales recruitment company, and it was far from glamorous. I had my desk, my desk phone, the Kompass directory and, if I got in before everyone else, I also had copies of all the local papers and their job sections. I worked hard, got promoted within 7 months and within another six months had secured my first field sales role.

If you’d asked me when I left the Army what I wanted to do, sales would probably have been at the bottom of the list. But I loved it. It gave me freedom and it rewarded hard work, innovation and good communication. Within five years, I found myself leading once again, except this time it was Sales teams and the shots being fired were across the Board Room table where I became involved in devising and executing go-to-market strategies.

I found my niche in technology, and specifically disruptive SaaS technology businesses that were typically HQ’d in the US and building in EMEA. Over time I came to understand that I love to build high performing teams.

Where ambiguity is inevitable, and opportunity only limited by the ability to attract and grow talent. I’ve been fortunate to work for some wonderful CEO’s and alongside other inspirational leaders and I hope one day that others may say the same of me.

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Please highlight the key findings of your recent report on Sales and Marketing misalignment.

Our new report, the European State of Sales & Marketing Alignment 2022, researched the opinions of 760 sales and marketing professionals across the UK, France, and Germany. We found that the vast majority (71%) of sales and marketing professionals reported that misalignment between their two functions is having a negative impact on their company’s revenue.

And yet, only 36% of sales and marketing respondents across all markets believe they have the visibility and ability to prove the impact their function is having on company revenue. A further 30% of salespeople state that lacking insight into which behaviours and marketing assets are contributing to closed deals is a barrier to their success. 

In the UK alone, 43% of sales and marketing respondents believe too many overlapping and different systems between the two functions is a major issue in their success and collaboration.

Overall, 72% of those surveyed in sales and marketing roles agree that implementing sales enablement is something their company should consider in the near future.

Despite the stupendous success of Marketing automation and sales intelligence tools, why do CMOs still face challenges related to misalignment in sales-marketing efforts?

The traditional function of a CMO as we know it is going through an expansion of scope, particularly as it becomes increasingly necessary for them to be more involved and aware of the sales process. For many CMOs, they need to be closer today to revenue generation than ever before. And the numbers speak loudly throughout the business.

The role in terms of job spec, skill sets, goals and mindset of a CMO, is now expected to be a brand visionary, a product marketing guru with expert capabilities in life cycle marketing with an ability to utilise AI-powered data and analytics effectively.

It is no longer just other marketing functions that need to work closely together. CMO’s must also build new relationships with senior sales leaders in order to gain a seat at the revenue table and ensure go-to-market campaigns and channels are effective at driving ROI.

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How do latest techniques in sales coaching and sales enablement solve sales and marketing alignments?

Sales coaching is a fundamental component of modern revenue leadership. While one-off training sessions can address gaps in skills and knowledge, without the right coaching to reinforce new skills, 87% of training is forgotten within 7 days. The most effective programmes are focused on equipping, training and coaching sales people to adopt, learn and embed the skills and behaviours they need in those precious few moments in front of the customer or prospective customer.

Sales enablement is the strategic, ongoing process by which sales teams are equipped with the content, and then trained and coached on what to know, say, show and do to effectively engage buyers. When done well, Enablement also tracks and analyses engagement with and the influence of content and training to isolate and learn from what is and is not working. A virtuous circle is thus created where impactful behaviours and content are identified and amplified..

Your take on the role of AI and machine learning on future-proofing sales targets during uncertain times:

AI and machine learning have a part to play in a modern sales organisation however it should not be viewed as a silver bullet. Where AI is strong is in drawing insight from data and highlighting patterns and trends that amplify robust strategic initiatives and a strong company-wide commitment to coaching the skills, knowledge and behaviours that align to these.

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An advice to every Marketing team looking to establish a stronger alignment with sales counterparts:

Marketers need to have a seat at the revenue table. Knowing how their content and campaigns contribute to a deal and revenue allows marketers to deliver valuable insight into one of their most powerful channels – their go-to-market (GTM)/sales team.

By understanding what messages and content are being used by the sales teams and which are being consumed by customers and prospects, marketers can focus ruthlessly on the content and campaigns that work, and retire investment on what is not. Doing so helps to engender trust and build alignment over time such that both teams share common goals, have shared KPIs and are able to discuss these with radical candour.

An event/ conference or podcast that you have subscribed to consume information about the B2B technology industry: If invited, would you like to be part of a podcast episode on IT/ Cloud / AI / MarTech research?

Like other business leaders I consume information from a wide variety of sources. Gartner, Forrester and Bain are three sources I regularly visit.

I would be happy to take part in a podcast.

Thank you, Andy! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

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With over two decades of experience in commercial leadership roles, Andy is VP and General Manager, EMEA at Highspot. Prior to joining Highspot, Andy has held numerous leadership roles within the SaaS space including Vice President of Enterprise Sales for EMEA at DocuSign. In other leadership roles with Responsys and Yext, Andy led teams through two successful IPOs and an acquisition.

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Highspot is the sales enablement platform that increases the performance of teams by bridging the gap between strategy and execution. With Highspot, our customers turn sales and marketing initiatives into the actions that sales teams must execute and enable sales and marketing leaders to measure what is and is not working with deep and actionable insights.

Companies like DocuSign, Siemens, Nasdaq, Okta and Zillow use Highspot to manage content, train and coach sellers and engage buyers. Executing your strategic initiatives with Highspot increases revenue, drives consistent performance and improves ROI.

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