Highspot strikes a balance between structure and flexibility
Devon Bennetts found her way into her current role like so many people do—by learning what she didn’t want to do first.
Her background is in mechanical engineering, but after years of working on product development she realized what she cared about most was operations. “I like being in the middle of an organization and figuring out how to help the team be successful. When teammates take on new challenges, get more time to focus on a difficult problem, or grow their confidence in a new area, you really get to see the change before your eyes,” she said.
Now she’s putting her passion and expertise to work as the Senior Director of Engineering Operations at Highspot, a sales enablement platform that increases the performance of sales teams by bridging the gap between strategy and execution. “We now have around 900 employees, and, within the Product Organization, we have doubled or tripled every year,” she said. As Highspot expands, Bennetts’ team needs to iterate quickly and onboard new team members seamlessly so they can hit the ground running. That’s why she’s using Airtable.
“Airtable enables us to experiment with a lot of different ideas. It grows with us and supports us as we evolve versus being a very structured tool that you have to perfectly design upfront.”
Highspot is the industry’s only natively-built, end-to-end sales enablement platform that reps love, bringing content management, guided selling, onboarding, training, coaching and buyer engagement together in a single, unified solution that gives revenue leaders everything they need to turn their strategy into consistent sales execution.
Bennetts’ team focuses primarily on two areas: the product roadmap and strategic initiatives. Before Airtable Highspot didn’t have an established system to track either. “Most of our planning was done in Google Sheets and in meetings with our leadership team. We would discuss potential features across the product and think ‘how can we deliver the most value to our customers?’ But it was difficult to plan multiple releases in advance,” Bennetts said, because they didn’t have the right tools in place.
“We had gone through as many as five iterations of our planning process in other tools and, with each iteration, we ran into challenges or blockers,” she said. When the idea of Airtable came up, she was hesitant to learn yet another product, but it didn’t take long to realize this time was different. “Airtable was so easy to use and flexible. If we didn’t like the way a view or a workflow was implemented we were able to pivot quickly and try another approach. That was a huge benefit,” she said.
“Airtable made it so easy to continue iterating and expanding to new teams and use cases.”
It started by simply creating personalized views for the Product Team and its stakeholders in Airtable. These views enabled the Product Team to plan out their work in advance and provide visibility to partner teams on the progress of their ongoing work. Executives could track which upcoming Highspot features were on track without needing access to all of the team’s day-to-day tasks. Highspot’s go-to-market teams also used this information to prepare and train their teams on the new features planned in the upcoming product release. Next, she worked with her go-to-market partners to develop a scoring system to determine which features they would highlight in upcoming releases as well as an aligned set of terms to describe how broadly those features would be enabled across Highspot’s customer base.
“We have statuses that indicate our confidence in an item getting into the upcoming release. This system informs whether or not we're going to do marketing communications, and it informs whether or not we even talk about this feature with customers and how many of them. Having an aligned set of terminology and a clear source of truth helps our partner teams prepare for each release,” Bennetts said.
“One of Highspot’s guiding principles is open and real communication. Airtable is a tool that really allows us to achieve that principle programmatically.”
Linked records in Airtable enable Bennetts to connect each product feature to the strategic goal it supports. Anyone can see which teams are involved at which stage of product development and eventually which customers they’ll target with a new feature. All of this information used to live in separate Google Sheets documents that quickly went out of date and weren’t always shared across teams. “Airtable gives each team member the ability to focus on the information they care about without having to duplicate that information over and over again across tools and documents,” she said.
Without this system in place Bennetts team would be doing a lot more manual work. Instead her team members are able to think more deeply about product development, something she says gives them a greater sense of pride and satisfaction in the work they’re doing. Seeing her teammates connected and empowered is what attracted her to this Operations role in the first place. “It's the little things like giving people avenues to find answers when previously they would have struggled or would have had to ask a lot of questions. That makes me happy; we’re connecting teams and enabling people to self serve and excel,” she said.