Collaboration

How Limelight Networks speeds up sales deals with Slack Connect

The edge cloud services provider connects with prospects and customers in Slack channels to manage rapid sales cycles and build customer relationships

Author: Sara YinJuly 8th, 2020Illustration by Jeremy Booth

If you’ve watched online content and videos on Roku, AMC Networks or other platforms, then Limelight Networks helped deliver your streaming experience. Founded in 2001 in Tempe, Arizona, the company provides digital content delivery, video, cloud security, and edge computing services for some of the biggest names in media and entertainment, empowering them to produce exceptional digital experiences.

Limelight’s customers require lightning fast support so that they can provide the best service for their online users. That’s why Limelight relies on Slack Connect to communicate and collaborate with its customers in real time. With Slack Connect, Limelight can securely work with external organizations in the same Slack channel.

“Previously we were using a half a dozen different tools to collaborate with our customers,” says James Kelsall, the vice president of operations at Limelight. “We were getting feedback from our customers that they wanted a better way to communicate with our account teams and to engage with our engineers directly.”

Limelight works with customers and prospects in Slack channels—digital spaces for people to share messages and files—on everything from deal negotiations to incident response. As a channel-based messaging platform for the enterprise, Slack has transformed Limelight’s customer relationships and shortened deal cycles by increasing mutual engagement.

“We can answer technical questions or follow up from our initial phone call by connecting with customers and prospects in Slack channels. From a deal structure standpoint, sharing Slack channels helps us gather additional information.”

Rio PesinoBusiness development executive, Limelight Networks

Creating a direct line of communication to prospects in Slack

Once a prospect starts a trial with Limelight, they’re invited to join a Slack channel, where both parties can regularly check in and discuss any issues that may arise. These channels usually include half a dozen representatives from each side.

“If I have a quick question for a prospect, I can ping them in Slack,” says Rio Pesino, a business development executive at Limelight. “Typically I get a better response rate through Slack than I would via a phone call or an email.”

Sharing a Slack channel doesn’t just give prospects direct access to their sales representatives, but to the right technical support experts or other personnel when needed. For example, engineers from each side can instantly connect in Slack to discuss technical implementation issues, or lawyers might be brought in to clarify elements of a proposed contract. In the past, Pesino has even seen C-level executives and vice presidents of technology from a prospect’s side hop into their Slack channel with questions.

“We can answer technical questions or follow up from our initial phone call by connecting with customers and prospects in Slack channels,” Pesino says. “From a deal structure standpoint, sharing Slack channels helps us gather additional information, whether that’s pricing, legal language, timelines, etc.”

Breaking out of the inbox to foster customer relationships

According to Nivedita Mehra, the vice president of sales operations at Limelight, Slack feels less formal than email, and that encourages open two-way communication.

“I see conversations such as, ‘Hey, what’s my SLA on this product? Can someone tell me quickly so I don’t have to go dig up my contract?’ or ‘Can you guys get an engineer to look at this? We’re seeing traffic slowdowns in a particular area’,” says Mehra. “These kinds of conversations are well-suited for Slack.”

Previously these exchanges were coordinated through emails and phone calls, prolonging sales cycles at Limelight. After the team began using Slack with prospects, one sales representative was able to close a deal in one month instead of four. And even if a deal falls through, Pesino says, he’s able to use Slack to keep chatting with old prospects, iterating on their working relationships.

“As long as you build on that prospective customer relationship and keep it strong, there’s always an opportunity for you to win that business down the road, which is why I think sharing a channel with my prospects is helpful,” Pesino says. “Whether you win the deal or you lose the deal, you still keep that line of communication open in the event that you can end up working together in the future.”

“Slack has helped us get to closure faster, whether it’s closing down new business or responding to a customer incident or whatever the issue at hand.”

Nivedita MehraVice president of sales operations, Limelight Networks

Providing speedy customer support with Slack channels

After a deal closes, Limelight designates one of its engineers to the customer account for ongoing technical services. Engineers on both sides connect through Slack to collaborate, often on bigger development efforts or to troubleshoot issues that go beyond standard support.

Limelight also integrates Slack with ServiceNow, an incident management system. This has resulted in more accurate documentation of issues, as well as faster first-response times. Kelsall says Limelight plans to continue expanding Slack across its customer support workflows.

“I can see a future where we’re allowing customers to start a chat with our support organization, and create a ticket if warranted,” Kelsall says. “And then if customers already share channels with our account teams, they could simply chat with the support technician working on their ticket.”

Increasing visibility and engagement within the sales team

Internally, Slack has become a core part of Limelight’s culture as well. The sales team has a channel that announces deals won, as well as regional-based channels for employees to collaborate on prospecting efforts. Limelight also has a channel for employees to discuss industry news and exchange notes from industry events.

More recently, Limelight created a companywide #copingwithcovid19 channel where employees have been sharing jokes and videos.

“It’s been a wonderful resource, even our CEO is in it,” says Mehra. “It’s brought in engagement across departments that normally would never talk to each other since we typically remain in our own channels. It’s been a really nice way for us to bring the company together.”

From prospecting to product implementation to ongoing support, Slack has fostered the kinds of conversations that keep Limelight’s business moving smoothly and quickly.

“Slack has helped us get to closure faster, whether it’s closing down new business or responding to a customer incident or whatever the issue at hand,” says Mehra.

By using Slack, Limelight has eliminated delays in communication with customers. In today’s immediate, on-demand environment, that’s a critical component for delivering digital content.

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