When Splunk launched its data analysis platform in 2003, the email inbox was homebase for all internal and external communication. But as the software company grew into a global force of over 5,000 employees distributed across 27 countries, email communication wasn’t keeping pace. So Splunk moved much of its company wide collaboration into Slack channels, a single place to share files and messages.
As more businesses move operations online in response to the pandemic, the need for Splunk’s Data-to-Everything Platform continues to grow. Eager to hear how Splunk’s sales engineers and professionals are using channel-based communication to meet demands, we reached out for the play-by-play. Here’s how Splunk’s sales teams use Slack to collaborate, usher in prospective deals and grow their sales organization.
Creating effective transparency and alignment in Slack
Quentin Packard, area vice president of new product sales at Splunk, manages hundreds of field sales professionals interacting with customers and prospects on a daily basis. His team helps customers use Splunk products to move more workloads, applications, and data into the cloud.
Splunk’s sales teams use Slack to keep communications organized and efficient. This helps provide a united front for their customers within a fast-paced environment.
“Slack helps me connect with the right people and save time during the process,” Packard says. “There are a lot of passionate and brilliant people at Splunk, as well as prospects and customers, whom I want to listen to and get feedback from. Every minute I’m not doing that because I’m looking through email isn’t the best minute served.”
By using threads in Slack channels, Packard’s team can also find the information they need—when they need it—from their cross-functional partners. Teammates can start threads from any message in order to ask a question, add context, or give feedback without disrupting a conversation’s flow. For example, if a sales representative needs to double-check a detail from a partner on the marketing team, they can quickly find the information they need in thread.
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Before weekly leadership calls, Packard asks his managers to share their “three down, three ups” as threaded replies in Splunk’s
#leaders channel. These updates outline the three key things each manager said they were going to do the week before and the three things they plan to do in the week ahead.
“These updates in Slack channels and threads offer a hyper-focused view on where we’re spending time,” Packard says. “Leaders can skim through threads to look for commonalities and to hold each other accountable, creating transparency and focus where it’s needed most.”
Other channels that help foster transparency and alignments for Splunk employees at the company level include:
#all-handsfor global updates across all teams
#salesfor communication between the global sales teams
Additionally, Packard’s teams are responsible for organizing executive briefings with customers. Account executives, sales representatives and other key stakeholders gather in executive briefing channels to collaborate in real time before, during, and after the meeting. With the Zoom integration, teammates can also swiftly spin up calls right within Slack, whenever they need to sync up.
“We use Slack as a springboard for connecting the right person to the right question to the right situation,” Packard explains. “You just can’t do that in email. Instead, you get forwarded emails and information ultimately gets lost, leading to unnecessary meetings.”
Showcasing proof-of-concepts to customers with Slack Connect
Kevin Pura is the area vice president of global sales engineering at Splunk. His growing team of more than 50 globally-based sales engineers:
- Observe and troubleshoot customers’ challenges with cloud infrastructure and association applications
- Understand and address customers’ issues using unified Splunk solutions
- Provide Splunk product demos and proof of concepts for customers
Pura explained how it’s commonplace for a coalition of sales executives, engineers, product marketers and other stakeholders to develop multiple proof-of-concepts simultaneously—sometimes up to dozens at a time. That adds up to a lot of exchanges between sales folks and potential customers.
“People were slow to respond to email, if at all, and were impossible get on the phone,” Pura says. “So we decided to set up channels to securely connect with our prospective customers through Slack Connect.”
With Slack Connect, teams can move all their conversations with external partners, clients and vendors into Slack channels. Slack Connect effectively replaces email and extends channel-based messaging to everyone an organization works with—inside and outside its walls—increasing visibility and alignment for all stakeholders.
“When we started bringing customers into our channels through Slack Connect our process for creating proofs-of-concept became a lot smoother and efficient. Subsequently, our success rates among customers also started to go up.”
Pura said that most Splunk customers already use Slack, which meant that setting up a channel was seamless. According to Pura, having Slack helps Splunk win sales deals thanks to the level of responsiveness and attention Splunk provides each customer within channels.
“Ultimately, our customers choose Splunk because we’re able to deliver value much faster than our competition,” Pura says. “Slack Connect plays a major role in that because it gives our customers a single place to interact with our cross-functional Splunk team, making it easier for them to find the people they need.”
Onboarding sales reps and setting up teams for future success
Successfully onboarding new sales representatives, identifying knowledge gaps and setting up sales trainings is crucial for any sales organization. That’s where Linda Page, area vice president of global field enablement at Splunk, steps up to the plate.
Page’s team creates customer-facing resources and sales enablement tools, as well as facilitates sales training and onboarding programs. She also manages a productivity team that works specifically with Splunk’s global offices to help drive adoption and usage of sales materials.
“If you’re new to the Splunk team, one of the most important things is to get connected to the ecosystem of historic knowledge and cross-functional partners in Slack,” Page says. “Engaging with the right Slack channels can really accelerate the learning period. We bring new team members into Slack channels so that they can ask questions, see their colleague’s questions and just have contact with the ecosystem.”
Slack channels are searchable, so it’s easy for Splunk’s new members to find the messages, files, channels and people they need to catch up to speed. With the Google Drive app, teammates can also collaborate on files directly in Slack.
“Slack democratizes learning because you can reach out and contact someone from the marketing team just as easily as you can with someone from your own sales team. Because everyone in the company is on Slack, the platform doesn't create boundaries.”
To take learning opportunities one step further, Page’s team uses Slack channels alongside Splunk Coach, the company’s sales coaching platform, as well as their onboarding and virtual enablement programs. With channels, the facilitators can gather feedback and optimize the program in real time. “We find establishing a Slack channel versus just using Zoom allows for engagement that not only supports the training but lives beyond it,” Page says.
Across Splunk’s sales teams, the leaders we connected with emphasized the importance of saving time throughout the sales cycle. Communicating and collaborating in Slack channels help them do exactly that.