An automated approval
Transformation

With Approvals Bot in Slack, our sales team is approving deals 70% faster

We built a custom app to automate deal approvals, saving our sales teams hundreds of hours—and your team can build one too

Author: Hairol MaOctober 9th, 2020Illustration by Francesco Ciccolella

As the old adage goes, “time kills all deals.” At least, that’s what our sales operations team is thinking about as it seeks ways to save time throughout the sales cycle with Slack.

One place where sales cycles historically stall: end-to-end deal approvals, particularly enterprise contracts that so often carry non-standard terms. For many teams, the process of chasing down stakeholders via email—while also explaining the concessions a customer has requested and why—takes days. Meanwhile, approvers are often missing critical context (“We must have not cc’d you on that”), and it’s difficult to keep tabs on who’s approved what as the deal evolves.

Enter Approvals Bot for Deals: A custom Slack app, built in partnership with our sales operations and business technology teams, that drives consistency, transparency and acceleration across the approval process. Through automating approvals with Approvals Bot, we’ve whittled our average full-cycle approval time down from days to hours—a 70% improvement.

Streamlining approvals step by step, right in Slack

Put simply, we created Approvals Bot to standardize, automate and streamline the full cycle of deal approvals. This process starts, as it does for many enterprise sales teams, in Salesforce.

“We, of course, have all these sophisticated workflows in Salesforce, which follow our approval process,” says Kiona Davies, senior manager of sales operations at Slack. “We wanted to bring all that relevant information into Slack, where our approvers are already working, and have Slack be the platform that they can access all that information and facilitate their actual approval.”

Today when a Slack account executive has a proposed deal structure and terms ready for review, the AE simply presses “submit for Slack approval” in Salesforce. Approvals Bot automates the relay race that follows, entirely in Slack. Here’s how it works:

  1. Approvals Bot spins up a virtual deal room in Slack, in the form of a private channel. To keep everyone organized, our deal support request (DSR) channels follow a naming convention of #dsr-customer.
  2. An automated message posts in the #dsr channel outlining the deal structure, non-standard asks and justification for granting them, along with the relevant quote lines.
    An example message from Approvals Bot
  3. All the necessary approvers are automatically invited to the channel, based on the quote’s configuration in Salesforce. One by one, the bot notifies each approver with an @mention. These are done in a message thread, where each person can approve or reject the terms with a single click. And if they have questions? The thread is home for that conversation as well.
    An automated approval thread in Slack
  4. This chain continues until all the approvers have OK’d the deal or the quote is rejected. Meanwhile, the original message updates with custom emoji to convey progress at a glance.
    Emoji showing deal progress

Organization-wide impact and approval

Today more than 80% of our sales deals are being approved directly in Slack instead of Salesforce. Not only has that sped up our deal cycles by 70%, but the app’s proposal templates and automation has saved our sales teams hundreds of collective hours. And because the app stays in conjunction with Salesforce each step of the way, we’re able to generate more accurate pipeline forecasts.

All told, those numbers add up to a much larger, even more impactful benefit: More time and energy for our customers. “Our sales team can focus on selling and leave the administration to automation,” says Davies.

Business Technology and Sales: an ongoing partnership at Slack

Approvals Bot was born out of Slack on Slack, a program for employees to share ideas for new internal tools built on the Slack Platform. Many of these concepts are generated in partnership with Sales Operations, and today, we have three developers dedicated to improving our sales cycle from end to end. At the heart of their strategy: interoperability between Slack and the tools our sales org relies on most.

“We wrote Approvals Bot using our low-code integration platform and Salesforce,” says Monica Wilkinson, our lead Slack on Slack architect. “The secret sauce was building this in an event-driven fashion—keeping all the business logic in Salesforce and focusing on streamlining the collaboration via Slack.”

If your sales team works in Slack and a CRM tool like Salesforce, good news! You’ve got all the ingredients to get a custom solution like Approvals Bot on your IT roadmap. Learn more about building on our platform with the resources below:

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