Slack is for closers: Maximizing sales and engaging customers at your digital HQ

How salespeople use Slack to leverage the power of their entire organization.

Author: Aoife Rogers5th August 2021Illustration by Pete Ryan

The pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work, flexible hours, and customers who have the time and the inclination to shop around. This means they can afford to be demanding. According to a 2020 Salesforce survey of more than 15,000 global consumers and business buyers, 61% of customers say it’s difficult for a company to earn their trust—7 percentage points higher than the previous year.

Faced with Internet-savvy, skittish leads, high-performing sales teams have turned to a team-selling approach. By leveraging the collective knowledge of their company, they can deliver more value at each stage of the buying cycle.

With Slack, they have a digital sales floor where they can connect with each other and with experts from other departments, so they can maximize their effectiveness and close deals faster. With channels—a central place for sharing messages, tools and files—reps can get instant context on their prospects and get potential clients the answers they need right away. And with their most-used apps available right in Slack, it’s easy to stay productive and on task.

At Slack Frontiers Europe 2021, an immersive event about the future of work, sales leaders discussed team selling, agility, and the importance of meeting the customer where they are. Here’s a snapshot of how some of our forward-thinking Slack clients have adapted their strategies for a much-changed working world.

Box: Teamwork makes the dream work

What’s the key to converting a prospective lead into a customer? According to Kate Gunderson, the senior director of commercial sales at cloud content management company Box, it’s all about response time.

Sterne leads nearly 80 inbound and outbound sales development professionals who work across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. Her team of sales development representatives (SDRs) is responsible for vetting and converting marketing qualified leads (MQLs) into sales leads that can be passed on to account executives.

Before Slack, the team wasn’t alerted about new MQLs until they looked in Salesforce. That took an average of two hours, and the chance of converting the lead fell dramatically with every wasted minute. The Salesforce app for Slack changed everything.

“With Slack, our speed to lead is much faster,” says Sterne. “You still get lots of notifications, but instead of showing up as thousands of emails in your inbox, it just shows up as a red dot in Slack.”

Team selling has become especially important as Box moves to become a digital-first organization. The company has embraced home-working and has a globally dispersed team, and Slack channels are where reps make sure their leads are kept warm:

  • #sdr is a channel for reps seeking assistance on customer inquiries or troubleshooting technical and logistical issues, like credit card processing
  • #digital connects the digital and SDR teams, who are both on the front lines interacting with potential customers. In the channel, SDRs can flag potential technical problems, like reduced marketing leads from website traffic

“With Slack channels, we’re able to solve issues in real time that otherwise might not have been caught for a day or two, because we have a place to quickly connect with cross-functional partners.”

Kate SterneGlobal Senior Director of Sales Development and Inside Sales, Box

Zendesk: Speeding up the sales cycle with company-wide knowledge sharing

Trusted by over 200,000 companies, Zendesk’s software is designed to improve customer relationships. Its own customer service naturally needs to be beyond reproach, which is why it uses Slack as its main communication platform.

With Slack, Zendesk’s sales teams can easily marshal the knowledge of the entire organization at any point in the sales cycle. Every department—support, product, finance, and legal—has its own Slack channel where reps can submit questions or requests for help.

According to Kelly Ryan, a former strategic account executive at Zendesk, this saves her two to three hours every day. Over the course of a 260-day work year, that amounts to roughly 650 hours, or 81 working days. Scaled across Zendesk’s 875-person sales and customer success department, that’s nearly 570,000 hours that can be reinvested in building and deepening customer relationships.

“Slack is the primary way I communicate, get answers for customers, escalate support requests, and interact with my teammates and manager.”

Kelly RyanFormer Strategic Account Executive, Zendesk

Stripe: Getting closer to the customer

The online payment platform Stripe helps millions of companies in more than 120 countries start, run, and scale their businesses. From the company’s earliest days, its sales team prioritized building personal relationships with clients. In fact, Stripe was one of the earliest adopters of Slack Connect, which extends Slack’s channel-based messaging to outside partners.

With Slack Connect, Stripe’s salespeople can:

  • Close deals faster by maintaining momentum in a digital world
  • Forge meaningful relationships with prospects before, during, and after the contract has been signed
  • Keep communication organized and jump on sales opportunities

According to James Dyett, Stripe’s head of global product sales and payments performance, Slack Connect has replaced even more recent technology and become the place where sales get closed.

“You can tell when there’s energy in a relationship—and the deal—and it’s hard to get that over email,” Dyett says. “It used to be in person and over text and phone. Now it’s Slack Connect.”

Reps often have to communicate with a variety of departments to seal the deal. Instead of emailing them separately and creating silos, Stripe’s account executives and solution architects set up a Slack channel with key customer stakeholders, like developers, the head of payments, and a finance representative. Dyett and his team can then quickly follow up on term sheet details and any other contract questions in Slack.

“Cross-functional conversations happen quite neatly in Slack, which is helpful to avoid miscommunications and the need for long conference calls.”

James DyettHead of Global Product Sales and Payments Optimizations, Stripe

Gympass: Thousands of partnerships, one communication platform

The corporate fitness platform Gympass helps companies support their employees’ health and happiness through access to gyms, on-demand fitness classes, and wellness apps. In its partnerships with 50,000 venues in 14 countries, Slack Connect is key.

“We’re able to ensure smooth communication not only within the entire company, but also with partners and agencies,” says Ralf Aigner, the CEO of Gympass Germany. “This is particularly important for maintaining efficient working relationships as we continue to grow.”

When the pandemic hit and Gympass’s salespeople could no longer offer a product that encouraged in-person interactions, they kept the business moving forward with Slack Connect. Working remotely in Slack, they collaborated across departments to create a new product in just two weeks: streaming fitness classes online. The reps then used Slack Connect to facilitate discussions with gym partners worldwide and communicate the new option to each partner in their respective channels.

Reps are in these channels with partners every day to address account-specific issues and ensure seamless implementation during onboarding. In internal Slack channels, sales teams streamline administrative tasks and communicate quickly and transparently about each partner.

With the Salesforce app for Slack, reps can see a holistic snapshot of any client in seconds and input relevant call notes, documents, and conversations directly from Slack into Salesforce. They can also accelerate routine processes such as approving special conditions for a partner: reps simply mention executives right in the Slack channel for speedy approval.

“It was important for us to find a tool that supported our goal of breaking down information silos and ensuring communication transparency. Slack met all these requirements.”

Ralf AignerCEO, Gympass Germany

Splunk: Collective brainpower means deals get closed faster

Every day, people create over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data; Splunk produces software that transforms that into usable, accessible information. At Splunk, sales engineers (SEs) act as interpreters for their customers, including more than 90 Fortune 100 companies.

SEs are dispersed around the globe and work side by side with clients to demonstrate Splunk’s value. But that can feel isolating. “It’s very difficult for us to communicate and share best practices,” says former Splunk SE Kelly Kitagawa, “because when you’re on site, you’re there by yourself.”

Slack closes that communication gap, bringing hundreds of SEs together in the #se channel to solve problems, provide support, and eliminate redundancies. Whether it’s an integration with another product or a particular use case, it’s easy to find someone who’s done it before.

Armed with a searchable bank of information, Kitagawa can pull up the material she needs and—instead of waiting two or three days to get a response from a coworker or manager—turn issues around instantly and close deals faster. “If I have 600 people’s brains, and all their information as well, it makes me a stronger SE,” she says.

Slack has also helped increase visibility, a top priority for a global company. Because Splunk’s SEs generally manage their account portfolios from personalized dashboards, managers need a convenient window into what’s happening.

The Splunk team developed a Slack app that allows managers to use the command /splunkcapture to pull a readout of an SE’s dashboard into Slack. With the snapshot, they have a bird’s-eye view of the SE’s opportunities and potential red flags.

Working remotely could have slowed the SEs down. Instead, they’ve used Slack’s mobile app to speed things up, responding more quickly to customers and using their collective brainpower to demonstrate the value of Splunk no matter where they are.

“Slack really allows me to connect to my customers in a different way. I want them to think I’m an extension of their company, and anytime they have questions, it’s very easy to connect.”

Kelly KitagawaFormer Sales Engineer, Splunk

Sales is getting harder. Buying cycles involve more people, and more people means greater complexity. But potential customers still demand speed, transparency, and expertise at every stage. With Slack as their digital sales floor, sales teams can leverage the collective knowledge of their wider organization and give their customers the faster resolutions that lead to closed deals. [#]

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