With the world moving remote during COVID, sales has moved 100% online. In the absence of in-person meetings, one way you can stay close to your customers and improve your close rate is by adopting real-time communication apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams in your sales process. They've seen massive adoption recently. Teams added 31M users just last month! Most companies use them for internal communication, but we're seeing an emerging trend of them being used between companies as well.
What does that mean for me and my sales organization?
Everyone adopting Slack and Teams certainly opens up opportunities for better communication with your customers. What happens if you could have a direct line of communication with every prospect and all relevant stakeholders? Imagine if all of your stakeholders were on the same page and you and your sales engineer were right there to answer any questions they have - all in their Slack. As an Account Executive, your chances of closing the sale just went up dramatically. Lots of AEs already do this today by texting their customers, but Slack lets you extend that experience to the entire team.
In fact, after talking to over 100 B2B companies, we've seen that you can decrease sales cycle lengths by 20% if you get your prospects on Slack. Emails that would normally take days to get a response now become casual chats that your prospective customers can easily fit into their day. We do this ourselves at Across - every prospective customer gets a dedicated Slack channel with us once they're labeled as an opportunity in our CRM. We then figure out terms of the pilot, onboard them, answer questions and fix bugs all via the Slack channel.
In Y Combinator, pretty much every B2B company uses shared Slack channels with their customers. It gives them a tight feedback loop while they iterate to product market fit, lets them address customer concerns in real time and wow their customers by fixing bugs in hours not weeks. These companies continue to do so as they scale (and that's where a tool like ours at Across comes in). Some recent examples of very successful companies that have employed this approach are Segment, Armory and Retool.
I'm sold! How do I get started with shared Slack channels?
If you want to experiment with using Slack with your customers, we can help you get started with best practices! The first step is deciding which prospects get a Slack channel. This varies from company to company, depending on your stage, product and sales cycle. If you think you're at a point where your prospect is going to start championing your product with their team to get on a trial, pilot or proof of concept, that's a good time to take it to the next level and establish a dedicated channel for them.
First off, you need to make sure you meet some pre-requisites:
- your Slack workspace must be on the Standard or Plus plan (you can't share channels from a free workspace, but you can alternatively add your prospect as a single user guest)
- make sure your admin or workspace owner on either side approves the channel - this is easy if you're selling to startups or mid-market. If selling to larger companies, make sure the ACV justifies jumping through the loopholes to get this setup
Once that's taken care of, just follow these steps. Go to Slack and scroll down to Channels in your left navigation pane. Click on Create a channel
Name your channel. Typical naming convention includes your company's name and your prospect company's name for easy identification on both sides. Here we use #across_google for our fictional shared channel with Google.
Add the relevant teammates on your side if any. For example, if your product involves a heavy implementation, maybe add a sales engineer to answer technical questions. Once they're added, instead of clicking on Done, click on Share this channel.
Finally you can add a message and send your channel invitation to your prospect. We'd actually recommend clicking Copy share link and sending a text or email with a personal touch so that your prospect doesn't accidentally ignore the invitation.
Once sent, your prospect needs to accept the invite and get it approved by an admin. Encourage them to invite any stakeholders so you can get them all in one place. This will make your job 100x easier.
It can be annoying to setup, but pays for itself once you get your prospect chatting with you every day and all stakeholders following along. You can also naturally transition the channel to be used for onboarding as well as ongoing customer support and success. It becomes the place where all relevant parties on your team and your customer stay in sync.
If you're interested in learning more about how to use Slack with your prospects or customers, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We make it seamless to use Slack with your customers for sales, deployments and support by turning Slack into a customer focused inbox and help desk that integrates with Salesforce, Zendesk, HelpScout, Jira and more.