We revealed recently that 35% of sales teams using Slack have dedicated Slack channels to organize communication around specific accounts.
It’s a trend that’s happening organically as more teams move toward team selling and Account-Based Collaboration.
Seeing this, we couldn’t help but ask the question: Is Slack becoming the new Chatter?
Spoiler alert: yes, it is.
Note: At Troops, we’re building solutions that help salespeople close more deals as a team. Want to know more about how it works? Sign up for a free trial.
What Chatter Was Meant to Do
The vision of Salesforce Chatter was to make it easy to collaborate on a specific account or opportunity.
The idea was to have a collaborative feed that could help companies work together to close more deals, share tribal knowledge, and improve the customer experience that worked seamlessly across devices.
For most companies though, this vision never really became a reality.
The Challenges Sales Teams Face with Chatter
Chatter is not a bad product.
The best thing about it is that it attaches the conversations to account records in Salesforce.
Six months later, when it’s time to review the account for a renewal call or an upsell, having that record is great.
For deals that require teams to work together to close them at the current speed of business, however, Chatter is less-than-ideal for several key reasons.
1. Chatter Is Asynchronous (Instead of Real-Time)
In practice, Chatter is an asynchronous tool.
You post a message, then someone gets an email notification, then they log in and respond to you back inside of Salesforce. This is a very clunky, slow experience compared to real-time chat like Slack.
It’s common for people to say, “Yeah, I tagged someone on Chatter on Friday, and they got back to me on Tuesday.”
In many instances, people never see the email notification in the first place because they have Chatter notifications turned off, or those emails are going to an email folder they never look at.
That would never happen on a platform like Slack, for example. More on that in a moment.
2. Chatter Is Difficult to Use Across Devices
Sadly, the Salesforce mobile app—which contains Chatter—is difficult to use. That’s true even for everyday users of Salesforce.
We’ve become a mobile-first, text/chat message first society, and not just for personal communication. The difficulty of using Chatter across devices undercuts the initial vision of Chatter—a community that helped companies seamlessly share information.
Personally, I’m on my phone all the time chatting back and forth with my team about sales deals. Not every salesperson is that way, but many are, and the tendency to reach for our phones first is only growing. This is especially true for in-the-field and remote sales teams, which are also on the rise.
3. It’s Not Easy to Collaborate with People Outside the Sales Team
Many people outside the sales team who would benefit from chatter either don’t have salesforce or aren’t comfortable going into Salesforce. That makes it challenging to really bring other people in from the rest of the organization.
There is a “Chatter only” Salesforce offering, but we rarely see it used, and it’s hard for people to build a habit around going into Salesforce if it’s not a part of their everyday workflow.
This is often the case for executives who typically represent the biggest potential opportunity to positively impact a deal.
4. Not All Services Can Be Integrated into Your Feed
Today, companies strive for a real-time, 360-degree view of the customer.
And there has never been more technologies or services that impact the customer experience.
In many cases, it’s the actions and signals from these various services that stimulate conversations, action items, and engagement that move an account forward. Chatter can display key changes in things happening with a particular record in Salesforce, but it does not incorporate signals from all the other various systems you use that impact the customer experience.
Slack now has over 1500 integration partners—a number that continues to grow. This is one reason why we’re seeing more and more companies organizing their conversations around key accounts within Slack vs. Chatter.
The Real-Life Impact of Chatter’s Shortcomings
The above challenges make the actual adoption of Chatter for real-time Account-Based Collaboration very challenging. Most Sales teams simply don’t use it in anything resembling the original vision for the product.
The other thing about Chatter that is less than ideal is that important people inside the company (like executives) sometimes want to see know how important deals are coming along.
Since most executives are not regular users of Salesforce, finding that information is a major challenge for them. This causes friction for them to go in and actively get involved in a deal proactively.
Instead, they rely on those panicked emails about problem deals when they get stuck, making the whole process very reactive.
Is there a solution to all of these problems?
Is there a way to:
- Enable real-time, relevant collaboration from people across an organization, not just in sales?
- Make the collaboration process proactive instead of reactive?
- Make collaboration easy for everyone—regular Salesforce user or not—on any device they happen to be using?
Yes, there is.
Slack Shines Where Chatter Falls Short
Slack was built to be used across every department in a company, not just in sales. For that reason, Slack shines in all the areas where Chatter falls short for sales teams.
1. Slack Is Real-Time (Instead of Asynchronous)
Within companies (and especially during the workday) people treat Slack messages a lot like text messages, which are seen and opened almost instantaneously. In fact, 98% of text messages are read within 2 minutes!
That’s as real-time as it gets.
Compared to email, which might get a response in a day or two. Or Chatter, which might get a response sometime next week—if ever.
2. Slack Works Great from Anywhere on Any Device
Slack works beautifully across any modern device. Mac, PC, phone, tablet—all the channels and messages are there and are easy to see and respond to.
This is ideal for any sales team—whether working in-house, remote, or in-the-field.
3. Slack Is Much Easier for People Outside Your Sales Team
Perhaps best of all, Slack is usually adopted across a company, not just in Sales. This is key for modern Account-Based Collaboration, which works best when it includes people with unique perspectives from outside the sales staff—people who don’t have Salesforce licenses.
That’s not to say you can’t invite outsiders to Chatter. A Chatter-only license costs around $15 per month. And as we discussed earlier, it’s not easy for someone who doesn’t use Salesforce every day to even use Chatter.
Slack, by contrast, is either free, $6.67, or $12.50 per month for the regular plans.
4. Slack Can Organize Conversations by Account
As our recent research showed, Slack’s channels are ideally designed to organize conversations around a sales account.
This is the primary way Slack is being used in place of Chatter within sales teams and a trend we’ve seen across the fastest growing companies we work with. Instead of finding a record in Salesforce, then talking about it using Chatter, teams just create a Slack channel for the account to keep their conversations organized.
How to Integrate Slack with Salesforce
You may not realize it, but it is possible to integrate Slack with Salesforce using our tool: Troops.
We didn’t design Troops to replicate Chatter, but we did design it to help sales teams keep their Salesforce records up-to-date far better than any other tool we know of, including Chatter.
In one case, Troops helped sales leadership at a large public company improve their forecasting accuracy by 20%, letting them consider expanding their salesforce in ways they couldn’t before they started using Troops.
The main benefit of Chatter is that the conversations get stored and associated to Salesforce records so that it doesn’t get lost and can be called up in future situations.
This has been the main downfall for using Slack in this way, but now Troops is working on a new solution that allows you to take information from deal-related channels and put it back into Salesforce.
If you’re interested in learning more about this product, you can sign up for the wait list here.
Sales Teams Use Slack Because It Works
In the end, sales teams are using Slack because it works.
Chatter was a step in the right direction—an integrated way to connect conversations about sales accounts with the sales record stored in Salesforce.
Among teams already using Slack, 35% of them are creating unique channels for individual accounts—accomplishing Chatter’s original vision of collaboration in a totally new way.
They’re doing this real-time, outside of Salesforce, on whatever device their sales reps (and outside team members) happen to be using at the time.
This shift is going to continue.
Within two years, we expect well over 50% of companies using Slack will be organizing their sales conversations with this Account-Based Collaboration approach.
Will yours be one of them?
Note: Troops has built the worlds first Account Based Collaboration experience. Learn more and sign up for the waitlist here.