SaaStr Annual 2019 - Q&A with Slack’s growth and sales team.

Last year we participated in our first SaaStr event and headed over to Paris for SaaStr Europa, we had a blast and met some wonderful people, networked, learned a lot from founders and top executives plus we scheduled some meetings with our European partners.

We really enjoyed all the talks and the great venue at Paris Le Grand Hotel, which by the way has been the best venue for a conference we have ever attended. Here some proof with a photo of the Grand Ballroom that one of our teammates took.

So this past February thanks to Kleiner Perkins we were able to attend SaaStr Annual 2019 as part of their inclusion and diversity program.

We did not know what to expect but with more than 12,000 attendees we knew that it was going to be massive; so we packed our bags and headed to San Jose for the conference.

SaaStr Annual agenda: approach Slack’s sales team.

We wrote a few months back about our task of migrating a few thousand users of our Stand-bot from Stride to Slack; we have been at it since Q3 last year and we will share some findings in doing such an endeavor. At SaaStr Annual we wanted to get some insights from top executives at Slack to see what their perspective is on this matter.

To give you some background: Stand.Bot, our slack bot enables remote and distributed teams to do daily standups inside Slack channels, it even lets you run a Daily standup with your Jira backlog (cloud & server); so this allows you to run several standups in many channels and groups. So with thousands of users we needed to know if there was some way to move lots of content from Stride to Slack; know that Atlassian sold all the intellectual property of Stride to Slack.

So our first approach on the agenda was a Q&A session with Kevin Egan (Head of North America Sales) and Dannie Herzberg (Head of Mid-Market Sales) at the SaaStr Square park. This gave us a great opportunity to approach them directly to see what their perspective on growing a user base upmarket was and maybe point us to the right person inside Slack.


"There is a growing trend in document sharing and user management inside groups and channels; providing a seamless experience is something we are starting to work on. But there is a lot of room to improve to build integrations that can support it" - Kevin Egan - Head of North America Sales at Slack.

Some great insights from the Sales team regarding growth and sales:

  • Culture of your team is key when you are trying to move upmarket, you need to have good alignment between both companies to make a successful sale.

  • Successful sales are those where there is more than a transaction being made; you are making a commitment to grow with your customers and support them in that process.

  • You have to be honest with your prospects and say NO to those that are not ready to be sold to, you want to avoid a bad sales experience at all costs.

  • Pricing, for enterprise it is vital to do a discovery call since there are just way too many factors to give a good pricing estimate (but always charge more… bigger wales).

Slack ecosystem and seizing opportunities.

There was a lot of questions regarding what they see as the next big step for the Slack ecosystem to move upmarket and serve large Enterprise clients. At SoftwareDevTools we have been lucky to have a couple of large clients and it is a trend we are seeing as they implement more SaaS solutions in their processes, right now ITSM is seeing a big push and we have been lucky to build a Trello power-up for Freshservice and we are exploring how chat platforms can enable better communication for IT management solutions on the cloud.

When a team is trying to seize an opportunity with a large customer, normally a beta testing phase or pilot will be proposed; this at first is a tempting offer since you want those shiny big logos in your company website. But you need to understand that you have to put restrictions in the time and budget allocated to each pilot or beta test. Your focus is to answer one question: What are the requirements to close the sale?

SaaStr interview

"Pilots are a very tempting place to start, but seller beware: drawing boundaries is a must. First, figure out what value can (or can’t) be evaluated during the pilot and what questions can’t be answered without a pilot" - Dannie Herzberg - Mid-Market Sales at Slack.

A key takeaway from the fireside chat was that you never stop learning and discovering needs that your customers have, your team needs to be in constant contact with your customer to see how your product is enabling new opportunities to be part of more process inside an organization. Slack started with the technical teams using it but has moved into all the areas inside an organization like recruiting, HR, finance, marketing, and sales.

Do not dismiss opportunities where you are not ready, understand what are the main blockers and size the market based on future usage by the target audience. You never know what will happen once they start using your product.

"Seek to create value, not extract value. That is how you create customer loyalty" Dannie Herzberg - Mid-Market Sales at Slack.

The SoftwareDevTools team had a great conference and we highly recommend anyone attending SaaStr Europa (if you are near France) or get early bird tickets for SaaStr Annual 2020. We will be publishing more articles during March, spring is in the SaaSair :)

PS. By the way thanks Kevin for taking the time to speak to us during the fireside chat ;)

Header photo by Manuela Bárcenas

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Claudio Cossio

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