Account Based Collaboration is a transformative approach to selling that has emerged in the last few years among forward-thinking B2B sales teams.
Definition: Account Based Collaboration (ABC) is a systematic approach to building and leveraging a strategic deal support team within your natural workspace to maximize win rates, shorten sales cycles, and increase deal sizes.
Unlike traditional selling where sellers operate in a silo, feedback is delayed and inconsistent, and team selling is haphazard, Account Based Collaboration automatically brings together the right people across your entire company to collaborate in real-time around priority accounts within their natural workspace. This way, anyone with the ability to influence a deal outcome—from executives, to managers, to product, or engineering—can swarm around opportunities in an easy, systematic way before it’s too late.
As we will describe in this article, Account Based Collaboration is the natural next step in the rapidly evolving sales environment that has emerged over the last two decades.
How Account Based Collaboration Works
Sales reps using Account Based Collaboration build cross-functional support teams for the most important deals in their pipeline.
These support teams are led by sales representatives, but they often include individuals from across the company, including customer success, finance, executive management, finance, marketing, among others.
Contacts from outside an organization can also be added to the team for additional insights.
In order for Account Based Collaboration to be effective, it must occur within workspaces that contain the following characteristics:
- Everyone who could possibly influence a deal is comfortable communicating and collaborating within the chosen workspace
- Information and insights can be disseminated and accessible in real-time, across the most important systems that impact the buyer’s journey
- Deal support teams can contribute across devices
- Influencers can be added systematically based on chosen criteria in order to drive engagement and maintain high signal
The most popular medium for executing Account Based Collaboration in the modern selling environment is Slack.
Slack Is the Primary Medium for Executing ABC (Account Based Collaboration)
Let’s check the facts.
Earlier this year we released research showing that across hundreds of companies, 70% of Sales and Customer Success Teams using Slack have unique channels dedicated for specific prospects and accounts to organize communication, documents, and insights around a deal.
They’re inviting people from across their organization—not just from sales—to join them in this channel, tapping the insights of people who can help them answer questions, get access to new contacts, and solve problems to keep a deal moving toward “closed won.”
This is how forward-thinking sales teams are executing Account Based Collaboration—in real time through a Slack channel—not through conference calls or lengthy chain emails.
Why Now, Why Slack? The History of Account Based Collaboration
The notion that sales benefits from collaboration is not new.
This is why CRM titan Salesforce integrated Chatter into their CRM experience, which is still used by many companies today.
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.
Despite the promise, many would agree that chatter fell short of this vision.
- It’s asynchronous (vs. real time)
- It’s difficult to use across devices
- Many people outside of sales (including executives) are not comfortable with it or don’t have access
- Not all services that impact the buyer's journey can be integrated into your feed
Because of Slack, for the first time ever, entire companies are connected in a real-time collaborative hub that works amazingly well across devices and can integrate your services.
What this means is that for the first time ever the entire company can easily and systematically organize around specific opportunities to maximize their win rates, sales velocity, and deal sizes.
The magic of Slack is that it takes an asynchronous communication channel (email) and turns it into near real-time communication, which is important given the pace of business in the modern selling environment.
With email or Chatter, it’s common to say “I sent her an email two days ago, but I haven’t heard back. I’ll have to follow up.” You have to assume someone might be directing Chatter or other communications to a rarely checked folder.
That just doesn’t happen when you’re using Slack, which people treat far more like text messages than they do email. People respond quickly to Slack messages—often within seconds, and almost always within a few hours.
For that reason, it’s now much easier to collaborate with teams made up of people from across an organization. It’s why we see more and more sales teams moving away from sales-specific platforms (such as Chatter) and replacing them with Slack.
Moreover, using Slack for Account Based Collaboration provides a rich, organized archive of conversational, document, and system context around a specific account that can be quickly scanned. The ability to search things quickly and easily in Slack is very handy as well, which can be very hard to do in chatter or email.
Slack just works better.
The 5 Key Strategic Benefits of Account Based Collaboration
Account Based Collaboration has brought a host of benefits for the companies that have adopted it.
1. Higher Win Rates
Salespeople have access to people who can help them solve problems and get in front of the right people at target accounts. The result is fewer stalled-out deals and higher win rates.
2. Bigger Deal Sizes
Account Based Collaboration works best with big, complex deals. Reps have the ammo they need to challenge customers to agree to bigger deals.
3. Faster Sales Cycles
Better problem solving means fewer stalled out deals, which means measurably faster sales cycles.
4. Making Organizations More Customer-Driven
By focusing the team on solving the problems of the customer in a public workspace, the entire company gets exposure to the needs and wants of your most important customers. This helps tighten the feedback loop between the front lines and adjacent teams like product, marketing, and the executive team, which results in better products and services.
An ancillary side benefit is employees feel more connected to the work they are doing when they see the impact it has on real customers and the company’s growth.
5. Better Customer Experience
From the customers’ perspective, they experience an entire team of people working together in order to ensure their questions are answered quickly, the buying process is easily facilitated, the right people are engaged. When done well, people are excited to buy from you...and tell their friends!
Account Based Collaboration Increases your ability to accomplish this with your most important accounts.
How to Implement Account Based Collaboration on Your Sales and Success Teams
Account Based Collaboration is not a complex strategy. Nor does it take a host of new tools to implement on a sales team.
When we’re helping teams adopt the approach, we recommend the following steps:
1. Use Slack (If You’re Not Already)
If you haven’t adopted Slack, now is the time to do so. It’s free to get started with Slack, and no other tool organizes collaboration the way Slack can.
2. Start Creating Channels for Your Most Important Accounts
Using Slack, create unique channels for each of your sales accounts. Anyone involved with that account (sales, customer success, marketing, etc.) should be added to the channel.
If you’re new to Slack, read how the Slack sales team uses Slack for a quick primer on how to use the platform.
3. Pick 2-3 High-Value Deals from Your Pipeline and Build Support Teams for Them to Help Your Sales Reps
Look through your target accounts, pick 2-3 of the highest value deals you have in the pipeline, and build a support team around the sales reps currently working on those deals. Tactically, you’re going to want to invite these folks to the channel.
Read our article on Team Selling for even more specific ideas on building these cross-functional teams.
4. Fill Account Based Channels with High-Value Context
Creating channels without any engagement is not going to really do you any good.
In order to be successful, you need to make sure information and conversations are pushed into these channels. These can range from rep-driven deal updates, changes in Salesforce, upcoming calendar events, and key documents shared throughout the buyer’s journey.
In order to maximize your success, you ideally want to automate the dissemination of information across systems in order to make driving deal engagement and insights as easy as possible.
Troops provides this entire functionality and more to facilitate account based collaboration through a new product called Deal Rooms. Learn more about Deal Rooms here.
5. Capture Conversational Context Back in Your CRM
Once you have all of these rich conversations happening around your VIP accounts, make sure these can be easily accessed and key data points can be reported on in a future state.
As much as we love Slack, things can get lost easily over long spans of time. If, 9 months later, when a renewal is coming up, the channel has been archived, and the AE with all the context left, you’re going to find yourself in trouble.
This is why it’s important to give your team a way to easily map back information back to the CRM so you have a true 360-degree view of the customer in a future state.
This capability is also available through Troops Deal Rooms.
How to Make This Easy? Install Troops!
Troops.ai is the first Account Based Collaboration platform built for companies that use Salesforce and Slack. It’s the only tool built specifically to support sales teams adopting an Account Based Collaboration approach.
Easily create deal specific channels, invite team members, share updates across Salesforce and other systems like Google, organize documents, and map back information from Slack into Salesforce with Deal Rooms.
All of this comes out of the box and is highly configurable to your specific CRM and business processes.
Account Based Collaboration Is Here to Stay
Account Based Collaboration is a trend that is only going to accelerate in the coming years.
As the top teams we work with have found over and over again, the strategy is effective—especially for the high-profile, high-value deals so prized by sales leaders and C-level executives.
Teams that adopt the methodology today will gain a competitive advantage over their less forward-thinking competitors as well as improve win rates, deal sizes, and sales velocity.
Will your sales team join the movement? Get started here.