As someone who has been embedded in the collision of CRM and messaging for over five years, I could not agree more. Messaging as the engagement platform for work has always been an inevitability given human nature, but now that we are all living in a period of remote and distributed work the future is now.
A lot of people have been reaching out over the past week asking me if I’m freaking out.
What is more top of mind for us given the business we've been building for a long time is how these two companies coming together is actually going to take form in the market to create more value for customers.
Given the breadth of Salesforce’s product suite and the fact that Slack is front and center throughout every user’s workday, the opportunities to create accretive product experiences are truly remarkable.
Here are just a few of the opportunities that exist.
Have you ever won money for doing less work? Three of our cleverest customers have!
For the first annual Troops Best Workflows Contest, we challenged Troops users to share the most powerful ways their teams are using custom workflows and the impact these workflows are having on their business.
There were plenty of submissions full of love for out-of-the-box tools like Deal Rooms and our Slack sales gong. But the winning edge went to customers who created custom workflows to address pains that are unique to their organizations.
And the really awesome part? The contest-winning solutions took zero technical skills. Anyone — including you and your team — can build similar workflows to solve your biggest process pains.
For the first annual Troops Best Workflows Contest, we challenged Troops users to: 1) share the most powerful ways their teams are using custom workflows, and 2) demonstrate the impact these workflows are having on their business.
Here, in the first of three articles spotlighting the three contest-winning workflows, we’re giving you a step-by-step look at the first-prize-winning workflow digital food delivery service DoorDash has used to save hundreds of hours for their sales managers and field reps.
We received dozens of fantastic submissions from loyal customers for our first Workflow Contest. The one that took first prize blew us away with its powerful simplicity and its concrete impact on company outcomes.
Without any coding, Royce Marcus, DoorDash’s sales enablement manager, boiled down a complicated approval process into a few clicks. Once the team started using it, reps saw their sales velocity dramatically speed up: major deals that used to take several hours to finalize now take a few minutes.
The Troops workflow increases sales velocity by helping sales managers respond to special approval requests in real time, eliminating the risk of sales stalling out or falling between the cracks.
Royce was kind enough to give our co-founder, Scott Britton, a quick video walk-through of how he built his prize-winning workflow. But before we dive into the mechanics behind the workflow, here’s the story of how Royce came to build it.
No doubt the sale will have an impact on our company. But the Salesforce-Slack deal is a signal that our vision of the future of work is becoming a reality. And Troops is in the perfect position to support more companies focusing on business growth through collaboration and data-driven communication.
For the first annual Troops Best Workflows Contest, we challenged Troops users to 1) share the most powerful ways their teams are using custom workflows and 2) demonstrate the impact these workflows are having on their business.
The following is the second of three articles spotlighting the winning workflows. Join us for a step-by-step look at the second-prize-winning workflow Slack uses to remove deal support request bottlenecks. Slack’s solutions engineering team has adopted this workflow to help account executives worldwide keep deals moving.
One of the most significant factors we looked for in the Troops Best Workflows Contest submissions was the risk of not creating a solution.
Our second-place winner impressed us with the high stakes of the problem they experienced. A bottleneck in communications betweenSlack’s solutions engineering and sales teams was slowing their sales process down and putting deals at risk. Even worse, the jam was also eroding the sense of trust between the two groups.
In only 10 minutes, solutions engineer Allison August built aTroops custom workflowthat won back hours in lost manager time, sped up sales velocity, and restored confidence.
Allison walked our co-founder, Scott Britton, through the steps of how she built her prize-winning workflow. Before we delve into the "how-tos" of making the workflow, let's take a look at its origin story.
For the first annual Troops Best Workflows Contest, we challenged Troops users to share the most powerful ways their teams are using custom workflows and demonstrate the impact these workflows are having on their business. The following article is one of a three-part series spotlighting the winning workflows. Join us for a step-by-step look at the third-prize-winning workflow commercial real estate companyWeWork uses to ensure that their sales reps can maintain momentum and contact leads while they're still hot. WeWork has adopted this workflow to keep worldwide team communications flowing and stay ahead of demand.
It's always a good sign when one person's idea becomes the global standard for how a company does business. While company-wide adoption wasn't a factor we specifically sought in the submissions we received for the Best Workflows contest , it happens to be a common characteristic among all of our winners.
Our third-place winner caught our attention because one humble employee's idea had an enormous impact on one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. The workflow is a simple solution to a tangled mess of problems that grew along with the company's size. The more properties WeWork added to their coworking empire, the harder it was for their sales team to keep up with demand. Scattershot communications between WeWork's on-the-ground community teams and account executives caused serious leaks in their sales pipeline.
In a few simple steps, former growth operations lead Joshua Mann (now working on his MBA full-time atNorthwestern Kellogg School of Management) built a custom Troops workflow that sped up sales response times and kept communications flowing between teams. Better yet, the workflow is so easy to replicate and adopt that 500+ sales teams now use it to sell memberships to over 800 WeWork locations worldwide.
Between 1943 and 1945 the ENIAC was built. This was the first Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, and was considered to be the forefather of electronic computers and the basis of most of the technology we use today. It was the size of an entire room and had the ability to store information and compute tasks. What it didn’t have was a terribly good interface for humans to interact with to access the numbers and information that could help them do their jobs.
There are platforms and tools in the market today that make it easier to connect disparate systems. The challenge remains that most iPaaS tools are made for tech teams that know how to speak to systems. Even the ones claiming to being “code-free” and “user friendly” expect users to understand some pretty sophisticated technical concepts, like APIs and Oauth.
If you’re on a customer-facing team, you often have to bring in a tech or ops person to translate or to communicate your needs to the system and retrieve the data you care about.
Good luck with that! Once they finally get to your request, your opportunity to help a customer or close a deal has already passed.
Then what happens? People give up and try to cobble together their own solutions, adding to the expense and complexity of their business processes and creating bigger technical silos between teams.
That’s why we’re creating a new category of solutions. WhileTroopsshares some of the system-connecting, automation powers of its iPaaS cousins, it’s more lightweight and any go-to-market professional can use it—no techie humans required.
Let’s compare the typical iPaaS to Troops so you can see how we put data into the hands of your customer-facing teams — and what they can do with that data to grow revenue and win customers for life.
What good is data if you don’t do anything with it?
We’re witnessing an era in which revenue operations and go-to-market teams no longer need to be convinced of thevalue of data in hitting their targets. Most businesses are data hungry, company wide.
But we’re discovering that we have so much data that we don’t know how to manage it and use it to our advantage. We silo it, locking it away in tools that aren’t designed to do a good job of sharing that data with us when we need it most.
For example, how often do your sales reps know where to look for product usage data? How many times have your executives missed an opportunity to influence a deal even though all the necessary data was available?
Let’s flip the script. Our databases house all this information, but we are all still burdened with having to know when relevant data is available and where to go digging for it. It’s time to make software surface the right insights for us so we see what matters and take action on it.
The way businesses collect and use data is broken.
We understand the importance of data, particularly for go-to-market and revenue-operations teams that contend with shifting markets, competitors, and customer demands. Everyone is obsessed with being data driven, because data gives us the information we need to take the right actions and make better decisions.
At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
In reality, we struggle to capture the data we need, and when we are able to capture it we don’t know how to find it when we need it most. Sound familiar? If you’re struggling to get value from your data, know that you’re not alone.
In the past five years, Intercomhas grown from $1 million to $150 million in annual recurring revenue. It's recognized as one of the fastest-growing startups of all time. The world's most successful companies, like Atlassian, Shopify, and New Relic, use Intercom to deliver conversational customer experiences through chatbots and personalized messaging with customers.
Many sales organizations spend a small fortune implementing a new sales process. For example, expect to pay a trainer $10,000-50,000 to teach your new process to a team of about 25 people. And once training is over, it’s not uncommon for everyone to get excited about the new things they learned for a few weeks, only to revert to their old ways without the sweeping changes you hoped for.
In speaking with our customers and other industry leaders, we discovered that getting sales teams to effectively adopt the new sales process or methodology is one of the biggest challenges sales leaders struggle to overcome.
Thankfully, there are ways to make adopting a new sales process easier for teams and leaders alike.
Proper documentation, proactive prompts, frequent inspections, leadership oversight, and automated workflows can ease some of the most common pitfalls that come with transitioning to a new sales process.
Handshakeis the college career network of the future, built to transform the recruiting experience for college students, career centers, and employers. Their mission is to democratize access to opportunity: to help every college student find the right job for them, no matter where they go to school, what they're majoring in, or who they know.
Dynamic Yield is a Personalization Anywhere™ Platform working with industry leaders across eCommerce, finance, iGaming, travel, and publishing to deliver individualized experiences at every customer touchpoint, be it web, apps, email, kiosks, IoT, call centers, or any other digital interface. The company’s website lists renowned enterprise brands such as Urban Outfitters, IKEA, Brooklinen, and Hallmark. Understanding each business has its own unique set of needs when it comes to the customer experience, the Sales team at Dynamic Yield believes in leveraging the entire organization’s braintrust to help close complex deals.
WeWork is a commercial real estate company that manages shared co-working office spaces around the world. Their buildings provide a place for small businesses, technology startups, and enterprise services to work next to one another and create a community that supports each other’s goals.
With buildings located around the world, WeWork needs to manage viewings, track new listings, and optimize their conversion funnel on a massive scale.
Operating in an ever-expanding global market presents a number of issues — the most challenging being operational visibility. Sales managers at WeWork often need to track an overwhelming number of key inflection points in the buyer's journey using tools like Salesforce, SalesLoft, Troops, and SpaceMob (a tool they built internally).
We spoke with Joshua Mann, growth operations senior lead at WeWork, to learn more about how they use Troops to stay on top of their sales load.
When we started Troops, our original goal was to make business software easier to use. We spend so much of our lifetimes at work that the tools we use to do our jobs shouldn’t be cumbersome or confusing. They should look and feel like the applications we use outside of the workplace, which are easy, intuitive, and mirror our natural human behaviors like conversation (in the form of messaging).
Lucid is a market research platform connecting companies like Verizon, HubSpot, LiveRamp, and BCG to consumers. They take a hands-on approach to helping their customers target the right audiences and understand what their survey insights mean.
Stack Overflowis the largest and most trusted online community for developers and technologists, with more than 50 million unique visitors each month. Stack Overflow’s products include a core SaaS knowledge management and collaboration tool called Teams, an advertising business, and a hiring and employer branding tool called Stack Overflow Talent.
With a massive online presence and three lines of business, it’s no wonder that they’re serious about pushing the boundaries of what they can glean from their data and processes.
Recently, Stack Overflow made massive improvements in their data visibility and process efficiency usingTroops. Troops workflows helped them. . .
Frontline managers have some of the most difficult jobs in sales.
You manage anywhere from four to eight sales reps on a day-to-day basis, helping them win deals and grow their careers. Meanwhile, you’re handling exceptions, monitoring the pipeline, reporting sales forecasts up to executives, and bringing new initiatives back to the team.
Exceptional frontline managers do all of that and more, all while hitting their numbers. But we know from experience that it’s not easy.
To help sales management get ahead, we talked with customers and our own frontline leaders about their challenges. Then, we brainstormed some tactics you can use to:
Or perhaps you spent over $30,000 bringing in a sales trainer to get your team up to speed on MEDDIC. The trainer was a big hit with your sales reps and managers. Yet, three weeks later, only a handful of your reps are filling out MEDDIC fields, and managers are back to their old ways. Sound familiar?
It doesn’t matter how you roll out MEDDIC to your sales team. If you ignore these oft-overlooked challenges (and how to sidestep them), your MEDDIC initiative will inevitably fail.
*Note: While this article focuses on implementing MEDDIC, the challenges and recommendations we bring up also apply to many other sales qualification processes.
The company owed the improvement in large part to implementing MEDDPICC, a variation of the MEDDIC sales qualification framework. Along with a second variation, MEDDPIC, each version provides a powerful foundation and common language for qualifying sales opportunities.
All three approaches help sales teams home in on the best deals and make sure they close, but in slightly different ways.
Outside sales reps deal with challenges on the road that most office-bound reps rarely think about — what to wear, where to go, how to get there, and when to report back add multiple layers of complexity to sales.
The challenges don’t stop there, however. Many reps struggle to get quality sales information into their CRM during the day (and the last thing anyone wants to do is spend the evening in Salesforce). What’s more, they work apart from the rest of the sales team and miss out on the same progress reports and motivators their peers get in the office.
It’s also difficult for sales managers who are trying to give them guidance from afar.
Spotinst automates cloud infrastructure to improve performance, reduce complexity, and optimize costs. The company has a consumption-based revenue model that can offer customers significant savings when compared to traditional cloud infrastructure costs.
When it comes to sales forecasting, people usually talk about the big five forecast data points: forecast category, stage, amount, next step, and close date. Problem is, while these data points are enough to create a sales forecast, they’re not enough to ensure the forecast is realistic.
It’s no surprise then that companies seek a return on this investment. They want their SKOs to rally the troops around a new product, new pricing, new packaging, or a new sales process that’s going to make 2020 a massive success.
The problem is while SKOs are great for building excitement and initial momentum, they’re not so good at teaching and reinforcing new, long-lasting behaviors.
Imagine going to college for two days and expecting to learn everything you need to know for your degree. Then add bright lights, emotional speakers, a whirlwind of new information, and an array of food and drink. It’s a miracle you get out with the knowledge you need to immediately start executing on a big, new initiative.
So, you’re about to announce a major initiative at your SKO, and you 100% need your sales team to execute on it when it’s over. How do you make that happen?
You reinforce it.
Reinforcement ensures your sales team takes the things they learned at SKO and executes on them even after the event becomes a distant memory. Here’s how you can use Troops to create sales reinforcement that helps your team adopt the very behaviors they need to make your 2020 sales initiative a success.
When we started Troops we told people we wanted to make work easy. Turns out, when you’re building a company from scratch, it’s anything but easy. But over the past year, the Troops team kept marching on towards our mission and we’ve made great progress with hundreds of partners and thousands of people using Troops each and every day.
At Troops, we still want to make work easy and make work more human. As we enter a new decade, more than ever, the tools we use at work and the software we interact with to do our jobs should adapt to humans instead of requiring humans to adapt to outdated, hard to use software.
Like most reps, Nick Pompeo, an Account Executive at Looker, found updating his opportunities a burdensome and time-consuming task. There was often a batch process of updating his forecasts at the tail end of every quarter, leading to a spike in close date movements that made it difficult to make accurate predictions on whether or not deals would close at a stated time.
Many sales organizations spend a small fortune implementing a new sales process. For example, expect to pay a trainer $10,000-50,000 to teach the new process to a team of about 25 people for a few hours over a couple of weeks.
Once training’s over, it’s not uncommon for everyone to get excited about the new things they learned, only to eventually revert to their old ways without the sweeping changes you hoped for.
In speaking with our customers and other industry leaders, we discovered that getting sales teams to effectively adopt the new sales methodology once it’s rolled out is one of the biggest challenges sales leaders struggle to overcome.
Thankfully, there are ways to make adopting a new sales process easier for teams and leaders alike.
Proper documentation, proactive prompts, frequent inspections, leadership oversight, and automated workflows help ease some of the most common pitfalls that come with transitioning to a new sales process.
A rapidly growing team and traditional email alerts meant big communication gaps
Axiom Law, a leading tech-enabled legal services provider, certainly has had no problem growing. From a founding home base in New York City, Axiom has since opened 17 offices across North America, Europe, and Asia. While the growth has been exciting, communicating key business data - particularly Salesforce data - became a big challenge. “Teams were getting over 100 CRM emails a week for meeting and Opportunity notifications. It became incredibly cluttered and inefficient” said Ops team member Dylan Hofstetter. Because of this, important changes were being missed or ignored and kudos and shout-outs were clogging up inboxes.
LaunchDarkly, one of the fastest growing SaaS companies (according to the Cloud 100’s Rising Stars), found themselves running in circles in Salesforce. They desperately needed a better way to work together to close their most important accounts as quickly as possible.
Last year, our Co-Founder and CEO, Dan Reich, joined Harry Stebbings for an episode of the SaaStr Podcast. In the episode, Dan talks about how he found his way into the world of SaaS, ended up starting Troops, and built the ultimate Slack bot for sales teams.
We’re excited to announce an additional $12m Series B funding round led by Aspect Ventures. Since closing the round, Troops has focused on R&D to build products that help sales teams work better together. Today we’re proud to introduce a new way to sell as a team by using Troops Deal Rooms to help win and expand your biggest accounts.
Sales teams are collaborating more than ever on Slack. But to get the most out of Slack for revenue generating teams, you need to leverage the full power of the Slack platform beyond just conversation.
As the Head of Customer Success Operations at Dynamic Yield, Rona Yang’s job is clear: equip her team with the tools they need to keep the clients using their personalization platform thriving. After joining the company in March of 2018, she realized much of her time would be spent building out processes to improve the reliability and performance of her team.
Manuel Harnisch is Head of Customer Success at network analytics provider Kentik. His team handles onboarding, continuous outreach, and renewals, with only about 10% of their time going to reactive support.
Top organizations are using Slack for sales now more than ever.
We wanted to see in detail how — exactly — top sales teams use the platform, so we recently analyzed Slack sales usage at hundreds of B2B and B2C companies, including leading teams like HubSpot, WeWork, Slack, and Intercom.
Below, we dive into our findings, including 10 specific takeaways for any sales team using Slack.
Some say a remote sales team can't work, but they're making it work atInVision— makers of a product design platform with a team of 190+ customer-facing employees spread across the globe working in sales, customer success, and enablement. And they’re constantly hiring.
In this article, we provide an in-depth analysis of how Troops compares to other platforms, including InsightSquared, Clari, and other alternatives, for sales teams and managers looking for deeper insights into their Salesforce data.
When your salespeople walk into the office every day do you think they get excited about shifting numbers around in a spreadsheet? Does the idea of building new sales models make them salivate? Do they talk to their friends about the 1 percent improvement in their close ratio? I don’t think so.
A little over two years ago we were talking about the future of work in a little office on 60th and Madison. It seemed crazy to us that people were still complaining about the software they were using at work.
At many companies, weekly meetings are dedicated to answering this question!
This is partially due to the fact this information is rarely documented accurately in your CRM.
Holding status meetings is certainly one approach. It just requires a lot of time and operational overhead that could be spent on customer activity - not to mention you can't report on it.
Ideally key details like next steps are updated frequently and stored so that anyone within the organization has visibility into this information at any time.
There are few interesting ways companies are leveraging Troops to ensure that their teams are:
Updating their next steps regularly
Adding next steps during critical junctures in a deal
Regular Next Step Updates Workflow
For routine next step updates, many companies have been leveraging our actionable Slack Salesforce report workflows.
These not only let you see an existing Salesforce report, but also drill into any record within a report and update it in-line.
By building a report in Salesforce any time a next step date is today, in the past or approaching, Troops can auto deliver this report and allow your team to easily make any required updates.
This concept of “insight + action” underpins everything we are building here and this workflow is a great example of this!
Updating Next Steps At Certain Deal Milestones
Some managers are only interested in next steps when an opportunity has reached a certain stage or milestone in their sales process.
In these instances, companies will take advantage of our “is empty” operator within our Slack Salesforce workflow builder to trigger a reminder to update next steps when a deal has reached a certain stage and a next step has not been added.
Both workflows work incredibly well and we're excited to be working with customers in order to provide additional functionality that will make it even easier to accomplish things like always keeping your next step up to date.
Mike was frustrated because it seemed that almost 10% of his inbox was notificationsfrom Salesforce accompanied by unnecessary reply-all emails they incited.
Having this in the same place he was trying to talk to customers was incredibly distracting.
"What if we could get these notifications in Slack? Our team was spending a ton of time there anyways."
Shortly after they found Troops, which makes it easy to centralize Salesforce workflow directly into Slack whether that’s notifications, reports, or updating your CRM.
The first place the team started was transitioning their closed-won notifications into opt-in Slack channels.
This way anyone from the company could be a part of celebrating the wins, whether they wanted to join in on the fun real-time or at the end of the day.
"I probably have 10% less noise in my inbox now which makes it easier to focus on revenue generating activities. The team also loves the gifs!"
Mike and the team were pumped.
The early response to the sales gong got the team thinking...
"We should set up some notifications to see other team milestones."
In fact, one of the challenges leadership had is seeing pipeline movement that needs their attention as it’s happening so they can step in if they need to.
A lot of times, they wouldn’t be notified of a coaching or help opportunity until the end of the week. At that point, it was often to late.
So they created a channel for leadership to show all pipeline movement as it happened using Troops Opp Stage notifications. This way they could view deal movement at any time in order to make sure they could step into when they needed to.
Since integrating this workflow, they’ve found that there’s at least 1-2 deals a week that requires immediate leadership attention that they can now see when they need to.
Being able to catch these has been huge and helped close a few deals they might have lost over the course of a year.
Using Troops to separate the place where they’re communicating with customers from where they are interacting with their team has increased team engagement & visibility while making it easier to be responsive to customers.
This is something you can set up for your team today in just a few minutes at Troops.ai!
I hear this a lot when I talk to sales and customer success teams about how they use Slack.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this, but if you’re limiting use to just messaging you’re missing out on a host of opportunities for productivity gains that come from organizing collaboration with signals from your enterprise applications.
A huge focus for Troops is helping our entire team better understand our customers. High customer empathy is critical for our ability to build great product, communicate with customers effectively, and act autonomously.
In this post we wanted to share some unique ways we’ve leveraged Slack at Troops to increase customer empathy and raise the collective intelligence of our team.
Call Reports in Slack
Customer calls are one of our richest sources of feedback. It’s where we learn things like:
What do our prospective customers care about?
How does our product help them?
Where can we improve for existing customers?
Originally, we all just took notes in our respective tools and then logged the call notes in Salesforce...
The problem with this system was that collectively, we weren’t actually looking at each other’s notes as often as we wanted to really understand our customers.
To improve visibility, we started a channel called #Call_Reports and just added the extra step of copy and pasting our call notes using Slack’s posts feature.
The whole team can opt-in to this channel to see if they want to see what customers are saying.
BTW Slack posts are basically like an evernote note in Slack if you haven't checked them out yet.
How has this helped?
The increased visibility from the simple step has resulted in some great improvements:
Growth/CS have an easier time seeing opportunities where we can help each other
Product has a tighter feedback loop and better understanding of who we’re building for
Engineering develops greater empathy and it’s motivating for them to get feedback on what they’re building
Our entire company is 15 people, but I can imagine a ton of more narrow instances where a version of sharing notes that get lost can improve team alignment.
A few ideas:
In customer specific channels where multiple people are collaborating on a deal - i.e. acme_corp
On certain teams where you’re trying to improve one part of your process i.e. Mid-market qualification call notes
In pod channels where SDRs, AE’s and CS are working together
One thing I realized in college was that taking a bunch of notes and then not looking at them never really amounted to anything.
The same applies here. Taking notes is only useful if the people who are supposed to look at them actually review them accordingly.
Scheduling Change Reports On Leading Indicators
A challenge many customer success or sales teams running a freemium or usage bases sales motion is understanding how those customers are using the product.
Yes, there are some heavy tools that now make that a bit easier, but many companies don’t have them and we all know what happens when you ask someone to go to another place to log in and look at something….
One investment we’ve made early on is getting our product usage data into Salesforce and then building change reports in SFDC that help us see key engagement signals like when an account turns a few features on or off.
An example of this is our customer health change report pictured above.
This makes it really easy for us to understand variances in product engagement on tiered accounts in order to take action.
The outcome is a tighter customer/product feedback loop as well as improved visibility into expansion opportunities whether that means deeper engagement or a wider footprint.
Change reports we have automatically scheduled regularly:
Customer health changes
Feature or metric usage summarized at the account level
Inactivity reports against certain tiers of accounts or leads
The reason why these reports are effective is that they’re pushed to us in a place where we’re all spending time. This makes it really easy for us to keep each other accountable.
Sharing Customer and Communication Wins
One way we try to raise the collective intelligence of our team is make it really easy to share when stuff is working.
In organizations I’ve been a part of, sharing tribal knowledge has traditionally occurred during a weekly team meeting.
The problem with this methodology is that a ton of learning opportunities slip through the cracks with this level of latency between the learning event and meeting.
You could have had an amazing call with a customer on Thursday where something new you tried worked, and come Monday have completely forgotten what you did, let alone that you wanted to share it.
Additionally, the knowledge sharing that occurs in these meetings is an ephemeral one time transfer vs. evergreen educational content for existing and new employees.
One tactic you can try that we’ve done at Troops is create dedicated channels to share these instances as they occur.
We currently have two of these channels that are slightly different.
The first is called #communication_wins. In here, we share instances where some type of communication with a customer resulted in a really positive outcome that we want others to learn from.
Most of the time, these are just quick screenshots of email exchanges that showcase strategies that the team can have in their tool belt.
Capturing and sharing these instances takes less than 10 seconds to do and every new team member that joins now has a historical log of different ways to talk with customers effectively. This is a massive advantage when you talk about things like decreasing new employee onboarding time.
#customer_wins is the other channel we have dedicated to tribal knowledge. This is where we share emails from customers on them having success with the Troops product.
These are really great for the entire team to see not only because it helps us better understand our customer's relationship with our product, but also because it’s motivating to see people winning with what you’re building….
And by moving it out of email and into Slack, we don’t clutter the place we are using to do the customer development and sales in the first place.
Making It Easier to See Key Customer Data Points
At different parts of your sales process or customer journey, it’s important to understand key pieces of information.
For some companies this might be:
Existing solutions in place
Product functionality they’re most excited about
In addition to reviewing these things in a regular meeting, we’ve found it really helpful to highlight these data points in real-time alerts as people move through the pipeline.
“Congrats on your Series A! What are you going to do with all of that money?”
It’s not often you are in a position to be asked that question and it’s one we’ve been getting a lot recently from friends and family.
Any company that raises money does so because they need it for a specific reason. For example, if you are a t-shirt company, you may need money to buy t-shirts so you can turn around and sell them.
But what about a technology company like Troops? What will we spend the money on?
The short answer is people and in this post I wanted to talk a little bit about how we think about people and building our family here at Troops.
When we first started the company, we made one thing crystal clear to ourselves: control the controllables. [Click to tweet!]
We realized early on that the only thing we could really control in life is who we spend our time with.
We figured that if we can get amazing people in a room that believe what we believe, and share the same values as us then we would be in pretty good shape. So we started to scribble down some “Troops Values” that we would use as a guiding light to build the team and build the Troops family
These values are the cornerstone for how we think about our team. We know we’ll add some more over time but this is what is important to us. Maybe they are important to you too.
What are the Troops Core Values?
When you consider that we spend more than one third of our lives working, it seemed very obvious to us that having fun and staying positive was at the top of our list of values. People often look forward to the weekends so they can hang out with their friends. But when we started Troops we thought, what if we changed the paradigm so instead of Sunday Scaries we were fired up about showing up (to work)?
It also helps that there is a scientifically proven correlation between stress and performance, and that performance is enhanced under the right conditions which often starts with a positive and optimistic attitude.
Specifically, we want to always strive to be world class.
The best analogy for our “world class” value can be found in the sports arena. When Michael Phelps was training for the Olympics he spent about six hours per day, six days per week, swimming in the pool. That’s a lot of swimming and a lot of wrinkly skin.
At Troops, we love people that respect and embrace their inner voice that tells them to go harder and push their limits on the thing that drives them the most. We believe life is more fulfilling when you are constantly learning and growing.
Having been in and around the startup world for a while, I’ve often encountered Shark Tank Syndrome.
It’s when someone has the world’s next best idea and they want to pitch you on it. What you quickly realize is that ideas are a dime a dozen. Everyone at one point in their life had an idea that could change the world in some way.
At Troops, we look for people that took one of those ideas and ran with it.
Whether it’s starting a business or nonprofit to teaching yourself how to code in an entirely new language, we are always looking for people that have an intense desire to learn through trial-by-fire. We love people that have attended the school of Hard Knocks, and better yet, have gotten knocked down and back up again.
We all make mistakes and there is always room to get better. However, sometimes we have blind spots and can’t easily see what others can.
At Troops, I often get called out on things by others on the team. And you know what, I love it! How can you possibly hope to get better as an individual or as a team if you are not honest and transparent with yourself and with others?
This is why radical transparency is so important to us. It’s why we take our team through every board meeting deck and our investors feedback (good & bad) immediately after we have board meetings. This way, everyone knows what is at stake, where we are as a company, and what we need to focus on to be better.
And in the spirit of radically transparency, we thought we’d shed some light on how we think about our team at Troops. These values will surely evolve over time, and in fact they already have us. For example, “Build Elegant Products” was, at one time, a stated Troops’ value. However, we learned that to move faster and get features in our users’ hands, we could not slow down for elegance and perfection. We realized we weren't actually living up to this value, so we shed it for something more fitting.
Having this values framework gives our team a greater sense and appreciation for the DNA of who we are as a team. A team we hope to grow with our new round of financing
What are values that are important to you and to your company?
In June, Slack announced that they had added buttons to their developer kit. From the moment we saw the announcement, we knew that buttons were going to be a game changer for Troops.
Buttons open up a world of possibilities to make interactions simpler for users in Slack. Commands that require typing two, three or four words can now be replaced with one press. Action URLs can be packaged in a user-friendly button.
Some of the mocks of how buttons were going to be used by other products recreated button experiences that existed in their web-apps. Others allowed users to take discrete actions on the dashboard from Slack.
Immediately, we had a unique idea for using buttons in our onboarding:
Onboarding is a crucial part of the customer journey. Users want to give your product a shot, but they aren’t fully aware of the world of awesome features awaiting them. You want them to use everything because you know it’s awesome, but how can you possibly educate your user on all the useful things they can do? Not to mention, many modern approaches to this problem, like “guided” product tours, don’t translate to mobile.
Slack buttons give us a unique way to expose each feature, one at a time based on what they found most interesting, across devices. Instead of conforming users to an onboarding process we thought they’d find most interesting, the interactivity buttons enabled a “choose your own adventure” experience.
We think this is just the beginning for how bots will teach users to use them, and develop a path to creating more engagement later on. By placing CTAs to configure Troops in the correct places, we knew we could achieve two goals:
1. Detail each features
2. Get people set up to actually use them
For reference, here’s what our onboarding message in Slack looked like at the time (with two features):
You can see how, with just a few more features, this message was not sustainable over time.
Just a few days after the announcement, our VP of Product, Aditya, had mocked this up:
and sent our product team this message (with a link to the above):
I was up for owning it.
Armed with our perspective on buttons and a desire to work on something creative, I dove headfirst into this project. I knew this was going to be a challenge; buttons are a fresh interaction, sure, but it also means users are not used to using them in Slack.
To really drive this idea of teaching users what Troops is all about with these messages, we began calling Slack onboarding a different name: self-serve learning.
Here is the end result of this mini-project that makes up our current self-serve learning (multiple revisions in between sketches and final!):
As you can see, there were not a ton of changes from V1 to what we put out in the end.
Above all else, we wanted to keep things short and sweet, with a celebratory vibe and nudge to press the buttons. As you’ll see, we’ve stuck with the “introductory emoji” throughout Self-Serve Learning and the rest of our bot interactions. In this case, it’s a
Using @username in the greeting quickly makes the interaction feel personal, and we transitioned from referring to our bot as Troops Bot, and instead telling the user “now you’re ready to use Troops!” because our product is more than just a bot in Slack.
As for the fun factor, we settled on this specific giphy (which you can see in action below), because who doesn’t like Minions? We also added emojis in our buttons as a subtle way to inject color, especially because Slack’s button styling is limited. To keep things light, we decided against making the bars any color other than gray, otherwise they get a bit too busy.
Finally, we emphasized consistency by keeping our feature names consistent between our marketing site and buttons.
For Salesforce Search, we expose the two Troops commands that allow you to quickly query SFDC and then ask users to configure the feature. In V1, there were 3 CTAs: (1) configuring the feature in our backend and (2) giving it a trying in Slack and (3) continuing self-serve learning.
After a little back-and-forth, we decided to kick out the second CTA to try in Slack as it required the first action to be taken, and in some sense “breaks” the flow of the self-serve learning. Asking your users to do too much is never a good thing.
As users go along through the feature buttons, we only show buttons they haven’t pressed for them to continue through, with a prompt to keep them going.
Personally, Digital Gong is my favorite feature. Gifs for won deals are an incredibly fun way to get your team to celebrate together, no matter where they are, so it was important that we picked a good one (we picked this one of Amy Poehler dancing).
Another nice touch is using the user’s username again as having won the deal. If you can make your user feel like a winner or envision themselves having that experience — do it.
At the end of the message, we give a final encouraging push for the user to finish self-serve learning by displaying the last button.
Conceptually, this may be our most difficult feature to grasp. There’s an underlying assumption that the user actually has Salesforce reports set up, and can imagine a world where they are sent to them in Slack. In the first line, we hinted at the fact that those reports can also be scheduled.
We also have three slash commands for users to call and choose the report they want, which can be cognitively taxing.
With this in mind, we aimed to solve for the second issue, as that is more in line with improving engagement. As users can either call all reports and pick the one they want, or directly call the report they’d like to see, we knew it’d be important to make the distinction (hence the admittedly heavy-handed “OR”).
We thought it’d be nice to end the self-serve learning process with a congratulatory closing message. This appears after a user has pressed the third feature button, and showcases a couple of victory emojis and a triumphant gif.
Of course, we want our users to configure each of our features, so it was important to reiterate all three and have the handy links from before that take them to the Troops’ dashboard where they can configure each.
Reminder Messages (Experimenting)
Much like a re-engagement email drip campaign, we toyed around with the idea of surfacing reminder messages if a user had dropped off during the process.
There was a lot of debate on what the best spacing would be for these message? 24, 48, and 72 hours? Only have two reminder messages and go with 24 hours and 1 week?
It’s an interesting dilemma. No one wants to be the bot that is messaging its users so much that some start considering it spam and just turn it off out of annoyance. Yet, messaging is a whole new paradigm to play in, and with it comes unwritten social permission that does not exist with email, such as an overall faster pace.
In the end, we decided to punt on reminder messages entirely for some of the reasons mentioned above, and so we could get this out the door faster. When in doubt on a non-critical feature, go with the decision that allows you to ship.
Now that we’ve launched, we have numbers around usage of this feature
Though I can’t share absolutes, here are some relevant percentages for insight into how this feature has done:
So, of all the users who received our Welcome Message, 55.3% actually pressed one of the buttons. At first, this seems like a low number. But I would argue that if you’re thinking about it like an email campaign, you’re thinking wrong.
55.3% does not reflect “open rate” in this case; instead, a better way to think about it would be click percentage.
Subscriber gets an email, and clicks the link to go to your blog / landing page / etc.
User gets our Welcome Message, and clicks a link to continue self-serve learning.
See the similarity?
Here’s the a further breakdown of users who engaged:
There is some room for improvement here. Of the people who tried the mini-feature, over half only pressed one button and dropped off. 17.5% pressed two buttons and 25.3% completed the entire process.
Finally, here’s a pie chart that combines the two above for a better overall picture:
It’s still the early days of bots and messaging as a platform, but user education will continue to be as important as it is with any product.
Self-serve learning for our bot, in its current form, is not perfect. Initial metrics are decent, but there is significant drop off when users enter the flow and there’s no getting around that. Some of this can be attributed to the newness of the experience, but as a product team it’s up to us to overcome that and keep on improving.
As far as iterating on what we have, here are some improvements we may be making going forward:
1. Increasing the value of our “body” messages (Salesforce Search, Intelligent Reports and Digital Gong)
Right now, Salesforce Search is the most pressed button with 76.7% of those who engage with self-serve learning having pressed it. We can improve that message by including a sample search with mock data to show the user what the output would be like in Slack.
The same can also be done with Intelligent Reports by adding a mock report. You could also make the case that Digital Gong should be the first button because of its delight factor. With some light testing, we can glean whether or not Salesforce Search is the most pressed button simply because it’s first, or because it’s the most interesting feature to users.
2. Measuring dashboard actions and product usage relative to onboarding
As a team, we’re actually okay with someone not finishing self-serve learning…as long as it means they configured a feature and are consistently using Troops. If they don’t need us to teach them how to use the product because they find it intuitive, then we’ve done our job anyway.
Measuring what dashboard actions are taken as a result of pressing a CTA link, and subsequent overall product usage, would give us valuable insight into whether or not self-serve learning translates into engagement.
3. Reminder messages
Now that we have some baseline metrics at volume, turning on reminders and tracking the difference in completion makes a ton of sense. Though we may need to do testing around the frequency of those reminders, I’m confident that we can re-engage users without turning any of them off to our product.
We’re excited to keep revising self-serve learning until it results in active and happy users. This little case study is meant to share insight into how we think about product at Troops, and the creative avenues building on Slack gives us.
Thanks to Scott Britton, Aditya Pandyaram, Yelena Reznikova, and Melody Spencer for helping with this post and scoping out + executing this feature.
What do you think about self-serve learning? How would you improve it? Let us know in the comments below!
Last week, Salesforce announced Einstein - their upcoming project to introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI) to their platform. This announcement is significant in bringing AI to the center of the sales ecosystem.
“What if using a CRM was as easy as sending a text message to a friend?”
When chat as an interface came onto the scene and everyone was excited about making it easier to order food or book travel, we were more fascinated about what this could mean for making the systems we used everyday at work easier.
Having backgrounds in Sales and Business Development, our CRM was at the core of our work lives which fostered a deep appreciation for how important it is to a business. At the same time, we saw first hand how challenging it can be for many organizations to use CRM effectively.
It became clear to us that for a long time humans had been forced to conform to software instead of software adapting to how we naturally behaved. This friction makes software harder to use, and as a result, has introduced challenges around adoption and compliance...aka getting people to actually use it!
What Happens When Software is Hard to Use...
If you've used any of these systems before, you know that this friction can result in loss of revenue, organizational misalignment, and overall diminished job satisfaction.
Since we started Troops, our mission has been “to make work easier.”
In order to accomplish this, from Day 1 we have worked to bridge the gap between the systems we use at work everyday and the behavior everyone does and is increasingly pervading the workplace in a meaningful way: messaging.
When we got started there were no bots, let alone stores for them.
There was just a mounting body of evidence that the world was becoming mobile and the lines were beginning to blur between the apps we at used at work and in our personal lives.
We just happened to believe that “mobile first” really meant messaging first for many use cases.
Today, we’re excited to bring a very early version of this vision to the world by making a large portion of Troops’ platform and bot publicly available for free.
In its current form, Troops is a Slackbot for sales teams that makes it easier to use your CRM and configure intelligence so that you can stay on top of your most precious relationships and customers.
The initial integrations that power this experience are Salesforce, Google Apps (mail & calendar), and Slack, along with some pretty sophisticated data processing and analysis technology behind the scenes. We’ve chosen these integrations first because this is where Sales and Customer Success teams are already working.
Our platform, facilitates a highly customized experience that you can tailor specifically for your organization's data, processes and needs.
We understand that every business has very unique information and workflow they care about, so we've built everything in a way that is highly customizable, yet easy to implement.
Looking Forward and Some Funding News...
Over time, Troops’ bot will evolve to work with more systems and platforms, while also becoming more intelligent. This will allow us to support more functions beyond the ones outlined above.
To make this happen, we’re also excited to announce that we've raised a $7 million series A led by Felicis Ventures.
After you've built your lead list, you'll find plenty of advice out there on best practices you should follow in order to be a successful salesperson. These include habits such as focusing on the highest priority deals, conversational mirroring, using the neighborhood technique, spending a majority of their time on revenue generating activities, and educating buyers on their value prop.
It wasn’t too long ago that my partners and I found ourselves obsessing over an idea for a product that we've always wanted. It would help us be more effective at what we’ve been doing our entire lives: hustling --or in a more traditional sense, “selling.”