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 between Slack’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 a Troops custom workflow that 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.
A flood of deal support requests gummed up the works
The Slack solutions engineering (SE) team existed to assist account executives with the technical aspects of closing deals with customers. Whenever an account executive (AE) needed support from a solutions engineer, the AE would send a deal support request (DSR) through Salesforce.
With a global organization like Slack, that meant each region had dozens of requests every day. They needed a consistent process to alert SE teams to AE needs.
Slack's first attempt at automation wasn't working
At first, the solutions engineering team custom built a Salesforce bot to handle DSRs. The Salesforce bot pushed DSR notifications into a Slack channel for solutions engineering managers by region.
For example, all DSRs for the West Coast went to the same channel. Solutions engineering managers would then go back into Salesforce to assign solutions engineers to the requests.
Although Slack's technical team had automated part of this process, assigning requests to solutions engineers was a time-consuming ordeal for managers for a number of reasons:
- It was a hassle for managers to manually sort through Slack for requests. Slack segmented solutions engineering teams by market size: mid-market solutions engineers couldn't support large enterprise deals. Both large enterprise and mid-market DSRs flooded the same regional channel every day, mixed in with other team communications. To find requests for their specific team segments, two or three SE managers manually sorted through dozens of Slack notifications.
- It was hard to distribute deal support assignments among SEs evenly. Once they found the right requests for their team, the SE manager had to go into Salesforce and figure out which SEs needed deal support assignments. But there wasn't a way for a manager to see an SE's request workload. While SE teams used a round-robin approach to assigning requests, assignment distribution was far from equal.
- It was hard for managers to keep up with requests. If a manager was in an all-day meeting, they'd come back to a backlog of requests to assign. It took hours for managers to get caught up on mindless administrative tasks — hours they could have spent helping close deals.
The inefficient process wasn't just reducing manager productivity. The backlogs also caused deals to stall out and the quality of partnerships between AEs and SEs to suffer:
- Deals stalled while assignments got stuck in the managers' queues. At the point in the sales process when SEs get involved, it's critical to keep the pace of customer communications moving fast. The assignment backlog forced SE productivity to slow, and AEs lost confidence in the SE team to promptly act on requests.
- AEs had to follow up on lost SE assignment notifications. Even though support requests went into the same Slack channel, managers communicated assignments in multiple channels (i.e., direct message, private team, etc.). SEs never knew where to look for assignments, and that meant they missed notifications. AEs had to follow up on their support requests, only to discover their solutions engineers had never seen them. When AEs had to follow up on internal requests, it took them away from customer-facing tasks.
- SEs came to customer calls unprepared. Since there wasn't a uniform process for communicating assignments, managers didn't always include important account information, such as which AE owned the account or background on the opportunity. That meant SEs came to customer meetings unprepared. Not only did they let their AEs down, but because they also failed to present the full value of Slack's offerings to customers, they lost deals.
Enter Allison August: bottleneck bounty hunter
As a solutions engineer, Allison August is on a quest to make partnerships between sales and solutions engineering more effective.
When she wrestled with the request assignment bottleneck firsthand, Allison recognized that it wasn't just a manager problem or an SE problem to solve. Removing the blockage was a matter of creating a more streamlined process for the entire team.
"I was looking [for] a way that we could make the [DSR] process more attractive," Allison said. "And make it so that it was more available to the people who were on the [solutions engineering] team."
When she built the Troops workflow, Allison was only a few months into her employment at Slack. She had never used Troops before, but she immediately saw a user-friendly way to connect managers, SEs, and AEs into one communication flow.
How Allison leveraged Troops to get deal support requests unstuck
It took Allison all of 10 minutes to build a Troops custom workflow that got deal support communications to the right people, all in one place.
First, Allison added a dedicated Slack channel for DSRs within her regional solutions engineering team's workspace. The channel was a centralized space for AEs, managers, and engineers to collaborate on opportunities in discussion threads without them getting mixed in with other communications.
Now that the solutions engineering team had a space to collaborate with AEs, it was time to create the automated DSR workflow.
As before, AEs triggered the workflow every time they flagged an account record in need of support. But this time, Troops sent the notification instead of the Salesforce bot.
Instead of broadcasting DSRs to all regional teams, Allison created a filter to send notifications to team segments within a region (e.g., mid-market West). Team managers no longer had to sift through different DSRs — they only saw the relevant DSRs for their teams.
Allison set up DSR notifications with action buttons so that the first available SE could self-assign a request, or a manager could quickly assign a request to an SE. No more waiting for a manager to go into Salesforce, determine who was available for an assignment, and send a message to the assigned SE. No more hunting down assignment notifications and important opportunity details. SEs took ownership of their DSRs the moment the notifications landed in the team channel.
Finally, Allison created a checkbox as a visual indicator of when a request is assigned. That way, no one accidentally assigns a DSR that's already taken.
Allison's Troops workflow supercharged response time (and trust)
Since launching the Troops DSR workflow a year ago, Slack's solutions engineering team has seen significant time savings and improved relationships with their account executives.
In addition to speeding up time to an assignment, decentralizing the assignment process and allowing SEs to assign themselves to DSRs sped up their ability to take action on deals.
Plus, the visual checkbox indicator helped SEs quickly see what requests were outstanding, with fewer overlooked requests.
Most importantly, the improved process has led to more trust between AEs and SEs. AEs trust that SEs come to the sales call prepared, SEs trust that AEs will give them enough time to prepare, and, ultimately, Slack's customers get more value from their partnership.
"We strengthened the AE-SE partnership by inspiring trust through this quick assignment process," Allison said.
What started out as a 10-minute fix for Slack’s West Coast mid-market solutions engineering team is now a global phenomenon.
“[The DSR workflow] has also been adopted by a lot of other of our regional segments and even our large enterprise teams here at Slack,” she said. “So it really started in mid-market, but grew its way throughout our global organization.”
In four simple steps, you can have similar results for your organization. Watch the video below and follow along with the step-by-step guide.
- Set the condition group: Allison created a condition where Troops will send a DSR notification from any mid-market West AE into their SE channel.
- Select recipients: Allison has all DSR requests from mid-market West AEs sent to a Slack channel created specifically for mid-market West DSRs.
- Build the message: Allison selected fields from the Salesforce records that will most help SEs understand what they can do to move the deal forward.
Create the action button: Allison added an action button to the notification that allowed SEs to take the request without having to leave Slack. The Salesforce record immediately reflects which SE is assigned to the opportunity.
Allison’s expert takeaway to help your company speed up support using Troops
Allison thinks that any organization with support requests can benefit from using Troops and Slack.
“Whether it's the customer support side or even the legal side or the solutions engineering side, it's powerful to have everything centralized in one place and sent to the channels where you're going to be looking and communicating,” said Allison.
Break up your biggest bottlenecks with custom Troops workflows
There’s nothing worse for team confidence than a cumbersome process that keeps people from doing their best work.
With Troops custom workflows, you can turn a slow-moving process that erodes trust into a streamlined partnership that speeds up deals in a matter of minutes.
See the advice our other contest winners have for making teams more efficient:
1st place- Royce Marcus from DoorDash: “Exclusivity Requested” workflow
3rd place - Joshua Mann from WeWork: “Inventory Holds Released Notification” workflow