Greg Merson has been working in Sales Operations at Contently for a year and a half and has been involved in sales operations a lot longer than that.

Contently — if you’re not aware of the company — helps global enterprises create engaging content for their most important audiences. Their approach integrates an end-to-end content marketing platform, on-demand talent network, and strategic services for their clients.

It can be a complex service, one that requires new relationships and processes for everything to work smoothly. Because of this, the client onboarding phase is a crucial step for Contently’s long-term success.

One of the first projects Greg worked on was an initiative to improve just this step of the process: client onboarding.

“We had gaps and roadblocks in the process,” he explained. “I was part of a team doing a deep dive to find areas where we could improve.”

Onboarding is the art of meeting and exceeding the expectations clients have when they sign up for a product. The better you do during onboarding, the more likely you’ll be to retain customers for the long term.

We talked to Greg recently and he shared a series of learnings from his experience. In what follows, you’ll learn the step-by-step process Greg and the Contently team used to improve onboarding for all new clients.

Note: Troops is a Salesforce automation solution that works 100% within Slack. It is designed to help salespeople close more deals. Sign up for a free trial.

Handoffs & Data Accuracy: 2 Areas to Improve

The first task Greg and his teammates tackled was a full breakdown of the client onboarding process.

It started with a scribbled diagram in the corner of a whiteboard.

contently whiteboard

Identifying Handoffs by Mapping the Onboarding Process on a Physical Whiteboard

Greg and the team knew there were bumps in the various handoffs between team members (between sales reps and implementation, for example).

To identify all the areas where things could go wrong, the team created a flowchart on an actual whiteboard, and from there, they outlined a digital version of it.

“We made a massive flowchart of every step in the customer onboarding process,” Greg told us. “It included who owned each step, what happened next, the dependencies that relied on each step — it was a robust set of spreadsheets.”

From there, they had to figure out how to best implement the new process.

As Greg put it, “There were a lot of handoffs that we had to facilitate during the onboarding process,” Greg explained. “They didn’t always go as smoothly as we wanted.”

Making Salesforce the ‘Single Source of Truth’

Improving the accuracy and trustworthiness of Salesforce data was the second key part of the team’s efforts.

“We wanted Salesforce to be our single source of truth, but because some people are better at keeping Salesforce updated than others, there’s a trickle-down effect that diminishes the value of that truth,” Greg told us.

In other words, no one really trusted that the data they saw in Salesforce was correct, which sometimes made it difficult to take action based on the information they saw when they logged in.

If they could improve everyone’s trust in what they found in Salesforce, it would significantly cut down on the back and forth emails. These were happening between sales reps, customer success reps, and others working with new customers—all of which slowed down the process.

Adding Troops to Slack

Greg recognized that if they could find a single solution to improve both handoffs and data accuracy, adopting that solution would be an easy choice.

They were already using Slack for a lot of the communication between teams.

Troops—our automation tool that connects Slack to Salesforce—seemed like a perfect fit to help with both of these problems.

Troops enables sales teams to create workflows—triggered alerts that can be delivered to members of the sales, implementation, or success teams at various parts of the onboarding process.

Greg went step by step through the onboarding flowchart, identifying handoffs and other areas in the process that caused the most delays and problems.

One by one, he built workflows to improve those areas.

“I built a lot of workflows in both Salesforce and Troops to manage the process of implementing the solutions, all where the gaps used to be,” Greg told us.

Screen Shot 2018 08 30 at 8.53.42 AM

By doing so, members across Contently’s team started getting Slack notifications that asked them to update missing information, for example, or begin the next step with a customer after a previous step in the process had been completed.


The net effect of all of this was two-fold:

  1. Actions in the onboarding process started happening faster
  2. Data in Salesforce became much more reliable (and people started trusting it more)

This gave everyone involved in onboarding a simple, easy way to know what they needed to do next.

“We use the Salesforce data all the way up through the customer being active on our platform, and until they’re creating content,” Greg said.

“At that point, the customer is fully trained, knowledgeable on our platform, creating content, familiar with our managing editors, and working with our freelancers. We’re still there for them whenever they need us, but for the most part, it’s just rinse and repeat for them to keep using Contently.”

Strong Communication Made the Process Sustainable

Slack existed at Contently before Greg, but Greg and his teammates worked it into the client onboarding process with intention.

“The more complete the information that you provide from one step to another, the less likely it is that there will be any miscommunication,” Greg said. “That leads to less stress on the internal stakeholders responsible for moving the onboarding process along.”

With less communication stress on internal staff and more information available to them, the client onboarding experience is that much more effective.

“I don’t have hard numbers yet, but anecdotally, the reduction in miscommunication and redundancy on the Contently side of things has made things so much smoother on the customer side,” Greg said. “They’re getting up and running on our platform much faster, and that’s allowing them to see business results that much sooner.”

Troops Lets You Use Salesforce without Being a Power User

Here’s the thing Greg really loved about Troops for this process implementation: You don’t have to be an expert at Salesforce to use its information in Troops.

“It’s been much easier for me to monitor the client onboarding process as Troops notifications come through Slack, especially because a lot of people in your organization aren’t necessarily Salesforce savvy if they’re not salespeople themselves,” he said. “It has really simplified the process of getting information into their hands without having to provide extensive Salesforce training across the organization.”

Note: At Troops, we’re building solutions that help salespeople work collaboratively to close more deals as a team. Want to know more about how it works? Sign up for a free trial.


Tommy Klouwers

Written by Tommy Klouwers

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