Slack Actually Does Have Sales People
After seeing the article about how Slack has no salespeople, I had a flashback to the OG Atlassian and their “lack” of sales people. Then, I had a burning sensation in the pit of my stomach. Something didn’t seem right here. Sure, Slack may not have people cold calling, but do they really not have any salespeople?
After reading this, I did what any self respecting skeptic would do: I searched for “Slack Sales,” and guess what — they have f#$@ing sales people. This is now obvious, and even the article has the correction “Actually, we have sales people!” But these articles get under my skin for a few reasons.
Just Plain False
Starting with the obvious, “Slack has no salespeople” is false — to the point of making me question why these articles have been written. This is where reader research is so important, but I digress.
We know gaps between good sales and bad sales exist, but who’s to say that you need a large presence of salespeople within a company to grow and succeed?
As we have seen with Atlassian, and now Slack, they are able to get their numbers up using the quality over quantity approach within their teams.
Slack’s strategy is to double up on their support staff who, in turn, act as upsell machines, freeing the sales people to get companies on board with the product, you know, essentially doing their jobs.
The reason these articles are getting written this way may be telling — it comes down to two things: Everyone loves shitting on sales, and everyone loves an outlier.
Everyone Loves Shitting on Sales
Is there a bigger punching bag than the sales person? Accountants have the rep of being boring, executives have the rep of being greedy, but sales people get the absolute shortest end of the stick for being shitheads. “No one likes being sold to” actually means “no one likes being harassed,” and therefore every sales person in the world is a greedy, unscrupulous shark pushing an inferior product to customers who don’t know better.
That really sucks because sales is not only the most time-tested growth strategy of all time, but sales provides an incredible opportunity to develop your product, as well as your business, by having a conversation with your potential customers. Inbound marketing is great, but that process is all about doing the research, making assumptions, writing content, and then shipping it into the world and hope to hear back. Being on a sales call means you get to ask questions, listen, and learn from your prospects — as well as changing the messaging to suit them as you go.
If you’re building a brand new product, you frankly have no idea what the key features are.
Talking to your target customers gains you that insight, and, you might actually get customers, too.
Everyone Loves an Outlier
Even if these articles were true (which of course they’re not), these are two very exceptional companies. Slack has left us all scratching our head and trying to figure out how they’ve done so much right in such a short period of time, and might be the current leader in “holy hell they’re on fire.”
I remember reading about Atlassian not having salespeople two years ago and thinking “Wow, that sounds like it’s for me!” But not embracing sales has slowed my company’s growth — both in revenue and in product improvements.
We’re absolutely worse off for not having a focus on sales much earlier on in the company’s life.
What frustrates me is thinking about all of the other inexperienced entrepreneurs now reading the article mentioned above and thinking the same thing, slowing their ability to grow and learn by making the same mistakes.
Growth, like investing, is filled with a ton of crazy, trendy, high volatility hacks — 100% of which perform worse than the ‘boring’ techniques, like investing in index funds.
I know it’s not sexy, but a healthy sales process is critical to the success of your company.