Why does Slack not hire salespeople?

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JASON LEMKIN

First, if I understand him right, Stewart Butterfield is (intentionally) being slightly narrow / simplistic here in his definition of “salespeople” … i think it’s literally accurate but he doesn’t mean there isn’t a team of inside folks working with prospects and closing deals.

I understand he means no outbound sales (no one reaching out to prospects), and no field sales (calling into big, named accounts), which I don’t think Slack has any of at the moment.

Nor does it need to.  It’s a 100% in-bound plus land-and-expand model.  And a beautiful one.

But this doesn’t mean not having a small army of folks that answer the phone to close deals.  There is obviously a team answering these ‘Contact us’ clicks:

For now, Slack has, apparently, been able to build into six and seven figure deals semi-organically in a land-and-semi-automatically-expand fashion.  When this works … it’s breathtaking.

If you can grow that way forever, “all” the sales team needs to do is land the initial deal, which may not require a huge amount of traditional sales.  Then the customer success and happiness team can help support growth.

Given Slack’s jaw dropping growth, it is clearly working.

Having said all that … I don’t think Stewart has said never, ever.  Atlassian has no traditional sales force in-house … but it has a large in-house force that talks to customers, AND it has a large essentially out-sourced sales team through its channel partners.  These channel partners are all on commission …

If Slack wants to maintain stay in its current segments I suspect this will continue to work for a very long time.

If Slack wants to go more enterprise, and get true CIO-level buy-in and adoption … it will ultimately need to add a traditional sales force, on commission, at least for its Large Accounts.

There’s no other way to close these deals.

My experience tells me they probably can get to $300m+ in ARR, maybe more, without really changing anything.  Pure momentum says that.  The law of Hunting Large Deals though suggests $1b+ in ARR will require an enterprise sales team, at least to continue to grow the six and seven figure+ deals sold to IT, not directly to departments and end-users.

…….

A little ways back, but Stewart and David Sacks (Yammer) comparing-and-contrasting their approaches to sales at SaaStr Annual here:

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Published on March 17, 2016
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