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Is Slack refusing to hire a sales team a mistake?

Slack CEO came out recently saying they do not have and do not plan to hire a salespeople. Of course, it's worked so far but the same can be said of how dropbox and yammer started and they both realized they then needed to hire in that arena.
Curious to hear from both sides of the aisle whether or not they think this is a smart decision or doomed. Particularly interested if you've been at a company that's done this (successfully or unsuccessfully) or have lots of experience in sales. People piling on to rag on sales or business isn't helpful or productive.

33 Replies

Brent Bussell
3
0
Brent Bussell Entrepreneur
Retired High Tech Sales & Marketing Executive
I've seen many businesses in my 30+ years in high tech attempt to minimize their investment in, and dependence on, a dedicated sales function for revenue production. And I've seen almost all of them come to regret it. But notice I used the term "sales function" because sales can take on different forms and doesn't necessarily mean a bunch of sales reps on the street carrying a bag, which is the vision many have when the role is mentioned. And not all businesses require that type of sales investment to be successful. But I would say that virtually all businesses require some person(s) with the proper experience and background in "sales" and the singular focus on producing revenue for the business to drive the actions of the business that will get customers to buy.
Andrew Hoag
1
0
Andrew Hoag Advisor
Builder of products, teams and companies
I can't think of a company that's done this successfully over the long-term. If Stewart thinks he can change the way enterprises buy software, I'm all for it (and am doing everything I can to help that revolution), but until every F500 company is using holacracy I just don't see it happening at terminal scale.

And if he's going to hire a bunch of inside salespeople and call them "Customer Success" then I call bullsh!t. It's not outbound sales but it's still persuading someone to spend more money with you.http://tomtunguz.com/saas-innovators-solution/
Christopher Anthony Conrad
0
0
GSD - Mislukas
It's worked well for Whisper Systems and Telegram, but then again their competitive advantage is much better than Slack. A great product many times in the SaaS can replace a large or even entire sales team. If the customers evangelize for you, you don't need the overhead of a team. Anthony Conrad [removed to protect privacy] http://vizualize.me/cconrad0825?r=cconrad0825 57-[removed to protect privacy]
Rick Stratton
0
0
Rick Stratton Entrepreneur
Great States Software / Feed.Us / MKEcribs
I think that Basecamp (aka 37 Signals) is a better model for Slack than Dropbox or Yammer. And though they are tightly held, Basecamp has thrived without sales people.
mario chaves
1
0
mario chaves Advisor
CEO & co-Founder, Avantica Technologies
"I think we can get away without having a sales team in any kind of traditional way probably forever.", says Butterfield. The operative words being "I think" and "probably". Until it no longer works...
Rob Gropper
4
0
Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Bill Gates was fond of saying "our software sells itself",... but he had a sales team... and a monopoly. Even Google has a sales team and few have Google's reach. I've managed sales at small, medium and large software companies (b2b). Assuming they want to grow in the F1000 market, eventually Slack's organic growth will slow and competition will increase and investors will pressure them to grow revenues faster and they will acquiesce to deploying a sales team. Having a great product helps, but pushing into the F1000 without a sales team against competitors who have sales feet on the street puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
Sam Khavari
2
0
Sam Khavari Entrepreneur
Co-Founder & CTO at Stride Labs
> Is Slack refusing to hire a sales team a mistake?

The end of the article shows a tweet where he acknowledges they aren't refusing to hire a sales team. Dropbox / Slack seem like they're trying hard to learn from the challenges at Boxand aspire for financials like Atlassian. Andrew Hoag pointed to Tomas' great write-up which describes how Atlassian does it.

While Dropbox is known as a no-sales or bottoms up type of organization they have a considerable effort brewing around enteprise sales. We can see how much Dropbox is expanding its sales efforts here: dropbox.com/jobs/business/sales
Jessica Alter
1
0
Jessica Alter Entrepreneur • Advisor
Entrepreneur & Advisor
Actually my point was that Dropbox does have a sales team - 100%. Even though they started bottom up. And more importantly they've struggled with enterprise deals vs box because they waited so long. Sent from my iPhone
Richard McLean
0
0
Richard McLean Entrepreneur
Co-Founder Webscale Pty Ltd - KeyPay Cloud Payroll
I guess you have to judge SLACK on it's results - to date they are proving that they can deliver and the focus on tech heralds a change of guard - I think they will deliver awesome results for a long time based on their current structure.
Aleksandar Hajduković
0
1
Aleksandar Hajduković Entrepreneur
Information Architect, Digital Strategist and Entrepreneur
If it is working for them OK so far, why do you worry? If you have enough to move forward (maybe slower then having a sales team) it is also ok. More money is not a top priority in business/life. Best Aleksandar
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