Last week at South by South West conference Stewart Butterfield, Slack co-founder, spoke about his disinterest in hiring salespeople to help his fast-growing startup sell to companies. That said, Slack didn’t leave it down to just having a great product.

We use Slack at SalesSeek and everyone loves it. It embodies some of the values we hold dear to us. Like having a damn good-looking product that doesn’t just work for the users, it makes you enjoy the process as well! Slack has cleverly built it’s reputation using a few principles that we also utilise (and so should you for that matter). Here are a few we really like.

Teach and be taught
During beta stages Butterfield, along with his co-founders, made time to educate users. When it came time to launch, they already had a wider audience that understood the need for their product and how it worked.

As great as it is to educate those existing users around your platform, it’s equally, if not more beneficial to actively listen to them. Being able to process feedback is a significant skill that is responsible for the growth of many successful startups. Make sure you allow your users to easily communicate with you and have support in place to engage with those users. Each bit of feedback should be an opportunity to gain loyalty and improve service. Creating these positive interactions also means a much better chance of increased (positive) word of mouth.

Listening is the key to Startup growth

Word of mouth
As we all know, a big part of the success of new startups is to do with word of mouth. Friends, family, colleagues and happy users that believe in what you’re doing are obvious advocates to start. Another great way to gain traction is by integrating with other useful software. This gives you access to new customers that could also benefit from your software. It’s a chance to align your business with reliable and known companies that share your values and offer a useful service that your customers can also enjoy. Slack has a whole range of useful integrations (and some fun ones too).

Chatting birds is good for startup growth

Framing is a significant part of selling your product to potential users. It might be what someone needs, but framed in the wrong way and you could miss out on converting clients. In Professor Richard Nisbett’s book ‘Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking’ he talks about framing.

“Consider the Trappist monks in two (apocryphal) stories. Monk 1 asked his abbot whether it would be all right to smoke while he prayed. Scandalized, the abbot said, “Of course not; that borders on sacrilege.” Monk 2 asked his abbot whether it would be all right to pray while he smoke. “Of course,” said the abbot, “God wants to hear from us at any time.”

So when Slack found that marketing their software for teams as opposed to companies, they were able to bring on many more paying customers which was crucial to gain traction in the early days.“We made it very simple to adopt Slack. We didn’t have to convert the whole company and facilitate committee-level decisions,” Butterfield told First Round Capital. For larger companies, they were able to get nine paying teams. Think about your user before you start selling. How is your product best used and who by? Perhaps selling it as a package to a company isn’t the way to go, maybe selling it to an individual with a team will be more beneficial? It might seem obvious at first but this subtle difference for Slack made all the difference.

These are simple principles to take on board and crucial to do well. Although common knowledge these things are often overlooked or rushed through. Please let this be a reminder to invest time and energy into really owning these things, then enjoy the ride.


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