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Salesforce-Slack integrations continue as cofounder departs

Salesforce unveils new Slack and Sales Cloud integrations following news that Slack's cofounder and other executives at the company have stepped down.

Slack's cofounder and CEO, Stewart Butterfield, resigned this week, effective in January. Amid the regime change, Salesforce continued releasing new Salesforce-Slack integrations, this time focusing on Sales Cloud.

Butterfield departed along with several Salesforce execs who hold CEO titles, including co-CEO Bret Taylor and Tableau CEO and president Mark Nelson. Butterfield will be replaced by Lidiane Jones, who was previously executive vice president and general manager for Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Experience Cloud and Marketing Cloud.

It's typical that, when a tech company is acquired, the founder stays on for two years and leaves, said Rebecca Wettemann, CEO and principal analyst at Valoir. Slack was acquired by Salesforce two years ago. Butterfield's leaving would have looked routine had he not been the third CEO in a week to leave the company.

That said, it's unlikely the leadership changes will affect Slack users materially or change the roadmap, Wettemann added.

Slack features slated for early 2023

Salesforce previewed deeper Slack integrations planned for release early next year, including Slack account channels for internal sales teams and separate ones for their customers to interact with salespeople. Both plug into the Salesforce platform and can access -- and update -- Sales Cloud data within the Slack environment.

Also included is a newly built workflow orchestration tool. It is based on Slack Workflow Builder, said Rob Seaman, Salesforce senior vice president of Slack enterprise product. It includes templates for common sales tasks, such as deal approvals and new sales rep onboarding.

"This is not just about connectivity to Salesforce, your CRM," Seaman said. "This is actually about out-of-the-box ways to work in Slack that are going to make you as a sales organization -- or you as a seller --faster and more effective."

Some of the technology integrated into these new features came from the acquisition of last summer.

Lidiane Jones, Slack's new CEO
Lidiane Jones replaces Slack cofounder Stewart Butterfield as Slack CEO.

Slack vs. Teams rivalry, renewed

Working in the Slack environment will be a new experience for veteran salespeople who grew up in Salesforce Sales Cloud and learned how to succeed within it. Some may be reticent to change their methods, especially those who operate successfully and beat their sales targets using the tech status quo.

But Wetteman said they'll likely find good reasons to try out new ways of selling using the Salesforce-Slack combination. When properly implemented, it can potentially show deeper visibility into the sales pipeline and offer new digital means of closing deals that are not possible on the Salesforce platform alone.

Gen Zs and millennials just starting out in sales will likely grasp the potential of the Salesforce-Slack environment and its far-reaching chat channels for making deals, having grown up using similar platforms in school and in their personal lives.That may hasten its adoption.

Lidiane Jones, Slack's new CEO
Lidiane Jones replaces Slack cofounder Stewart Butterfield as Slack CEO.

Furthermore, while Microsoft Teams might have many more users -- and is the collaboration tool of choice for many joint users of Salesforce and Microsoft -- Slack might catch on among sales teams if it delivers on its potential as a tool fine-tuned for sales work.

Wettemann sees the Salesforce-Slack combination as a throwback to the early days of Salesforce itself. Sales teams might try it even if their organizations as a whole have standardized on Teams for collaboration.

"That's how Salesforce got adopted in so many places: People said, 'I need [something] for my sales team that we can actually use,'" Wettemann said. "It wasn't because somebody said, 'Okay, we're going to put in a new sales force automation [application].' It was very much viral, guerilla adoption in the beginning."

The Salesforce product previews came in conjunction with Salesforce's World Tour marketing event in New York on December 8.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget Editorial.

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