How Ashby Powers its High-Growth Sales Team With Documentation

At a glance


Recruiting software company Ashby needed a tool to share knowledge in order to drive buy-in and increase the company's velocity that chat and other real-time tools couldn't provide.


Early on, Ashby adopted an intentional approach to communication to empower its distributed team to scale. With Slab to house all of their institutional knowledge, they reinforce the team's search-first culture and provide transparency and discoverability. For the Sales team, using Slab to document processes and other important information eliminates repeat questions and helps drive buy-in on the team.

Key Points

  • Intentional communication and a culture of searching first and then asking are at the core of how Ashby operates
  • As a distributed team, they needed a place to house documentation and reduce the noise of repeated questions over chat
  • Reduced interruptions help people focus
"Without Slab, we wouldn't be nearly as effective at new sales rep onboarding."
Mike Clapson
VP of Sales

Ashby provides an all-in-one recruiting solution for both early-stage startups and later-stage, IPO-ready companies, helping growing companies find, attract, and hire high-quality candidates with efficient recruiting processes. It differentiates itself by providing a single pane of glass view and taking a considerate approach to data, reporting, and analytics. In fact, most companies retire two to four products when they adopt Ashby.

As it helps other high-growth startups, Ashby is also growing, rapidly adding headcount to its fully remote and distributed team. The team takes a similar approach to their products as they do to running the company—focusing on transparency and providing employees with a deep understanding of the 'why' and the 'how' of their work.

Mike Clapson, Ashby's VP of Sales, is a large proponent of helping his team understand the work they're doing through written documentation. "From a values and operating principles standpoint, it's quite important for us to write things down because no one is co-located," he says. Prior to joining Ashby, Mike worked at Slack, where he learned the importance of shared and searchable information, as well as the difference between ad-hoc, fast-moving tribal knowledge and more structured knowledge. "Slab has a good way of bridging the gap and connecting different types of knowledge and documentation by integrating with other tools," he says.

Creating a culture of search first, ask second

Ashby has taken a very intentional approach to how they work together since the company was just two employees, starting with writing everything down. Doing so has reduced the need for people to ping questions to each other, created intentionality, and increased the team's overall velocity.

"Unlike at other companies, where a non-stop flow of questions might be accepted as collaboration, Ashby recognizes that most of those questions are repeated," Mike explains. "We wanted to create a search-first culture, so we took a really intentional approach to documentation so people avoid interrupting each other unless they've searched first."

This search-first culture creates transparency, discoverability, and speed of finding knowledge. As a result, people can do deep work, and the company has a higher velocity than its competitors. "You can't do deep work if you're getting constantly pinged in Slack for a myriad of questions," Mike says. "Writing also forces you to do the thinking—if you don't, what comes out is a jumbled mess."

Knowledge management for all types of information

Ashby takes a deliberate approach to documenting all knowledge because it sees doing so as a prerequisite to scaling the business and maintaining everyone's productivity. To manage its written content and maintain a thoughtful approach to communication, the team uses Slab as its formal knowledge management platform.

"As something becomes 'capital K Knowledge,' it's documented in Slab so that it is shareable," Mike says. Everything from big important initiatives, such as playbooks about how to run outbound sales, to little details, like how to set up Zoom settings, is written down in Slab.

Speeding up onboarding with Slab and Quip

Ashby uses Slab to onboard new hires alongside Quip, with Slab as a knowledge repository and Quip as a checklist and working doc for tasks. Its Slab onboarding documentation contains links to posts where new hires can learn how Ashby operates as a company. By introducing Slab on day one as the place for documentation, the company reinforces its commitment to being a search-first culture.

At the end of a new hire's second week, they're asked what the most surprising thing about working at Ashby is. "It's become standard that people mention documentation and how it imbues a sense of maturity of the company," Mike says. In fact, Mike recently onboarded two new sales hires—both of whom came from larger companies—who cited Ashby's documentation as thorough and helpful. Not only does onboarding documentation help new hires find the knowledge they need to hit the ground running, but it also speeds up the entire process for managers like Mike.

Powering Ashby's high-growth sales team with documentation

The role of a salesperson involves many responsibilities—it's a lot of jobs bundled into one. As a result, they need a lot of information, from industry knowledge to competitive research, internal guides for how to run processes, and tips and best practices to execute sales in a high-growth organization. Mike and the sales team document all of this sales knowledge—and more—in Slab.

"Because we're a distributed team and can't tap someone's shoulder, we veer towards writing down anything that someone might have to do repeatedly," Mike explains. That way, when someone asks for guidance on how to do something, they can be pointed in the direction of the relevant Slab post—saving time and reinforcing Ashby's search-first culture.

One key process Mike and his team have documented in Slab is forecasting. Leadership teams rely on accurate sales forecasts to plan ahead, but for some sales reps, forecasting is seen as a non-revenue generating activity and, therefore, a less important part of their role. At Ashby, sales reps understand that accurate forecasting is a core job responsibility, as well as how it impacts the outcomes they produce—because the process is so well documented.

"It's important to share why something matters to the business, and Slab helps us document that kind of information," Mike says. "Our team knows why they're doing the work they do and feel bought in."

"Our team knows why they're doing the work they do and feel bought in."
Mike Clapson
VP of Sales

So when it comes to something like forecasting, because of extensive documentation in Slab, Mike rarely needs to remind reps to put forecasts together. As a result, instead of preparing inaccurate projections—which make it impossible for startups to plan ahead—his team knows the value of great forecasting and produces better, more accurate forecasts.

Driving a culture of transparency and discoverability across teams

Documenting all of Ashby's institutional knowledge in Slab not only helps teams like Mike's become more proficient and efficient, but it also conveys the "why" and builds culture across the organization, which is especially important as a remote team. For example, the team uses Slab to share important information about major product or feature releases. In each post, they explain the problem and how the feature works, share a demo, and include links to sales assets. By sharing such information with Slab, teams like sales, customer success, and recruiting can develop a deeper understanding of Ashby's product.

As Ashby has built a library of content, documentation has become part of a culture-building exercise for the company, empowering the team to self-serve information when they need it and better understand both the reasons behind their work and the impact of it. "I think you need both unstructured, real-time communication, as well as structured, formalized documentation to effectively run a distributed team," Mike says. "Slab provides the latter for us and empowers our team to work more efficiently together so we can deliver on our goals."

As a growing startup that supports others like it, Ashby's ability to move quickly and empower the team without getting in their way is critical to its success—something the entire organization understands, thanks to its intentional approach to communication—and use of Slab.