Red Ventures (RV) is a lot like your friend who gives exactly the right advice and has all the connections. The company’s global portfolio of brands, which includes Lonely Planet, Bankrate, CNET, Healthline and The Points Guy, helps people to make informed decisions about their homes, health, travel, finances, education and entertainment. All of this is supported by a technology platform that delivers personalised experiences on everything from planning a trip to picking a university.
Since its founding in 2000, RV remains driven by a start-up energy that inspires more than 3,500 employees across five continents to stay agile and maintain the company’s momentum. This includes adopting Slack in 2015, just months after the channel-based messaging platform launched. ‘All the engineers started naturally using Slack,’ says Matt Davis, one of RV’s Principal Engineers. ‘We also want to foster an inclusive culture of freedom and responsibility, and Slack fit right in with that evolution,’ says Joe Marone, RV’s Vice President of People Operations. This is especially imperative when it comes to connecting RV’s core teams with its portfolio brands, a challenge that other collaboration options could not sufficiently support.
Slack now empowers employees to do their best work in all corners of the company, from streamlining IT processes with automation to unlocking success on the sales team.
‘Regardless of what role or department teams work in, they can easily communicate and collaborate in Slack.’
An irreplaceable solution for secure collaboration
In 2020, as teams went remote in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, RV’s IT department reevaluated its use of Slack, which included a thorough consideration of other collaboration tools. ‘Although we already had a bundled solution that seemed comparable on paper, we quickly learned that it wasn’t the same,’ Davis says. ‘Slack’s one of those products our employees love using. You can’t replace a tool like that.’
As a portfolio company, RV encompasses more than 100 digital brands, many of which have their own support staff of engineers, marketers and business leads. ‘Slack encourages everyone to reach outside their bubble and find solutions,’ Davis says. ‘The platform powers valuable collaboration across brands at Red Ventures, and the other solutions that we considered didn’t allow for that.’ Slack was uniquely equipped to support RV’s organisational structure and promote cross-departmental flexibility.
The stability and security that Slack provides were also factors in the decision. ‘From a corporate tech standpoint, automation and security are critical,’ says Jonathan Desrochers, RV’s Chief Information Security Officer. ‘Slack not only keeps data and information secure, it’s simple, intuitive and allows teams across RV’s brands to easily collaborate.’
‘Slack powers valuable collaboration across brands at Red Ventures, and the other solutions that we considered didn’t allow for that.’
With automation, engineers focus on the work that matters
RV’s IT department streamlines processes with Slack’s integrations and Workflow Builder, a no-code tool for automating routine tasks, so teammates can spend more time on important work. ‘Slack’s Workflow Builder is so intuitive that anyone can use it without needing to loop in an engineer,’ Davis says, ‘which saves us valuable time and resources.’
Pre-Slack, the default method for solving issues required chasing down stakeholders and pulling them into a physical war room. ‘Now, in our remote world, and as we become more global, we solve issues in Slack and Zoom,’ Desrochers says.
When there’s an outage, the network operations team creates an incident using the ServiceNow app for Slack. ‘We have a custom integration that spins up a Slack channel with the ticket number and automatically starts a Zoom call for key stakeholders,’ Davis says. To cut out unnecessary noise, IT controls who sees what incidents and at what critical point they’re updated with the VictorOps app (now Splunk On-Call). ‘VictorOps will notify people in Slack before it escalates to calling or texting,’ Davis says. ‘Engineers don’t have to answer calls or monitor another tool. They see everything in real time in Slack.’
Davis previously worked on the telephony team, which averages millions of calls per day. If an issue cropped up in the phone system, each affected call triggered an email alert. ‘It was not uncommon for me to wake up in the morning and have 100,000 emails in my inbox because something blew up overnight,’ he says. ‘Now those problems are sent to Slack, where we can pull the right people in to solve the issue. We went from getting bombarded to a streamlined workflow.’
‘Slack’s Workflow Builder is so intuitive that anyone can use it without needing to loop in an engineer, which saves us valuable time and resources.’
A collaborative and inclusive sales culture improves win rates
RV’s telesales operation spans a wide variety of brands, partnerships and industries. Prior to 2020, the sales team was one of the only RV teams that did not use Slack, instead working with a combination of email and messaging tools that fragmented communication and raised security concerns. Sales teams clamoured for a more streamlined solution.
In October 2020, RV rolled Slack out to its more than 700 sales professionals and managers, known as performance coaches. The move not only helped to break down internal barriers and enable cross-functional collaboration, it allowed leadership to foster an inclusive culture. ‘2020 really refocused our attention on diversity, equity and inclusion,’ Marone says. ‘And so much of that required building safe spaces for people to talk and be brave remotely: all of those are in Slack.’
Driving faster deal cycles with instant feedback loops
Before Slack, communication on the sales team was limited to each sales professional’s direct contacts. ‘Slack really opened up the lines of communication for anybody and everybody with an account – and that helped infinitely,’ says Jason Uhlig, RV’s Global Director of Telecommunications and Sales Operations.
RV sales take place over a single phone call, without multiple touchpoints. To improve win rates, performance coaches adjust call scripts and strategy based on feedback from frontline sales professionals. Historically, this came in the form of post-call face time. Performance coaches would pull sales professionals off the phones to find out what was working and what wasn’t, resulting in a slow, reactive feedback loop.
Now, sales professionals turn to Slack channels to maintain an open line of communication with their managers and teams. ‘Employees are proactively reaching out in Slack with what’s working or what adjustments need to be made,’ Marone says. This instantaneous feedback allows the team to efficiently adjust in real time, ultimately driving faster deal cycles.
RV’s business operations support teams often communicate with sales professionals to share changes that are critical to a sale’s success, such as last-minute tweaks on offers. ‘Before, we had to ferry those changes via paper handouts and sticky notes. Now, everything’s immediately accessible in Slack,’ Uhlig says. Each business has a dedicated Slack channel where all changes are recorded, resulting in a searchable database that teammates can reference as needed.
‘Employees proactively reach out in Slack with feedback on everything from scripting to the sales process, which adds so much value and efficiency.’
Ramping up new reps to full productivity in record time
Traditionally, new sales professionals are hired in cohorts that move through training in groups; they’re physically in the same space and learn the ropes together. With the move to remote work, Slack is critical for replicating this model. Now, new hires are automatically placed in all the right Slack channels, including one with their cohort. ‘It’s significant to have a consistent way to keep the group together in Slack so that they can learn from each other,’ Marone says. ‘If they don’t understand something, they’re not alone. They have immediate access to their teammates.’
To get sales professionals up to full productivity quickly, RV relies on hands-on training and tight feedback loops. Once they start selling, performance coaches listen in on calls and provide pitch feedback in real time in Slack. ‘The learning component in Slack has significantly helped new hires,’ Uhlig says. ‘Whether that’s during training or early on when they’re starting the role, sharing in-the-moment feedback is crucial.’
Leadership also uses Slack to celebrate wins and recognise promotions. ‘There’s a lot of celebration in-channel,’ Uhlig says. ‘We’ll give shout-outs for promotions and big wins to build team momentum.’
Whether they’re closing deals, solving incidents or celebrating wins, RV teams rely on Slack to get work done. For millions of users, that translates to better information to make life’s most important decisions.