May 14, 2020

How to Approach Sales Leadership in a Pandemic

By Selling Power Editors

Like a lot of global companies supported by a strong field sales organization, Datasite normally takes for granted that its salespeople (who operate in 14 different countries) will be able to conduct business with customers and colleagues in person. 

Datasite, formerly known as Merrill Corporation, is a leading SaaS provider for the M&A industry, empowering dealmakers around the world with the tools they need to succeed across the entire deal lifecycle. In a recent video interview (“How Datasite supports its global sales team during the pandemic”) Datasite SVP of sales operations and enablement Russ Walker explained what was at stake as the coronavirus pandemic ramped up. 

A Global Field Sales Team Works from Home

“We’re a global sales organization, and the value we provide is high-touch, personal connections, and relationships,” Walker said. “We really like to be front and center and have in-person meetings – especially in our main hubs and centers where the financial institutions are located, like Hong Kong, New York, London, Dallas, and Frankfurt.” 

Of course, the spread of COVID-19 changed all that – almost overnight. 

“A lot of our sellers have not been in the work-from-home environment before,” said Walker. “They’re used to being in the office and used to being able to go out and network and collaborate with customers.” 

Walker enlisted the help of his team, including Annie Smith (global sales events and communications) and Hilary Pryor (manager of sales learning and onboarding) to provide training, tools, guidelines, and support to the Datasite sales team during these special conditions. 

“We [wanted] to help them better communicate and collaborate with their clients, so that their clients know that we haven’t left them,” said Walker. “We’re still here. Datasite is still operating [and] supporting them every day, whether they’re in the office or whether they’re working from home as well.” 

Sales Enablement Initiatives to Support Field Sellers

Within a week, Walker, Smith, and Pryor rolled out the following initiatives. 

A remote-sales training toolkit for salespeople, plus training. The kit included a resource library for salespeople and sales directors. “We have a section that’s dedicated to which tools sellers can use virtually,” said Smith. “So, for example, Microsoft Teams is our tool of choice for video calls. So we had a step-by-step guide on how to use Teams and leverage that for interactions. Hilary and her team put together an awesome sales director demo library and resource library.” 

The Datasite team put together a remote training session for salespeople to help them get up to speed on how to use the toolkit, and more than 200 people from the global sales and marketing organization attended. 

Live training sessions. As a supplement to the remote-sales training toolkit, Datasite has produced a series of live learning sessions on various topics to help sellers hone their selling skills and get up to date on product knowledge and industry insights. “We’ve been doing live calls once or twice a week for several weeks to expand their knowledge,” said Smith. 

Direct outreach to the team. “We all had a common goal to keep our sellers as productive as we can,” said Pryor. “So, in addition to the toolkit or the trainings we have each week, we also reach out to them to ask, ‘How are you doing today?’” 

Across the board, with the toolkit and live learnings, Datasite has seen high attendance and engagement with all enablement initiatives so far. “We’ve had so much demand for this we actually exceeded our seat count for the virtual conference tool we use and had to send people a recording,” said Walker. 

According to Gschwandtner, Datasite’s response is an example of how a global company can respond with agility to change. “Your economic survival depends on adaptation,” he said. “Based on what I hear in the market, [Datasite] is doing remarkably well in this time.”

The Virtual Sales 3.0 Leadership Summit

In a separate interview, Gschwandtner added that sales enablement leaders like Walker are helping set up their companies to be more successful – even in the face of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I’ve been talking to top experts and people working in the field to see how they’ve pivoted to enable their sales teams, find new customers, and tap new market segments,” said Gschwandtner. “We’ll showcase their best practices and stories at our Virtual Sales 3.0 Leadership Summit on May 28, which is a free event. B2B sales leaders at companies of any size will get enormous value from this unique event.” 

The event will contain no pitches from speakers. Organizers promise insight on a range of topics, including: 

  • Strategies for selling in tough times
  • Stories about how B2B decision makers are responding to the coronavirus crisis
  • Creating a revenue-resilient sales team
  • How to keep salespeople motivated, engaged, and productive while selling from home

“There’s a lot of creativity out there, and we want to share those success stories with B2B sales leaders who are hungry for new ideas,” says Gschwandtner. “They’ll see that everybody is pivoting, and they’ll find out how they can make their own successful pivot.” 

Register today for the Virtual Sales 3.0 Leadership Summit on May 28, 2020, and get 500 free prospecting contacts from MountainTop Data.