EPISODE 227: Sales Game Changers Learning Event: Sales Transformation and Success During COVID-19 featuring Mike Durso and Connor Marsden

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Please register for SALES GAME CHANGERS LIVE PANEL: Sales Transformation and Solutions During COVID-19 With Brian Ludwig and Jeffrey Wolinsky on April 29, 2020 2:00 PM EDT here.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers Panel Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on April 21, 2020. It featured sales leaders Mike Durso (Veeam and Connor Marsden (Salesforce).]

EPISODE 227: Sales Game Changers Learning Event: Sales Transformation and Success During COVID-19 featuring Mike Durso and Connor Marsden

Watch the webinar here. Listen to Connor Marsden’s Podcast . Listen to Mike Durso’s Podcast.

MAJOR TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “How do we stabilize our customers today? How do we help them shift to some of the new realities we have to deal with? We’re trying to help our customers normalize. How do we get them to the point where they can continue to operate their business, that they can plug their gaps that they have digitally and create a new steady state as we go through this virus.”

Fred Diamond: Connor, why don’t you introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about what you do and let’s get started.

Connor Marsden: Thanks, Fred. I work at Salesforce, been here for five years now and I lead our enterprise sales organization for roughly half the United States. That’s the largest relationships that Salesforce has, and I live here in beautiful Leesburg, Virginia.

Fred Diamond: It’s good to have you here. Mike, why don’t you tell us about yourself and introduce yourself?

Mike Durso: Thanks, Fred, thanks for having me on. I lead Veeam’s enterprise business across North America. I’ve been here for about four years now, and I kind of built the team from scratch starting in racks the summer of 2016 and I live right outside of Philadelphia so I’m a die-hard Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, Sixers fan. All right.

Fred Diamond: Well, we had that in common which is great. Let’s get right to it. What are your top priorities? Let’s get right to it. Mike, why don’t you go first? What are the big things that you’re dealing with right now?

Mike Durso: I think first and foremost, the top priority is the health and safety of our people. I know that’s a little bit cliché right now, but it really is true. As a leader in this business, you really do have to be concerned with what’s going on in the world and making sure that your teams are safe and healthy and have an environment that they can thrive in so we’re staying really close to them from a virtual perspective with a positive, but I would say, realistic message.

I think a couple other priorities would be to be a partner to your customers right now. Of course, we have revenue goals and they’re certainly not going anywhere during this pandemic, but our customers or clients are looking for true partners, people that are willing to feel their pain and work with them versus saying, “Hey, I need a PO, we said we were going to do something.” The final thing we’re stressing in terms of priorities, control the controllables.

There’s a lot of things going on right now that are just out of control for all of us, we can’t fix and adapt to when we’re going to go back to normal, when the offices are going to open or when we’re going to be able to resume our daily lives. So as much as that’s frustrating, don’t focus on it. Adjust to this as the new norm for the time being and control what’s in front of you and what you can control every day.

Fred Diamond: Mike, this has been an interesting year for your company, for Veeam Software, you had a major transaction at the beginning of the year. Just curiously, you can tell us if you want, how has that transaction set you guys up for right now?

Mike Durso: If you look at the timing of it, it’s pretty interesting.  We announced the plan to be acquired by Insight Venture Partners, I think it was January timeframe. Eight weeks later, right at March first or second, the deal was completed so it was right before this Coronavirus really took off. In terms of how has it changed us, I think when you look at private equity or venture coming in, and the reasons they typically do it, it’s a little different for us.

We’re on a swing of moving from a perpetual license model to a subscription license model so Insight was very purposeful in acquiring us at the right time on that downward swing where your bookings drop a little bit as you switch to a perpetual as a service model. They’re investing heavily in us, they’re helping us mature some of the processes that happen when you grow as fast as we did. They’re  putting a lot of cash in, obviously, to acquire the company and then continuing to invest to help us grow and get out of that curve up the swing into the a subscription, which I can tell you is happening at a faster rate than what we expected.

Fred Diamond: Okay. Connor, you work for one of the most visible companies not just in technology, but in the world. You’re with Salesforce, you’ve been there for about five years now, I guess.

Connor Marsden: Five years, that’s right.

Fred Diamond: So what are your top priorities right now? Again, you’re a busy guy, you’re managing a nationwide team, what’s going on with you? What are your top priorities?

Connor Marsden: Thanks for asking, Fred. First and foremost, similar to Mike, really making sure that the wellbeing of our employees, their families, our customers, their extended families is certainly top-of-mind.

Second, I feel very fortunate to be working with Salesforce. We’ve been really out front with COVID and really trying to put together solutions and offerings to help our customers. We have Salesforce Cares, which is free software and solutions that our customers can adopt to help with this crisis. If I had to bucket the priorities right now, it’s how do we stabilize our customers today? How do we help them shift, to some of the new realities we have to deal with? For example, I have customers that have had to move from a call center environment to a work-from-home environment so our teams have been mobilized to help them with that shift, especially in really consumer-oriented businesses where, quite frankly, the volume has increased substantially.

Helping to stabilize their businesses along that front. I think number two is after this initial phase, we’re trying to help our customers normalize. So how do we get them to the point where they can continue to operate their business, that they can plug their gaps that they have digitally and create a new steady state as we go through this virus? And then I think a lot of our smarter customers and executives are really starting to think about the future and the post-COVID world and how they accelerate back to growth. We’re certainly engaged on those conversations as well.

Fred Diamond: I’m going to move ahead to one of the questions before. Mike, why don’t you talk about your customers for a little bit as well? How are they interacting with you? Again, you’re probably seeing your customers in similar situations to Connor where most people are working from home right now, offices are closing. One of our sales VPs that we spoke to last week sells to the entertainment space – sports arenas and movie theaters, and obviously those are closed right now. So how’s your interaction been with your customers over the last couple of weeks?

Mike Durso: I sympathize with the, the gentleman you referenced that sells the entertainment. For whatever reason, we had a lot of activity in the auto space over the last six-eight months, and we were making some great progress, with a couple of the largest US auto manufacturers. When you talk to your teams and they tell you, “Hey, we were working on something, but unfortunately Ford is now manufacturing ventilators versus cars”, there’s not a lot of inspection and a lot of things you can work with your team on. It’s a little bit what I said earlier, it’s being a partner to them.

It’s really helping them understand that we’re not just here for the short-term to collect a check or a deal, it’s really helping them adjust to the new norm. Our customers are asking us to be patient, “Stick with us”. We’re going to make it out of this and we need to invest now, maybe not with acquiring software but with ideas, with architecture so that as this lifts, they’re ready to hit the gas right away and jump back to the pre-COVID state. They’re asking us to be creative. We have a large healthcare customer right now that has said, “Hey, we can’t slow down the purchase and deployment for compliance reasons, but we also can’t write you a check right now for a couple of million dollars so how can you creatively work with us, and obviously our channel partners, to finance things?”

I would say the customers where we have great relationships, the communication is really strong and we’re working together almost as a team to solve problems. The majority of our clients, they understand the world we live in and that just like them, we don’t eat if we don’t go out and do our jobs so there’s a partnership there and I think it’s actually something very positive that’s come out of this.

Fred Diamond: Connor, how about you? You started to talk about this a few moments ago. I know you work with some of the largest companies in the country so obviously, some of them are going through some serious challenges. How are you playing that role with them? What are they looking for from you as a sales leader? Again, you’re an enterprise sales leader at Salesforce. What are they looking from you that you’re able to serve right now?

Mike Durso: The way that I talk to my teams is I bucket our customers very simply in two different ways. We have customers who are in industries that are just really highly impacted – the airlines, the travel/hospitality groups and whatnot and you have to be really empathetic, you have to be there to help them where you can. We’re investing a lot of cycles to assist with this really difficult transition to where in a lot of cases, businesses went and had revenue drop 80 90, 95%, just unprecedented. Then you have customers that have maybe had some business impact or have some divisions that are actually doing quite well, the organizations that make PP, for example, orders are through the roof, supply chain issues, how they collaborate with their, employees.

The first is diagnosing where your customer is on that spectrum and then the second is, look, everyone is trying to move their business forward at this point in time. The conversation I’m having with my teams is what are the great ideas that you can help them right now? What are the things that you can bring to the table to help them drive growth or help them address cost issues or help with their employees? And bringing those ideas to them now because executives are looking for great ideas to manage through this none of us have experienced. So how you can tap into your extended teams to collaborate those ideas and then bring them to your customers. I’ve found, at least from my perspective, our customers have been really receptive and appreciative when we take that approach.

Fred Diamond: I would ask you a follow up question to that. We have a lot of people around the world who are on today’s webcast watching, learning from Mike Durso and Connor Marsden. So Salesforce, obviously you guys are deeply entrenched with a lot of your clients and Veeam is an enterprise player as well. What would you recommend to somebody along those lines who may not have the relationship yet? Maybe they’re not as deep a trusted partner, maybe there’s somebody who is on their pipeline that they want to get some communications to. How would you go about getting those types of recommendations then? One thing we always talk about in sales is that you need to continuously bring value. What might be some of your recommendations for someone who doesn’t have that relationship yet but wants to use this opportunity to bring something to them? Connor, why don’t we get back with you first?

Connor Marsden: I think it’s really hard. Of course, it depends on the, the solution you’re bringing to market or the product, it really varies greatly but if you don’t have a great relationship, you need to search inside your network to find someone who can make that warm introduction. People trust people first and foremost, so if you can do that, that would be the best idea even if it’s really just an acquaintance you don’t know really well. If they’re willing to make that introduction, that’s first and foremost.

The second is when you get that introduction and you get that time, make sure your idea is incredible. People aren’t looking for nice-to-haves right now, they’re looking for must-haves, or need-to-haves for their business so your idea, your concept has to fall in that. You can do as much damage if you try and pitch something now that they’re just going to see as noise, you’re going to lose your opportunity that maybe six months from now they’re going to be more open towards doing it.

The other concept outside of just the direct sales is work with your marketing team, create a virtual round table. We’ve had great success and I know a friend of the Institute for Sales Excellence, we actually have a virtual round table with Matt Dixon tonight who is the author of Challenger Sale. We’re bringing our executives on board to have a conversation about, dealing with COVID and driving a response. I think you need to think differently around how you can add value to them in virtual ways to catch their air if you don’t have a current relationship.

Fred Diamond: One of the fun things about everybody working from home is that for some reason, everyone seems to mow their lawns right when you start a webcast. So if you hear some buzzing going on in the background, that that’s what it is. Mike, there have to be positive things that have come from this as well so what’s the biggest positive surprise that has come out of this situation or maybe something that you’re proud of that has come out of your company and your sales team?

Mike Durso: Part of the enterprise organization and actually commercial and SMB at Veeam is built around in inside sales organization. We have over 750 inside sellers in various roles whether it be direct, supporting enterprise, supporting a commercial business or even the channel. I’m fairly comfortable working from home, I’ve worked from home for 20 years, I have a home office and always have. It’s different not traveling and being home every day, it’s certainly a challenge but if you’re an inside sales rep and you drive, in some cases, 25, 30, 40% of the segments number, and you go to the office every day and you’re in your cube and you’ve got your manager outside and that is your routine, it’s incredibly disruptive to be sent home for four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, and now you’ve got a completely different setup.

People aren’t equipped necessarily from an office standpoint so I think one of the things that’s the biggest surprise internally for us is the productivity that we’ve seen despite our inside sales folks going back into their home offices and having to deal with homeschooling their kids. Everyone’s playing teacher right now having to deal with not having a great setup. The productivity has not dropped off anywhere near at the level that we anticipated it would. In fact, it stayed fairly consistent which was a huge sign. We’ll probably talk about this a little later, but I think it’s an indicator of things to come in this new virtual world, how comfortable people are going to become and recognizing that we can use some of this flexibility to our benefit.

Fred Diamond: Connor, how about you? What’s something positive or something that’s changed for you in a positive note over the last couple of weeks?

Connor Marsden: From my standpoint, Fred, I think the way I’d shift it is what am I really proud of? I’m really proud of seeing a couple of things. I’m really proud to see how our salespeople are really empathetic on the customers and are really thinking through, “Let’s not think about the commission check. How do I just help my customer get through this?” And just the selflessness that’s created. I’m really proud in working with some of our largest companies out there, how much they deeply care around their employees and what’s happening with their employees especially with furloughs, people out of work and really going to the last mile to try to make sure they’re well taken care of, that they have a path forward.

Along those lines, just the amount of partnership and collaboration that’s happening cross-companies right now is really impressive to see. I think this whole concept of competition will always be there, but people realize we need to come together. GE Healthcare and Ford are coming together, and 3M and Ford are coming together to create these manufacturing arrangements to try and drive things. I think it’s something for us all to be proud of, I think it’s somewhat surprising but it definitely just shows the compassion out there to help us all get through this together.

Fred Diamond: Right before this started, we were all chugging along and you were managing your teams and your organizations the way they were and growing your customers. How have you changed? It’s April 22nd, we’re six weeks, into the pandemic, into this world. Be a little reflective here. How have you changed as a leader over the last five, six weeks? Mike, why don’t you go first?

Mike Durso: I don’t think this is a win for anybody, but I’m doing a lot more video and I think that’s an unfortunate thing for my team. That’s definitely one thing that has changed. I think at a broader scale, and I challenge my team to do this, if you add up the amount of time that you spend in a traditional week whether it be in the car, in an airport, on a plane, on a train, some of us travel a fair amount, that becomes a significant amount of time that you now have back. I think what we’ve been able to do is really take a step back and look at some of the things in the organization that may have been nagging or things that needed a little bit of tender loving care that we’ve pushed off as not being a priority because we’re running around and running at such a fast pace.

Because the world’s slowed down a little bit, it’s allowed us to really get into some of those things. I think what we’re seeing when we explore them is there’s a definite impact to looking at three or four of those things that we’ve been ignoring. Some of them are process related so the trickle-down effect to the rep is that their life gets a little bit easier. There are definitely things like that that we’ve been able to plan for because we have more time and we’re not traveling and doing what we do. It’s using that time wisely and putting a plan around.

That’s what I asked my team to do. You’ve got three, four, five, seven hours a week extra. What are you doing with that time to get better, to enable yourself to dig in and do a little bit more research? Maybe avoiding the financials of your customer because nobody wants to read that stuff and it’s not always that. Get into that a little bit maybe putting a better account plan together and pulling in the extended team so that everybody’s on the same page. It’s really creativity and planning your time a little better, I think.

Fred Diamond: Connor, how about you? How have you changed as a sales leader? You’ve been leading technology teams for a long time.

Connor Marsden: I’m experimenting with new hairstyles, longer hairstyles, Fred, that’s first and foremost one way that I’ve changed. I’m communicating a lot more and I’m communicating and providing a lot more context to our teams. One of the things I truly stumbled upon is that I started writing more often. I started sending out longer notes instead of really short two-sentence emails and really communicating context to people on how they need to be thinking through this with their customers.

I think as leaders we need to be really transparent and help our salespeople be comfortable. We’ve programmed them a certain way, we program to maximize the sale, to push for acceleration and now to some degree we’re deprogramming them. Only try and provide your customer what they need, give them some space to make a decision, realize things are taking longer and you have to communicate this out to the reps and you have to help them along the journey. I’ve been doing more blog posts internally at Salesforce, I’ve been holding more all-hands calls, I’ve been really deliberate on  pulling different teams together to collaborate on ideas and then sharing that recognition out so that people are seeing best practices across the board. It’s definitely helped me strengthen as a leader from that perspective and I’ve seen it across my peers throughout Salesforce as well.

Fred Diamond: Basically, are you doing cold calls during times like this? Is it a good time to prospect to new places? What are some of your thoughts and how are you directing your team? Mike, why don’t you go first?

Mike Durso: This is a great question and if anybody has the exact answer to this, I’d love to hear it. I’m actually looking forward to hearing Connor’s answer here. It’s about creativity. I think the virtual marketing events are a big thing we’re trying to do right now in terms of prospecting so we’ve got a handful of them going on right now and they’re getting good response. We find that the traditional BDR role of picking up the phone and making 50 or 60 dials, the conversion percentage is dropping significantly right now because people either aren’t in their office and you don’t have their cell phone or they’re inundated.

We’re doing a bit more email campaigns but doing them in a very sensitive way because I think there is this idea right now that everybody’s coming out of the woodwork trying to leech onto what’s going on in this whole COVID thing. I’ve encouraged my team again on the enterprise side of things to take that time and do the planning. Make sure that when you come out of this, you’ve got a plan in place and a strategy and you understand all of your accounts. To Connor’s point earlier, the networking, those things all need to be picked up right now because you have the time to do it so you better be talking to your alliance partners and your channel partners, and you have to really be leveraging the virtual things that we can offer right now, but I don’t know that anybody’s cracked the code on this yet. Maybe Connor can give me some advice here.

Connor Marsden: I don’t know if I have a whole lot of great ideas, but I can share with you some of the things that I’ve seen our teams do. I’ve seen our teams, especially accountings, they’re used to walking the halls of their customers, they’re sending virtual videos and offering with door dash coupons so you can have lunch on Salesforce and just video. Just say, “Hey, we miss you, we miss being around you. We hope you and your family are doing well.” We spoke around the virtual round tables with luminaries, that’s absolutely something that we’re doing. We’re creating other really quick videos of things and ways that we can help our customers and saying the real consumable ones that can go broad.

I know we’re all at home but we’re all really busy, so everything has to be in short bites that you’re just trying to get a message across really quickly that we’re here to help, etcetera. And now just the last thing, especially if you’re more into deep account relationships, is that I think our customers are now ready to circle back and start scheduling one-on-ones now that things are starting to normalize a little bit more, we’ve been through this crisis a little bit. I’m reaching out to our execs and scheduling one-on-one conversations understanding what their priorities are, how they’re thinking about re-budgeting, etcetera. Don’t forget that you may not have a frequent relationship with someone, but reach out to them and see if you can grab time on their calendar, pick their brain and be there to help. Sometimes just reaching out can make a difference.

Fred Diamond: I have a question about sales, the sales process and up until March 9th we would spend a lot of time talking about the strategic sales process and did it really matter which one you were using. I wonder how much has it changed for your teams right now. We know that everybody’s home with the exception of essential employees maybe in government or other places, if you will, but we know everybody’s home. We know that everybody’s probably in front of their Zoom or WebEx, whatever they might be using, we’re using GoToWebinar today. The walk now from the house to the desk is a minute as compared to a two hour drive in some cities and Mike, you mentioned that before. Just curiously, how are you interacting with your customers now knowing everybody’s in the same boat?

We know where everybody is, we know what everybody’s going through, nobody really has any inside information. It’s all available on Fox or CNN, wherever you get your information from so we all know where, at some level, that pandemic is, we know where a lot of the companies are. I’m just curious, knowing those things, how has that changed for you and your team and how are you directing your people? It would take weeks to get a meeting with a prospect, now we know everybody’s at home. Maybe they’re busy like everybody is trying to deal with their things but we know that they’re home. I’m just curious. Connor, why don’t you go first?

Connor Marsden: That’s a great question. From a sales process standpoint what we’re trying to do is, I’ll give you an example. We just did a really large presentation for one of our customers on a digital transformation that they’re actually looking to accelerate now that we’re in this crisis because they realize digital engagement is going to be more important leading this. Let’s not waste any time, let’s get it ready so that when the economy really fully opens back up, they’re ready to catch that wave. We were doing a demonstration and think about it, normally we’re all in a room together, now we’re all virtual, and it was on Zoom and it was an industrial customer.

Based on the persona in the demo, they used the Zoom background to have construction site or I’m in the office. They changed the persona based on the backdrop so it would have more context for the customer who’s watching the presentation remotely. It was a really creative way to drive that. What’s really interesting is if you think about the PO process that our customers, normally they’re all in the office together and now that’s manual so everything’s taken a few extra days to move through the process because not everything is necessarily digitized from that standpoint. To some degree, it’s brought us more closely together from a sales standpoint because the things that they need to get done, they realize they weren’t necessarily optimized for everyone working at home so it’s actually, I think, brought our relationships closer. When you’re very respectful and empathetic and you’re not pushing too hard, it can really bring your relationship closer.

Fred Diamond: Mike, we have a good question that came in here from the audience, and again, if you’re watching today’s webinar with Connor Marsden and Mike Durso from Salesforce and Veeam, submit your questions via the panel. Once again, if you’re watching today’s webcast, please take a screenshot and email it to fdiamond@i4esbd.org, it’s been a lot of fun to get your screenshots. Mike, let’s talk about your sales reps right now, your sales teams. A lot of things have changed. A couple of questions came in here,

I’m going to throw them out, Connor, we’re going to ask you this as well. The whole concept of, anxiety, how are you helping your sales team with anxiety and stress caused by their customers not being available or possibly even have their businesses at risk? And a related question, what are you doing to keep your commission salespeople motivated knowing that some companies, Connor had alluded to one before, a company that’s furloughed 80% of its staff and your customers are telling you, “We want to work with you but we’re trying to regroup right now.” Everyone’s going through what we’re going through across the globe, so how are you helping your sales reps with anxiety and then how are you keeping the ones motivated that are commissioned mainly?

Mike Durso: I think the anxiety question, it goes back to the core principles of being a leader. It’s over-communicating, it’s doing those little bit longer emails like Connor said, it’s having the all-hands calls. I’ve taken an approach on those calls to stress the positive of the company right now. There are a lot of people out there that are struggling and a lot of companies that are having a tough time with this. Veeam’s very financially healthy and we’re still hiring quota carriers, what I would say core hires, we’re still doing that. I’ve taken a time to step back and really explain some of that and provide some transparency into the decision making not just around the finances of the company, but around why we’re continuing to hire salespeople.

From a rep standpoint, we’re lucky in a sense that we’ve only been officially calling on the enterprise with a dedicated segment for just about four years now. We’re not at a point where we have one or two or three accounts. If you happen to work for a tech company and you call the on the autos or you call on healthcare, something right now that’s been hit really hard by this, the anxiety is probably through the roof. Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with that in that my enterprise reps have somewhere between 20, 30, 40 accounts and they’re not verticalized.

It goes back and Connor, I couldn’t agree with him more. It’s about bucketizing your customers right now. There’s a handful of them that just simply are not going to engage because they have much bigger problems than the solution we’re offering, but there’s a handful of them that are not as affected and are looking to take time to invest right now. It’s about making sure you understand the dynamic of your patch, but I have all the sympathy in the world for some folks out there that may be gams or enterprise reps that have three or four accounts in an industry that’s just decimated now. I don’t know how you handle that other than creatively build a comp plan or creatively do something to keep them motivated and sticking around.

Fred Diamond: Connor, how about you? How are you doing? Salesforce’s is known for being a company that is very employee-focused. I know you have meditation rooms in a lot of your offices and it’s a very Zen-like company in a lot of ways and very employee-driven and it really takes a lot of that into account but this is a unique time right now. How are you helping your sales reps that might be anxiety-driven?

Connor Marsden: We’re a little more penetrated than Mike from an enterprise perspective so my reps are listening to this, they’re going to be jealous to hear that 20 to 30-to-one ratio of accounts to rep. Salesforce is an incredible company and our leadership team has really stepped up and so a couple of things we’ve done. First and foremost on the commission front, we’ve guaranteed commissions for our sales reps in Q1 so everyone’s getting paid. I’m really proud of our sales teams for stepping up and it doesn’t happen at management, it’s at the RVP, and the AE and AVP level.

That was a really important thing that our team stepped up to do. Second, we’re doing a lot of all-hands calls internally and we have what’s called a ‘be well’ session. We’ve brought in Trevor Noah to do a session with Salesforce. We just brought in Jose Andres and Dave Matthews to talk about World Central Kitchen where Jose is trying to feed individuals. We brought in Arianna Huffington to help educate, Dr. David Agus who’s one of the leading medical researchers to talk about the issue.

Our leadership team has really done an awesome job of bringing in these thought leaders to talk about what’s happening, how you can take care of yourself and on the financial side, we try to bring a little bit of relief from a commission standpoint. With the focus being, we need to worry about our mental health as much as your physical health through this period of time. It’s not perfect and look, there’s a lot of anxiety out there but I think we’ve tried to approach it in several different ways that I think has been really effective.

Fred Diamond: We’ve got time for a couple more questions. Connor, you mentioned before that you’re starting to have one-on-ones with your customers to start talking about how they think their business is going to be “post-pandemic.” For both you guys, for Mike Durso and for Connor Marsden, how do you see the pandemic long term, changing the way we sell? Obviously everyone’s on Zoom, we talked about that, but what are some of the things that you see that may stick that we’re working on that are happening right now in the long term? Connor, why don’t you go first? How’s sales going to change because of the pandemic?

Connor Marsden: I think naturally a couple of things. I think people are going to be much more open to virtual meetings just in general. Like, “Hey, let’s just knock this out, we can have a call or a video meeting” versus you having to come into the office. I think that’s something that’s going to stick. I think for those of us who are in the technology business, I think people are going to realize the importance of having a really diversified digital strategy that if you have processes that require physical interaction, you’re going to look to figure out a way to digitize. A great example of my customer base – and this is public information – is CarMax.  One of the one things you probably wouldn’t do historically over the web is buy a car. Actually, you can buy a full car, have it delivered to your house, take a test drive and sell it and they’d been ahead of the game in that thinking. I think other industries are going to have to adopt those types of processes.

And I think the technology space, that’s going to provide an opportunity for us to try to help to digitize from that perspective.

Fred Diamond: Mike, how about you?

Mike Durso: I agree. I think that the core principles of what we do shouldn’t change, how they’re delivered or how they’re consumed are clearly going to change whether that  be video or some of the on-demand things, I’m convinced that’s going to change. I had this conversation this morning about, cities that have been hit hard. I’m in Philly and we have a fair amount of business in New York and it’s a train ride away from me. I’m struggling with the idea that our New York customers, I can’t imagine they’re going to be signing in visitors for onsite meeting anytime in the near future.

So, things like what we’re doing now and Zoom and incorporating whiteboards and being able to go through architectural discussions online is going to be really important. I go back to it shouldn’t change the core principles of what we do. We still have to drive value, we still have to drive outcomes, we still have to create a solution that’s going to solve a problem. All of those things stay the same, how they’re consumed and delivered, 100% going to change.

Fred Diamond: Again, I want to thank Mike and Connor so much. Got time for one more question. Again, if you have an urgent question, you still have a second or two to slip it in. What are your expectations right now? Both you guys manage a whole bunch of salespeople, you have nationwide responsibility. What are your expectations for your salespeople? It’s an unbelievably unique time. We’ve been doing this particular webinar for six weeks now, and in the first two weeks people were saying, “I’ve been through 9/11, I was around during the 2008 banking and housing crisis and I know what it’s like to go through a crisis.” Well, this obviously is unprecedented and it’s changing every day and things are emerging every single day. What are you telling your sales professionals, your team? What do you expect of them and what are you telling them? Mike, why don’t you go first and give us your thoughts and then we’ll go to Connor.

Mike Durso: I wish I knew what to tell them and it’s funny when you say a month ago, people were saying things as if it were concrete and they’ve been through this before. I think the reality is we haven’t been through something like this before, nothing at this type of scale. One of the things I stress, Fred, we’ve talked about it on the podcast, but one of the things I always stress is just the ability to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation, just to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Hopefully, some of the principles and some of the extreme ownership, leadership that we preach here at Veeam and that I preach to my team, some of those principles absolutely apply to a situation like this.

I think it’s falling back on some of those principles and not overreacting and not letting this pandemic send you into a tailspin. I think it has the potential to do that because it is so uncertain and there’s so much adversity out there that we have to face not just at work, at home. [Laughs] I know what’s going on in my house trying to homeschool an 11 year old with some pretty severe special needs. I can only imagine what’s going on in the rest of the houses out there so there’s a lot of things. To me, it’s come back to your core, come back to your principles, come back to your beliefs whether it be on a personal level or what you believe in and how you should go to market as a company. Come back to that and really focus on those things right now and they will help you manage through this chaos and this adversity but don’t take the roller coaster ride of highs and lows.

Fred Diamond: There’s so much that’s out of your control. The only thing you can really control is it’s how you respond to it and how you keep yourself healthy. We just posted a, a great sales game changers podcast yesterday with Diane Cashin and she talks about things you could be doing right now to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Connor, thank you so much for your insights. Why don’t you bring us home? Again, what are you telling your sales people? What are you expecting of them right now?

Connor Marsden: First and foremost, what Mike just shared is 100% right. Realize, number one, that life is going on at home while they’re working and things are going to happen. In fact, a quick funny story, I was on with a COO of a Fortune 500 company and my daughter made a purse out of an old tie dye T-shirt and she was dying to have me see it. She brought it, came in, I had to stop the call, had to turn to her dresser, told the COO that was my daughter and moved on. It was a cute little moment and I think those little moments are happening all over the place so Mike was spot-on.

I think what I’m telling my team, first and foremost, I’m resetting expectations of what success looks like and  I’m being realistic about those expectations. With those expectations – and this is  important, I think – not everything is in our control, but some things are so if you reset the expectations in the right level, we have to hit those expectations. With forecasting and calling deals I’m assuring my team, “Look, we may or may not be calling to what we thought our quota was going to be at the beginning of this crisis, but we’re going to call a forecast and we’re going to hit that forecast and we’re going to deliver and make sure that people know they can rely on us to hit a certain number.”

And I think it’s important for all of us as we’re going through this, as we’re being empathetic, that we still need to deliver on what we’re here to go and do which is to help our customers to drive value and to be responsible on the revenue side for our organizations and clearly, engage in the appropriate way. That’s an expectation I’m setting with my teams. I think it’s really well received and it’s also a rallying cry that we can still do business through this crisis, Fred.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo
Produced by Rosario Suarez

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