Managing Remote & Keeping Sales Reps Focused & Motivated During COVID-19


ProSearch team members Stephanie Staiano and Abby Prince sat down with Mike Sabutis, Sr VP of Sales with Datasite, to discuss how he has been managing both his and his team’s remote work schedule. After over 25 years of working in the software/technology field, Mike has established a work ethic that revolved around instilling the notions of a consistent company culture throughout all his employees. During this webinar, Mike discusses the techniques he has used to maintain a strong teamwork ethic that will allow them to seamlessly return to the office, once the need to be remote expires. 

This webinar overview will be in two parts – first, gaining an understanding of the best practices around leading and motivating a new remote team, driving healthy competition and how messaging should be changing in the current environment. The second part will give us some strategic tips around forecasting and planning to be as prepared as possible, post-COVID. 

Managing Remote 

While overseeing his team remotely, Mike sees little profit in micromanaging. Rather than performing check-in’s or monitoring screens to track performance, he chooses to trust his hires to operate at set standards.  

Mike has made himself readily available, but not overbearing while providing his team members with an outlet to share concerns and voice opinions. Additionally, he organizes virtual team activities, such as happy hours, online trainings, and daily meetings. However, he does confirm his employees are following some sort of routine that allows them to separate their work and their personal lives.  

Compassionate Selling 

In order to continue making progress in sales, empathy must play a major role when communicating with clients and candidates. Sellers must be wary of how they connect with clients, as there is no way to know the situation that person is facing, during this time. 

“I recently had a call with an MD, who I didn’t know – our first conversation was over an hour, all about managing people, risks, sick employees, etc.  I’ve since had 2 follow up business calls…they called me. Empathy and showing a human side works.” Says Sabutis. 

Optimism is important, but sometimes practicality and compassion let the client or candidate know you are someone who hears them and that they can trust.  

“Our focus is always helping people. Our clients are our candidates and our candidates are our clients. For years, there has been a war for talent, and we’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of job openings for our candidates. With companies putting roles on freeze, we now have more time to spend reconnecting with people in our network; whether it’s just to say hello, help them with their job search, or offer resume or career advice,” says Abby Prince, Managing Director, CSS ProSearch.

Driving Competition 

Competition among employees is a definite way to drive up sales, but how can we accomplish that without being in the office to see how others perform? Both Sabutis and Prince raved about their team’s use of Salesforce to track performance, creating a videogame style competition out of sales numbers.  

“I’m a heavy Salesforce user with tons of dashboards. I have a saying “if it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen” plus I’ve always had a mix of sellers ranging from junior to senior. When markets are down, I’m hyper-vigilant with activity metrics. Senior staff aren’t afraid to make live phone calls, whereby it’s a newly formed skill for some millennials. Kidding aside, I’ve seen a dramatic rise in 1:1 phone calls with clients since COVID,” Says Sabutis.  

Future State of Business  

Shifting Sales Models  

Unlike previous financial downturns (such as 9/11, 2008 financial crisis, etc.)COVID comes at a unique time, where there are new technologies that put us at a different advantage.  

“COVID is the greatest catalyst for digital transformation I’ve ever seen,” Says Sabutis.  

Today’s technology has allowed companies to not lose face-to-face communication, testing the very necessity of physical communication in the workforce. Although there is still an evident financial strain, due to the repercussions of COVID-19, it will be interesting to observe how technological advancements, like video conferencing, will allow us to move forward in comparison to other instances of needed revitalization.  

“We’ve had more face time now, during COVID, due to technology with internal employees, as well as clients. Our world has always been 100% inside, rarely meeting clients. Now with customers not traveling and being more accessible, we have been scheduling more zoom meetings than ever before and I have met more clients in the last few months than in the last five years!” says Abby Prince.  

Continuing to build candidate pipeline 

Many companies have resorted to instituting hiring freezes, as the economic downturn has caused a wave of lay-offs and headcount reduction among various businesses. However, both Prince and Sabutis would agree that companies should continue the search for potential new talent.  

“Leaders should ALWAYS be continually building their candidate pipeline especially when markets are down. [It’s] not only good networking, but it’s an added resource of information. What challenges other firms are facing, how have they addressed those challenges, etc. Be transparent – ‘ The position’s on hold but I still want to speak with you.’ That will pay off down the road. When markets turn around, you have a robust network to pull candidates into the hiring que,” Says Sabutis  

Although companies may not be in positions to hire new talent, many are still seeking to build up a pipeline of qualified candidates they can refer back to in the future. 

“We are speaking with candidates everyday who seem to be actively interviewing with other companies. Now’s a great time to build your pipeline and build relationships with candidates, so when things open up you are prepared,” Says Prince. 

About CSS ProSearch

CSS ProSearch is a sales recruiting firm that places top sales and marketing talent for growing businesses in the healthcare, technology and consulting verticals.

Our sales recruiters take a consultative approach to recruiting, acting as a true partner in the success of both our clients and our talent. With over 50 years of combined experience, our team combines best-in-class recruiting practices, technology, research and innovative approaches to deliver exceptional service with every engagement. Learn more here.

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