Leading Marketing & Sales Teams: The Pandemic Take Away

Fabio Vitali

VP of Marketing at Sofidel

Learning Objectives

The pandemic has forced almost everyone to work remotely....Marketing and Sales personnel included. As this has represented a challenge for many, this short presentation will focus on the positive aspects of it and the take away. Amongst most, marketers had and still have the opportunity to be more efficient, to focus more on digital channels to drive the business, to substantially support sales with an effort to be innovative in a completely changed scenario.

Key Takeaways:

  • Remote working and remote meetings can improve efficiency

  • With ecommerce flying as never before, marketers can drive more impact in the business

  • As sales people are facing a dilemma due to less in person, marketers can support them and bend the organization towards a more Account Based Marketing approach

"We managed to be more efficient, we managed to use our time a little bit better, to be more productive."

Fabio Vitali

VP of Marketing at Sofidel


Hi, and thank you for joining this presentation, Leading Marketing and Sales Teams: The Pandemic Take Away. My name is Fabio Vitali and I’m the Vice President of Marketing for Sofidel. Sofidel is a paper manufacturer based in Italy with operations across Europe and United States. We employ across the globe, almost 6700 people with a total of consolidated revenue in excess of $1.2 billion.

They say we manufacture paper so toilet paper and paper towel. Yes, you understood well, only paper and paper towel. The pandemic probably saw the shortages. And I have to admit, last year was not a dramatic year, business wise, but still represented pretty high challenges for us as marketers, sales teams, and all across the organization [inaudible].

With this presentation, My ambition is to share the experience I had as a team leader, marketing leader, and the experience we had working without part of the organization. I’m going to go through what have been the main challenges and the opportunities to and what I think we should retain as an organization for the future which will really be the three key points that my team and myself and possibly my organization are keeping in mind.

Let’s face the reality, at least for what it was for us, looking back at last year, the pandemic was not bad. We managed to be more efficient, we managed to use our time a little bit better, to be more productive. We increased our marketing, trade and marketing reports and digital fourth. I think that at the end of the day, it has been a tough, challenging modes. But not everything was like very terrible. So let’s look back. This was months. Let’s jump, for one second, and march 2021 year and a few months ago, you remember that? I remember the day I received the email wasn’t more almost. Let’s say we were expecting that. And as a European, I knew exactly what was going on Europe and in Italy especially. And yes, I was very worried. So the company was starting to close down offices in Europe. And we’re sending people at home to work from home, steel Manufacturing facilities were open, but the offices were kind of close. So a certain point in the States, we knew that was going into the same direction anytime. And this was a this was pretty unexpected, I’ll say we didn’t think he would have come until at this point. But he did. And I remember the first days when we were at home and started bringing my laptop and everything and I said my desk and said my space. And I discussed with the with my significant other my wife and was like nice. But then when I started to sit and started work I felt a little bit lost was a little bit confusion because I was not used I’m I’m in an office and find yourself suddenly at home. I was new, I was not prepared to that. I was not prepared to that was difficult at first. But then I started to get used to that, like everybody else, I guess, learning how to start meetings or to finish meetings. Pay attention to what you said microphone on microphone off. He didn’t he have all these things. And one pretty well. After a while, during the pandemic, my thought went into relationship. I was I remember also this pretty well was watching TV and was a movie non new movie and and people would have mass people shaking hands and having Socialcam I was kind of shocked and I realized that my mind changed in our simulation. And then immediately after I started to dabble offices, and how we were interacting with people all digital or video screen and I in my mind wanting to the telephone. I was not receiving calls except for the prank calls of the warranty. company wants to send out in the next the next insurance right? What I was not driving anyway. So it was kind of

not worried but it wasn’t analysis that drove by myself and then a show with some colleagues. Their relationship was reshaped, engaging with agencies as a marketing Engaging with colleagues, your team, and ultimately would say speed change. But at the same time, also with these disconnection, physical disconnection, one of the, the element that attracted my attention and HRP, potash was approved, we all admitted we were working more. At this day, at this time, we weren’t sure if we were working better. Now I can see we’re working to better, we’re working much more at the point that we were receiving email invitation for from him lunchtime like, and I decided to cut off as a placeholder for an hour every day lunch line, and find exactly the availability to avoid, avoid, and over and over load of meetings, and still have some time to think and operate. So in this also, to advance three things like we’re in relationship wise, relationship wise, where we’re important relative to your team. But not only but let’s say mainly, your interest. And this point was necessarily to purchase the product as a main driver of any kind, of course sedation. So also the relationship with the between manager and employee, right, as far as changed a little bit, I was lucky enough to have, my boss was a great coach. And this, and we are the periodic sessions, specifically specific to these aspects and how to manage your people. And he was pretty successful, because he managed to implement certain approaches the term to be pretty effective. But in at the center of the trust with your team members put in at the center of the collaboration, the other team, not necessarily departments that are reporting to you was also pretty good, engaging with your colleagues on a level that you are not used to. So not just on a personnel grounds or society or social level, but more on the on the business level was actually pretty, pretty good, in turn to be important, given some space near work them and vice versa, going to be very, very useful cooperation and leveraging the tools that were offered. Last point, that was pretty important in this type of relationship, we shape the flexibility. So not everyone was experiencing the same condition. There were people with a lot of pressure, frustration, coming from the fact that maybe they had kids at home and the schools were closed, or maybe I mean, just the one one income source because the other lost his job, because the crisis and things like that, were definitely creating more pressure on certain families. So the importance of being flexible in, in working with your colleagues and understanding the difficulty difficulties and the different situation. And also even the situation where the similar the different capacity to accept, ooh, this process was very important, was very, very important. Again, our organization and the HR did a tremendous job in accepting and in guiding us for this. So I have to say that last year, we’re very, very lucky in our company, as shown, in my opinion, among the best, the best. Let’s focus one second. Now on more specifically, the pros and the cons of this experience, I will have to start from the cons. I would like to start from the cons because I want to live with the good things. And then one of the bad things. So on the conscious side. I mentioned my initial confusion, but I guess it was from many people. I didn’t want to write here frustration, but I think some people these condition generated procession because as I said, you don’t know what would have been the pressure from several wars, the sickness that was not even clear what it was, for sure. In our company we are experiencing a loss was a dramatic, so between confusion worries and things. This was affecting work. And also, even assuming the same condition. People don’t have the same skills and the same day to react. This was another reason another very critical aspect, that organization, I guess where we’re experiencing. So managers and employees have different skills, and not everyone is going to react and some could really ending to find themselves in a dark place.

So these are negative distraction of home too. So, again, some people were lucky, right? The mother were very, in a very difficult position, because of the womb situation in terms of space use. A I remember, French friend, former colleague was telling me, I’m living in Paris, so Paris, Europe, small houses, and, and like Milan, and maybe to buy them, USB, don’t expect to live the full day in the house, you have two kids, then you know, where do I my office in the bathroom. So this kind of solution were real. And people were reacting, in a way some years, it was, I guess, was the most critical, I think it was the most critical part besides the war is relative to the income and the loss of income, maybe the loss of job, besides maybe some traumatic experience that family was, a lot of people died. So these were terrible things. And these are coming much before work. Right. So companies that measure with this condition. So going to the good parts, the good parts, I think one of them experience that I saw the most positive in my team was the dead, the dead time cut off. Engaging with agency change, as we said, we’re relationship was completely reshaped, were more driven digitally. So the time was used better. And this is about the time of work, right? Because you don’t need to travel to meet your agency or meet your customer, you can meet digitally. If you have a good point, you can have a good meeting. This is something where we come back in a bit. So cutting time of traveling cutting time, that time in the office, European company, we like coffee, we’ll have to chat. This thing there was a lot of time, but there is also some chatting too. And this was not there anymore, which is benefiting our work. The the the improvement of this time commuting, you don’t have commuting anymore, resulted in more productivity more time spent in working really, and eventually inefficiency. Because having more time that you didn’t have before you will use to do what you need to do faster. At this point, you can do better dedicate the remaining part of thinking, how to plan what to prioritize, how to elaborate better, your your your your deliver. This was a pretty good cutting time and increase in efficiency I saw in our team in my team this jumped up, I was very very happy, especially considering we were delivering horses once very, very much high your site a part of the organization in the space Westminster system. Let’s say difficulties. Because of all the professional business hotels, airlines cruise lines, we have one of the major supplier, the major supplier of toilet paper in cruise lines, that business still is right. So the sales personnel of those customer went like panic, because Okay, I’m gonna achieve my targets, how I’m gonna deliver my results. This is where the marketing found a role that was always there but never that acting in the trademark

in cooperating with the sales team in elaborating a compelling solution or customer in approaching, approaching the seas member of the seas colleague and elaborating with him a solution for East Coast. This requires a lot of use of tools. Of course, there are different technologies that can help in this perspective. Desert is also deceased people to open up and share. But these require especially one thing that is that is is a game changer. We’ll go back on that. The next slide. This is put in at the center of the process. It says the margin for the customer, not the product is not anymore what I’m gonna sell but is what are the needs of the customer. And as a consequence, how do I get the information and when I go there with the salesperson and is going to go they’re going to deliver a compelling solution for specific needs these the these turn out to be pretty good, we managed to engage with certain relationship with some customer in a different way and not eventually to generate more more. More, more says but a more solid preparation. And there is also an another benefit, that’s a positive aspect of Serato because of the digitalization with the with the ecommerce booming, the digital services became like the gold, the new gold, gold the year the new gold trim Digital Services recently were already buried by import these ecommerce boom really became something that you want to focus on first. And as a company, I have to say that we probably accelerated one two years certain projects, I would say without the pandemic Buddha drive driven the digital presence that we have today, two years. And the these approach that we wanted I wanted and the Europe our colleagues, everyone wanted to accelerate draw was drawing more investment on the digital space, more attention, more hiring people. And at the end, more developments rather developed. Now the end is turned to be very good. In terms of competitive edge, these tend to be a game changer for our business, and our go to market strategy. So I’m very pleased about this aspect because the digitalization is is shifting a little bit also the model of attention from, again, the product the customer sees is a very good perspective. So the last element that I would like to like to project our ambition, based on what we experience, all the cons in the problem to try to define here more for me, but I will share for you three aspects that I think are very important for myself, our company, and our my team, our team, the future. So what are the three things that we really, I really need, we really want to project for first one efficiency and educating your theme mighty in our company, to think that is always possible to execute in a more efficient way, is always possible to expand this process and include more moments of them thinking, and so thing and, and quiet and silence, to really try to deliver something that is better than before more efficiency, more productivity, let less isosteric approach or reactive. So efficiency, I really think is something that needs to stay there. Because when sold was possible, it is possible. So we can we need to project the future. The second aspect is very important to this relationship. Marketing says these two elements as frequently are kind of dichotomy. And they’re very separate, maybe sometimes even not conflict conflict, but they they’re not the most harmonic departments. Well, we saw that they can become one of the point that you do not anymore whose marketing was to say it’s right, because when you put as I said before you implement an Account Based Marketing Strategy or methodology that the center of the customer and you take the product from the center, this is where everyone is focusing on something which is the customer needs. And as a consequence, the roles are more more shifting, marketing is supporting tools and with thoughts in the CS knows how to adapt, the end result is a program that could be beneficial for us. This is very important. This is really like moving away from

transactional type of say says process into a more compelling solution based problems. So the third point is also very important for me especially All considering the difficulties we put there, people had a hard time generate new generational family and the society change, especially in America, these things are gonna stay. And when we hire people, we cannot exclude or ignore those things. There is this nice article I wrote the address, because I prefer to use authoritative also contribution, these articles talking about what future employees wants from their job, they want more flexibility, and they want to find a diverse environment. And they want to be measured on the on the added value, what they deliver, not, they don’t want to be controlled, these things are important. If a company is not putting in place programs, and, and the tools that are facilitating this, their turnover is going to praise because the newcomers are going to judge the workplace on these things. And this is not enough. It’s not just about hiring is also about who you are in onboard is changes this experience with it. IRP society, change the dramatic experience with it, some, some people did write these elements, the flexibility element, these things are gonna be requested by existing employees. And they’re gonna evaluate, and companies are going to measure what to do, they’re going to compete on pieces of that. So I know that the HR departments are working on these things. And it’s very important, because the existing teams, they need to transition from one place to the next. They need to mature in this perfect in my opinion. And they the HR can put in place coaching programs, which in prison are going to be very important at any level, how to sell, how to work dome, the office, how to face challenges, how to use your skills, how to adapt yourself and your circumstances. It’s very important that companies are gonna measure themselves from you know, programs and the challenge that the HR departments and every one of them. So, that’s all for today. Thank you very much for attending this presentation. And I wanted to thank you for the time you dedicated URI can find my email address in case you want to bribe me for questions or for sharing ideas, more than welcome to respond. Thank you

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