by Alton Zenon III
June 25, 2020

Mastering the art of remote work has never been more important.

As of March 27, more than 16 million knowledge workers began working remotely due to the coronavirus, according to a report by Slack. And, according to a study by global freelancing platform Upwork, 73 percent of all teams are predicted to have remote staff by 2028. 

But creating a remote-friendly team isn’t as easy as simply downloading Zoom. 

“Having a remote team emphasizes the importance of collaborating digitally,” said Madison Soave, a sales director at the online identity authentication provide Payfone, whose sales team was primarily remote well before the coronavirus struck. 

Since its founding in 2008, the company built a remote infrastructure that facilitates collaboration between its NYC and Denver offices and accommodates sales directors who live in different states.

As sales teams worldwide adjust their pitches, rework their content and accommodate new client concerns like layoffs and spending freezes, collaborating — oftentimes across departments — has become essential.

A sense of collaboration has helped Soave not only enter her role but excel within it, she said. She spent two years as an account manager at the company until her mentor, the then-SVP of sales, helped her transition to her current position. 

The leader shared insights on how Payfone’s remote-first sales team stays efficient and connected, and how that has helped her progress in her career at the company. 


Madison Soave
sales director

What makes being a member of Payfone’s sales team a unique experience? 

Almost every sales director lives in a different state. Having a remote team emphasizes the importance of collaborating digitally. As a result, we have weekly team meetings, deep dives into big wins, and lunch and learns, as well as offsite gatherings once a quarter. We also travel frequently and cross paths for meetings or conferences. 


Where there’s collaboration, there’s camaraderie

Soave said Payfone’s offices are usually filled with lively conversations and culture-driven events like happy hours, push-up contests, hot sauce tastings and Nerf gun wars. But since moving the entire company remote due to COVID-19 concerns, the company has worked to maintain it’s culture online. Dimitre Boyukliev, director of executive operations and chief of staff, said digital culture clubs were introduced to keep staff engaged and they have actually brought staff even closer together than before.


What about Payfone’s culture made your transition to sales director possible? 

Sales was never on my radar, but my leadership team saw the potential for upward mobility and they fostered my growth within the company. My manager started working deals and coaching me through every step. I knew the products well from my time as an account manager, so it made speaking to our solution and use cases much easier. I balanced my AM role while taking on new leads for a few months and slowly made the transition to sales director a year ago.


Payfoneteam members celebrating birthday
madison suave celebrates her birthday with employees in payfone's nyc office.


How does the broader team work together during the sales process? 

Many departments have a hand in closing deals. From initial discovery through evaluation and signing the final paperwork, there’s lots of cross-functional collaboration. No deal is an independent experience. Everyone has a hand in wanting to see sales, and the company overall, succeed.


MORE FROM PAYFONELeadership in Uncertain Times, Part II: Advice From the New York City Tech Scene


What’s some of the best advice you’ve received from someone at Payfone that’s helped you get to this point in your career?

Take the time to understand the problem from the customer’s point of view. Our CEO has always encouraged me to walk through a prospect’s new user registration flow or phone their call center to understand customers’ pain points. This practice helped me quickly recognize areas where Payfone can fit for them. Don’t spend an entire sales cycle trying to understand what you’re solving for — spend five minutes understanding. 

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