Pattie gave this presentation, titled ‘Transforming your sales methodology from the inside out’, at the Future of Sales Festival in June 2022. You can catch the replay here with an SEC membership.

I’m Pattie Grimm and I’m the Senior Director of Worldwide Sales Enablement and the Center of Excellence for VMware’s sales teams globally. I have teams in APAC, EMEA, and the Americas, along with several other teams.

A couple of years ago, we started a business transformation at VMware. We had act one, act two, and now act three which is the sales transformation enablement. It's a work in progress but things are going really well.

This article covers the following topics:

Over the past few years, I’ve constantly heard leaders talk about trying to find the new normal.

Well, there is no new normal, there's only new.

The pandemic, zoom fatigue, increased customer demands, higher competition, multi-generational workforces, digital evolution and explosion - all these things are happening in our world and are impacting our ability to do business and our jobs as sales professionals.

We're living in a world of permanent white water. I don't know if you've been white water rafting before, but I love it. It’s a combination of pure excitement and pure fear.

The first time I went rafting, I remember sitting on the side of the Merced River in California on a beautiful day with about 10 or 12 friends. And when the instructor said, “When you fall out of the boat…” I raised my hand and said, “Excuse me, what do you mean when I fall out of the boat? I paid good money to stay in the boat.”

The instructor said, “You will fall out of the boat, but let me tell you how you’ll survive and have an amazing ride and a great trip.” This is so important because we live in a world of permanent white water. There's one rapid change after another. It's constant, and it's not going to stop.

So here's the advice he gave me.

“Keep your head up. Look downriver to the future. Don't try and look back because if you do you will drown and most likely die. Keep your head up, keep your eyes forward, and look to the future.

"Kick your feet off the rocks and all the other things coming at you in this constant white water until you get to a calm place, and we will come and get you.”

Now that's great advice for sales professionals today.

Keep your head up, look to the future, kick off the rocks as long as you can, get to a calm place where you can collect your breath, and get ready for the next rapid.

The 4 Rs every sales leader needs to know

These are critical, especially when you’re implementing a new sales methodology or process - but they should always be front of mind.

Reimagine your customer experience

You need to think about how to reimagine your customers' experiences starting from the inside out, or more importantly, from the outside in. It's about reshaping your leadership. You can't just change your sales methodology without addressing this.

We need to re-energize our workforce, and more importantly, we need to reinvent our sales processes. We can’t take a process we've had for three or four years and put it in the cloud and expect it to work magic.

You need to think about how to reinvent your workplace and work processes based on your customer experiences and how you re-engage your employees.

Being company-centric vs. customer-centric

Here's an interesting thought.

How many people have struggled with the traditional ketchup bottle for years, the glass bottle that wasn't designed from an engineering perspective to be very effective?

It's a glass bottle that gets narrower at the top, so you've got a heavy liquid with a narrow neck, and a little top on it.

What happens when you’re company-centric, is you're building a ketchup bottle that you've built for hundreds of years at say Heinz, for example. And it really takes some innovative person to think about this from a customer perspective.

Have you ever sat in a restaurant with a ketchup bottle and stuck the knife inside, or tried to tap the bottom to get the ketchup to come out? And either it doesn't come out or it splats all over your food and your clothes?

Some brilliant person at Heinz said, “Why don't we turn it upside down and make it plastic so it always flows to the bottom?” And now it's so much easier to get the ketchup out of the bottle.

So what’s your ketchup bottle?

The importance of customer centricity

At VMware, we have a very complicated business. We sell SaaS and cloud software to large companies to help them run things like CRM systems and ERP systems.

We're now making this huge leap from being a traditional software company that sells a license every year to big companies like Ford, the Bank of England, or DBS Bank for 18 to 36 months.

In a SaaS world, we're selling subscriptions. Most people probably have a subscription through their company to Office 365. We had to reinvent our work processes starting from the outside in with our customers and partners.

We had to think about what our customers are going through in terms of understanding when they have a business problem they need to solve.

  • How do they go about evaluating what they want to buy?
  • How do they then land, discover and go through the process?

Our teams usually consist of an account manager or an inside sales rep. They're going to be a technical account person and somebody with professional services.

There's going to be a specialist because how you sell workplace services is different from how you sell a CRM system. It's all going to be slightly different, but we realigned our sales process to our customers' buying cycle.

Customer centricity is key to your success because of the disruption in the marketplace. Customers have higher expectations. Every single product regardless of what you sell is being commoditized, so we have to continue looking at how we meet those customer demands.

Now, here's what's interesting about customer loyalty. I worked at Microsoft for 15 years and actually helped to launch Office 2010, Windows 7, and several other products.

What we found at Microsoft is that at the end of a license or subscription, the customer wants to come and buy from us again. And the fact is one out of 26 customers don't complain, they just go someplace else.

So the true enemy is indifference.

91% of unhappy customers who complain simply just leave, and it’s six or seven times more expensive to sell to a new customer than to keep an existing one. Happy customers will also refer you to their friends, family, and colleagues.

Now, here's what's funny.

If I went out and asked a company, “Do your customers think you’re customer-focused?” 90% would say yes, yet only 10% of customers actually agree.

One of the things Jeff Bezos says about Amazon is that they’re defined by big ideas, which are customer-centricity and putting the customer at the center of everything they do.

In every office and meeting room at Amazon, there’s a red chair. That chair is the customer's chair.

And each time before Amazon makes a decision, they ask themselves, “What would the customer say?”

Reshape your leadership

If you think about leaders who influenced you in your life, they were authentic, caring, and compassionate. They cared about what they did, and they cared about the business.

There's a difference between being a manager and a leader. A manager is someone who tells people what to do. They delegate, give directions, coach, and support. But if you go to the definition of the word manager, it means hands. So managers are hands-on.

CARE-based leadership | SEC
At the Future of Sales Festival, Jason Winkler talks through how to implement a CARE-based leadership style as well as the benefits.

The definition of leader goes back to the Greek word ‘led’, which means to determine the course of a ship. So if you're the one leading your sales methodology, you're out there calling the direction but you're also allowing other people to sail the ship.

One of the things you need from the inside out and outside in is to convert your team and your leaders' mindsets before you can train and change their skill sets.

You need them to adapt that growth methodology and growth mindset - that we can do anything, embrace opportunities, be persistent, and grow.

Master the essentials, ensure continuous improvement, and always move forward on things that you do.

Re-energize your people

How are you going to take your best people through this transformation? The great resignation is real, but how do you turn it into the great retention?

There are both internal and external factors that affect the motivation and drive of your people and can either keep them at your company or make them leave.

According to a UCLA study, the number one thing that impacts people's retention and ability to move through a transformation is the leader that worked for them directly.

How you treat your people directly impacts how they perform with your customers and each other, along with their performance and productivity, and that ultimately affects your profitability.

Some great ways to energize your people include:

  • Senior leadership job sharing
  • Rewarding innovation even when it fails
  • Hosting virtual team meetings
  • Celebrating small and big wins
  • Volunteering at a community event

The 5 Cs of leadership


During a sales methodology or sales transformation from the outside in or inside out, you've got to have the courage to do the right things for the right reasons.

I've recently been leading a global sales enablement methodology refresh. We've had the same process and sales training for 10 years, and it's not working for us anymore.

We're at the end of this transformation now. We had a lot of ups and downs, and it took a lot of courage to fight through all the way up to the EVP of our sales and marketing division. It's about having that courage to do the right thing.


It's important to have genuine compassion for your people. I recently heard an executive of a company that was going through a transformation say, “Don't worry if you lose your job through this effort; you'll go out and find another job in 10 days.”

That is not compassion or caring for your people. Some of those people may not find jobs in 10 days.


It’s critical to be clear about your objectives, set them upfront with your leadership team, and then form a cross-functional, cross-level team to help you lead that effort.


I could have given up back in December when I got my first “no,” but I didn't, and neither did my team. And we continue to move forward because we know we have the conviction to do the right thing.


It’s about communicating 100 times in 100 different ways. It's consistency in your written communication, how you say things, and what you say in front of customers if you have a salesperson with you.

Reinvent your work processes

When it comes to sales methodology, one of the first things we did is research. We researched what other IT high-performance companies were doing around their sales methodology, their sales enablement, and their sales training for their leaders and sellers.

  • We found out who out there is doing it on their own
  • Who's doing it with a consulting company
  • Who's out buying a new sales methodology and sales enablement process off the shelf
  • Who's buying something from a company and customizing it so it has their case studies and evidence to be more realistic to their people.

We decided to do a bit of a combination. We hired a consulting firm to help us understand that we may not know what we don't know, and to help us think more holistically.

We put together a cross-functional, cross-level team and a committee with the executive leadership team and an executive sponsor.

Over the last six months, our cross-functional, cross-level working team has been searching through all of VMware trying to find internal best practices that are already working for the field, the sellers, and the sales leaders.

We embedded these things into our sales methodology, and then looked for the gaps. “What are we missing? What do we need to add here?

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Zach Barney, VP of Sales at Vehlo runs through the three key focuses in order to lead your sales team to success as a frontline leader.

One of the biggest transformations for us as part of going from a perpetual license software company to a SaaS software company was the transition from the fact of what we sell, how we will sell, and to whom we will sell.

We've always sold IT and been comfortable in IT. However, we need to sell to the business decision-makers because the people who have the money are not the people in IT.

They’re the people in the business such as the VP of sales. If they’re not happy with their CRM system, they’ll come knocking on the door of IT and say, “Hey, go do this research for me to find the best three vendors and I will decide.”

Creating breakthrough teams

When I ran the CPE team for all of Asia Pacific for Microsoft, we had many challenges. Our revenue was flat, we had low customer-partner experience, and low Workplace Health Index, which was our employee survey. We also had a new RVP and leadership team.

We had to create a solution and a vision. We formed that cross-functional, cross-level team, provided the team with the tools, did some light Six Sigma training, and then empowered them to come back and tell us how to fix it. And the results were amazing.

This is the process we used at Microsoft, and it’s also the process that my team is using at VMware.

  • What’s our current state?
  • What's working?
  • What's not working?

There is no new normal, so how do you create a future state that's going to help propel you to the future?

We identified the problems and barriers using Six Sigma and prioritized some big wins we could get quickly to show the leaders that this is working. We took a process we had called ‘lead to quote’, and unified it across the cycle to reduce the time it takes to get a quote. That was a huge win for the field.

So now when we go to introduce something new, it's much easier. We had to lead the change, we also expected resistance because we have people who have been successfully selling licenses for many years. They make great money, so what's the need to change?

This is one of the exercises I do, and I encourage you to do this with your teams as you're talking about these kinds of transformations.

They're often going to blame the company:

You're forcing us to change. We were happy with what we were doing and we were making money, why do we need to change?”

They don't buy in.

So in essence, what we did was a forcefield analysis. I had a big flip chart and had conversations with every single team about the environment today and what the forces for change are before we launched something new.

I said, “What's changing in our world?”

  • Customer expectations
  • Competitive demands
  • Product releases

We're going from releasing a product every 18 months to suddenly doing updates every 30 days. All these things are forces for change.

On the other side of that chart are forces against change. What’s trying to hold change back? You, us, status quo, comfort zones.

Enabling managers and working with sales leadership: what to know
Whenever sales enablement is mentioned, the discussion tends to center around enabling and supporting reps who are earlier in their sales career. While these are undoubtedly useful, it can be trickier to find guidance on how to maximize the potential of more senior salespeople

If I go back to my initial story, people are surprised when they go river rafting for the first time.

Often, the guide will take a rope and put it across the river with water that's barely knee-deep and challenge us to get across the river. Because the waves of change are so strong, just like the waves of that river, you can't get across if you don't change.

We really had to make this work and adjust, adapt, change, and then move on to the next one to empower people. We ran pilots in every single segment from globals, to enterprise, to commercial, to digital sales.

We ran pilots of the programs for the sales and sales leaders. Once you work through this process, you rinse and repeat and do it again with the next opportunity.

Your sales leaders are critical, and here's why. There was a study by the Sales Executive Council a number of years ago. They examined the difference between an average sales team and a high-performing sales team.

And the number one differentiator was the sales leader.

In those organizations that the Sales Executive Council looked at, they found that the sales teams that had great coaches and leaders had revenue between 9% and 14% higher than an average team.

Core elements of the sales methodology framework

Map your sales cycle to your customer engagement cycle to understand how they buy. Right now, customers don't initially just go out and say, “I need to find the best thing.” They've already done the research and talked to their friends.

In this new sales methodology, we had to define new roles and responsibilities. Between the account executive and a specialist, what's the handoff?

I have to have these things done in order to move on to the next step. What are the sales processes and tools that need to be reinvented? Provide sales leader sales coaching first.

Our goal is to become VMware customer-obsessed so we become the number one provider of cloud services for customers and partners.

My favorite ending quote is one by Maya Angelou:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will always remember how you made them feel.”

Think about the great leaders in your life, and be that person. Create a personal leadership vision for yourself, and make career and life decisions around that personal vision and the kind of person you want to be.

Thank you.