Warren Shiver

Warren Shiver is the founder and managing partner of Symmetrics Group, a management consultancy focused on end to end improvement in sales force effectiveness. Through Warren’s leadership, Symmetrics Group has helped numerous organizations build high-performing sales teams focused on the right go-to-market strategy, disciplined sales process and well-designed enabling tools. Clients and consultants appreciate Warren’s uncompromising focus on quality and measureable impact and how he embodies the firm’s core values.

Recent Posts

Impressions from a Quick Visit to Dreamforce

By Warren Shiver

In a word: Wow! I hadn’t attended Dreamforce (DF) since 2010, and I think it has tripled in attendance. Seems like DF must suck up all of the A/V production capacity in the Bay Area. How great it is to have 170k people pay to be sold to by Salesforce.com (SF) and the partner ecosystem and brand themselves with DF swag. Great business model – I’m certainly envious.

I had the pleasure of speaking during the conference at the Quotable Sales Summit in support of our book, The Multigenerational Sales Team.

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The 4 C's of Sales Strategy and Restructuring

By Warren Shiver

We’ve worked with several clients on elements of their sales strategy, which clearly define who you are selling to, what you are selling, how you are selling, and why you are different -- all to support better returns for the sales organization (Revenues – Cost of Sales). Asking fundamental questions like these begin to point to significant gaps and opportunities around sales structure and alignment.

While decisions related to sales strategy, model, and structure are highly unique to an organization, we find that investigating four core areas -- what we call the 4 C's of sales strategy -- can help guide those decisions:

  • Customer – How do you segment customers based on size, potential, needs, capacity, location, etc?  Which are your highest priority segments?
  • Coverage – Based on what you learned in customer analyses, how should you define your coverage model to best align with your highest value segments?
  • Capacity – What is the workload required to sell and service customers and how do we size/resource our team (and selling roles within it) accordingly?
  • Capability – What competencies do our people need in order to engage in the right conversations with different levels of customers, which for many companies span strategic/consultative selling to tactical selling?

By examining each of these areas, a sales organization can maximize both selling efficiencies (e.g., reducing overlapping resources, reducing T&E, and expanding the “bag” of solutions) and sales effectiveness (e.g., more value for the customer through broader solutions, better experience through single point of contact).

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Cross-Generational Impacts in Sales: Ignore At Your Own Risk

By Warren Shiver

In merely eight years -- by 2025 -- 75% of the workforce will be Millennials.

As a sales leader, does this sound anecdotal or material to you? 

Before you answer the question, consider these real scenarios that play out today and will continue at an increasing frequency:

  • A 31-year-old sales professional calling on a 58-year-old decision maker
  • A 55-year-old sales professional calling on a 34-year-old decision maker
  • A 60-year-old sales leader coaching a 24-year-old seller
  • A 32-year-old sales manager recruiting a 50-year-old seller

A sea change is underway in the generational makeup of our workforce that causes undeniable friction between people. Yet, very little (if anything) has been written about the implications between sellers and buyers and amongst sales teams.

The impacts of Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials co-mingling in selling situations will be more palpable and frequent than ever.

Quotable, a digital magazine and podcast published by Salesforce, just interviewed David Szen and myself on our recently published book, The Multigenerational Sales Team.  In it, hosts Kevin Micalizzi and Tiffani Bova ask us several central questions about the impact of generational differences on sales leaders, sales teams, and buyer-seller dynamics.

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Back to the Future – The B2B Sales Imperative

By Warren Shiver

“Whoa, this is heavy…There's that word again; "heavy." Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?" -- Back to the Future

A recent HBR article, The New Sales Imperative got me thinking about the classics. Seems like the “new” B2B sales imperative looks a lot like the old one. It reminds me of NBC’s great slogan in the 1990’s when they would show reruns of their must-see lineup on Thursday nights (the era before Netflix, streaming, etc.), “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.”

I’m not quite sure of the original source, but we were working with sales teams to define their buyer-aligned sales process with supporting “customer evidence” back at OnTarget in the late ‘90s for clients, such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP. There are reasons that good ideas are enduring, especially in sales where there are such clear scorecards.

Back to the Basics

We are often asked about the latest sales trends and pushed by clients, especially those focused on Learning & Development, to offer the latest sales technique, program, or approach. Increasingly, we are recommending a back-to-basics approach for many of our clients.

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When Losing is Winning: Leveraging Win Planning to improve your win rates

By Warren Shiver

“If you’re not first, you’re last” - Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights

In most cases, sales is a zero-sum game: there is typically a winner and multiple losers. While there are situations where a deal is split among vendors/partners, when a company like Ingersoll Rand wins an order for a large building systems contract, it is usually at the expense of their competitors.

When is it acceptable to lose? EARLY. We work with many clients (and apply this to our own business, sometimes with mixed results), who are seeking to improve their win rate. One of the best approaches (aside from launching a new best-in-class proprietary mousetrap) is to strengthen your sales team’s ability to assess opportunities and constantly qualify in/out. Easy to say, harder to do, especially when there are not enough opportunities in the pipeline to meet monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. 

What are some approaches to improving win rate?

Topics: win planning
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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 3: Building Your Case for Change

By Warren Shiver

In our research on sales force transformations for our new book, 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation, the greatest challenge we heard from our interviews, as well as the survey was the difficulty in achieving sustainable change within a sales team. Even though sales teams and leaders excel at convincing others to change, they are typically highly resistant to change themselves. It’s no accident that there are five steps required to complete in our sales force transformation approach before moving to implementation, and this blog focuses on the third step: building your case for change.

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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 1: Drivers of a Transformation

By Warren Shiver

What does it take to truly transform your sales organization? Do you even need to transform, or simply tweak? What levers can you pull to ensure and even accelerate success? These are several of the key questions that Michael Perla and I set out to answer with a two-year research project that culminates with the publishing of our book, the 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan on January 5th, 2016.

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Dining Perfection

By Warren Shiver

Recently, I had the privilege of dining at Per Se in NYC for the first time. What an incredible experience. Much has been written about Thomas Keller and his exceptional restaurants (French Laundry in Napa, Per Se in NYC, Bouchon bakeries, etc.) and their impact on fine dining globally, both through the chefs who have worked for him and through his cookbooks – although I can barely spell sous vide, not to mention know how to operate a machine effectively.

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Sales as a Story

By Warren Shiver

“Poets, priests, and politicians have words to thank for their positions” – The Police

There is a recent trend (fad?) in sales training around storytelling – it’s the “whiteboard selling” of this decade. Certainly storytelling is nothing new, as it’s probably one of the oldest forms of communication. As found on Wikipedia: “Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plotcharacters and narrative point of view.”

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Autonomous Selling?

By Warren Shiver

I’ve been amazed to read about and watch the developments of so-called “self-driving cars” or autonomous driving. The potential for this technology to fundamentally re-shape transportation in this country is almost limitless, from reducing the # of cars per household (or even ownership) and the need for large amounts of on-site parking at retail and office destinations, to enabling those both young and old with a new form of point-to-point personal transportation. As many recent stories have highlighted, the technology exists today; it’s more a matter of aligning our legal and insurance approaches to align with and support a new model.

I heard Steve Cannon, the President of Mercedes-Benz USA, speak last week, and he confirmed that M-B has already demonstrated the technology – the main barrier is one of liability. In today’s environment, liability resides with the driver and their insurer, but in the future, if an accident is imminent and the “system” or software determines who or what to hit, who’s responsible?

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