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

7 Tips to Get the Most Value from Your Virtual Meetings

By Warren Shiver

Like you, I’ve been working to adjust to a world of 100% meetings and most social interactions through my devices. Stress of the overall situation aside, it’s been fascinating to experiment and learn what’s working and not. Trust me, I’m still learning.

Since for those of you in sales, there is a strong chance that this remote environment will endure for a while given that even when companies welcome back their employees, how much longer will it be before they welcome you -- An outsider who just flew on a plane with 180 others to get to their front door?

Certainly, I welcome that day, but in the meantime, here are the best virtual meeting and engagement tips and ideas we’ve come across.

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The “Unluckiest Generation” of Sellers

By Warren Shiver

We’ve been interested in the impacts of the different generations in the workforce and specifically related to sales since our initial research for our book The Multigenerational Sales Team. According to the US Dept of Labor, in 2019 Millennials displaced Gen X as the largest cohort in the American workforce.

Last week, I came across an article in the Washington Post titled “The unluckiest generation in U.S. history,” which is quite a statement given some of the challenges that have confronted prior generations (world wars, pandemics, Great Depression, etc.), but it certainly caught my attention. The reporter Andrew Van Dam notes, “After accounting for the present crisis, the average millennial has experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history.”

What does this misfortune mean for early career sales professionals? What other trends from today's pandemic will impact the next generation of sellers and sales leaders?

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Where’s the Beef? Lessons for B2B Sellers and Marketers from Arby’s®

By Warren Shiver

As a proud card-carrying member of Generation X, I distinctly remember the classic Wendy’s® commercials with actress Clara Peller asking “where’s the beef?” Yes, those were the days when we actually watched commercials on TV… and watched broadcast TV outside of live events.

If you’ve watched any broadcasted events lately, especially sports, you can’t help but notice the long-running (by today’s marketing standards) advertising campaign from Arby’s® claiming “We Have The Meats®”. Admittedly, your author hasn’t frequented an Arby’s® lately, but I can’t help but applaud their creativity and especially their focus on a core and differentiated value proposition. I haven’t seen the data, but I’m guessing there is a strong overlap between those who religiously tune into live sports and carnivores.

What can those of us in the B2B world learn from this great marketing?

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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 in Sales: 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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