Category Archives: Sales Management

New Sales Resource Articles Including: 5 Breathtakingly Brilliant Sales Questions

During your next sales call try these 5 breathtakingly brilliant questions

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-need-ask-every-customer-5-questions-chris-murray

This month I’m hosting two Selling with EASE Workshops – one in Manchester & one in London – But be quick, less than 10 places left at each

https://vktopenworkshops.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/sales-training-2/

Are you really happy leaving your Sales Team alone with a stranger? Here’s How to avoid the pitfalls of Sales Training

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/beware-leaving-your-sales-team-stranger-chris-murray

Preparing for contract negotiations & renewals? Make sure you’re ready for these tactics used by professional buyers

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/secrets-professional-buyers-learn-negotiation-courses-chris-murray

Sales Managers – Stop feeding your sales team a fish at a time & let them take ownership with an accountability NET

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-create-self-sufficient-sales-team-chris-murray

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Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 293 9777 (UK)

His latest book, The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club has been an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople. Download and read the First 4 Chapters – completely free – here.

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Filed under Business Development, Sales Management, Sales Training, Varda Kreuz

UK Sales Management Workshops – Last Few Places

There are 2 places left for the FAME Sales Management Open Workshop in Cheshire on Thursday – I’m afraid all the London dates are now sold out.

I do hope you or a colleague can join me – they’re always great days, and it would be fabulous to see you there.

Best regards

Chris

FAME Sales Management Workshops

Thursday 5th 2015 – Manchester (2 Places Left)

Our FAME training programme was created to develop sales leaders, but it’s down to earth approach also makes it ideal for recently appointed managers and supervisors who wish to understand the principles of good management practice and require an introduction to tried and tested management techniques.

The FAME Sales Management programme examines four key elements;

  • Focus – The real role of a manager and the requirement for clear goals and direction
  • Accountability – Defining responsibilities and the need to be a role model
  • Motivation – Understanding the key motivators for different personality types
  • Education – Coaching strategies, reviews and the need for continuous improvement.

Click Here for More Details

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This is the Salesman I Could Have Become

One of the main reasons I lasted long enough to become successful in sales and sales management, was the simple fact that throughout my career, a few people saw my potential and had the tenacity and patience to help me see it too.

I’ve quite literally filled books with the lessons they passed on, but here are just three that made a huge difference.

I need to share this with you before we go on – when I started my career in sales, I was appallingly bad, absolutely shocking. I was cocky, unreceptive, under the illusion that I could simply glide through with a smidgeon of natural talent and a touch of charm – and I shudder at the memory.

But it turns out, that’s precisely what enabled me to write my most popular books and sales training programmes for Varda Kreuz – in fact I meet ‘young me’ fairly regularly during training workshops – and I try to distil into twenty hours what a couple of incredible mentors and bosses showed me over the course of twenty years – and I’m forever grateful for the information they shared with me.

Lesson Number 1 – Deliver Value to the Business or Get out

When I was growing up, no one would ever have called my family wealthy and by the time I hit my teens I’d still never met anyone who I’d now classify as rich, and aspired for very little other than to possibly one day own my own home and drive a car.

If I had enough for the rent, an appetising fridge and enough for a few weekend beers with the boys – I was happy enough.

My first business to business sales role was a tough education – but they invested in me with training and sales tools and in return I put my suit on every day and polished my shoes.

Just earning the flat basic wage didn’t bother me, it would have been nice to receive a little more commission every month – but if it didn’t happen it wasn’t the end of the world.

I turned up for work with a smile and hoped sales would follow me in – but if they didn’t – hey, no worries.

I have to say it came as quite a bit of a shock when they fired me.

And although I don’t remember that particular sales manager as one of my favourite bosses, he changed my outlook on sales so that I’d never fall over so stupidly ever again – after that I made sure I made a difference and that the people who mattered saw the difference I was making.

Lesson Number 2 – Understand How You Help

For a good few years I walked in to see customers and sold AT them. Actually, that’s how everyone I knew sold – it’s still how most people I meet sell to this day.

Even after a week of solid, expensive, highly focused sales training with a big multi-national company – I had no concept of how I helped anyone.

We didn’t talk about it, we weren’t trained on it – no one internally saw it as a requirement or cared that it might be a better way of doing things – or produce more business.

It was a buyer called Terry Wiseman who helped me see it one Christmas.

Terry worked for a wholesaler – and told me that my generic Christmas Promotion was a bag of ****, pointless, not fit for purpose and that (correctly) it had been thought up by marketeers on the fifth floor who had never met a customer in their life.

That year I sold 5 boxes through Terry’s business.

The following Christmas I held up my hands, admitted that my ignorance towards customer buying motives and arrogant attitude wasn’t going to deliver either of us any bonus – and that’s when he opened my eyes.

He showed me why people bought my products, how they used them, what they needed them for – what flicked their switch, the quantity that they liked to purchase, the add-on purchases that could be acquired with the right bundle deal.

I sold 10,000 boxes that Christmas

Actually, it only occurred to me while writing this, that this lesson was delivered by a Wiseman at Christmas – and let me tell you, it was worth its weight in gold – Terry helped me see something I would later describe like this;

People buy drills because they want to create holes – bad salespeople present drills, great salespeople help them achieve the hole they need.

Lesson Number 3 – Make Sure You Can Go Back Again

So now my career is going through the roof – I mean flying.

Company-wide memos referencing my big wins are coming from the Managing Director’s office, I’m getting personal letters of thanks from the chairman and I’m regularly asked to host sales meetings to share my insight and techniques with the rest of the business.

I’ve had two promotions in six months and I’m being considered for another – a big one – before Easter.

And that was when my Sales Director – Craig Campbell – dropped a bombshell during my end-of-year appraisal.

“I know what you’re doing Chris – and it’s time to stop.”

“What do you mean ‘what I’m doing’? I’ll tell you what I’m doing – I’m knocking every sales target out of the park, I’m securing previously thought unwinnable contracts on a monthly basis, and I’m getting listings that no one has got anywhere near achieving in the last twenty years – that’s what I’m doing!”

The memory of his stare fills me with a chill to this day – and still makes me want to shut up immediately and leaves me feeling stupid twenty years after the event.

He put his pen on the appraisal document and slowly and precisely pointed out that my search for glory was about to fall flat on its own fat backside.

Yes – I had a knack for helping people, delivering the solution they needed and writing proposals that people actually wanted to read – and yes that had led to business going through the roof.

But that was the last time a customer ever heard from me.

Even when things went wrong or didn’t work out as well as I’d promised – I left their calls unanswered – I was too busy chasing the company-wide recognition, the next big win.

But that industry – just like every other – was too small to treat existing customers so badly.

My thinking was at least six months short of short-term thinking.

Contracts and tenders would come round again in a matter of months, new product launches would require presentations to the same groups of people, even if I moved to another business appointments would be few and far between because I’d lost their trust – and testimonials and referrals were just about to dry up and never return.

He also pointed out, that further down the line when I had my own sales team to manage, their reputation would be tainted by mine and no one would want to see them either, so that would end in failure too.

Craig shared all that with me, I nodded in embarrassment, his expression stretched into a smile – he told me that my future was bright and that I should do something about getting it back on track – and then he bought me a drink to toast my imminent success.

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Thanks for reading this blog post. On my blog, I regularly write about Sales, Sales Management and Customer Service issues, topics and trends.

I’d also be delighted to connect via Twitter, YouTube and of course, through Varda Kreuz Training.

About: Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 923 9777 (UK)

His latest book, The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club is an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller and has been heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

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Filed under Business Development, Personal Development, Sales Management, Sales Targets, Sales Training

Help – My Sales Team Are Busy Doing Everything Except Selling

BARNUM-AND-BAILEY-CIRCUS-POSTER-1917-31IN-BY-23

In this blurry new, multi-tasking, on-line opportunistic world in which we all now live – it can sometimes be a little difficult to work out where marketing strategy stops and the sales process begins.

So, as a sales manager, it’s become more difficult to draw a distinct line between all the things a sales team should be doing – and all the activities that they love to spend time on – but lead them away from the straight and true path of your perfectly worked out plan.

I’ve always liked how this quick circus analogy explains the differences between Marketing (Advertising, Promotion, Publicity, PR) and Sales.

If your circus is coming to town and you pay to have a poster on a billboard that says “The Circus Will be at the Football Ground on Saturday,” that’s Advertising.

If you put the same sign on the back of an elephant and walk it all the way through the town centre, that’s Promotion.

If the elephant “unexpectedly” walks through the mayor’s front garden and the local papers “just happen” to be there and write about it, that’s Publicity.

If you get the mayor to see the funny side – as well as the opportunity – and then you laugh together about the unfortunate elephant based madness, in front of all the reporters, photographers, prospective customers and voters, that’s PR.

If those prospective customers then buy tickets for the circus off you, and you answer all their questions and explain how much fun they’ll have if they hook-a-duck or hit the bell with the hammer when they visit the many entertainment booths, and ultimately, they spend lots of money at the circus, that’s Sales.

Here’s the problem though.

A large group of salespeople – whose sole purpose is to sell – think their time could be better spent elsewhere, away from all that boring, unproductive sales stuff.

They think they should be growing the business and driving customers towards them by taking the elephant for a walk or finding a way to make the mayor laugh. (They’re also usually the ones who dream of winning The Apprentice, but that’s another article all together)

Here’s a question to all the sales managers out there;

If it was your job to ensure that a swamp was cleared by the end of the month and everyone who worked for you just decided to do their own thing – created their own interpretation of what you actually meant by “help me clear this swamp” – would that be acceptable?

No – I know it wouldn’t – but I’ve seen it happen with far too many sales targets and business plans.

So, why is it that – once you’ve created that perfect swamp clearing plan and readied yourself for the long hours and focused effort required – the team suddenly decide that it would be a much better idea instead, if they;

  • Planted a few herbaceous borders to make the swamp look a little brighter, or
  • Wrote you a detailed plan about why you should outsource some of the jobs that they thought were beneath them, or
  • Started to find new homes for the recently displaced alligators, or
  • Spent time starting to build a long term relationship with the drainage company, or
  • Just tried to dump their bit of the swamp behind another colleague’s wheel barrow.

At Varda Kreuz, we like to break the job of a sales manager down into four easily understandable sections which come together to create something called the FAME Effect;

  • Focus
  • Accountability
  • Motivation
  • Education

When we talk about FOCUS, we ask the question – WHAT – as in “What jobs need doing?”

And when we talk about ACCOUNTABILITY we ask the question – WHO – as in “Whose job is it?”

I mentioned in an earlier articleAs a sales manager it is not your job to hit the sales target – it’s your job to ensure the target gets hit!

Subtle difference in words – massive difference in results.

When I was a sales director a while back, we were recruiting to expand the field sales team and I asked the Southern Sales Manager what he was looking for in a perfect candidate, to which he answered;

“Someone who makes my job as easy as possible.”

Simple, honest, precise – and spot on.

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Thanks for reading this article. On my blog, I regularly write about Sales, Sales Management and Customer Service issues, topics and trends.

I’d also be delighted to connect via Twitter, YouTube and of course, through Varda Kreuz Training.

Here are some of my other recent posts:

If You think It’s All About Price – Get Out of Sales

Top 3 on Amazon Best Sellers – Thanks

Are Your Sales Team Managing You?

Is Your Sales Team Culture Pirate Ship or Battleship?

About: Chris Murray is founder and Managing Director of Varda Kreuz Training, a company created to deliver sales training that really works – not in theory and not just sometimes, but sales training that really works. You can find out more about Varda Kreuz Training HERE or give us a call right now on 0844 923 9777 (UK)

His latest book, The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club has been heralded as the Da Vinci Code for salespeople.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sales Management, Varda Kreuz

Are Your Sales Team Managing You?

I don’t mind admitting, in certain things, I like to think of myself a bit of a perfectionist – one of those is the creation, and continuation, of positive customer perception.

I’m also well aware, that certain teams I’ve managed in the past, thought I worried about that kind of thing far too much.

But there’s a phrase I once heard a top Chef say, that sums up my feelings perfectly.

“Never let your mistakes leave the kitchen!”

Perception is reality – and someone else’s perception of you, the way they believe you are, is their reality.

Someone else’s account of the brilliant service they received at a restaurant matters not a jot if that wasn’t your experience, you will create your own perception on what happens to you.

So, during my very first management role, I decided that everything that left the desk or computers of my team would be a direct reflection on the way I ran the operation to anybody viewing it externally.

Having worked hard to achieve a half decent reputation in previous roles, I was aware that certain buyers were only booking initial appointments with my new account management team because they had been treated professionally and effectively by me in the past.

Therefore, I spent a great deal of time ensuring that I retained that perception by keeping a careful watch over everything that left the office.

However, I didn’t realise what I was letting myself in for.

They were creating letters that resembled thank you notes from a ten year-old, proposals that I can only assume were put together on the way in to work and their presentations had the professionalism of a high school PowerPoint project.

So I worked late, I polished that rubbish until it looked good enough for human consumption – everything that left that sales office looked so good it could have been written by me.

And do you know why? Because on most occasions, it had been written by me!

I remember perfectly the exact evening this all came to a climatic end.

I was in my office – an hour and a half hard drive from home – it was eight o’clock at night. I was polishing up a proposal for a fairly senior, but lazy regional manager, and I decided to give him a call to discuss the project we were both working on.

I had missed my children’s bedtime, I hadn’t eaten since my hurried sandwich hours earlier, the cleaners were the only other people in the building and the Account Manager – who I thought would follow me to the ends of the earth because of the dedication and loyalty that I was currently showing him and the cause – said;

“Can you give me a call tomorrow about ‘10ish’; I’m just in the pub doing personal stuff!”

When we talk about ACCOUNTABILITY in regards to the Sales Management FAME Effect, we ask the question – WHO – as in “Whose job is it?”

I mentioned in my last articleAs a sales manager it is not your job to hit the sales target – it’s your job to ensure the target gets hit!

Subtle difference in words – massive difference in results.

So, if you’re an over worked, underappreciated sales manager; here’s a question I want you to think about. Let’s see whether you’re focusing your efforts in the right direction and being as effective as you possibly could be – or whether you’re just acting like some kind of sales martyr, working yourself to death without anyone ever actually noticing.

Ask yourself this;

“Who is better off – The Manager who earns £1,150 (£60Kpa) for a 60 hour working week or the team members who earn £770 (£40K pa) and work a 35 hour week?”

Sure you get the big bucks in every pay packet, but by the hour you’re actually earning 15% less.

If you went for a job interview and were told that – as the manager you’d be earning £19 per hour – and your sales team would be earning £22 per hour – you’d think they were mad.

And yet without getting FOCUS and ACCOUNTABILITY right – the first two sections of the FAME Effect – that’s probably exactly what you’ll end up doing.

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To launch my latest book – The Managers Guide to Achieving FAME – I’m holding a number of FAME Sales Management Workshops throughout September.

The UK Workshop is taking place at the beautiful Mottram Hall in Cheshire on Thursday 25 September – and to ensure that I get to spend the appropriate amount of time with each of those attending, places are extremely limited.

I hope you can make it – together with a full day’s management training and all workshop materials, those attending will also receive a signed pre-publication copy of the new book and four exercises exclusive to this workshop to take back and use with their teams at their quarterly sales meetings.

I’d be delighted if you could join me on the day – if you can, take a look here for more details.

Best regards

Chris Murray

Managing Director – Varda Kreuz Training and Author of The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club and The Managers Guide to Achieving FAME

T: 0844 293 9777

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Sales Team or Manager – the Buck Stops Where?

When things go wrong in the world of sales, which direction do you think the buck should gravitate towards and where do you think it should eventually stop? At the feet of the sales team or the sales manager?

When you think about the phrase “The Buck Stops Here”, whereabouts on the scale, would you place yourself between these two camps;

Would you be the manager who accepts the blame for everything? Takes it on the chin, goes down with the ship? Would you offer to fall on your sword if the team failed?

or

Are you the manager who sits around the boardroom table with your fellow hierarchy, all shaking your heads, dismayed at how the sales team just don’t get it? Discussing how you did everything you possibly could for them – but the team just weren’t up to the job?

I explained in an earlier article the four pieces of the sales management jigsaw that come together to create what I like to call the FAME Effect;

  • Focus
  • Accountability
  • Motivation
  • Education

And it’s the second one – ACCOUNTABILITY – that makes us ask – WHO as in “Whose job is it?”

Yes, of course the sales teams are responsible for hitting their own targets, for slowly bringing their individual slices of achievement back to the company table, one by one, until you’ve put together a perfect and complete Success Pie.

But they’re only ever responsible for their own slice – the sales manager will always be the one responsible for the whole thing.

That may seem obvious so far – but let’s change the scenario for a minute;

What if you managed a team who peeled potatoes?

Let’s say that your target is to have 500 crates of potatoes peeled every day – and you manage a team of people who peel them for you.

What would happen, if one day, the company decided to get rid of the people and replaced them with potato peeling machines – what would your job be then?

Answerexactly the same, it wouldn’t have changed – your job, would still be to ensure that 500 crates of potatoes were peeled – because that’s what you manage.

Same thing applies with a sales team.

As a sales manager it is not your job to hit the sales target – it’s your job to ensure the target gets hit!

Subtle difference in words – massive difference in results.

So, if it’s ACCOUNTABILITY that makes us ask – WHO – as in “Whose job is it?” – then my definition of Accountability (as far as FAME Sales Management goes) is this;

As the Manager you are responsible for;

  • The way that you’re perceived – internally and externally.
  • Making sure your team understand exactly what it is the business needs them to achieve.
  • Helping them to achieve it (that doesn’t mean doing it for them).
  • Explaining to the team, in no uncertain terms, that this small part of international industry now falls under their watch.
  • Hiring the good ones, guiding back those who have lost their way, nurturing and developing those with promise and of course, advising a few that it would be best for all concerned if they furthered their careers elsewhere.
  • Keeping your part of the business in business
  • Taking complete control of, and understanding, where this road will eventually take you.
  • Understanding the 3 types of sales people and recognising who’s who on your team.

While every member of your Team is responsible for;

  • Making your job as easy as possible
  • Turning up every day with the right attitude
  • Achieving their goals and targets
  • The perception of you, your team and the company they work for externally
  • The perception of you and your entire team internally
  • Asking for help when they need it
  • Keeping their part of the business “in business”

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To launch my latest book – The Managers Guide to Achieving FAME – I’m holding a number of FAME Sales Management Workshops throughout September.

The UK Workshop is taking place at the beautiful Mottram Hall in Cheshire on Thursday 25 September – and to ensure that I get to spend the appropriate amount of time with each of those attending, places are extremely limited.

I hope you can make it – together with a full day’s management training and all workshop materials, those attending will also receive a signed pre-publication copy of the new book and four exercises exclusive to this workshop to take back and use with their teams at their quarterly sales meetings.

I’d be delighted if you could join me on the day – if you can, take a look here for more details.

Best regards

Chris Murray

Managing Director – Varda Kreuz Training and Author of The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club and The Managers Guide to Achieving FAME

T: 0844 293 9777

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Sales Managers – How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

FAME Remembered Jigsaw

A quick exercise for Sales Managers and Sales Directors, that will enable you to work out what you’re really trying to achieve.

There are four pieces of the sales management jigsaw that come together to create the FAME Effect;

  • Focus
  • Accountability
  • Motivation
  • Education

During our FAME Workshops we view the first – FOCUS – from a number of different angles.

It’s FOCUS that makes us ask – WHAT – as in “What jobs really need doing?”

Which is all fine and dandy – almost the easiest bit to achieve – for all the external stuff like the sales figures you need to hit, or where you want your brand to be in three years’ time – but what about you? 

Where are you going to end up in this plan? What bits of this really matter to YOU?

Getting focused is great for creating your overall vision and setting your goals, but have you ever considered how you – the one who manages the sales team – want to be spoken about when the Board meet up to discuss next year’s promotions and pay-rises?

Now, you might think that that’s not a very important question – but, trust me, if you really want to FOCUS on the real goals – the important stuff – and create a compelling vision that people will be inspired by, then you’ve got to work out how you feel about the things that really matter to you.

You can’t simply plan this stuff from where you are right now, from your current viewpoint – what you’ve got to do is look right to the end – and then work backwards.

So How Do Sales Managers and Sales Directors Figure Out What They’re Really Trying to Achieve?

Try out the exercise below, and I’ll bet you discover one or two key elements – missing from your current plans – which actually define your true version of success. 

Imagine it’s the last day at your current job – members of your sales team, all your peers and colleagues, the entire board of directors and even a few of your favourite customers are gathering to watch you make a little speech and share out the supermarket celebration cake.

Just then, four people step forward and say;

“Due to your outstanding contribution, we’d like to say a few words, if that’s OK?”

These four people are;

  • Someone representing your entire team / direct reports (past and present)
  • Someone representing all of your team’s customers (past and present)
  • Someone representing the heads of all the other departments in the company
  • The Big Boss

So, what would you want them to say?

Write down the four headings.

FAME - How Do You Want to be Remembered

Take around five minutes per person and write down a shorthand version of all the actions and personality traits that you would like people to remember you by and the activities and results of your team which you would be proud to be associated with.

Now – take a look at that list.

What do you need to FOCUS on to make each and every comment a reality?

Now, take your existing business plan, mission statement and vision – and start to figure out, how you’re going to make sure that it’s more than just the numbers that are achieved at the end of each year.

************************************************************

To launch my latest book – The Managers Guide to Achieving FAME – I’m holding a number of FAME Sales Management Workshops throughout September.

The UK Workshop is taking place at the beautiful Mottram Hall in Cheshire on Thursday 25 September – and to ensure that I get to spend the appropriate amount of time with each of those attending, places are extremely limited.

I hope you can make it – together with a full day’s management training and all workshop materials, those attending will also receive a signed pre-publication copy of the new book and four exercises exclusive to this workshop to take back and use with their teams at their quarterly sales meetings.

I’d be delighted if you could join me on the day – if you can, take a look here for more details.

Best regards

Chris Murray

Managing Director – Varda Kreuz Training and Author of The Extremely Successful Salesman’s Club and The Managers Guide to Achieving FAME

T: 0844 293 9777

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Filed under Management Training, Personal Development, Sales Management, Sales Targets, Self Improvement