Sales Coaching Tip – 3 Feedback Mistakes to Avoid While Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching Blog — Page 6

Most sales managers give feedback to their salespeople the same way it was given to them.  Yet, recent research indicates you can make your feedback more effective by making a few minor changes.

Review these 3 feedback mistakes and see if you commit any of them.

Feedback Mistake 1:  Giving Positive Feedback

Salespeople love to receive accolades.

Yet, positive feedback isn’t what we all want to hear all the time.  There is a place where positive feedback is helpful in sales coaching and there’s a place where positive feedback is a liability in sales coaching.

When salespeople try new sales approaches, they usually appreciate and desire positive feedback on their new efforts.

But once salespeople develop a high level of skill or mastery in a specific arena, research (Finkelstein, S.R., & Fishbach, A.) suggests that they want “negative” feedback. They seek challenge and want to know what they did that didn’t work and figure out how to do better next time.

Knowing when to provide positive or negative feedback is essential when it comes to sales coaching your salespeople to improve their sales behaviors, and ultimately their sales results.

When you are sales coaching, keep this research top of mind.  Make note of where each of your salespeople are in their learning, and match your feedback accordingly.

Feedback Mistake 2:  Comparing Individual Results to the Team’s

It’s a natural desire to want to see measurable improvement from any learning.  And since most sales managers have a plethora of measurables at their fingertips, it’s not unusual for them to measure the performance of their salespeople’s results.  It comes with the territory of being a sales leader.

Whatever your measurables are, beware of how you use them during your sales coaching.

As much as you may be tempted to use the numbers to give your salespeople a sense of how they stack up against the rest of the team, resist it.  Research (Anseel, F., Yperen, N.W., Janssen, O., & Duyck, W.) indicates that people perform best when statistics are used to compare their past individual performance to their current individual performance, not the team’s.

Keeping this in mind, use the numbers you have to help your salespeople monitor the changes in their individual performance.  And then, base your feedback on the context of their individual improvements or slumps in results.  This will help them perform better.

Feedback Mistake 3:  Telling Salespeople How to Improve

It’s often the norm for sales managers to tell their salespeople what to do to sell more.  Sometimes this will yield a change in a salesperson’s behaviors.  But unfortunately, telling salespeople what to do doesn’t always result in change.

One way that consistently causes salespeople to improve their sales behaviors is when they become instigators of what to do differently.  To help facilitate your salespeople’s development of this kind of sales behavior initiative, ask them questions (instead of telling them what to do) as part of your feedback.  This way they become their own catalyst for change.  And you become their advocate, rather than the source of all answers.

By asking your salespeople questions instead of only supplying the answers, you increase the likelihood of them acting on their ideas.  And you remove the potential for any power struggle from trying to get your team to do things your way.  After all, what worked for you in a sales situation might not necessarily work for them because of personality differences, prospect idiosyncrasies, industry variables, technology changes, etc.

As you know, one of the reasons behind providing feedback is to help your salespeople develop better sales judgment so that next time they are in a similar sales situation they will choose the more effective response.  By asking your salespeople questions during feedback, you help improve their judgment and increase their engagement in the execution of their ideas.

As you provide feedback for your salespeople, avoid these three feedback mistakes.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see its impact on your team’s engagement, sales and overall performance.

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