March 14

Feedback Is Back! How To Give It And Receive It

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Feedback is an essential component of any thriving organization, yet during the upheaval of the pandemic, many leaders hesitated to engage in candid conversations, fearing it would drive employees away. However, the landscape is shifting with 40% of HR professionals prioritizing performance management this year according to survey data from Lattice, a human-resources software company. Major firms like McKinsey put thousands of staffers on notice for unsatisfactory performance.

Feedback is back!

While everyone claims to want feedback, the reality is human beings resist feedback. Sales leaders hesitate to give feedback because they dread the pushback and excuses.

Salespeople struggle to receive it, often taking it personally. They view it as rejection rather than constructive correction.

Yet, without feedback, organizations stagnate and lose ground to competitors who foster cultures of open communication and continuous improvement. Here are three indispensable practices for creating sales cultures where feedback is not just accepted but embraced:

#1. Refine your hiring process. Want to make your life as a sales manager easier? Hire salespeople capable of receiving feedback. Past behavior is your best indicator of future behavior. During interviews with potential candidates, dig into the type of feedback your candidate has received in their life from parents, teachers or coaches. Listen closely for verbal and non-verbal cues to see if the candidate resented or appreciated the feedback. Then, follow-up with questions on how the candidate applied the feedback. You want to see and hear evidence of your candidate’s ability to receive AND apply advice.

#2. Enhance your onboarding program. When onboarding new salespeople, many sales organizations focus only on teaching their new hires sales methodology, product knowledge and technology tools. While it’s critically important to teach these skills, it’s equally important is to include training around the priority your company places on feedback.  

Reinforce that feedback is the breakfast of champions and your new team member can expect breakfast quite often at your company! 

Teach your new hires to view feedback as a gift, an opportunity for improvement in their ROLE performance, not as a judgment of their character.

#3. Provide formal training to your sales managers. Most sales managers lack formal training in giving feedback effectively. or people in general have not been taught how to give feedback.  Equip your sales managers with the skills to conduct productive feedback discussions, starting with the first one-on-one coaching session with new team members.

Encourage open dialogue about the feedback process and preferences, ensuring clarity, specificity, and mutual agreement on action steps and accountability. Gallup data shows that 80% of employees who say they’ve received meaningful feedback in the past week are fully engaged. 

Remind your new hire that when people care, they share.

And at this caring company, you will have sales managers that care and share, both the good and bad. Discuss the process for giving feedback, especially around potentially difficult conversations.

Here is a sample discussion.  

💭 How do you like to receive feedback? Would you appreciate seeing the feedback in an email before a coaching conversation in order to have time to digest or do you prefer to have the first conversation in person?

💭 Explain the feedback process to your new hire. It doesn’t have to be a secret.

  • If the feedback could be perceived as negative, let your salesperson know you’ll check to see if it’s a good time to share and care.
  • You aren’t going to be vague about the desired behavior change. You’ll provide concrete examples so you don’t appear to be making up “stuff.”
  • To avoid assumptions, you’ll ask for the salesperson’s perspective.  
  • Examples will be given on how their current behavior is affecting the team or company, both positive and negative.
  • And finally, you and the salesperson will mutually agree on action steps and accountability to those steps.

There is nothing sadder than observing a salesperson who has a lot of potential, fall short of achieving that potential. Sales leaders, show that you care by sharing. Be willing to hold the truth telling conversations that shine a light on blind spots.

Feedback is back. Win more business by creating sales cultures that embraces feedback.

Good Selling!


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