Yet, when it comes to giving coaching feedback – most managers don’t do it enough, many times it is water off a duck’s back, and sometimes it makes matters worse.
There are many reasons why giving feedback often fails to make a difference. Some relate to the mind-set and attitude of the sales rep receiving the coaching while others pertain to how the feedback is provided.
Let’s look at the salesperson being coached first. One of the underlying reasons why feedback often doesn’t work, stems from the fact that most people struggle when self-assessing their strengths and weaknesses. What most people end up doing is seeking out evidence that confirms their positive opinions about themselves and ignore contrary evidence. When this happens, many salespeople hold onto a positive self-assessment even after their sales manager has shared contradictory feedback. So, receptivity is an issue.
A part of the receptivity issue also relates to the content of the feedback. Another, and equally important part, is how the feedback is provided. A partial answer for the latter part is giving more attention to the details of the language used – specifically the pronouns.
If receptivity is to be improved, it is important to distinguish between situations where sales managers are providing feedback about things they do positively vs. a negative behavior or action. The positive part is usually a non-problem. On the other hand, the negative part can be much more difficult to handle effectively. So, let’s compare two different approaches for handling feedback about a negative.
- Approach 1. “Lee, in the call yesterday the way you handle the objections didn’t go very well – that is something you need to work on.”
- Approach 2. “Lee, in the call yesterday I couldn’t track the way you handle the objections – that is something we need to work on.
When comparing the two approaches, the key is which question is likely to create greater receptivity? We would suggest the sec on approach does a better job because it conveys the notion that the sales manager and sales rep are in this coaching effort together.
Now, if a sales manager provides a sales rep with feedback only once every two months or so, than this subtlety of language will probably not make a difference. But for sales reps who provide more frequent sales coaching feedback – words matters – they can influence receptivity.
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