My job as a Talent Analyst and coach often allows me to be the fly on the wall within our client organizations. I am able to observe the performance of highly talented salespeople and sales managers and witness the milestones and potholes on their journey to success. One of my greatest takeaways has been the value of effective performance feedback. It is often the difference-maker between those that achieve greatness and those that don’t.
If you are managing people, this is great news! I am going to help you to deliver the best performance feedback possible and give the person you are praising a leg-up on their next success.
The Key to Awesome Feedback: Be specific!
While a pat on the back with a “good job!” is never a bad thing, it is not effective as a way to grow people or increase performance. You need to be much more specific about what you saw, what you liked, and how they might replicate and even improve that behavior.
Here’s how this sounds when it is subpar, mediocre, and great:
Subpar Feedback: “Great sales call, Tom!”
(Too general, could be referring to anything and anyone—not effective)
Mediocre Feedback: “Wow. Tom! You really worked hard preparing and you knocked it out of the park on that sales call!”
(A bit more specific but still far too general--there is not much Tom can learn or gain from this)
Great Feedback: “Tom, you did a tremendous job on that sales call. I love how you were able to take an existing case study and use it as an example to explain why the idea you presented is the best way for this client to go. You were able to explain a lot of complicated information in a way that made sense to the client, and show them exactly how we would be able to track their results and make course adjustments on the way. You also did an excellent job of showcasing exactly how customized their plan could be. Great job!”
The only way to become a natural at giving feedback like this is to practice. Next time you hear yourself saying, “Good job,” challenge yourself to take it a step further and give the kind of feedback that leads to additional and increased success.
Also, consider the following tips to increase sales performance with successful feedback:
- Set clear expectations so they know exactly what you want them to do
- Pay attention and watch closely so you don’t miss their big moment
- Give feedback often – don’t wait until after they’ve lost the sale to teach them
- Cheer often and cheer loudly
- Prepare yourself for how you will respond when they are successful—and when they fall down
- When they do fall, tell them they’ll be alright and get them right back up to try again
- Don’t hold their mishap against them; call it a do-over
- Gradually increase your expectations—but only when they are ready
- Give them opportunities to demonstrate their skills to others once they feel confident
- Be consistent
It’s not easy, but taking the time to give the right kind of feedback to your talented salespeople will pay off. It’s how you can develop them, keep them, and turn their talent into performance.