Imagine this scenario: You’re managing a seller who is excellent at developing close relationships with their clients, but you’ve noticed they've been running late to several prospecting meetings in recent weeks. You want them to be on time for their meetings and are preparing to give them feedback on this issue.
Which style of feedback do you think would motivate them to be more punctual?
Option 1: “You are so good at connecting; I bet you could utilize the 5-10 minutes before your meeting starts to get to know your clients on a more personal level. What do you think?”
Option 2: “Don’t be late for meetings; it’s unprofessional.”
Most of us can agree that Option 1 is likely to feel better for both the manager and the seller, but will using this style of positive feedback lead to more on-time meetings?
The answer? Yes, absolutely.
The Power of Positive Feedback
The research on feedback is compelling — studies show that people who regularly receive feedback on their strengths sell 11% more than those who do not.
In fact, not coaching to someone’s strengths can be quite harmful to their performance. In a 2014 study, researchers found that a person’s “fight or flight” response is activated when receiving critical feedback, which “inhibits access to existing neural circuits and invokes cognitive, emotional, and perceptual impairment."
Of course, it’s not just the frequency of feedback that matters. Knowing how to coach to someone's strengths, even when trying to work around an area of weakness, is key.
5 Positive Feedback Examples
Imagine being able to give all your sellers an 11% boost, just through feedback. Try one (or all of these) this week with your team!
1. On-the-Spot Feedback
When you see a seller doing something great, even if they do it all the time, call it out as soon as possible. Don’t wait for your next 1:1 or team meeting to share feedback — it has more potency when given right away.
Try this: “Nice job getting that contract to move forward. I know that client can be a bit tricky to work with. You do a great job making sure nothing stays in limbo for too long!”
2. Caught Doing Good
Do you have a seller who’s light on activity this month? Someone who is hesitating to reach out to qualified leads? Catch them doing the desired behavior and celebrate it. The more you focus on it, the more they will be focused on it too.
Try this: “I just took a peek at your calendar, and it looks like your week is filling up with discovery meetings. Great work! Let me know if you need anything from me.”
3. Strengths-Based Feedback
If an individual on your team has a weakness that's getting in their way, use one of their strengths to help them work around it. People can grow in an area of strength by as much as ten times, but they can only grow about 10% in an area of weakness.
Try this: “You are so good at connecting; I bet you could utilize the 5-10 minutes before your meeting starts to get to know your clients on a more personal level. What do you think?”
4. Specificity is Key
When it comes to feedback, the more specific, the better. General comments like “good job” are well-intentioned, but don’t move the needle much for growth and development. Instead, aim for being as specific and clear as possible when highlighting a job well done.
Try this: “I love that you thought to pull up the example results you got for a similar client in this presentation — that really seemed to be an ‘ah-ha’ moment for the decision-makers in the room. Well done!”
5. Keep it Conversational
Giving feedback should be a two-way conversation — briefly share with them what they did well and give them space to respond. You will likely walk away with even more information about how you can coach them in the future!
Try this: “I just heard from the CEO at Company A, and they were really impressed with the solution you provided for them. They’ve historically been one of our toughest clients — what did you do that led to such a successful partnership?”
Why is Positive Feedback Important?
One of the best ways to grow and develop your salespeople is through the effective use of feedback.
People need more feedback on what they're doing well than criticism on what they're not doing well. Both are necessary, but it’s also important that you focus on the ratio of positive to negative feedback. We suggest aiming for 5 positives to every 1 criticism.
When observing your sellers, take detailed notes on all of the things each individual does well and one or two things you think they could improve. This will help you provide lots of feedback on positive behaviors they should repeat and give them a few things to improve.