The Secret to Improved Sales Performance: 2 Strategies for Better Team Feedback

Are you a better sales rep than you were a year ago (or two years, or five)?

Who or what helped you improve?

Successful sales teams put a premium on continuous improvement. They understand how to give and receive feedback. As a result, they're more effective at connecting with prospects and converting them into clients.

Use the resources below to create a “virtuous feedback circle” to hone your skills:

1. Understand and Offer the Right Kind of Feedback

Good intentions do not necessarily yield good results. What you see as constructive criticism may not resonate with your colleagues.

To ensure your feedback works as intended, check out these two articles:

The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio. In this piece from the Harvard Business Review, you’ll learn why feedback should be mostly positive. You’ll also learn the exact ratio of positive-to-negative feedback that produces the best results.

How to Create a High-Performing Sales Team: 3 Rules for Giving Fruitful and Friendly Feedback. In this post from October, we discuss the praise-to-criticism ratio alongside two other ways to ensure your feedback resonates.

2. Coach Your Team (and Yourself) to Receive Feedback

Even the kindest, most conscientious, and most constructive feedback will fall on deaf ears if your colleagues aren’t ready to hear it.

In fact, the ability to receive feedback is more important than the ability to give it. That’s because the former requires a willingness to learn and improve that sits at the foundation of all positive sales cultures.

For insights on how to coach your team (and yourself) to receive feedback effectively, consider these six tips from the HBR article Find the Coaching in Criticism:

Know your tendencies.

Think about your own reaction to certain kinds of feedback, and use that knowledge to ensure you receive feedback when you know you’ll be most receptive.

Disentangle the “what” from the “who.”

Your impression of feedback is colored by your impression of the person giving the feedback. Strive to be objective and to focus on the content, rather than the source, of the feedback.

Sort toward coaching.

Perceive feedback as a suggestion for how to get better in the future, rather than as an indictment of your past approach.

Unpack the feedback.

Often, feedback is generic and/or vague. Don’t assume the worst; analyze what the feedback really means before you react, and ask for clarification.

Ask for just one thing.

Actively solicit feedback--when you ask for it, you’ll me more open to what you hear. And the more specific the request, the more useful the feedback will be.

Engage in small experiments.

Not sure whether a suggestion is valid? Give it a try. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll have a better understanding of how to tackle the job the next time.

While these guidelines can help create a feedback environment that leads to a higher-performing sales team, it’s always smart to do a reality check.

Ask yourself: what has worked well for you or failed miserably when it comes to offering feedback and improving team performance?

Then reevaluate your past approach with the goal of ensuring feedback is given--and received--with an eye toward refining your team’s performance…

...and closing more deals.