The sales feedback managers give is paramount to both team and individual success.  Last week, I took part in not one, but two impassioned conversations about sales feedback with featured guests on the Sales Influencer Series, Redhawk Consulting CEO Matt Hottle and Next Generation Catalyst CEO Ryan Jenkins.

In the midst of these conversations, both Hottle and Jenkins emphatically brought up the same point: "Look at General Electric! They just changed the performance review strategy they've had for 30 years to something radically different!" 

The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales Feedback

There's a major evolution taking place in how we give sales feedback to our team. To that effect, here are the 7 deadly sins of sales feedback to avoid with your team.

Sin #1. Delay feedback for days, weeks or months.

Millennials are the majority demographic in your sales force - that won't change any time soon. To that end, it's important to internalize how much millennials crave feedback. You should be giving sales feedback as soon as you possibly can. Ryan Jenkins cited a great example of a sales leader he spoke with who sat in his car each day after work and texted his sales reps a piece of either positive feedback or constructive criticism on that day's performance.


That's the type of sales feedback that proves most effective in 2015, and it's why General Electric saw fit to change its 30 year old performance review structure.

Sin #2. Evaluate with your gut instead of data.

In my post on The Best Way to Evaluate Sales Rep Performance, I cited two important articles from Marcus Buckingham and Mike Kunkle illustrating the importance of giving sales feedback that's based on data, rather than gut.

Quality sales feedback is data-driven. As the Buckingham article points out, most gut-based feedback managers provide reps is wrong, and ultimately reflects more on the manager than the rep itself.

The tools are out there to provide data-driven feedback, and mangers should deploy those to ensure the feedback they're offering is successful and, most importantly, accurate. Use Mike Kunkle's template to start evaluating sales reps based on data.

Sin #3. Fail to incorporate recognition and coaching.

Sales feedback that does not include recognition of success and coaching lessons is a waste of time and destined to build poor culture.

Anyone can point at your numbers and tell you, "Okay, you hit quota!" or "You missed quota this month!" Where you can add a lot of value to feedback is by digging deeper into why you're succeeding or where you can become more effective.

People love hearing why what they're doing is working -- and if phrased correctly, they'll embrace explanations of how they can do better. Look to incorporate a little of both each time you provide sales feedback and you'll get a lot more out of your conversations.

Sin #4. Admonish in public and celebrate in private.

Huge sin right here. Make it a point to admonish in private and celebrate in public.

If someone needs to be chastised for failing to hustle or follow the proper process, have that conversation in private and make it a constructive one. You're not going to be able to do so in public.

Likewise, you should be celebrating success in public -- doing so sets the tone with the rest of your team, increases likelihood of loyalty and helps others know who to go to for help.

Sin #5. Don't apply to tangible, set expectations.

If your sales feedback is completely removed from the tangible expectations you've set for your team -- say, you chastise someone for not making enough phone calls when that's never been a codified point of emphasis in your process, then it's missing the point.

The whole point of sales feedback is to further cement, reaffirm and align codified expectations. Think of it as an extension or continuation of your initial sales onboarding and training.

The sales feedback you give should always relate back to that initial onboarding and training. And if it deviates from it -- perhaps due to a change in company process or some other reason -- be sure to clarify that and explain why.

Sin #6. Deliver as a monologue, not a dialogue.

People love to engage in conversations about their performance -- they don't like being talked at. 

If your sales feedback tends to be a soliloquy rather than a mutual dialogue where you both learn from one another, then you're making a huge mistake with how you give feedback.

You should look at sales feedback as an opportunity to learn from your reps and get their feedback as well.

The more you learn about them, the obstacles and challenges they face, what motivates them and so forth, the better equipped you'll be to offer directly applicable feedback tailored to their needs.

Sin #7. Offer no path to future success.

Last but not least, sales feedback that does not include a roadmap to future success -- even if it's just, "keep doing what you're doing," is defanged from it's full capabilities.

Harness the moment and help your reps visualize their path to future success. Make the whole point of the conversation, "here's how you can succeed moving forward," not, "here's what you did wrong."

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, sales feedback is about having a forward-facing conversation. Look towards the future in your conversation and in the feedback you give, and it will resonate much more with your reps.

Making Sales Feedback More Effective

The sales feedback you provide your team will have an impact, one way or another, on its performance. Avoid these 7 deadly sins to assure maximum effectiveness and get the most of your conversations. Contact our team to learn how Ambition's sales performance management platform can help drive your key business objectives this year.

Ambition Software: Develop Millennial Sales Talent

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs every sales organization department, data source, and performance metric on one easy system.

Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for managing millennial sales teams. Hear from our customers below.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
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  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

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  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

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