It’s a fine line between feedback and criticism. You may think you’re offering one, but it could come across as the other – and this could lead to a team member feeling disheartene
How exactly can criticism be unknowingly veiled as constructive feedback? First, you’ll focus entirely on the negative things and none of the positive. You’ll also neglect to give helpful pointers on how the recipient could do better or tell them something you’d like to see from them in the future. Essentially, you’ve provided a problem but no solution.
Criticism like this also comes across as judgemental. The recipient feels they’re being accused of something, and there’s the implication that their worth is “less than” the ideal or that of another person. What’s more, criticism reflects badly on the person giving it, labelling them as authoritative, condescending and arrogant – something no manager or leader wants to be.
Feedback, on the other hand, acts as a basis for improvement. You’ll be clear about what the team member needs to do in the future. As a result, you’ll give them the opportunity to act on any problems as well as boost their strengths.
This type of feedback can prove to be a motivational force to the recipient; they might even find it inspires them. It will inform them of your expectations, and they won’t feel attacked or like any of their personal characteristics are being insulted. Plus, the feedback will always be centred on what can happen to help them move forward in the future – whereas criticism is generally focused on a past action or event.
There are many different models out there for giving constructive feedback, but our preferred one is E2C2. This is an acronym, which stands for the two Es – ‘evidence’ and ‘effect’ – and the two Cs – ‘change’ and ‘continue’.
You begin with evidence (something that you’ve witnessed). For instance, you might say, “When you were talking to the client, you didn’t convey our USP”. You then go into the effect of this – the impact it has had on you, them, the organisation, or your team. This might be something like, “The effect this has had on the business is that you didn’t secure the client, reducing the team’s sales figures, and ultimately reducing your commission”.
You’ll simply be outlining the situation as it stands, and taking your opportunity to critique – albeit in a constructive way as you’ll be stating the facts. You should make your observations clearly – don’t go into the ‘why’ or offer your opinion. Do this, and you risk potential character assassination or causing motivational or confidence issues.
Once you’ve covered off the two Es, you’ll then go into the change you would like them to act on. For example, “It would be fantastic if you mention our USP on your next opportunity as this will help to differentiate us from the competition”. You’ll add by saying what you’d like them to continue, such as, “You have a fantastic rapport with your clients, so let’s discuss how we can maintain that while ensuring you always mention our USP to improve the chances of you securing clients”.
E2C2 is the model we coach here at BMS Progress on our Management and Leadership course and our Level 3 Team Leader Apprenticeship. We use it because it consistently has a positive impact, and proves to be a success for our clients.
Each of these training programmes is entirely bespoke to the business and individual, making them best placed to help your leaders engage and inspire their teams as well as provide the kind of feedback that gets results. Like to know more? Get in touch today
Cold calling can be one of the most daunting elements of a sales person’s job, but it is an inescapable part of the sales function that can be enormously effective when utilised pr
In order to train others on your team to make more effective cold calls, you need to define what success looks like for your team and organisation. Is it the end result – a contact, appointment, prospect or sale? Or is it about the sales person’s confidence, warmth and personal connection? Take the time to write down the identifiers of a successful cold call and what steps sales people can take to achieve this. A clear, consistent process is crucial when it comes to teaching others how to make positive phone connections, so prepare tools such as call scripts, common objections and ways to overcome them, call structure steps and key questions to help you coach your team. Make sure all sales people are aligned on what a successful cold call entails and how they can conduct one.
Brainstorming the types of people your business sells to is a great way to get your team into the mindset of their customer. With 51% of sales leaders now focusing on increasing customer retention through deeper relationships, it’s apparent that personalising cold calling is the way forward when it comes to making meaningful connections. Discuss with your team the role of the people they speak to, what their responsibilities are and what their pain points may be – and how your product or service can remedy that. As a team, you could draw up different personality profiles of typical customers and discuss the best ways to approach each one.
Researching prospective client companies can be arduous and time-consuming for sales people, but it’s a key part of the calling process. Indeed, one of the easiest ways to fail on a cold a call is to go into the process completely cold – that is, with no prior knowledge of the customer you are speaking to. Navigate this by giving your sales team as many tools as possible to help them identify their target market and personalise their interactions accordingly. Things like google alerts, RSS readers and social searching tools can help to keep an eye on hot lists and prospects – and you should never underestimate the power of LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook when it comes to gleaning key pieces of information. Your marketing automation system may turn up prior interactions customers have had with you, while your CRM should also be mined to ensure sales people aren’t doubling up on messages and actions.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to many sales processes, and cold calling is no different. Role playing is an effective coaching practice that can help your sales people feel confident and comfortable approaching customers on the phone – and as we all know, a confident sales person is often a successful one. Role play extreme and unexpected situations as well as the common straight forward ones, so sales people feel prepared to deal with whatever is thrown at them. For example, sales people need to know how to deal with stalled deals and unsure prospects, unusual questions, negative feedback and customers who won’t commit. Run through all these scenarios with your team to help them get used to approaching different situations.
Coaching is key when it comes to nurturing sales stars, yet less than half of all sales people receive consistent coaching. Make it your mission to ensure your team receive regular training and guidance on making successful cold calls. Once you’ve created a transferrable, proven process for training people on cold calling, don’t just leave them to it – check in, listen and provide structured feedback on how your team is doing on the phone and how they could improve their approach. In turn, don’t be afraid to ask your sales people for ideas on how the cold calling process could be enhanced.
As a sales manager, it’s likely you’ve cut your teeth in the industry cold calling, therefore you know how tough it can be and the rejection your team will likely face. This empathy puts you in an ideal position to keep your team motivated and positive, with regular feedback (constructive and complimentary) to help boost spirits and keep them on track. Incentives can be hugely helpful in this, with 85% of workers feeling more motivated to do their best when an incentive is offered. Whether it’s a free lunch for the top cold caller of the week or an early finish for a great team effort, even small, non-cash incentives can go a long way to encourage extra cold calling effort.
Whether you’re recruiting new sales people to boost your cold calling prowess or want extra help in coaching and training your team, we can help. Contact us today to start a conversation, or take a look at the rest of our blogs for more inspiration.
They cost the company huge amounts of money. Lost opportunities, poor team morale, and misspent time and resources drain profitability. As a sales manager, underperformers often l
Although it can be tempting to go straight to the problem, start with their strengths. Hold an initial meeting with them and talk to them about their strengths and successes so far.
Ask them about their successes. How did they do it? What can they do going forwards to emulate that success?
Get them to write down at least 5 activities they know that gets them results, and schedule it in their diary. Not only does this build rapport and motivation, this will encourage instant wins over the next week.
Although you will have clear ideas of where you want them to be in 6 months’ time, people are more likely to strive towards a goal if they have set it themselves.
Ask them where they want to be in 6 months’ time. Why? Get to the bottom of their drivers. What will it mean for them/ their family / personal life/ the team? Open up areas outside of job role and KPIs.
Get them to write out their goal (and what it would mean to them to achieve it) and give you a copy. Every time you have a 1-1 this goal should be out on the table for recap and discussion.
The call records say your team member is only hitting half their call activity KPIs, so you may assume they need to get on the phones more or they need to manage their time better. But the frustrating thing is that they know what they must do. You have been over it time and time again with them, and they are still not doing it. There is often a ‘problem behind the problem’ and some thoughtful questioning is required to get to the bottom of it.
First, analyse relevant ratios and KPI data and have an open and honest conversation about their performance.
Then ask them to talk about their performance. Why are some KPIs lower than others? What challenges are they facing? What are the reasons behind it? What’s the impact? How are they feeling? Delve into it in detail.
As you did before, open other areas. What challenges are they facing with the team? The company, the culture, at home? Keep asking until you feel you have it all out on the table.
If there is a lot of blame, listen to their responses and put them into two categories:
“Things I can change”
“Things others can change”
Keep asking them how they can take control and change things themselves.
Once you have isolated the problem(s) you can now help them create a long-term development plan to help them get back on track.
What can you do to overcome this problem? What options do you have? What one thing will have the greatest impact on your results?
Get them to write their own development plan. This will give them ownership and make them more likely to stick to it. Break it into weekly goals and actions that you can review with them during your coaching sessions.
One big mistake many managers make is to set a development plan, file it in a dark cupboard and dust it off once a year at the performance review. The development plan should be a living, breathing document and should be used and celebrated in every coaching session. These regular coaching and shadowing sessions (weekly) are your chance to shine as a manager. This is where the real change happens.
During every coaching session ask, where are you in relation to your goal? What has been working? (do more) what hasn’t been working? (coach to improve) what are your goals for next week? How are you going to ensure you succeed?
Keep a record of all commitments made every week (you can ask them to email them to you, or update a SharePoint file). Review every week and you will quickly see what actions are working and which need more support or training.
In summary, having an underperforming team member costs time, money and stress. However, through analysis of the situation, inclusive goal setting, an updated development plan and consistent coaching, you can work with your team member to turn them around and grow a thriving, profitable sales team.
KPI’s, love them or hate them, they are part of every sales manager’s toolkit. Managed well, they will lead to high performing teams, large revenues and big bonuses. Managed badly,
KPIs are present in organisations as a way of tracking progress towards the end goal. The key point is that if your team hit their KPIs, there is a likely chance they will hit their goals. This message sometimes gets lost, however, as people grumble about KPIs without realising they are there to support their success. When entering the conversation of KPIs, a great place to start is through understanding what it will mean for your team if they succeed.
In your next team meeting or 1-1, get each person to write down the following:
“What is my goal for the quarter?”
“What are my targeted KPIs?”
“What will it mean to me if I achieve this? How will my life improve? How will I celebrate my success?
Seeing and linking the KPIs with a personal achievement goal will increase motivation, focus and drive. Encourage them to put these answers somewhere they will see them daily; in their planner, diary or on their computer.
Problems arise when salespeople believe the KPIs have been created “on a whim”, with little or no logic. They see the KPIs merely as numbers and so, to hit them, go on unqualified meetings and make pointless phone calls just to bump their figures up for the end of the month.
Speak with your seniors and colleagues to understand the logic behind the KPIs. Discuss the reason those KPIs are in place with your team, along with some examples and success stories, and they will be much more likely to jump on board.
There is nothing more demotivating than to be given new targets with no support. By following the first two steps, your team will understand what their KPIs are and why they are important. The next thing to focus on is the how.
Work with them individually to map out the following:
“To hit my goal/KPIs, what are the three key areas I need to focus on?”
“In those key areas, what are the three actions that will enable me to complete this?”
To hit my goal of £80,000 new biz per quarter, and my KPI of 16 face to face meetings per week, the three key areas and actions I must take are:
Increase appointment conversion by 20%
Make 30 calls per day, and qualify before arranging meetings.
Do a course on selling value to refine selling skills.
Re-write my proposal template to demonstrate a more compelling value proposition.
Improve my time management skills.
Listen to a book (in the car on the way to appointments) on time management.
Create a time and territory management strategy.
Reduce my number of emails from 100 to 40 per day.
Build a great relationship with my telesales person.
Organise a monthly strategy session to discuss new focus areas and techniques.
Endorse them for their hard work to their manager.
Get them lunch once every two weeks.
Once they are aware of their three focus areas, create a daily habit in the team where they ask themselves this question:
“What is the one thing in each area, that I can do today, that will have the most impact on achieving my goal?”
The one thing I can do today in each area, that will have the most impact on my goal is:
Make 30 calls to quality prospects.
Download a good time management book on Audible.
Organise strategy session with Jim (telesales) for next Thursday.
Don’t wait until the end of the quarter to review their progress.
Review their “one thing” whenever you speak to them. On a weekly basis, get them to talk through their activity and their pipeline. Ask them to project the outcome of each opportunity and get them to commit to the percentage that they believe that the prospect will close.
Support them with their key focus areas and play an active part in enabling them to hit their sales goals.
In summary, talking about KPIs is often viewed as a challenging conversation; tinged with grumbles and unrest.
However, through positioning KPIs in a strong light, offering clear support and focusing strictly on achievement, you can inspire your team to regard them as a roadmap for success.
Want to support your team in achieving their KPIs?
We can all remember a time we’ve been ‘performance managed’ the wrong way. Public put-downs, personal jibes and indirect or vague feedback can leave us disheartened, resentful and
The real secret to effective GROW coaching is to provide great feedback and ask great questions. So, instead of telling them what they must do to improve, you give them insight and help them find their own solution.
The following steps show you how to tackle a performance issue and leave your team member motivated to make change.
In order to inspire positive change you have to connect with them first. No-one likes being publicly chastised or called into an office like a naughty child for their monthly review. Instead, keep the meeting discrete, keep it light and schedule it as soon as you can after the performance issue. Sit next to them and create connection by taking an interest in them.
Then ask them questions about their goal. This could be their sales goal or a goal they have previously set (like progressing to a more senior position). Even if you think you know the answer, getting them to say it will set a common objective you can work towards in the coaching session.
“What goal are you working towards at the moment?”
At this point it is tempting to go into ‘lecture mode’ and jump in with feedback, answers and solutions. Although this feels good to you, it completely dis-engages the salesperson.
Just like a great salesperson asks questions to understand the customer’s situation; a great manager asks questions to understand their salesperson’s situation. This increases rapport, makes the team member feel heard and heightens understanding of the situation.
“How satisfied are you with your current performance”
“What is stopping you achieving your sales goal?”
“How motivated are you currently feeling?”
Now you understand their perspective, it is time to share yours. Direct, clear and constructive feedback is essential to awareness and growth, but it can be easily tarnished with vague facts and derogatory words. Instead, prepare your evidence of the negative behaviour (dates, frequency and impact) in advance and follow our tips below:
Repeat complaints or gossip of others, list problems, give personal opinions, threaten, offer no support, judge.
‘You’re way off target and a number of people have been complaining you’re bringing the team down with your low morale. Your motivation is low, you’re not making enough calls and you’re always late into the office. As you haven’t hit your goal again, you’ll need to get your act in gear or I’m going to have to issue a disciplinary”
Repeat their goal.
Ask for permission to give feedback.
Own your feedback (say “I have noticed”).
Use evidence, statistics and examples.
Have a conversation.
Offer your support.
Empower them to come up with their own ideas.
I know you want to hit your sales target and my role is to help you do that. From my perspective I’d like to share a few things I think may be stopping you from achieving your goal, is that OK?
I noticed that on both Monday and Wednesday this week you arrived 30 minutes late. When you first started, you were early most days. What’s brought this on?
Also, over the last 2 weeks you made an average of 26 calls per week. Your target is 100 calls per week. What’s caused the drop?
It has now been 4 weeks since you closed your last opportunity. You know it’s very important you hit your sales goal this month. If you don’t there are disciplinary steps I will have to take. I want you to succeed and I’m here to help you do that. So what changes can you make to help you hit target?
Next, co-create a list of changes the salesperson can make to help them achieve their goal. Bite your tongue before you jump in with your ideas; if they come up with the solution they are far more likely to see it through.
“What can you do to ensure you achieve your goal?”
“What changes can you make?”
End the process by gaining a commitment to the next steps. Make sure this comes from the salesperson, not from you! Get them to outline when you will see the changes and their ‘plan B’ if they don’t succeed.
“What are you going to commit to?”
“When will you achieve this?”
“What will you do if it doesn’t work?”
In summary, performance managing through dictatorial methods and negative feedback is a thing of the past. Instead, create an inspired and motivated team by using direct, evidence based feedback and powerful coaching support. This ultimately allows you to be clear and honest about performance issues, whilst also empowering your team member to find solutions and create long term impactful change.
It feels great getting that promotion to a sales manager position. But being a great sales manager is very different to being a great salesperson. Suddenly you have a team of peopl
As many sales managers come from top performing sales backgrounds, they often assume everyone has a high level of competence when selling. Because of this, many managers see sales forecasts through rose tinted glasses and believe too much in the ability of their team members. Not wanting to micro-manage, they leave sales problems too long before addressing them.
Instead: Remember that the behaviours you found easy and obvious as a salesperson may not come naturally to your team. Look for facts and data (KPIs, call-close ratios, closed business, revenue generated) rather than reassurances and promises. If their data is not supporting their promises, don’t let the problem drag on for months; nip the issue in the bud as early as possible. Set clear expectations and deadlines, then coach and support them to achieve it.
Another common mistake is to assume that everyone on your team has the same motivations, drivers and goals. Managers often set incentives around money and rewards, not realising that this does not drive everyone to be successful. If you are not 100% certain what each individual is working towards, how can you motivate them to get there?
Instead: schedule a 1-1 to help you get to know every team member. Everyone on your team is entirely different, with different personalities, goals and drivers. Ask them what drives them, what their goals are (inside and outside of work), what they are motivated by and how they like to be managed. Don’t forget about the top performers. Just because they are doing well it doesn’t mean they don’t need anything from you. Get to know their big picture goals and see how you can help them be even better.
Many managers find themselves managing a team of their old friends and try to keep the identity of being everyone’s mate. However, without a strong, aspirational leader the team will adopt negative habits and ultimately this will drive a wedge through team performance.
Instead: Step up and lead by example. The team don’t need a mate, they need someone to lead them. Ditch the nicknames, stop ordering shots on the work night out, go to bed before everyone else, get up before everyone else, be healthy, fit and sober… and watch what you say. Everything you say (positive and negative) will become the ‘unwritten law’ and will dictate how the team think and act. Be the leader that you would follow.
Your role is a sales manager not a salesperson. Although you know this, it is amazing how many managers attend prospect meetings with their team member and take over. An hour goes by and the manager has done all the talking. Yes, it feels good to sell but taking over does nothing for the development of the individual.
Instead: You may have heard of the phrase, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will never go hungry again”. It is the same in sales management. When in a prospect meeting, your role is to listen, observe and coach your salesperson on how to continually improve. Focus on equipping them with the tools they need to sell well and reap their success long after you have left the meeting.
Salespeople are great at finding solutions to problems. They love fixing things. However as a manager, trying to fix everyone’s problems can manifest itself in all sorts of issues; a team who delegates their issues up to you will create a huge workload as you spend your time on admin and firefighting.
Instead: Embed this mantra into your team, “Come to me with a solution, not a problem.” Getting your team to think about the solution before they ask you the question will empower them to think for themselves and take ownership of future problems.
In summary, in order for you to excel as a manager, it is important to let go of some of your old sales habits and start forging some new ones. Focus on each individual, inspire them to reach their goals, be strict on performance data, empower individuals to solve problems and become the leader who you would follow.