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Giving Positive Feedback

During a feedback session, the sales manager cannot only congratulate the sales rep for their achievement but also help the sales rep to better understand why they achieved the win in the first place.

Coaching Is A Balance

Good sales coaching is a balance— a mix of feedback on things that go right, as well as feedback on things that don’t go so right. The problem is we tend to get out of balance.

It is easier to see the ineffective (the faults and mistakes) than to detect and analyze skillful performance. Inevitably, this colors the feedback we give. It is much easier to focus on the negatives than the positives.

A common how-to instruction for giving feedback suggests starting by saying something encouraging, moving on to the behavior that needs to be improved, and closing with something positive.

Don’t Wait To Give Positive Feedback

A second and more effective approach is to not wait to give positive feedback on good performance until it’s time to correct a mistake. This is because the praise part of the feedback can come across as patronizing and insincere.

Instead, be on the lookout for good sales performance and immediately provide some positive feedback. If you are the one on the other side of the table, the difference is absolutely dramatic.

The Link Between Positive Feedback and Constructive Criticism

Let’s take the example where a sales rep has successfully closed a deal.  One of the unique aspects of this situation, of course, is the inherent positive feedback a salesperson gets from closing a deal.

After all, closing a deal is great! And for large opportunities, the win often is celebrated inside the sales team; again, they receive automatic positive feedback.

Yet, positive feedback often stops there.

All too often, sales managers do not sit down with a salesperson who has closed a winning deal and leverage the win as an opportunity to have a second-level feedback discussion with the sales rep. That is where constructive criticism could take place.

Two Tips For Driving Success With Feedback

Analyze The Win.

Particularly in complex accounts, it can be difficult for sales reps to analyze the critical activities that led to winning the accounts.

So in the feedback session, the sales manager cannot only congratulate the sales rep for the achievement but also help the sales rep to better understand why they achieved the win in the first place.

Leverage The Win.

Helping salespeople to understand how what they did well in winning one account can be leveraged for handling difficult situations in other accounts.

If someone is good at something, helping them to parlay that something in as many ways as possible is not only positive feedback, it’s smart business. It is also possible for the sales manager to blueprint how the win was achieved into a set of best practices that can be shared with other members of the team.

Positive feedback tends to be underutilized and its power underestimated. Doing a better job in determining when to provide positive feedback and how to provide it can be an invaluable step towards improving sales coaching.


Whether you are a sales professional looking to level up, a sales leader who needs help building a high-performing team, or a business owner seeking to accelerate revenue growth, we’ll customize a coaching plan and path just for you. Check out our coaching programs!

About the author

Janet Spirer

Janet Spirer

Dr. Janet Spirer has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School…

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