“Your manager is very specific when talking to you about ways to improve your sales skills.”
Sometimes it’s in the world outside of data and research where the most meaningful impact of EcSell's work hits me. This time it was the importance of giving specific feedback to those on your team that you are coaching, leading or managing. The other day my son, Ezra, had a soccer game. He’s 10 and plays for a club soccer team in the area. Because of changes to the age grouping of kids, he started this past year with a new set of teammates and a new coach.
This new team went undefeated in the fall season. When this happens, the league moves you up a competition level so that you play a bracket of tougher, more challenging teams.
Ezra’s team had their first game in this more competitive bracket recently. It was a cold, windy afternoon and I watched the game from my car knowing my daughter would reach popsicle status in minutes if we spectated from the sidelines.
A few minutes into the game, I cracked the window because I realized I could hear the coaches for each team. It was a close game and I wanted to be as present in what was happening as possible. This circumstance of being removed from the action, yet able to hear the voices of the coaches, made for a special, albeit non-scientific, data collecting experience. I could really focus in on the communication coming from each team’s coach.
The other coach had three main points of instruction for his players:
- “Take it to the goal!”
- “Get there!”
- “Win it!”
Now, there were slight variations to these words of guidance, but not by much. Ezra’s coach, Brady, however, sounded more like this:
- “Ezra, that was a great pass. You could lead him even more to the corner next time.”
- “Pick your head up as you’re dribbling and look to see who is open.”
- “Michael, you’re stabbing. I need you to use your body to force him to make a mistake.”
- “I like the idea there. A little more to the side post and that would have been in.”
While both coaches were extremely involved and vocal, Ezra’s coach was giving specific guidance to his players. It was encouraging. It was instructional. It was specific.
While Ezra’s team lost by a goal in the last seconds of the game, those scrappy players held their own in their first game in a tougher division. And, let’s face it, the final score of that day doesn’t matter at all. What does matter, however, is the teaching moments those kids had that day and that they have every day with Coach Brady. They may not win every game, but they improve every game.
Brady knows how they play, he gives them instruction based on what they need, and he does it in a way that is specific and actionable. Those kids know they need to “take it to the goal” but they may not realize they aren’t looking up when they are taking it there.
According to our Through the Eyes of the Rep Survey, only 19% of sales reps strongly agree that their sales manager gives them very specific feedback when talking about ways to improve their sales skills.
How about you? Are you a Coach Brady and in that 19%?
Just like soccer players, sales reps look to their coach for guidance to help them improve. When you provide feedback that is specific, you allow them to work on areas they may not have even seen as a potential area for improvement. It also provides for a level of accountability when you lay out explicit and clear-cut areas for action.
Your sales team will be better able to “get there” if you are specific in your feedback and coaching.
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