My family just finished submitting our taxes. It’s not my favorite time of year.
I dread it because it’s a time to take stock of choices made through the past year, make preparations for the next, and rummage through all the receipts I’ve squirreled away for 12 months. There’s always that fear that I was oblivious to something I did months ago that will now result in the paying of my children’s college education savings in back taxes.
I’ve been doing my own taxes since college. While I had some outside help the first few years I filed taxes, I do it without any outside help now. This means I have years of experience in tax preparation. I’m a veteran. I can easily tell myself that since I haven’t been audited, I’m totally awesome at filing taxes.
But how much would I benefit by having someone sit down with me and really talk through the information I have submitted? Or better yet, how much would I save by understanding what information I should have saved or what I should have been doing the past 12 months? Without that outside feedback, I’m still getting along just fine, right? But is fine really what I should strive for?
And then I realized how much this parallels data I have been working with from the Through the Eyes of the Rep survey. A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how our survey data shows that as a sales rep grows in tenure, they have fewer one-to-one meetings with their reps. As an extension of this branch of research, our data also tells us that more experienced sales reps receive less documented feedback on their sales skills. In other words, the more veteran a sales rep is, the less likely they are to receive formal feedback.
I blog about my feelings when filing taxes here because I think it parallels the survey data we have uncovered. It applies to how sales managers should be thinking about giving documented feedback to their reps. While your reps may be doing fine – even great – how much more would they benefit by having a time where they meet with their manager and have feedback given to them in more of a structured, formal manner? And better yet, how about giving this feedback one a more regular basis than just once a year like we do with tax filing?
I know I would be more efficient at tax time and make different decisions throughout the year if I reviewed and tended to my financial information and documentation on a more regular basis. I would already have a good idea of where I stand financially. There shouldn’t be any surprises. Plus, my records would likely be pretty top-notch in case a problem would ever pop up.
How would your documentation fair if the sales skills of your sales team were to be audited tomorrow? Do you know exactly where the sales skills of each of your sales reps, regardless of their experience, stand? Anecdotal, best guess, or last year perspectives don’t count. I’m talking about documented knowledge. Knowledge that is current and accessible for not only you but also for your rep. Just like my having done taxes for multiple years doesn’t keep me on the cutting edge of tax savvy, having experienced reps doesn’t mean that they couldn’t use regular, documented feedback to keep them sales savvy. Taking the time to meet with your reps and provide both of you with documented feedback is a sound investment.
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