A Word of Encouragement

Toward the end of our recent Richardson *webinar on sales coaching, one of the participants asked an interesting question.

During the webinar we discussed giving feedback to a salesperson during the coaching session and reviewed feedback guidelines for giving feedback, including starting with strengths before giving feedback on areas for improvement.

One of the sales managers participating in the webinar asked, “Isn’t it better to give areas for improvement before giving strengths so you can end on a positive note?”

The question made sense because ending on a positive note is motivational and encouraging — both are important in a coaching session.  There is a way to begin and end with strengths.  Managers should begin to give feedback by describing strengths.  Salespeople are human and they need to know you see their positive points.  No one is 100% off-the-mark and no one is perfect in the pure sense of the word.  Salespeople learn from their strengths, and providing feedback on a strength helps reduce defensiveness and makes the salesperson more open to the critical feedback.  Then give areas for improvement.

Then at the end of the coaching session, express your support and confidence.  This lets you end on a positive note and still start with positive feedback, and follow it with areas for improvement. Then summarize next steps, expected outcome, time frames, gain agreement, and then end on a note of encouragement.

By ending the session with words of encouragement you let the salespeople know you believe in their ability to make the change.  You instill confidence and help them believe in themselves.  As long as a salesperson is on your team, end each session with encouragement, i.e., “Bob, I am happy we could discuss this and I am confident you will succeed in …”  It goes a very long way in helping salespeople achieve their objectives and feeling good about themselves and you!

The sales manager was correct in his thinking — end on a positive note.