Shari Levitin Blog

Why Perfect Practice is Never Enough – 4 Principles of Constructive Feedback

I used to work with a guy named Barry Fonda. Barry showed up to an interview with the boss carrying his trophies and plaques in his suitcase. He placed them on his desk before the meeting started. Barry was a skilled presenter, but he wasn’t interested in improvement.

Barry was his own worst enemy. When his sales went down, his excuses went up. He spent more time defending his lack of sales than it would have taken to learn more about the product he was selling or the different markets he was in. When offered coaching, Barry pointed to his awards and said he didn’t need it. Soon, Barry’s trophies were relics of an era that had long passed. Have you ever noticed that it’s the top 25% of the salespeople that buy sales aids such as books and online learning programs? You might say, “That’s because they can afford it.” I can tell you firsthand it’s the other way around; they can afford to finance their ongoing education because they’ve been putting in the investment since day one.

Perfect practice is key to earning and growing. Without feedback, how do you know you’re practicing perfectly? You simply can’t go at it alone. To paraphrase author Dr. Henry Cloud, a combination of feedback and deliberate practice is critical to your growth and success. Success isn’t just a matter of swinging the golf club for 10,000 hours, it’s doing so with feedback from coaches. Whether you’re a pilot, skier, author, or parent, research shows that positive, immediate and constructive feedback will help you understand what you’re doing well and where you can improve so you can repeat and master your best performance.

The question is from whom do you get feedback? Not just anyone. Choosing a mentor or a coach is one of the most important choices you’ll make. The last thing you want to do is practice incorrectly and create destructive neurological patterns.

#1 – Make certain that the person who’s giving you the feedback understands what you’re trying to accomplish. Think about the iconic quote from Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird: “You never really understand a man until you see things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Don’t assume that the person giving you feedback will automatically know what you want to achieve. By letting him or her know a bit about your goals, you’re more apt to get the right feedback.

#2 – Seek out someone who can give you constructive feedback. This is hard. No one likes being told what he or she did wrong. The person who offers feedback is wise to first tell you what it is you did right. By hearing the good first, your brain will be more receptive to the areas where you need to improve. Too many mentors offer a laundry list of what you did wrong. Just as important: what did you do right?

#3 – The brain can’t possibly remember 36 new steps to incorporate into a sales presentation. The key is knowing that in almost every process, there are core catalysts that will spur the sequence to line up correctly. Learning to ski is a great example; you quickly realize there are several rules about mechanics and proper form. However, a great teacher will direct you to begin with your focus on leaning forward then, keeping your hands upright and parallel to your waist. What are the three main strategies you can incorporate today to dramatically increase your performance?

#4 – Feedback must be specific. I hear people all the time proclaim they want to be more successful. What does that mean? It obviously means different things to different people. To some, success might be earning $25,000 per month and buying a new BMW. To others it may mean getting a promotion or spending more time golfing with friends. Platitudes such as “sell emotionally,” “isolate objections,” or even, “make a friend,” aren’t helpful unless you can break down the specific skill sets you’ll need to accomplish that objective.

Sometimes a personal coach who is willing to watch and critique you can be tough to find. So what’s the next best thing? How about a virtual coach? Sign up for Levitin Learning now and learn what to practice and how to practice it. Click here for more info.

Your future success hinges on your ability to tackle future challenges rather than reveling in past success.

Shari Levitin

Learn more with Shari’s book Heart and Sell: 10 Universal Truths All Salespeople Need to Know.

Twenty years ago, Shari Levitin coined the term, “Third Level Selling,” and trained thousands of salespeople and corporate leaders on a system of emotional selling that revolutionized the sales process and created over a billion dollars of ROI for some of the world’s top corporations.

Shari Levitin takes this concept to a whole new level and shows salespeople, managers and entrepreneurs the methods to create an emotional customer experience that creates true urgency, a process to decrease objections that result from a more sophisticated buyer, and techniques to manage your own emotional state to ensure sustained performance and a shorter sales cycle. READ MORE

 

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