A Gong Call Is Not Enough

Mar 17, 2023

You got a TON of notes on how bad your sales calls are. Your manager hacked apart everything you did. You feel like they ripped your work apart to the point that anxiety looms.

Remember feeling this as a noobie? Now that we're leading teams, let's do better.

The impact of negative feedback — saying a task was not performed correctly — does not lead people to perform better. 

Research led by Katie Sprouls also shows that some people receive negative feedback at a higher rate than their same-setting peers. This is true across industries not just SaaS sales. So, just because you "can take it" don't assume your team can. 

What's the solution for sales coaching?

Time to whip out the feedback sandwich?

I say no. The compliment sandwich is fake. We know you're doing that, stop treating us like children.

The compliment sandwich is a tired and lazy way to train sales leadership skills. It's a great soundbite, which is why it gained popularity.

The way I see it:

If you're leading a sales team at a startup, or honestly any team, you need to get past useless sales coaching calls, stop sitting in on Gongs in order to list errors afterward, and find a longer-lasting solution.

Is it easy? Also no.

Solving the problem starts with research and self-reflection. Try to gather feedback from your team INDIRECTLY. This means you need a fly on the wall in their conversations who'll share your team's thoughts on you in confidence. Top tip: DO NOT use the information garnered against them.

Read back the feedback you've given.

"Go through your Slack and look at how much positive recognition you give. You might be disappointingly surprised," says Kevin Dorsey, SVP of Sales at Bench Accounting.

Note that, "great job," is not enough. "Way to go," is not enough.

What's wrong with NOT giving positive recognition?

You should, in fact, "reward the results and recognise the behavior," according to Dorsey. He has seen that when he rewards behavior rather than recognising it, it diminishes the result. You can't achieve one without the other.

Dorsey cites the way to give positive feedback:

Recognition needs to comment on a behavior, process, or skill.

For example, "way to bring that business across the line. The way you followed up with them, you never let that deal slip and every single message you sent to them showed you connecting back to the problem you were solving. Great job!"

When we recognise the actions and controllables rather than the result, we get people out of the fixed mindset, as Carol Dweck teaches.

The more I learn how to be an effective leader, the more I realise how much having kids helps leadership. Isn't it sad that working moms are paid 58 cents for every dollar dads earn? We both have those leadership skills partly thanks to starting families.

When I talk to my kids, I have to be a positive leader with intent. Focusing on the negatives is not a good use of time.

The end of Gong call sit-ins?

Definitely not. Gong is a great tool. But whatever tool you use to record, monitor, guide, and run sales leadership training, focus your mindset on the positives ahead. Reinforce the good, otherwise... Your team might stop doing it.

This article was inspired by a conversation about way more than leadership training and sales coaching that I had with Kevin Dorsey. Listen in here.

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