Receiving Feedback: How to Do It Better to Reap the Benefits

receiving feedback

Receiving feedback is a necessary part of growing professionally. While it may be difficult to face at times, it’s important to be thoughtful about what you hear and use it to improve as a salesperson. Because of just how tailored personal feedback can be, it can be extremely valuable. As business thinker and author David Burke points out in an article, “Feedback is a better teacher than books, academic journal articles, trainings, speeches, even TED Talks." While he discusses receiving feedback as a leader, his tips for doing so can easily be applied to salespeople as well.

  1. Begin by saying thank you.
  2. Restate what you heard.
  3. Mention what you’re changing.

Get Better at Receiving Feedback

While most will agree it’s pretty easy to hear glowing feedback from a manager or other leader, the same can’t be said for receiving not-​so-​good reviews. Even when delivered as thoughtful constructive criticism, hearing what you need to improve upon can be tough. Pride, embarrassment, anger, and confusion are just a few of the emotions that can surface. But it’s important to manage yourself and your feelings when receiving feedback so that you can continue growing in your sales career.

Burke shares tips for professionally and thoughtfully taking feedback, as well as how to respond to it and take action to improve where needed.

Begin by saying thank you.

Even when receiving feedback that may not be stellar, thank the person giving it. “The very first response you give when someone gives you feedback should be a response of gratitude,” Burke writes. “Don’t get defensive. Don’t offer to explain what they might not understand. And don’t even jump further into what you should change (we’ll get there). Instead, take time to offer your thanks for the gift you just received.” Yes, even negative feedback is a gift. Why? The other person is taking a risk with being honest, facing the possibility of anger or retaliation. Show them immediately that you are willing to listen by setting their mind at ease and thanking them for taking that risk to help you improve.

Restate what you heard.

Like when practicing active listening with prospects and clients, repeating what you heard shows the other person that you listened when receiving feedback. Like with the first step, it shows the other person that their effort isn’t being wasted and that you are willing to listen. And it also ensures that you heard correctly. As Burke adds, you don’t want to risk learning the wrong lesson. Repeating feedback you’ve been given ensures you both are on the same page. This step immediately sets you up to make the most of this opportunity to grow.

Mention what you’re changing.

The third step, according to Burke, is to explain how you are going to put this feedback into action. Listening is important, but it’s not productive unless it drives improvement. “It’s only when feedback is used to figure how to act differently (or start or stop acting) that growth actually happens,” he explains. He also adds that you don’t need to complete this step immediately after receiving feedback. You will likely need time to process it and determine how you can use it to improve. “…it’s okay to circle back with people later on, re-​thank them for their feedback, and then mention what you’re changing. But once you’ve figured out how to apply feedback, share it with those who gave it.”

Not getting feedback? Ask.

Feedback, as part of a coaching program, provides incredible value. Paired with these and Burke’s other tips on how to use that feedback, reps have the power to grow and improve their career. If your manager doesn’t offer frequent feedback, reach out and ask. SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep survey found that 63.2% of reps say their manager’s coaching has a positive impact on their win rate and/​or they’d like to have more sales coaching.

If you are a manager, check out SalesFuel’s special report, Managers As Coaches, which gives real-​world insight into coaching and its benefits. 

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.