“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” -John Dewey
1: As leaders, one of our most important roles is to help our team members learn from their experiences.
How do we do that?
We ask questions.
“There are two questions that we should ask of a salesperson at the end of a call or at the end of the day,” writes Brian Tracy in his book Sales Management.
The first magic question we ask is, “What did you do right?”
Notice that this is a positive question. We are encouraging our colleague to reflect on “the entire procedure from the time they picked up the phone to call to make the appointment, through preparation, arriving at the appointment, making the presentation, and everything that took place in the sales meeting,” Brian notes.
When we help our team members to consider what they did right, we reinforce and strengthen the memory of their positive actions in their subconscious minds.
Why is this important? Because they “will remember to replay and repeat these behaviors in their subsequent sales calls,” Brian predicts.
2: The second magic question is, “What would you do differently next time?”
“The answer to this question is also positive,” he observes. “It helps salespeople to review their own performance and think of ways that they could improve next time.”
3: Brian contrasts this approach with old-school sales managers who grill their salespeople after each call or meeting.
“What did you do wrong?” Or “Where did you screw up?” Or even: “How did you blow the sale?”
Questions like these reinforce the person’s negative behaviors. Psychologists have found reflecting on the negative aspects of what occurred drives those lessons into the subconscious mind.
Which makes it more likely that they will reappear again in the next sales opportunity.
“On the other hand, when we talk to people about what they did right, and what they would do differently next time, they are much more likely to improve their performance,” Brian writes, “and far more rapidly than we might imagine.”
What did you do right? What would you do differently next time?
Turns out these questions are good ones to ask in all areas of our life. Not just in sales.
Reflection: Is my tendency to ask positive questions or negative questions?
Action: Experiment with asking Brian’s questions: What did you do right? What would you do differently next time?