How to Accept Feedback

How to Accept Feedback

Part of the fun of a career in sales is in learning how to accept feedback from a manager, coach, and even customers. Feedback exists to either make you grow or make you stop growing.

Let me explain… I have spent my entire life being told things that should cripple my abilities to succeed at anything I try to accomplish.

  1. From that time I was 5 in kindergarten, coughing my lungs up during PE class and the kids teased me for being gross.
  2. Or when I was 16 and called “fun hater” for leaving a party early to go home and do my medications.
  3. Or when I was 18 and dumped by a guy because I opted for a hospitalization instead of going to prom.
  4. Classic 21 when I was told I was stupid for dropping out of college and moving halfway across the country to live out my best days, fearful I was going to die soon from CF.
  5. To 23 when despite excessive hospitalizations, broke company records for sales to be told “she’s great at sales, but a bitch.”
  6. To when I was 25 when it was recommended to me to go on disability services for the progression of CF and told I would never again gain control of my life.

And despite some of the harshness, I’m genuinely happy these things have been said. They were “fuel” to support my higher purpose.

Harsh words will always exist.

People will say things to put you down.

People will say things to keep you from growing.

And when bad words happen to good people, let me offer you this sage advice (after all, I’ve been through it).

Only take advice from people you want to be like.

Only take advice from people you want to be like, who also are thinking and acting in your best interest.

I remember back in my sales days… the CEO of the company delivered training that was jaw-dropping and insightful. It was also boiler-room-Esque radical candor. He called out the people who were the worst performers, and in detail, explained how they could improve.

His logic and reasoning made sense. He cared for the weak performers and simply wanted to help them succeed. Just when you felt the room was going to cry.

He then twisted the entire dynamic by using that same radical candor on the top performers, sighting where they messed up and where there was room for improvement.

The Two Types of Salespeople

There were two types of people in that room when it came to accepting feedback.

The donkey and the racehorse.

You see, being a poor performer doesn’t mean you’re a poor performer. It means you had a bad week.

Being a high achiever doesn’t mean you’re a high achiever. It means you had a good week.

Your future in sales is determined by how well you accept feedback from your managers, coworkers, prospects, and ultimately, clients.

When hearing the negative feedback, some people not only made excuses but claimed they felt personally victimized. They felt that the feedback was so harsh, it crippled their confidence to pick up the phone and make the adjustments on the next call.

Alternatively, there were sales reps who when criticized, looked at the CEO with admiration for finally telling them what they need to do to improve their numbers, paycheck commissions, and personally grow.

The first group were donkeys. They hemmed and hawed and stayed right where they were.
The latter grew from the advice and broke through to redefine the company.

In a few short years, it went from a $26 million operation to a $76 million operation.

The donkeys were forced out. Some left naturally, to pursue a safer pasture.
The racehorses won every award there was, broke substantial records, and redefined the definition of what was possible.

It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How you react to and accept feedback directly determines the success you create in your sales career.

And that lesson stuck with me.

When I became a CEO and trainer, I started researching why some people thrive and others sink.

There are 4 traits that determine the success of a salesperson:

1. Inability to be coached

2. Defensive temperament

3. Low emotional intelligence

4. Low drive to focus on goals or growth

Notice…this is nothing about skills. It is everything about attitude.

With my background in sales recruiting, I’ve seen the donkeys come and go and the racehorses exceed. Ironically, the racehorses aren’t even the fastest or most skilled workers…they just “get” what the others don’t… they get how to respond when somebody tells them they need to improve.
They get how to maximize what they have when doctors tell them they don’t have much longer.

And you know what?

They win.

So next time you feel yourself getting defensive, being “called out”… remember

1. Only take advice from people you want to be like, who also are thinking of your best interest.

2. Be a racehorse.

Love and hugs,


Do you have a question about sales that you want Klyn Elsbury to answer?  Leave it in the comments below for a chance to be featured on her podcast, The Truth About Sales 

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How to Accept Feedback

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