Give Your Sales Leader Feedback To Grow Sales | CEO Talk Track


I commonly hear from sales managers and leads that providing negative feedback to their sales reps is their most challenging job.

And this is a problem because as VP of Sales or the sales lead of an organization, you are the spearhead of the sales team’s culture and the sales team’s performance.

It is also a problem when the CEO or founder cannot provide their Sales Head the constructive feedback needed to foster sales performance.

How can a CEO expect their sales leader to have difficult conversations with a sales manager or sales rep missing their targets if they cannot do the same with their lead?

And, I see this all the time.

So, how do you give your sales leader feedback and grow sales?

You frame the conversation with three components:

  1. Start your feedback with the facts;
  2. You address the challenge without providing opportunities for excuses;
  3. Close the conversation with your actionable next steps from your sales leader.

In this article, I give you a talk track that will allow you to confront your sales leader without being pulled into their web of lies, stories, or complaints as to why they didn’t hit their targets.


sales leader speak with prospect and sales team

Your sales leader is the first person you go to after failing to miss any revenue targets.

I do not allow excuses for missing quota or targets or any other agreed measurable metric. Your VP of Sales, Sales Head, or Sales Lead’s job is to protect your bottom line and the sales team’s success.

If they repeatedly miss targets and are on track to continue, they need critical feedback to course-correct. However, without a solid structure for this conversation, CEOs prioritize positive experiences over hurting a sales team member’s feelings.

I witness CEOs elicit sympathy while delivering feedback all the time.

It’s human psychology. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news.

Everyone wants to fluff over everything, provide all sales teams members with some positive feedback to cushion the negative feedback.

Then, they hope that somebody gets the message.

sales hiring and sales team

Remember: delivering bad news is harsh, and you may end up hurting your sales leader’s feelings.

Your job is not counseling sales professionals.

Ultimately, the business doesn’t care about feelings; you have to deliver the message, even with negative feedback. You also need this individual to produce.

Framing the conversation in a manner in which they understand and receive your message is essential.

So, use this talk track to provide productive feedback to your lead sales team member and get results, not excuses.

Start feedback with the facts

First, when you sit them down, let them know you’re going to allow them to speak their part, but you need to communicate the truth first.

Start your feedback with the facts.

My favorite phrase to start giving feedback:

“It would be irresponsible of me to allow this madness to continue and not say something.”

This one phrase elicits an instant paradigm shift in the conversation. And, creating this shift early in the exchange ensures that there are no opportunities for tall tales.

Let them know; you see that the weekly targets and monthly targets aren’t hit. And, you feel that the quarterly target will follow suit.

Now, this is essential.

Your lead needs to agree to these facts. Only a yes will suffice.

The reason why you want to start with this position is that you want to curb their perspective.

People convince themselves of all sorts of drama, so allowing them to speak their piece; it’s just venting.

And, it doesn’t lead to valuable and actionable feedback. It often doesn’t lead to anything.

Then finally, allow them opportunity to explain how they will course-correct to increase sales performance.

Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template
Systematically assess your sales leader against measurable sales leader traits and expectations. Ensure your organization’s growth.


“I see the weekly targets aren’t hit and the monthly targets aren’t hit. This leads me to believe that the quarterly targets will not be met.”

“It would be irresponsible of me to allow this madness to continue and not say something.

“So, before we proceed with this conversation, do you also agree that we are potentially in jeopardy of missing the quarterly target?”

“And if so, what do you plan to do to course-correct?”

Address the challenge

The following conversation is about addressing the challenge.

Usually, CEOs have a challenging conversation with their sales leader.

These conversations provide the sales leader the space to muddy the waters.

Often sales leaders will focus the discussion on what they believe should “actually” be measured or their perception of the “actual” challenge versus the tangible result.

They construct a safeguarding mechanism to protect themselves against too much negative feedback. Positive feedback will never elicit this response.

The key is to make the missing targets a foregone conclusion. Your goal in this constructive feedback or conversation is to move past it and look to solve the problem.

You must tell them clearly what the challenge looks like for you and what you need true.

If done correctly, the conversation avoids going down the road of talking about laydown leads, cheaper pricing, or something to do with the competition.

Those factors cannot be controlled in this meeting.

So, at this point in the conversation, it’s clearly understood why we are having this conversation.

Now, this next bit is vital.

Providing constructive feedback but not the answer

When you finally ask for their input, whatever you do; do not give them the answer.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s unlikely you have it.
  2. Even if you do and give it to them, they’re never going to learn.

You need them to arrive at this conclusion on their own.

Good feedback should also be professional development.

Your Sales Head needs to understand the process of recognizing when you will miss targets and how to pivot strategically to hit targets.

That will help them internalize an appropriate strategy.

So, next time they’re off track, the VP of Sales will know how to course-correct themselves.

Remember this great leadership principle: if the CEO comes in and fixes the problem for them every single time;

what good is the sales leader?

This is key to creating a growth-oriented feedback culture from the top down in any organization.

When you finally ask for their input, it is whatever you do; do not give them the answer.


“We need to be at X, Y & Z revenue by the end of the quarter.” (It can also be any other metric you may be measuring)

Then, allow them to state their position and ask them one or multiple of the following questions:

  • “What would great look like for you?”
  • “What would you like to accomplish?”
  • “What can you accomplish?”
  • “What are you committing to?”

Make actionable next steps

sales team sales leader success

The conversation must end with a solution.

This is perhaps the most integral component of the conversation:

“Now, help me understand how you’re going to hit this target.” Say those words. Write it down.

Once they start posing a solution, make sure you drill down and ask questions after questions. And follow it up with more questions.

Get very granular on defining the next step or subsequent action.

Do not allow them to be nebulous or leave it objective.

The following are not acceptable answers from your sales leader:

  • I just have to work harder.
  • I just have to try.
  • Let me think about it.
  • Let me figure something out.
sales leader and sales rep

They need to come to you tactically and explain the actions they are going to take, whatever the challenges.

Their response is the outcome of this conversation and is the most significant indicator of good feedback.

And, these are the activities that we’re going to then produce out of it.

That’s where you’re going to end that conversation with your sales leader.

This final part of the conversation is essential to providing your sales leader feedback that empowers them.

It’s the difference between giving them good feedback and effective feedback.

Framing the conversation this way will allow them to verbalize the actions, leading them to deliver valuable activities and align with a more growth mindset.

It acts as accountable, positive reinforcement to ensure they’re going to want to follow through with their actions, achieving success.


“Now, help me understand how you’re going to hit this target?”

As they respond to this question, ensure you redirect their answers back to the specific actions and activities that they will produce.

Especially if they continue to produce the following unacceptable responses:

  • I just have to work harder.
  • I just have to try.
  • Let me go think about it.
  • Let me figure something out.

Now let’s say they are unable to satisfy you with a correct answer, or they continue to make excuses, then it may be time to consider investing in a new sales leader.


If you avoid having a challenging but beneficial conversation with your sales leader, you put feelings ahead of your sales performance and progress.

high-performing sales team has well-formed feedback culture where constructive criticism is met with actions, not excuses. This is especially true for the sales leader of that sales team.

Do you expect your sales leader to give negative feedback to other sales managers, sales reps, or other sales team members if they miss their targets?

If so, why would you treat your sales leader any different?

So, the way I see it, you have two options:

  1. Have a difficult conversation and hit targets.
  2. Avoid that and let feelings get in the way of making genuine progress.

If you are concerned that your organization’s sales leader is not up to the task of spearheading your sales department, assess their suitability to the role.

The Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template categorically unroots current challenges with your sales leader – essentially threats to your revenue. Our Template also identifies imminent challenges specifically.

Rose Garden systematically guide you through a rubric of grading your sales leader on all the key components of success and then some.

You can’t afford to leave anything up to chance. To evaluate your sales leader, and ensure your organization’s growth, download the template now, or get a team assessment at Rose Garden.

Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template
Systematically assess your sales leader against measurable sales leader traits and expectations. Ensure your organization’s growth.
Ali Mirza

About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

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