Radio Sales Today

RAB Sales Tips

Constructive criticism is a myth

Often in sales and in life we find ourselves "reframing" something so that it provides greater understanding or is more palatable. Constructive criticism is one of those issues. I'm just typing the words in case reading the words can cause stress. Criticism is defined as the expression of disapproval of someone, or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. Ouch. How can that ever feel constructive?

In Inside Radio's reporting of the Country Radio Seminar (CRS) last month, they had a great article on coaching talent. While the advice was for on-air talent and programmers, it's equally applicable to sellers and sales teams. The article points out:

When it comes to the relationships between morning teams and their PDs and talent coaches, trust and mutual respect are essential elements.

Trust and mutual respect are the foundation for any coaching, including sales. It sounds a heck of a lot better than constructive criticism doesn't it?

Harvard Business Review provides the GROW model for effective coaching. Grow is an acronym, and the four action steps are:

Goal — Establish what they want to accomplish right now. They suggest this question: "What do you want when you walk out the door that you don't have now?"

Reality — What is the current reality? Ask questions rooted in what, when, where and who. Each of which forces people to come out of the clouds and focus on specific facts.

Options — At this point, your task as a coach is to get them unstuck and to think more broadly. You're leading them on a path of self-discovery with questions about potential options.

Will — This is the step where you determine the next steps. The question: What will you do? This encourages the person you're coaching to provide an action plan. The other part of the will is, are they willing to do it?

Criticism is judgmental. That's harsh. Coaching is a form of development in which an experienced person — the coach — supports someone as they pursue the level of achievement, they want by providing guidance and training. The key difference is you are helping them achieve what THEY want. I believe everyone wants to get better. Getting better is rewarding on so many levels for all involved.

As you pursue getting better would you rather be coached or criticized?

Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development