How To Deal With Criticism From Your Sales Manager

By Jeremy Ulmer

Criticism from your sales manager (or from anyone) is not easy to handle, however, learning to deal with it can be a valuable skill. Here are some ideas to practice and keep in mind next time you receive criticism.


Take A Deep Breath & Pause Before You React

If your first reaction is to lash back at your sales manager or to become defensive, take a moment before speaking. It is natural to feel a little angry or to be on-guard. However, if you can teach yourself to take a moment before simply reacting, it will give a chance for logic to sink in and not just raw emotions. There is certainly nothing wrong with emotions, but when people are upset, they are more likely to say things they will regret later on.


Turn Lemons Into Lemonade

Sure, it may sting to hear negative feedback, but in most criticism, you can find a suggestion for improvement. For example, this criticism: “You are talking too much on your sales calls with prospective clients and just overloading them with too much information.” Can be interpreted as: “I need to listen much more, ask more questions, and talk less.” That’s just one example of course — you can do that with just about any criticism. View criticism as challenge to improve your sales skills.


Say, “Thank You For The Feedback.”

Even if your boss is tough on you, just say “Thank you.” Your gratitude will probably catch them off-guard and they may even respect you more for taking it so well. Not everyone is as positive as you may be, and your manager might just be having a bad day, (not an excuse, but be aware of this) or have a much more negative personality than you.


Learn And Integrate

After seeing criticism in a positive light, and thanking the critic, don’t just go back to selling as usual. Decide what the key take-away is to improve upon, and determine how to integrate the new learning into your work.


Don’t Stoop Down To His or Her Level

It is so easy to take criticism as a personal attack. View the criticisms as an attack on your sales skills, not on you as a human being. You will be tempted to attack the attacker, but if you do this, you are just stooping to his or her level. When you do this, you are no better than the attacker and it will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Be the bigger and better person. Rise above the critical comments and respond in a calm and positive manner…You will feel better about yourself at the end of the day.


Give The Critic Some Background When Needed

Sometimes the situation might be much more complex than it appears on the surface. After you have followed the above steps, know that is ok to give more background that might be important for the critic to understand. For instance, You could say, “I understand what you’re saying, thank you for the feedback, and I want to make this work. But last time I tried what you are recommending, it didn’t work because of ________. What do you suggest I do to make it work this time?”


Bonus Tip: Keep All Of This In Mind When YOU Are The Critic

Remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of criticism when you are the one dishing it out. Not everyone will handle it as well as you, so make sure you are clear that you simply want to help.