A Good Debriefing for Better Performance

  • 4 min read
  • May 13, 2021
A Good Debriefing for Better Performance

There’s nothing like a debriefing to draw all the lessons from a sales action carried out by several people in less than an hour. Expert advice on how to optimize this moment, which is often wrongly sacrificed due to lack of time.

Collective debriefings aim to help sales forces achieve their objectives and strengthen their performance. Moreover, managers generally think that a debriefing takes place at the end of an action. But it is not necessary (or even advisable) to wait for this moment to debrief, in order to keep the sales force always on the move, active, dynamic, and above all able to adapt more quickly to any situation.

Why is debriefing an event important?

Even when an event seems to have gone off without a hitch, there are always areas that could be improved – that’s where a post-event debrief with your team becomes relevant. Taking the time to debrief an event has many benefits, such as gathering valuable feedback, streamlining your process, improving the attendee experience, and nurturing your relationships with sponsors, vendors, and staff.

By taking the time after the event to capture your notes and ideas, your events will improve year after year! In addition, when you need to delegate the organization of the event in question to a collaborator, all they need to do is follow the recommendations in the report to make the event a success.

When and how long?

The ideal debriefing lasts between twenty minutes and half an hour. Beyond that, it becomes a classic meeting, where you take the time to reflect and put things straight. Its frequency depends on the company’s sales cycle and the complexity of the offer. It is very important for the manager to organize them regularly, and even to make them part of a routine.

Far from being superfluous, debriefings should even become a ritual in the service of performance. But whatever the frequency is chosen, the debriefing takes place “on the fly“, as soon as possible after the auction, so that the salespeople still have in their memory non-verbal elements (such as a customer’s attitude) that could enable them to assess the chances of success and the moment when the sale could take place, in other words when their objective should be reached. These are things that, unlike factual data, usually do not keep a written record of and are lost over time.

The debriefing agenda

The debriefing must follow a precise schedule. It starts with a round table discussion where each salesperson talks about his or her actions, the intermediate objectives reached, his or her perception of his or her own actions, and the maturity of a customer or prospect. To do this, each person uses figures, facts, and figures in a concrete manner.

At the end of this round, the manager takes the floor to summarize the interventions. He or she also sets an action plan, the objectives for the future, in other words, concrete commitments that must be fulfilled for the next debriefing.

He/she must also give a motivating speech in order to keep the teams focused on the objective. To do this, he/she highlights the strong points, so as to create an internal emulation. He can also suggest a grouping of skills (without going so far as to form workgroups) to achieve a particular objective.

Although the debriefing can end with a question and answer session, it leaves little room for discussion. It is a performance review, not a forum for discussing substantive issues or exchanging best practices, which can be done in meetings set up for this purpose.

At most, it can be used to quickly resolve a sticking point. In all cases, the manager or one of the participants will draw up a final report of the exchanges and distribute it to the people present.

Furthermore, if it is a debriefing of the key stage of an action (such as a signed contract, which is only a stage, since the client must now be made to grow…), the manager congratulates his teams and makes a proposal to celebrate this victory (sharing a bottle of champagne, a team meal). The idea is to carry out an exceptional action in order to preserve the sales force’s dynamic.

The manager’s posture

The manager is there to put the sales action in perspective. He knows how it fits into the overall project, what milestones it sets for the future, how it will help the team to reach the annual objectives. Thus, he must show his sales representatives how their work contributes to the progress of the whole while leading them to broaden their thinking, to see beyond the projects that concern them directly. In concrete terms, he regularly reviews the company’s meters. It is also up to him to inject energy and dynamism so that this exercise remains attractive for the salespeople and is effective despite its regular, routine aspect: this is the paradox he must face.

The role of facilitator depends on his human and technical qualities to set the pace, to remobilize.

But to increase the impact of his debriefing, the manager will also have to rely on adapted tools. Flipchart, video-projected document… Whatever the medium is chosen, the idea is to keep it simple, bearing in mind that the debriefing has a short format.

The participants

The debriefing does not only concern all the salespeople involved in a project. If the manager sees fit, he or she can also invite other departments, in particular sales administration, or even anyone who has a role in the sales action concerned (an employee in charge of selling accessories, a store clerk in a supermarket who has to identify additional needs, etc.). It will include between five and fifteen people. Beyond that, an additional meeting may be necessary so that everyone can express themselves and the manager can keep control of the situation.

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