Let’s face it, as professional salespeople we love to hear ourselves talk. Having the ability to engage in a meaningful conversation requires a copious amount of talking and allows you to differentiate yourself from media sales competitors by making a lasting impression on your customer. Effectively deploying core connective skills (Acknowledge, Confirm, Position and Check) during a conversation affects the level of trust you’re able to obtain from your customer and increases the likelihood you’ll be viewed as a trusted business advisor instead of just another order taker and customer service provider.

However, before we can deploy connective skills, we must first demonstrate our ability to communicate with our customer. This involves not only skill as a talker, but also your proficiency as a listener. The goal of listening is to show your customer that you are interested in what they are saying and understand what is being said. By understanding the levels of listening described below, you can make a conscious effort to be an effective listener and prove to your customer that you are interestednot just interesting.

Level 1 is the highest level of listening – you are completely “tuned in” by focusing on the other person. Your concentration is intense so you’re able to absorb what the person is saying. It’s important to remember that listening at Level 1 must be done “actively” and can also be demonstrated through body language in addition to acknowledging, confirming, positioning and checking.

Level 2 is the midrange of listening – you are “tuning in and out” to the customer. You divide your attention between the customer and something/someone else. Your concentration may be moderate, or it may vary from weak to intense, as your attention wanders and then returns to the customer. Level 2 commonly occurs during the “probing phase” of a sales call, when there is temptation to listen to the customer while at the same time thinking of the next probing question you are planning to ask. When you ask a customer a question, it is critical to truly listen to the customer’s response.

Level 3 is the lowest level of listening – you are “tuned out.” Your attention is on someone/something else. Your concentration on the customer’s words is lacking. For all practical purposes, you have stopped listening to the customer.

For sales calls, Level 1 listening is the optimal level and will lead to a greater likelihood of success. Use your body language, actions, and core connective skills to demonstrate to the customer that you are listening at Level 1 and are fully engaged in the conversation. After all, your customer has agreed to dedicate their precious time to meet with you – actively listening to what they have to say is the least you can do! And it should go without saying, but if you are not listening to your customer you’ll never understand exactly what their needs are, which is the reason you are meeting with them in the first place!

Have a terrific week,

If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or