Listening is important to sales
Many people assume they are good listeners, but very few actually are. Most people focus more on developing their speaking skills rather than their listening skills. The lack of good listening skills can cause errors in work and can also result in lost sales, customer dissatisfaction and failure in all communications.
Bearing in mind that listening is important to sales, here is an overview of four general categories or levels of listeners into which people usually fall. Each level involves a certain depth, or lack of concentration and sensitivity. Depending on the situation, these levels may overlap or interchange.
- The Non-listener. At this level, you don’t hear the other person at all and you rarely make an effort to hear what they are saying. Maybe you fake attention, while you are off daydreaming or perhaps you are too busy thinking about what “you” want to say next. The non-listener is mainly concerned with doing all the talking. This is a person who constantly interrupts and must always have the last word.
- Marginal Listener. At the level of marginal listener, you are hearing the words but not really listening. Your attention stays on the surface of problems, never risking going deeper. The marginal listener is easily distracted by their own thinking and by outside occurrences. Many times marginal listeners look for distractions, so they can draw away from the conversations.When they do listen, they tend to listen only for the stated facts, rather than the main ideas. Marginal listening can be the most dangerous of all levels as it is the level at which most misunderstandings happen. At least at the non-listening level the other person is aware of your inattentiveness. But at this level the other person may actually be lulled into believing you are listening and take action based on that assumption.
- Evaluative Listener. This level requires more concentration and attention as the listener is actively trying to hear what the other person is saying. Unfortunately they generally do not make an effort to understand the speaker’s intent. This level tends to be more logical, focusing on content rather than feelings. An evaluative listener can repeat back what was said but totally ignores voice inflection, body language and facial expressions. Most of the time listeners at this level believe that they understand others, but that no one understands them. This level can lead to tenseness and mistrust in relationships.
- Active Listener. This is the highest and most effective level of listening. At this level most real communication takes place. Active listening requires listening not only for “content” but for “intent” and feelings in a message. An active listener must show verbally and non- verbally that they really are listening and avoid interrupting. An active listener is also a good questioner, using questions to encourage others to extend the conversation and to clarify what they are saying.
If you can refrain from evaluating others’ words only, and can place yourself in a speaker’s position, you are in the most effective level of listening. For the sake of business and personal success, you need to make a determined effort to become better at listening.