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The Three Levels of Communication

3 min readFebruary 24, 2021

Do you coach using all three levels of discovery and understanding with the sellers on your team?


Yes, three. An individual salesperson is really three distinct entities rolled into one: a Person, a Seller and a Competitor. Each of these personas requires a different level of understanding and communication from a manager to help the salesperson become the best version of themself.

Acquiring that understanding requires a manager to engage in some serious discovery work on three different levels. These levels build on one another to enable a manager to effectively support the individual.

First, as a manager, you have to truly understand the Person before you can understand how you can help them as a Seller.

This requires that you develop a genuine human connection with Person. You have to understand what motivates them at a personal level, what interests them, what makes them feel fulfilled and happy. You have to go beyond just being aware of what their goals are in life. You have to truly understand what drives them. And connect that understanding to an awareness and understanding of what you can do to help them achieve their personal objectives.

This first level of understanding builds trust at the Personal level.

Second, it’s only after you’ve established that level of understanding and trust with the Person that you can begin to effectively communicate with them as a Seller. In the absence of that relationship and trust, you’ll have a very hard time connecting to the Seller. Which means that your ability to effectively coach the Seller to higher levels of performance will be compromised.

Before you can effectively engage with the Seller as a coach on tactics, strategies, skills, performance improvement and personal development, you have to discover what drives them as a Seller. What are their goals and objectives in their professional life? What do they perceive as their strengths? Where do they feel they can develop? What motivates them to learn and improve?

This level of discovery is crucial. A Seller has to feel understood by you. This helps you to build trust at the Seller level. This trust enables you to ask the tough questions and provide the level of feedback and guidance that Sellers seek out in order to improve.

Third, Sellers are Competitors. All the talent in the world won’t help you if you aren’t excited to test yourself every day against your competitors and the toughest competition of all: the buyer’s status quo.

It’s the Competitor that closes the order and wins the deals.

As a manager, you need to be able to inspire Competitors to go the extra mile. Selling is hard, lonely work. It’s up to you to use your understanding of the Competitor as a Person and a Seller to help them find the motivation to make the extra call, to ask the extra question, to be creative and resilient under pressure. It’s hard to get that if you don’t have a good connection with the Person and the Seller.

Follow Andy on LinkedIn.