2 of 4 Top Barriers to Listening (with tips)

This month’s A Chip off the Block newletter is all about listening. Now for some things that get in our way – with a tip or two on how to work through it.

1. Preconceptions
In every conversation we go into, we have an assumption of how the other person is going to respond.

Take cold calls, even great salespeople go into a cold call expecting resistance.

Many of us have heard “you don’t get what you want, you get what you expect!” or some variation on that theme.

The crazy thing, is that we tend to listen for what we expect NOT what they are saying.

Work on going into every call with the preconception that everyone needs what you do. Perhaps you’ll find that you hear that more often than not!

Action Item: today, right before your calls – take a deep breath and let it out (I know it’s sales not Taijiquan or Yoga.. let go of THAT preconception too) tell yourself to really listen.

How will you know it’s working?

  • pace of the call slows down
  • there are more pauses, because you need a moment to think AFTER they stop talking
  • you recognize more verbal/non-verbal stuff (ok so I have to coin a good phrase for that – you know the grunts in agreement, hmmmm, etc)

Best of all –  you hear opportunity, even if the prospect doesn’t realize it themselves (yet).

2. Your Environment
Many telesalespeople are sitting in the gray cubes of love right now!

And most of the cubicles aren’t full height so you’re in your own space, but open so everyone feels like a team!

This is great for camaraderie and learning… not so great for listening!

In Gray Cubes of Love land there is always the:

  • Loud talker
  • Butt-er into the conversation
  • Hovering coworker
  • Gossip
  • Know it all

Add in the overhead music, pages, and the random people walking past your desk… you got it, your environment isn’t all that contusive to listening.

Do what you can to make your individual work space as distraction free as you can!

Action Item: take a look at your work space – do you have visual overload? Does your computer monitor look like a sunflower with all your post-it notes surrounding it?

Right now take EVERYTHING down.. yes I said everything. Start with a blank slate – keep it close in a drawer; only take out the things you NEED today!

My guess is there are notes/resources/things you haven’t really seen in a while – even though they are right in front of you…

How does that apply to listening? Well if we are on visual overload OR autopilot – how can that fail to affect our ability to listen.

PLUS: If you know you’re easily distracted, a double (also known as binaural) headset would probably help.

I think that is more than enough to get you working toward chopping up those barriers to listening for today… look for two more barriers with tips soon!

SALES!Blip – Who Is In Your Family?

This story is one of my all time favorites from Debbie Mrazek.

Business people and salespersons across the United States call her a sales coach. Her clients call her a Godsend. Debbie Mrazek is a doer and dynamo who delivers a sales prescription that really works. Whether you’re a novice or knowledge expert in selling products or services, Mrazek’s sales mantra and methods resonate a clear, complete picture for certain success.

Mrazek is founder and president of The Sales Company, a firm that is helping hundreds of entrepreneurs, individuals and large corporations better assess, understand and engage in practical, purposeful selling.

With “Mrazek Energy” (believed to be from another world since it is a constant flow of happiness and enthusiasm), she teaches the tools, techniques and talents every individual possesses, and how to transform those into s-a-l-e-s. Mrazek has counseled, constructed and completed sales programs, workshops, and individual and team coaching across the nation. She’s also a consultant, author and conference facilitator.

When she’s not out helping the world improve their sales, Mrazek enjoys life’s adventures with husband, Tommy, son, daughter – Jason and Jennifer, two beagles Happy and Hailey Mary and wonderfully lazy calico cat, Season.

Now Here it is….

Who Is In Your Family?

A few years ago one of my clients was going home for Thanksgiving to his Grandmother’s house.  To hear him talk he was headed off to something awful!

If you saw him the rest of the time in our business community you would have seen him as someone very professional, engaging, well-mannered and terrific to be around.

How could someone so terrific be from people who are so awful??

This discussion about him going home to his “awful” family went on for four years.

I was just tired of hearing him talk about them in this way and said, “You know, Grandma isn’t going to live forever and I just can’t believe you can be so terrific and they are so awful. This year when you go home why don’t you treat them like the strangers you meet at a business luncheon you go to all year??”

Needless to say he was not thrilled with me as his Sales Coach or friend at that moment.

Fast forward to the Monday after Thanksgiving…

I had a voice mail. What I heard was not someone talking loud but someone SCREAMING on my voice mail.

At first I could not discern the voice and when I did I just started laughing and hit replay on the message.

YES! It was that terrific person who went to the awful family Thanksgiving dinner.:)


When I called there was no hello, how are you, nothing!:) It was…

“Mrazek who is the #1 COMPANY I have been trying to get into for FOUR YEARS??????”

That was easy…I said, “General Electric!”

He said, “Guess who my Uncle is???”

I could hardly wait…I said, “Who?”

He said, “The PRESIDENT of one of the divisions of GENERAL ELECTRIC!!:)”

I could not hardly contain my laughter but did have to ask just one more question, “How LONG has he been your Uncle?”:)

His response, “FORTY-FIVE YEARS!”

At that moment we both were laughing so hard!!!!!!!!:)


Every day you want to grow your business, increase sales, meet companies that you would like to do business with. You search far and wide…who knows, maybe they are going to be seated at YOUR Thanksgiving table…and have been there for YEARS!!:)

When you go to be with your family and friends this week instead of fussing about that they always talk about the same things or just watch football or whatever…why don’t you treat them like you do all the new people that come into your business life all year…like interesting strangers!:)

Ask them questions about what they do, what’s happening in their community, what do they do the other 364 days a year they are not at the Thanksgiving family dinner.

Call me on Monday and let me know who you met!!:)…no screaming please!:)

Wishing each and every one of you a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! We continue to be humbled and honored to know each of you and share this journey!

With deepest gratitude!

Listening for Body Language

To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation
~ Chinese Proverbs

This issue is critical to telesales success for a huge reason…

that reason the 55% that’s missing when you talk to someone on the phone:
body language!

The theory that created those statistics was developed by noted psychology Dr. Albert Mehrabian back in the late 60s.

UpYourTeleSales.com’s Crazy Idea:

You Can Hear Body Language

No you didn’t read that wrong, you can hear body language – if you’re paying attention and listening.

Listen or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.
~ Native American

Listening for Body Language

It does make sense if you think about it, last time you were speaking with a friend, spouse, or parent on the phone and they were:

  • Exasperated
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Discouraged
  • Sad
  • Excited

Couldn’t you hear it? That is the 38% of communication that is based on your tone, volume, pace, and pitch (want a fancy word for it? Paralanguage).

Take it a step further, do you know when they are:

  • Walking vs. Sitting
  • Watching TV
  • Flipping through a magazine
  • Surfing the net
  • Checking email
  • Stretched on the couch
  • Shaking their head
  • Waving their arms

Those are parts of body language that are more obvious than others, but hopefully you’re getting the idea.

This is why in telesales training you are often told to use the gestures you would use if you’re in front of someone “like they can see you”.

All we’re doing is turning that idea around and actively listening for those gestures:

  • Smiles
  • Rolling eyes
  • Head cocked to one side
  • Sitting on the edge of the seat

It takes a lot of practice, but the effort is completely worth it.

Who speaks, sows. Who listens, reaps.
~ Argentine Proverb

The Key Is In The Listening!

This month’s issue of A Chip off the Block is our Prodigal Listening Edition and we are trying something new this month!

* 7:30 am NY time on Thursdays there will be a quick tip TeleClass that follows up to the pieces an parts in the newsletter.


  • 18th – Listening for Body Language
  • 24th – no class (American Thanksgiving)


  • 2nd – 4 Barriers to Listening
  • 9th – How to Tips: for Listening Success

If you’re interested in joining us please email me for the pass code (lynn [at] upyourtelesales [dot] com – isn’t fighting SPAM silly)! These 15 minute calls are free, free, free!

Of course the blog will still carry the theme of the month through the majority of the posts – expanding on the ideas I am thinking about right now.

Thursday’s Quick Tip TeleClass (7:30 am NY Time):

Drop us a note saying you want to join us for the pass code (lynn [at] upyourtelesales [dot] com – isn’t fighting SPAM silly)! These 15 minute calls are free, free, free!

A reminder that the content is only valuable if you DO something with it right after the call. After all, that is the only way to incorporate something new into your existing routine.


  • 18th – Listening for Body Language
  • 24th – no class (American Thanksgiving)


  • 2nd – 4 Barriers to Listening
  • 9th – How to Tips: for Listening Success

After that I haven’t figured out what we’re going to talk about, because I haven’t written my next Newsletter yet 🙂

PLUS – if 7:30 am NY time doesn’t work for you, let me know that as well. This is new after all and I’m always open to suggestions.

Give Me 3 Steps

Every salesperson I know wants the quick & easy, down & dirty answer for instant improvement. Well I wish I had the silver bullet for you, but what I have instead are 3 steps to better questioning:

  1. What? – to instantly create an open ended question and get your prospects talking; start with the word “what” at the beginning.instead of “are you working on any projects?”
    “what projects are you working on?”
    even better “what is keeping you busy these days?”
  2. Word Choice – this actually has two tips inside it, consider them b
    use words you utilize in every day speech when you’re talking with colleagues and friends – words you don’t trip over when saying them.
    . judiciously use the language your customers and prospects use.I know that sounds counter intuitive – words you use… then saying words your customers use.  Mix the two together for the perfect conversational cocktail.
  3. Stop Talking – only ask one question at a time THEN be quiet! Too often I hear salespeople fire off a round of 3 or 4 questions at a time.The other person NEVER answers them all; but we get off the phone and believe we have all the info – until we debrief and kick ourselves in the behind.

More on listening in the next issue of A Chip off the Block – catch you later!

The Art of Questions

In addition to being a band from Australia, Art vs Science is a way to think about sales questioning.

The Science – I’m not saying there isn’t a process. Sales certainly has steps to follow and many times, going out of order is bad (dogs & cats living together… mass hysteria! to quote Ghost Busters). Let’s move on to The Art!

I recently read a great blog on What Makes Art, Art? and I’m going to start with three ideas from there on what makes art:

  • perception of the viewer
  • intention of the creator
  • interpretation

Most interesting to me was the order, so we’re going to work from there!

Perception of the Prospect/Customer

In sales we need to begin with the other person in mind. Consider the language that you use when it comes to perception!

What words do your prospects and customers use to describe:

  • projects
  • problems
  • situations
  • their job
  • their company

NOW incorporate their words into your questions.

Of course, just like in art – the background, education, and experience of the person on the other side of a question will affect how they perceive what you’re asking. WOW that is a lot to think about.

PLUS: What role will timing play into their perception of the question being asked?

Salesperson’s Intent

We’re back to intention I know, I know you’ve already heard about this. I can’t stress enough that your thoughts will come across in your voice and have a huge impact on your prospects’ and customers’ perception (see above).

In telesales – I find the number one intention that affects perception = BOREDOM, yup – that you’ve left one billion voicemail messages and no one is calling you back…. comes across when a human answers the phone!

Perhaps more importantly, the intention we aren’t consciously choosing  can have the largest affect on our questioning success. Typically NOT in a good way either.

Choose your intention – don’t let it choose you.

Interpretation of the Conversation

This is where I see the prospect/customer’s perception merging with the salesperson’s intention. Ultimately – just like with art, if the artist has to argue with the view on what a piece means…. everyone is in trouble.

The difference is I may still buy art, even if I don’t agree with the artist’s explanation of the work. I will NOT buy from a salesperson if we don’t merge my perception with their intention.

That is probably more than enough random rambling for one day.