One of the biggest fears we have when we start our network marketing career is talking to people. We’ve done it all our lives, but once we have a product or opportunity to share, the phone becomes 500 pounds and we can no longer speak in full sentences without stammering and stuttering or lapsing into company jargon.

In desperation, some of us latch on to scripts provided by our upline, and we end up sounding like telemarketers or like Charlie Brown’s teacher:

Wua wua wua wah, wua wah wua wah …

For several years, we bought leads, called them and read scripts. It was not a conversation – it was a flowchart. We had no clue about what people wanted or whether we could provide it. We had not built a relationship of ‘know, like, and trust’. We just started firehosing.

Lucky for us (and our prospects), we started to listen to Tom ‘Big Al’ Schreiter (25 Essential Skills), Harry Browne (The Secret of Selling Anything), and Michael Oliver (Natural Selling).

All three mentors have taught us that we have to find out what people want. How do we do that? We ask! And then what do we do? We listen!

If that sounds way too simple, perhaps you’ve been making it too difficult all this time. Get all your scripts out, fold them into paper airplanes, and prepare to launch them out the window.

If you have the right aim and the right attitude, you don’t need a script. You need good questioning and good listening skills. A script is a fish that may feed you for a day, but your approach is a fishing pole that will feed everyone well for a very long time.

Here’s the approach:

Harry Browne’s Ten Word Secret of Success:

“Find Out What People Want And Help Them Get It.”

Print that on a card and post it above your phone. If you constantly remind yourself of this honorable goal, you can’t go wrong and you will know what to say and what question to ask every time. Guaranteed!

Michael Oliver’s Four Things You Have To Find Out:

  1. Do they have a problem?
  2. Is it a problem you can solve?
  3. Do they want to solve it?
  4. Do they want to solve it with you?

Too often we start pushing solutions on people for problems that don’t exist. In that case, we are not helping, we are just pestering.

If someone has a problem with the transmission of their pickup truck, and you are a piano tuner, it’s not a problem you can solve. Refer them to your buddy over at the auto shop.

If you meet an overweight person at the Pilsener Pizza Palace, you know they will not be asking about your diet plan. They may NEED to lose weight, but they don’t seem to WANT to lose weight. You are looking for volunteers.

And don’t think yours is the only solution. You may see your prospect working out at someone else’s gym. Don’t take it personally, but do take it as a lesson. You have not built a strong enough relationship with that person. Improve your questioning and your listening skills.

Note that these are NOT scripts. They are simply guidelines to pleasant and productive conversations for both you and your prospect. Don’t try to cover all questions, and don’t try to stick to any particular order. Just relax and have a chat!

Michael Oliver’s Six Types of Questions To Ask:

1. Background Questions:

  • Listen for where they are and what they have now.
  • Use FORMS – Family, Occupation, Recreation, Money, Spiritual/Social.
  • Are you married? Any Kids? What does your spouse do? Kids’ hobbies, sports?
  • What kind of work do you do? How long? What did you do before?
  • What drew you to this job? What do you like about it? Dislike about it?
  • If you could start all over, would you take the same path or do something different?
  • What do you do in your spare time? (This will also give you an idea of their goals and dreams!)
  • If money were no object and you had all the time in the world, what would you do?
  • Listen for mention of church or social clubs and ask to hear more.

2. Needs Awareness and Needs Development Questions:

  • Listen for logical and personal needs – WHAT they want and don’t want, and WHY they want or don’t want it.
  • Do you like your job, where you live, commuting?
  • Why is that? What else? Which of those things are really important to you?
  • Why? Tell me more.
  • When you downloaded the ebook, what were you looking for?
  • Is what you are doing now fulfilling your dreams and allowing you to achieve your goals?
  • (Note that as you build your relationship, the questions become more personal. Tread lightly and respectfully!)
  • Is there anything you would change if you could? What else? Why is that?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and change something, what would it be?
  • How would it feel if you had that?
  • How important is it to you to make a change to get what you want?
  • This is also a qualifying question where you are looking for a level of commitment. Does that nail hurt enough yet?

3. Personal Responsibility Questions:

  • Listen for problems and obstacles. Why are they not getting what they want?
  • How do you feel about not getting what you want?
  • What is stopping you from achieving that?
  • What are you doing that is preventing you from getting what you want?
  • You are looking for someone who takes responsibility for his/her situation.
  • You do not want to be working with Blamie Mamie or ‘Not My Fault’ Walt.

4. Solution Questions:

  • Listen for what they are doing now about getting what they want. What have they done so far?
  • Have you ever done anything about changing your present circumstances?
  • How did it work? What worked? What didn’t work?
  • What would you change if you could? How would you change it?
  • If your life depended on taking action, what would you do?
  • How would it change things?
  • How would that feel?

5. Consequence Questions:

  • These questions get more personal and it may take several meetings over a long period to get to them, but they are worth the effort for both of you.
  • Listen for how they will feel if they do/don’t get what they want.
  • How does it feel when you imagine getting / not getting what you want?
  • What if you don’t do anything and nothing changes. What might happen?
  • How would you feel about that?

6. Qualifying Questions:

  • Most successful people have wasted time with the wrong people in their early days.
  • Find out if the prospect is worthy of your time. You are the CEO conducting interviews.
  • Listen for level of desire. Are they prepared to make a change to get what they want?
  • Can you see yourself making a change to get what you want?
  • Have you thought about how much you’d like to make each month/year?
  • Big Al asks, “What would you need to never have to go to work again?”
  • How would your life be different? Tell me more.
  • Have you made that kind of income before? If yes, ask for more info.
  • If no, Do you know what it takes to make that kind of income?
  • Listen for reasonable expectations and a high commitment level.
  • How important is it for you to be able to work at home?
  • Is it important enough for you to do something as soon as possible? (Commitment!)
  • Remind them of the negatives they listed in their present situation.
  • If you could change all that and do something different, would you do it?
  • How would it feel?
  • Would you do whatever it takes to be able to do the things you want?

Once you’ve asked a question, it’s vital to listen and listen actively.

Prof. Joe Martin’s Eight Ways To Listen:

  1. Listen with your heart, not just your head.
    Some people have turned ‘fake listening’ into an art form, with their orchestrated nods, perfectly-timed “okays,” and “you’re rights.” No one likes to talk to someone who’s mind is always somewhere else other than in their conversation. Listen “in the moment’ by stopping whatever you’re doing, facing the person, and giving the person direct eye contact.
  2. Don’t just be interesting, be interested.
    If you really want to give someone your undivided attention, listen so you can ask questions about what they’re saying. Watch how the other person responds when you demonstrate not only that you heard him, but you understood him as well.
  3. Take action to avoid distractions.
    Hunger cramps, fatigue, television noise, music, cold temperature, time pressures, slang, etc. are communication barriers. Try to eliminate as many of them as possible before you engage someone in a conversation.
  4. Persistently practice patience.
    We can hear twice as fast as we speak, and this usually causes us to become easily bored. This explains why some teachers can cure insomnia. Don’t ever rush the speaker to “get to the point” no matter how tempting it is. Try to listen for benefits that will serve you and your goals. You can start by always asking yourself, “What can I learn from this person?”
  5. Keep your mind open and your mouth shut.
    Nothing stops us from listening quicker than an opinion that is in total opposition to our own. Hold your judgment, and try your best to look at the situation from their point of view.
  6. Listen between the lines.
    What people don’t say is often more important than what they do say. Pay attention to body language, eye movement, tone of voice, and speaking rate for deeper meanings. Think of the conversation as an iceberg – 90% is below the surface.
  7. Focus on the content, not just the character.
    Avoid stereotyping people based on how they sound. Slow speakers are not always less intelligent, a person who speaks French is not always more romantic, someone who uses slang is not always uneducated, and so on. Listen to the person, not the dialect. If you don’t understand, ask for clarification.
  8. Put your ego on hold.
    The next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone, pretend you’re both on a huge stage in front of a thousand people. Whenever one of you speaks, the spotlight is focused on that person. Your goal is to keep the spotlight off you as much as possible. You can only do this by listening.

As with any other skill, listening takes practice, patience, and persistence. If you focus on mastering these eight strategies, you are well on your way to becoming a student of influence. Not every good listener is an effective leader, but believe me, every effective leader is a good listener. So get going and start leading by listening. Dr. Joe Martin of Real World University

Listening Skills Test from Nada’s Island:

The following quiz is designed to show you what skills are necessary to be a good listener. Answer with “Always”, “Sometimes”, or “Rarely.”

  1. I allow speakers to complete sentences before I speak.
  2. I make sure I understand the other person’s point of view before I respond.
  3. I listen for the speaker’s important points.
  4. I try to understand the speaker’s feelings.
  5. I attempt to visualize my response before I speak.
  6. I visualize the solution before speaking.
  7. I am in control, relaxed, and calm when listening.
  8. I use listening noises such as yes, gee, I see.
  9. I take notes when someone else is speaking.
  10. I listen with an open mind.
  11. I listen even if the other person is not interesting.
  12. I listen even if the other person is a moron.
  13. I look directly at the person speaking.
  14. I am patient when I listen.
  15. I ask questions to be sure I understand the speaker.
  16. I do not allow distractions to bother me when I listen.

If you have mostly Always (14 to 16) you are an excellent listener. If you marked 11 to 13 statements as Always you are a good listener but could use some help in a few areas. If you marked Always for 7 to 10 statements, you are a fair listener. If you marked Always for 4 to 6 statements, you are a poor listener. Less than 4 indicates an extremely poor listener.

Please leave a comment and let us know how well you did. Bob scored 9 (some work to do!) and Anna did much better with a 14!

Lucky for us, these are skills that can be learned! Get practising now and ask and listen your way to success!

You can hear the full Ask and Listen, Listen and Learn training session by Bob and Anna.
Big Al will teach you how to appeal to your prospect’s subconscious.
Learn to listen to your sixth sense about MLM and build it big by reading this Free MLM Report.

Bob and Anna Bassett
Tom ‘Big Al’ Schreiter’s 25 Skills
Material Connection Disclosure

Originally published Aug 15 2011