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What is rare and virtually non-existent in the network marketing industry?

“Being heard and understood is a rare commodity and virtually non-existent in the world of selling.”
Michael Oliver

When I first read the quote by Michael Oliver, my thoughts were this cannot be true. It was after taking this short listening test , I realized the truth of the statement. Before reading more of this post take the listening test provided by Michael Oliver.

Why is being heard and understood a rare commodity and virtually non-existent in the network marketing industry? Could the reasons be?

  1. Ineffective Listening
  2. The 80 Percent Syndrome

Ineffective listening is the absence of

  1. OPEN-MINDED LISTENING that listens to the viewpoints of others and to the message and the messenger.
  2. Putting to one side your agenda.
  3. Focusing on the other person.
  4. Asking questions.
  5. Listening with your heart as well as your mind.

The 80 Percent Syndrome

In “The New Conceptual Selling” published by Miller Heiman they describe the typical pattern in a one hours sales call as follows:

  • 31 minutes telling about opportunity, products or services
  • 8 minutes making other statements
  • 9 minutes asking questions
  • 12 minutes Potential partner talks

When following the 80 percent model results can be disastrous. If you allow your potential partner only a few minutes to get a word in edgewise, the information you receive is naturally going to be inferior to what you would receive if you said less and listened more. Is not effective selling an open communication that will allow all the answers you need to find the core essence of most people.

Seek First to Understand, then to be understood, is the 5th habit in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”,written by Stephen R. Covey. What most people do, naturally, when involved in some type of discussion, meeting or dialogue is exactly the reverse – they seek first to be understood. And, as Stephen Covey says, when both parties are trying to be understood, neither party is really listening; he calls such an interaction, ‘the dialogue of the deaf'. This habit is an important key to building a relationship and it seems to be almost magical in its ability to transform the course of discussions. Why? Because by making the investment of time and effort required to understand the other person, the dynamics of the interchange are subtly affected.

In this short (3:04) video Stephen R. Covey demonstrates an AMAZING technique to improve Emphatic Listening.

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{ 45 comments… add one }
  • Nile March 15, 2012, 2:17 am

    I remember way back in high school journalism that the teacher covered communication and the dynamic process between the actual listening to the understanding. The thing is, even if you are actively and open mindedly listening, you may still misinterpret the gist of the conversation.
    Nile recently posted..Blondish.net Podcast: Email Marketing for Blogging NewbiesMy Profile

  • Ali Rose November 29, 2011, 1:19 am

    The irony is that some people seem so shocked by this approach from being sold so hard that they don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re being listened to. Your are great mentor!

  • Linnea June 7, 2011, 8:39 pm

    Hi Perry,

    Excellent post and video. I’ve come across the talking stick but in another form. We actually used a bean bag and tossed it…but nonetheless, it worked the same. I have found that some will simply try to ‘game’ the system but if you do have people who are invested in the process, it really can work. Thanks for sharing this post.
    Linnea recently posted..Facebook “Send”My Profile

  • Pearly Quah June 6, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Hi Perry,
    This is excellent ! Although I may not be long in the MLM industry but I have learned a lot from people like you and other leaders when we were
    Pearly Quah recently posted..Understanding Building RelationshipsMy Profile

  • Steve Shoemaker June 1, 2011, 8:33 am

    You have hit on a very powerful need here in life in general. If we would just slow down and mentally pass someone the talking stick and really try to listen to somone else’s point instead trying to push our own we could probably make so many drastic changes in our lives just because if someone through this method or even us really admits that they have been wrong or used the wrong approach and then makes a change it is because they want to not because they feel forced to.

    Steve Shoemaker recently posted..30 Day Update On My Personal Development PlanMy Profile

  • Peter Fuller MBA May 29, 2011, 12:05 pm

    Hey Perry, loved the post.

    The one thing that many new recruits to Network Marketing forget is to filter, which involves listening and understanding where your potential prospect is coming from.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Peter Fuller MBA recently posted..How to Attract your Niche to your Blog – Day 3 of 5My Profile

  • Steve Nicholas May 6, 2011, 8:56 pm

    Great post, Perry! It really is vital to listen to people in the world of business. The irony is that some people seem so shocked by this approach from being sold so hard that they don’t know what to do with themselves when they’re being listened to.

    I know that I’ve been to meetings where someone pitched me so hard that I couldn’t even breathe. I can’t help but wonder if this actually works as well as they say it does, or if they have some seriously inflated numbers that they are telling people. If you’re only goal is to get someone to join the business, people won’t respond if that isn’t their goal.

  • Ross Joyner April 20, 2011, 7:49 am

    Hi Perry, I kind of like to talk and it is a chore to stop and listen. It is one of my greatest challenges but I do control it. I have worked hard at it all my life. Your article is a great reminder. Thanks for your post an video.
    Ross Joyner recently posted..Backlinks – How do you get themMy Profile

  • Paul Reimers April 8, 2011, 7:08 pm

    Great Post Perry!

    I love the book New Conceptual Selling and all of Covey’s stuff. If we are genuinely interested in contributing to the lives of others, then we are only able to do so in relation to what we understand about where the other person is coming from. If we don’t listen well, we lose this ability.
    Paul Reimers recently posted..Is Your Marketing Message Authentic or is it SpamMy Profile

  • Andy Nathan April 4, 2011, 2:08 pm

    One of the best things that I did to listen closer was to ask more questions. The more questions I could think of that would help a client, the more they had to share with me their view of what they wanted out of my services. Plus, the more they talked to me the more they liked me as I was their to listen to their challenges, plus there to help them solve these challenges as well. Excellent article on an issue that definitely needs to discussed more often.

  • Miss Leslie April 2, 2011, 10:56 am

    Hi Perry. This is a super post, and I really loved the video by Steven Covey. I wish my husband and I knew about the talking stick when we were younger and our daughter was home. I know I can certainly use help in becoming a better listener, and this post is extremely informative and helpful. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Wishing you a song in your heart,
    Miss Leslie @ Music with Miss Leslie
    Miss Leslie recently posted..Music for Strong GirlsMy Profile

  • Emma March 9, 2011, 7:35 am

    Hi Perry,

    Oh my that talking stick could certainly change lives… fabulous! I think it’s crucial to listen openly… to always see both sides of the coin.

    Whenever I feel like I want to complain about somebody (or a business), I put myself first in their shoes.

    Great post, wonderful resources….

    Emma 🙂
    Emma recently posted..The Rescue MissionMy Profile

  • Thor March 6, 2011, 8:56 pm

    This is a new discovery for me. It is interesting to know The 80 Percent Syndrome! I’m fairly new to IM and these are just so useful to me. Great post Perry! Two-Thumbs up!
    Thor recently posted..Do Most People Fail in Network MarketingMy Profile

  • Alexander Hay February 23, 2011, 9:24 am

    Listening attentively to a potential client is so important. It is like watching the faces of the other players in poker. But our egos impel us to talk when we should listen. Not to the knowledge of the potential clients but to understand the hand the other person is holding, and how to play with it or against it. This is something I have been striving to do better since I started my own business. Thank you for the reminder!!!!

  • Marc Korn February 22, 2011, 11:08 pm

    Hi Perry,

    Love the post and you certainly hit the nail on the head…The Stephen Covey video illustrates a great technique…

    Here is one of my favorite Stephen Covey quotes:
    “The real beginning of influence comes as others sense you are being influenced by them – when they feel understood by you – that you have listened deeply and sincerely, and that you are open.” ~ Stephen Covey

    Effective listening skills are important in every aspect of life.
    If you want to be an effective Parent, Spouse, Manager or Leader..you need to be an empathetic listener.

    When you are able to do that, you will build deeper relationships and people will appreciate the effort and most likely reciprocate..

    Thanks for sharing this enlightening post…

    To your continued success,
    Marc Korn recently posted..Personal Self Development Basics and Personal GrowthMy Profile

  • Angela Arnold February 21, 2011, 9:44 pm

    Hi, Perry,
    Visceral, empathetic listening is indeed a skill. I loved the video. We communicate so much about a person’s worth, but just listening to them as though they are the only person in the world.

    Most of us never get to experience being the focus of 100 percent of another person’s attention. Most conversations are examples of one-upmanship. We may just listen to another person just long enough to outdo what they just shared with us.

    Empathetic listening is indeed empowering. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I had never heard of the talking stick or the talking pencil, but I will certainly find a way to implement that into my relationships with people.

    Angela Arnold recently posted..Internet Marketing Secrets the Gurus Won’t Tell YouMy Profile

  • Lloyd Dobson February 21, 2011, 7:12 am

    Hello Peter,

    Listening certainly is a fundamental for ANY relationship, personal or in business. If we don’t listen to a person’s wants or needs, we certainly can’t provide the value to enhance their lives.

    You have a great article and I look forward to visiting again soon. When we visit someone’s blog we always learn something. Commenting is a viable way of showing a person you care and enjoyed your visit. Your insight in taking that negative and reverse the thoughts is great, I place an imaginary invisible shield around myself and those negative vibes just ping back 180 degrees.

    Being a successful entrepreneur on the Internet and utilizing the “Law of Attraction”
    is all about giving value if you wish for that higher lofty place called the good life. The amount of money you make will come down to the value that you offer the world, and how much you help others. The advise I would give anyone getting started in this industry or if you are seasoned, is the following:

    (1) Find a good mentor.
    (2) Become a student of personal development and life.
    (3) Always be a student no matter how successful you become.
    (4) Offer as much value to the world as possible and be sure to share your strategies with others.
    (5) Remember it’s a marathon and not a race.
    (6) Always have FUN! Stick to the above list and you will have success.

    Make today the best day of your life!
    Lloyd Dobson 🙂
    Lloyd Dobson recently posted..The Art of Setting Goals Is a Must For Desiging Your LifeMy Profile

  • Caroline Mukisa February 17, 2011, 12:50 am

    I really like this post as it contains great advice for both business and personal relationships. I have found that when I do REALLY listen to a person, my initial prejudices fade away through the course of the conversation. I’m going to be more mindful of your advice in my future interactions. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jamie February 16, 2011, 6:15 pm

    Hey Perry,

    I love the Stephen Covey bit… I’ve actually used the Indian talking stick in conflict resolution (and once when leading a 6th grade Sunday School class…. yikes!). I remember first hearing this and it stuck with me.
    Thanks for reminding us about this great way to think about listening…..
    It’s said, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

    Jamie recently posted..Home Biz Niche Switch- From Marketing Tactics to a Wealthy EducationMy Profile

  • Melodie Kantner February 15, 2011, 4:56 pm

    What a good lesson we all need to be reminded of. We really need to be listening to people and actually hearing what they say. I really love that quote “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” That is a great one to keep in mind.
    Melodie Kantner recently posted..Enhance Law of Attraction Affirmations With EFTMy Profile

  • Michelle Morgan February 11, 2011, 8:32 am

    Great post Perry. Thank you so much for sharing such an empowering post that you got in here. keep it up!

  • Willena Flewelling February 9, 2011, 2:29 am

    The talking stick. What a concept! That is going to come in handy right about now, as we have a couple of teenagers in the home.

    Willena Flewelling
    Willena Flewelling recently posted..Two Dimensional to ThreeMy Profile

  • Kathy Sammons February 8, 2011, 11:52 am

    I love the story about the talking stick. I had heard that before but had forgotten to use it and I am very glad that you put it here for me to listen to again.

    We seek to be understood, not to understand. We plan our next comment instead of listening.

    May I seek to understand rather than be understood!

    Take Care,

    Mobile Media Marketing The Wave of The Future

  • Laura Paulson February 8, 2011, 11:38 am

    Awesome post Perry! This is SO true. Too often (in network marketing and just in general), we listen BUT through our own filters while thinking about what WE’RE going to say in response and when we do, it’s almost impossible to REALLY “hear” what the other person is saying and what’s behind it.

    True and Active Listening IS an art and only comes with practice, practice, practice, I believe. Mastering this skill can really set you a part from the masses!!!
    Laura Paulson recently posted..Anchor Text BasicsMy Profile

  • Shari Weiss February 6, 2011, 2:27 am

    Perry, one of my favorite types of advice to read AND SPREAD is how we all need to listen more carefully. In fact, during the very first day of my classes, I tell students the three rules to success and they begin with Listen Carefully!
    Just in case you’re wondering, the other two are to Read Carefully and Follow All Directions.

    But the Listening Carefully is so key IF you want to form meaningful relationships . . . and really serve your customers, clients, and friends.
    Shari Weiss recently posted..How NO INTERNET is Re-Defining the NewsMy Profile

  • karin February 4, 2011, 10:28 pm

    That is a very interesting exercise Stephen Covey explains. I wish more people would here his story and practice it.
    I often use the saying “you can rise above the noise by being silent”. Both concepts are the same. When you are so full of yourself that you cannot bring yourself to have an interest in others, few will be interested in talking to you. Why do people find this so hard to understand, when it is so obvious….
    karin recently posted..How to use RSS feeds to your advantageMy Profile

  • Joe Remington February 4, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Hello there Perry; and thanks so much for sharing this very valuable information.

    I agree with you 100% that it is a very rare commodity in marketing to find someone who will listen first. I’m reminded of something my Pastor sometimes says; “God gave you two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak” I believe this is exactly what you’ve hit on in this enlightening post.

    I have not heard the 80% model as you’ve pointed out; however, I can definitely see how destructive this can be if this model is accurate. Great post my friend

    • padjr February 4, 2011, 6:01 pm

      I was introduced to the 80 Percent Syndrome several year ago by Jeff Zalewski. Jeff discovered the concept in “The New Conceptual Selling” published in 1987.

  • Laura Morris February 3, 2011, 11:40 am

    Hi Perry
    Thank you for this great article! I am going to share this video with our family. Listening is the cornerstone of family communication and ultimately we all just want to feel heard. In marketing, you will make so many more meaningful connections and transactions when you stop and listen to what your prospect is looking for.
    Laura Morris
    Laura Morris recently posted..Online Social Networking and MLM- A Reality CheckMy Profile

  • Sigal Zoldan February 3, 2011, 12:23 am

    Perry, great post. I like the way you think!!

    I am a fan of Covey. Yet I don’t think I noticed this tool of his (I probably was not listening 🙂 :-))
    I am using as often as needed it though. We call it circle of trust. Whenever my husband and want to communicate safely (without fighting) we set up a timer. One is talking and the other one is listening. It is such a profound way to communicate AND be in a space of listening.

    About the 80%…I have a question to you. Instead of a presentation that takes about and hour what do you suggest? I have clients that are in network marketing and they tend to go with the module that the company guide them to follow. It always seemed to me too long. I would rather do a recording on my one hour presentation and send people there. But when it does come to one-on-one meeting, especially when sales are involved which direction do you advice them to go?

    Sigal Zoldan recently posted..Finding Balance Through The 4 Areas Of AlignmentMy Profile

  • Pat & Lorna Shanks February 2, 2011, 9:08 pm


    We find it amazing that anyone can sell anything with a sales call that runs like that. Is it any wonder why people really don’t like people “selling” to them? If no one listens to the customer (or potential partner) and seeks to understand them, how can they ever relate and have them see the benefits of what they’re offering?

    ~ Pat & Lorna
    Pat & Lorna Shanks recently posted..Bling! Shiny and Attractive – But Where Does it Take YouMy Profile

  • Teresa Ivory January 28, 2011, 2:12 pm

    Great post, Perry! I looked at the test. It’s insightful if you spend a few minutes really thinking about your listening skills. This is such an extreme problem that for most people having someone truly listen to them is rare…And they love you for it.
    Teresa Ivory recently posted..Find the Missing Insight GameMy Profile

  • Lori Robertson January 28, 2011, 7:29 am


    I love Stephen Convey and have read his book a few times and I will pull it out again to read it. Trying to understand and then to be understood is so key to a productive relationship.

    At times we networkers have only wanted a prospect to understand the value of the business opportunity but not taking enough time to listen to the prospects doubt, fears or expectations and that is how we loose the prospect. Love the stick example too.

    Lori Robertson recently posted..I Am So Tired Of Failing I Am Ready To Quit!My Profile

  • PearlyQuah January 25, 2011, 7:06 pm

    WoW !! Love this post Perry..excellent !
    Seek First to Understand, then to be understood is a habit which I find lacking in so many people including myself. Most people will always start promoting opportunity and seek to be understood without first understand the other person. Honestly, I love to improve on this skill which can make a lot of difference and give a great impact to both sides.

    Another point you have highlighted in your post is listening with your heart as well as your mind. Am going to polish up this skill especially listening with my mind 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing and I truly enjoy reading your post.

    PearlyQuah recently posted..Chinese New Year Festival In MalaysiaMy Profile

  • Roland Bonay January 24, 2011, 12:02 pm

    Superb post! Nice blend of links, video and text to get your message across. I like that it’s interactive; gives the message greater impact. I’m looking forward to embracing and implementing my vastly improved listening skills.
    Roland Bonay recently posted..How to Write an Effective One Paragraph Article or Essay for a School Paper or a Blog PostMy Profile

  • Helen Wenley January 23, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Perry I am on the same page as you! I have been a fan of Michael Oliver and his Natural Selling ever since he came to New Zealand in the early 2000’s. It is so sad that so few take the time to listen and understand – when we do there is so much that we learn.
    Helen Wenley recently posted..Breast Cancer prevention – lifestyle factors that put you in controlMy Profile

  • Annemarie January 23, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information. It makes a difference and that is the value of proper education. The other side of the coin, I believe, BEFORE starting a 80/20 presentation make sure prospects also have a fair generic understanding about what makes network marketing concepts work or not work. It is still the only viable home business for average people who deserve more but, once again, proper education is important.
    Annemarie recently posted..How To Build Your Personal Economy With 5 Main Blocks Of ChangeMy Profile

  • Richard Goutal January 23, 2011, 8:29 am

    Perry, this is an excellent post on listening skills: short, yet packed with information from different sources, with links to further study of it. I’m guilty. Especially when in “selling” mode. Over the last two years I have parked my interest in Network Marketing, but that doesn’t change the importance of being a good listener – ever. I recently completed a basic introduction to coaching with Coaching Cognition and good listening skills were taught and practiced throughout the course. Sometimes lifetime habits of the 80% Syndrome require more intense practice and awareness before better habits emerge.
    Richard Goutal recently posted..You Can’t Succeed Alone Collaboration is Not OptionalMy Profile

  • Mike Sweeney Legitimate Home Business Help January 22, 2011, 1:43 am

    Hi Perry,

    A post for all those in the network marketing, home business industry should read and give proper thought. Doing business is all about the other person, far too many times we forget that. Our clients, customers and business partners are the ones telling us what they need, without the listening you will make it very hard on yourself. Nice post.

    Mike Sweeney – TSA
    Mike Sweeney Legitimate Home Business Help recently posted..Podcasting Ideas For More Business GrowthMy Profile

  • Lorri Ratzlaff January 21, 2011, 11:30 pm

    What a great blog post Perry, you have an very eloquent style!! I had not heard of the 80 Percent Syndrome either! I really don’t think that we can ever be reminded enough how EFFECTIVE and IMPORTANT it is to always listen first! That is a muscle that, for me anyway, will always need exercising!!

    Thank you for sharing this excellent information with us, your readers!!
    Lorri Ratzlaff recently posted..Success in Social Media- by Dr Rachna D JainMy Profile

  • Louise Steiner January 21, 2011, 2:32 pm

    Hi Perri…Thank you for this great post. We are always being told to listen more, but your post has really put it into context. It so happens that I am currently reading Stephen R Covey’s book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”, which makes fascinating reading. I haven’t reached the 5th habit yet, but I love your quote “when both parties are trying to be understood, neither party is really listening”….it makes total sense. Thanks also for the video…again, such a great tool.

  • Mark January 21, 2011, 11:32 am

    Hi Perry
    Love the video, going to try these techniques in a meeting scheduled for Monday. After reading this post and watching video I realize I’m guilty of not trying to understand. Great post, thank you!
    Mark recently posted..Wedding Anniversary Gifts and Gift IdeasMy Profile

  • Clare Kelway January 20, 2011, 7:07 pm

    Hi Perry,
    Oh, how I love “seek first to understand, then to be understood!”. I trained as a holistic medicine practitioner and I saw my clients for the first consult for 1.5 hours and thereafter for 1 hour. those consults were almost all about listening to my client. By listening I could determine what was going on in their lives and how certain therapy methods or nutrition might be helpful. In many cases, I realized that the person was feeling better because they had been able to be heard. Our business is all about listening to the other person. I have had so many network marketers talk about themselves forever without even stopping to take a breath! No wonder 97% fail! thanks for a great article.
    Clare Kelway recently posted..Why are sales skills so keyMy Profile

  • Deb Augur January 20, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Hi Perry,

    Wow… I’ve never heard of the 80% Syndrome and it sure seems like an awful way to spend an hour! Ugh. Seems like it should be 50/50 at least.

    I enjoyed the video you shared, too. I like the idea of the talking stick (or pencil). That would be a fabulous way to turn arguments into conversations, which of course would be incredibly helpful for any communication problems. Love that!
    Deb Augur recently posted..5 – Mashing It Up On Video and Other Vlog StrategiesMy Profile

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