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5 Reasons You Are Not As Good of a Listener as You Thought

We all have two ears and one mouth and you would think that we would listen in that proportion to talking but we don’t. Not everyone is well-versed in the art of listening and how to master it. Actually, we are so busy today that we are caught up in the activity, we lose sight of the people. Busy makes us focus on what we did or where we are headed. Busy keeps us from being present.

active listeningNo matter if you are a parent, friend, sibling, manager, executive or employee, listening is crucial. In sales, it will determine your level of income. As an employee, it will determine your ability to do your job efficiently and effectively. As a manager or executive, it will determine employee engagement. As a parent, it will create the relationship you have with your family. Listening skills might very well be the most important skills you can develop to create even greater success.

Do they teach listening skills at school or at management training, sales training or executive training programs? Nope.

So let’s take a closer look at listening here. Feel free to bring this back to your corporate training programs, executive training, management training, sales training or any other training your company offers to incorporate listening into the program.

To start, there are two types of listening: active and passive.

Passive Listening:

What is passive listening? Passive listening is listening without reacting or responding, just allowing someone to speak, without interrupting. Not doing anything else at the same time.

This is a big challenge for many people today because we are so used to be constantly stimulated that you might experience an impulse to look at the thing moving in your peripheral or check your phone, remember something that happened earlier in the day and shift your attention.

Listening requires your full attention in the present moment.

Active Listening

What is active listening? Active listening takes passive listening to the next level. Active listening requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. You show your concentration with your body language and eye contact. Your understanding comes through clarification questions or repeating back what you heard with their words. When you refer to something they said another time or later in the conversation this is a further testament to your active listening.

Here are top 5 reasons that prevent you from active listening?

1.You are waiting to talk:

Sometimes when one person is talking, the other is formulating their statement. This means you are not listening. This can be considered competitive listening.

Sometimes in a conflict, I am emotional and trying to formulate my thoughts or when I am nervous to speak up at an event, I might be in my head thinking of what I will say, instead of listening. People can feel your presence or lack thereof when you are waiting to talk. They don’t feel heard. There is lost connection and then they tend to repeat themselves. I have learned that listening is an important part of me getting my message across so if I don’t listen, it takes longer.

2. You are distracted:

You allow your mind to drift to a previous moment, a moment in the future, or get distracted by your environment. As a result, you are no longer fully present.

I know I have a problem when I meet people at sports bars because my eyes and attention get diverted to the TV screens. If we aren’t there to watch the game, I either ask that we sit away from the TV acknowledging my distraction or pick a place that is quiet and we can have a focused conversation. Control your environment as well as your mind to stay connected.

3. You are judging:

You aren’t really listening if you are judging. This will distract you away from what they are saying or you may dismiss or misconstrue what they are saying because you may have unconsciously stopped listening to understand. Get in a curios state. I always ask “what do you mean by that” to avoid me interpreting what that might mean to them. When I can stay curious and seek to understand, the conversation hold a different energy, it is more open, more connected and more relaxed. That is a better energy for handling a conflict, don’t you think?

4. Inserting your opinion or advice:

Don’t interrupt a person before they are finished to impose whatever solution you feel is the best approach. Refrain from suggestions unless asked. People can

In the book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss FBI top negotiator, taught me that you know the other person feels heard when they say the magic words “that’s right”. Not “you’re right” but “that’s right”. So any variation of that “you got it”, that’s it” “Yes!” means that they have been received and felt heard. When they feel heard, then they will be open to listen. Without it, Chris Voss says – there is no negotiation.

Improve Listening skills

Want to find out what gaps you have in your listening skills? Yes, you probably have a few – if you are human. Ask a few people around you (in different areas of your life) how they would rate your listening skills. Yes, really! Tell them this is part of a self-development project and ask them to rate you on a scale from 1-10 (1 being the best). Then ask them how you could improve? What works best for them to feel heard? Do they like questions to be asked, repeat back what you heard, etc. Just going through this exercise with them will improve your relationship, because you care enough to ask.

This exercise was great for me. I opened up some powerful conversations with a few family members and at the office. I am now more aware of what contexts I have challenges in, and how to demonstrate my level of listening.

Here is a great podcast to listen to further explore the art of listening with Chris Lee and Lewis Howes.

The Art of Listening: How to Master Relationships Through Communication


When you start exercising active listening, you are going to notice vast improvements in both your professional and personal lives. You are going to be a better friend, spouse, parent, and employee thanks to these very important skills. Always keep working towards being a better active listener.

Is Networking Wasting Your Time?

That is a direct challenge, isn’t it? Is Networking wasting our time?

In order to find out, lets do some discovery.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many hours a week you spend networking versus marketing or sales?
  • Do you effectively follow-up after a networking event?
  • Do you actively make referrals for others?
  • How many referrals or projects have you received in the last 2 month?
  • What is the ratio of hours spent (preparation, travel, event, and follow-up) to money earned?
  • Do you track the success of their networking? If not, why not? If you are effectively managing your business, you track sales calls, appointments, contracts. You do that to see what is working and what is not working. By tracking you can take a step back and see what you can not see on the surface. You will find patterns, identify gaps and see what you need to do to make your sales efforts more effective.

Is Networking making the best use of your time management? Like any other lead generation method such as social media, cold calling, tradeshows-it depends on how you use it and what is the opportunity cost of that time.

Note that networking has become big business so promoters tell you networking is the way to build your business. Networking can have its benefits but you have to weigh the cost-benefit of any activity you are going to engage in.

Let’s look at how to manage time from a networking perspective. Keep in mind that busy is not productive. Going to many networking events can keep you very busy but won’t necessarily be productive. Networking can be counter productive by creating a lot of busy work that takes time away from more effective marketing.

Time management skills can be built on the work you need to do before you network. Most people have not defined these areas clear enough and that is one of the reasons networking is less effective and definitely not efficient.

Defining you Audience

Who will be at this event? Do they represent your target audience, the people who will buy your products and services? Are they the decision makers? How else could you be reaching this audience? List the options so you can evaluate the time, cost and depth of interaction you can have with each method.

Your message

Do you have a clear message to convey so when you meet people you can clearly describe what you do and what makes you different? How will they remember you over everyone else they met at the event? How can you easily remind them in your follow-up?

Follow up

Do you have the time to commit to the necessary follow-up? In what form will you follow-up. Make sure the next day or two after the event you block time to make follow-up phone calls because your window of recollection closes after a few days if not a few minutes. The more you can prepare before the event to make the follow-up fast and effective, the more likely you are to see success.

I know a business owner who requires his people to go to all these evening networking events and join networking groups to make all sorts of connections to potential clients either directly or through others. The company provides personal training and they have a high-end offer for one-on-one personal training.

Over the years as a client of his, I have seen the staff come and go. One of the biggest challenges they have is that the staff cant get the business in the door. Their Networking isn’t effective in creating sales. In essence, they are doing the same thing over and over..and getting the same result. You know what that means. Insanity! Are you following the insanity model too? Networking and not getting any results?

If the elements above fit, it could be effective but it is a tactical time consuming and long-term approach to go after them one by one. It is the spray and pray approach that many sales people engage in, they go after any prospect and write a thousand proposals praying that one of these will be a fit.

It is time to get more strategic and much more targeted.

Shift your focus from networking to strategic partnerships. Look at the 80/20 rule or to add greater focus 5% of your network should be your strategic partners. 90% of your networking energy should going to those 5%.

Identifying the 5% you have or need to meet will be easier and more focused and will definitely deliver you better results.

Few time management tools can get you to think and act more strategically, but the best time management tips are centered around how to do just that. Strategy will win over tactics every time.

It is time to take a step back and re-evaluate the effectiveness of your networking efforts. Change your networking focus ad change your results.

Top 10 Productivity Hacks to Get More Sales in Less Time

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Top 10 Productivity Hacks to Get More Sales in Less Time

Many people join sales organizations or start their own companies so they can have the flexibility of time to do other things they love like spending more time with their families and using the increased income to enjoy their life to the fullest. However, if you’re working 80-hour weeks that defeats the purpose, right?

As often as people tell me they’re surprised at how much I get done, they’re as shocked that I get it all done between 9:00 AM and 2:30 PM Tuesday through Thursday, the only time both of my young children are in school. Because my family is my top priority, I want to spend more time with them than anyone else (before having a family, it was spending more time traveling and relaxing on beaches!). So I’m challenged to get in the same amount of work as my competitors in a very short period of time.

Today I’m going to share my Top 10 Hacks for Making More Sales in Less Time so you can be more productive with the time you have and spend more time doing other things love.

  1. Schedule everything.: The key to getting everything done is to schedule it! Take time once a week and once every morning to schedule and plan your week.  Schedule when you will check emails so no one books you, scheduled when you will complete time-consuming tasks like drafting proposals and employee check-in meetings.  Control your schedule by not letting people book you when you’ve booked yourself. For instance, if prospecting for customers is not the first thing you do every week, soon the week will come to end and it will not get done. Make an appointment with yourself for prospecting, and don’t let anyone else book over you. Making sure you schedule properly will actually open up more time, keep you focused, and make sure your sales pipeline is healthy 3-4 weeks from now. Check out this free Webinar that shows you how to maximize scheduling to grow your business.
  2. Get an online booking link: Use a scheduling tool like youcanbookme.com or Doodle to schedule meetings.  Why take 3-4 emails back and forth to schedule a meeting when you can simply send someone your availability and they can choose what works for them? This tool also reminds them of the meeting and gives them a link if they need to reschedule.  Doodle is great for coordinating meetings with multiple people, You propose possible times, send out a link and the attendees check off which times they are available. This one little tool will save your hours per week of frustrating emails and the possibility of losing a client because it took too long to decide on a meeting time. One tip, however, only send out your link when you’ve agreed to a meeting prior.  The worst cold emails include a booking link to schedule an appointment. It’s just too soon.Check out this article on scheduling apps and a few more suggestions.
  3. Don’t Put Down The Phone: When you are making calls, whether it’s cold calls, follow-up calls, warm calls etc., spend the time upfront to create a list that you can call immediately one after another.  Turn off all distractions and start your calls. Type your notes on the call while you wait for the phone to ring and while you are talking.  Jot down any tasks that need to be completed related to that client on a separate to-do and do not complete them (however tempting) until you have finished all your calls.  You will not be able to get through all your calls if you stop in between to draw up proposals or send out information.  Turn off all distractions and don’t hang up the phone until you complete all the calls.  Literally: Do not put down the receiver. Challenge yourself to dial the next call before the dial tone stops. By focusing on one task at a time, you will get more done because it takes time for your mind to shift from one task to another.
  4. Limit checking email twice per day: Email is probably the biggest time sucker of every professional today. Do not let email run your time. Limit checking your email to twice per day.  Set expectations with your team and your clients that urgent issues should be directed to phone or text, otherwise, you respond to emails within 24 hours.  Most people will find that reasonable as long as you let them know upfront and you’ll find that there are not as many emergencies as previously conveyed!  Another tip is to avoid using your email as a task list. If you can respond within 5 mins, do so, if there is a task that you need to complete, create a task on a separate task list with a deadline attached to it.  Target having an empty inbox every Friday afternoon and you’ll be able to enjoy your weekend much more! Finally, use a service like unroll.me to “roll-up” and unsubscribe from email lists.  
  1. Install Boomerang for Gmail: If you use Gmail, get Boomerang for Gmail.  It allows you to schedule emails ahead of time, “boomerang’ emails so you are reminded to follow up, and also track emails.This prevents you from having to create a separate task for each follow up to an email you have sent.  I also Boomerang internal emails so I can send an email and not have to worry about remembering to follow up.
  2. Take care of your Mind, Body, and Soul: There’s nothing like hitting a wall during the day and suddenly feeling tired, uninspired and unmotivated to complete tasks.  Taking care of your mind, body and soul through healthy eating, exercise and meditating will pay off for you in productivity during the day. Learn when your mind and body are most productive and schedule important tasks for those times of day. Invest in personal development resources so you don’t get emotionally attached to sales such that the win or loss of them drains your energy.
  3. Invest in Sales Training:  Ok, maybe this is a little plug for myself, but I believe wholeheartedly if you want to get great at something, you need to become an expert at it, and that means becoming a student first.  Get your hands on as many different sales methodologies as you can and apply them all to create the strategy and scripts that work for you. By starting out where others have left off, you’ll save yourself thousands of hours and dollars of trial and error to figure it out on your own.  And it doesn’t have to involve using sales tricks that are icky, sleazy and just plain annoying.  You can check out our library of online course offerings here: magicsalesplaybook.teachable.com
  4. Outsource: Your time is valuable and your time is worth real money. If you own a company or you are selling for a company, closing deals is extremely valuable. Decide what your hourly rate is, and, as you complete tasks during the day, ask yourself, “Is this task worth $X per hour?” If you are worth $250 per hour and you are completing $10 per hour tasks or even $50 per hour tasks, you are not using your time optimally.  Outsource anything that can be done by a lower priced freelancer or employee.  You’ll make more sales because you can spend more time selling than doing admin.
  5. Qualify Your Customers: It is a big waste of time to set appointments with customers who are not qualified for your product. Make sure you properly qualify customers upfront so that you know they can say, “Yes!” directly after your presentation and avoid objections you can’t overcome like “I can’t afford it,” and, “I have to think about it.” This is the key to shortening your sales cycle and making sure you don’t burn out.
  6. Design a Sales Playbook: Every well-operating company has manuals – manuals for every department that document processes within the organization.  Sales is no different.  A Sales Playbook outlines the sales process step-by-step and documents what works for you so that you can replicate it in other people.  The key to growth is to be able to duplicate yourself.  A Sales Playbook is a sales manual that anyone can read through front to back and know how to sell for your company.  I’ve created this free Sales Playbook Template that you can start filling out today: template.magicsalesplaybook.com

What next? Schedule a time to start implementing each of the above tips.  You’ve invested about five minutes reading this article, so take the time to apply the tips and see the payoff.  

Let us know your own productivity hacks below!

About the Author: Jessica Magoch is CEO of JPM Sales Partners, a sales training and consulting firm.  She teaches people how to sell (without being icky, sleazy or just plain annoying) in one-on-one consulting programs where she designs Sales Playbooks for startups, live training engagements and online training programs in her school, The Magic Sales Playbook.

Get these GREAT resources:

Sales Playbook Affiliate link: (Tip #10)

School Affiliate Link (Tip #7) 

Create Productivity with Social Media Magic

Create Productivity with Social Media Magic

Nothing is bigger in the world of business than the ability to reach millions worldwide through social media outlets. Social Media has morphed from just being a place to meet new people and reconnect with old friends into a vast platform in which countless companies are capitalizing.  First, Social Media has drastically cut costs for businesses in terms of advertising and marketing.  It costs very little to reach your target audience and then some. Second, more and more people are turning to online for purchasing because of the added benefit of social proof.

Social proof is the phenomenon where people make choices based on positive or negative feedback from others. For example, a bad review on a restaurant from one patron will affect future customers by creating a negative bias, preventing them from going to that restaurant although they never tried it before. As a matter of fact, according to CompUSA and an iPerceptions study from an article published by Garrett Pierson, nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for it. When customers tell you they are happy with your services, this is a great time to ask from them to post on social media to share their experience. This could help you close our next deal faster. That is making you more productive. People want to help you, but it isn’t top of mind how they can do it. My mother taught me as a child, If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Start asking to start profiting!

Most Popular Social Media Platforms

There are literally hundreds of various Social Media channels worldwide.  Below is a list of the most popular sites to date.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • WordPress
  • Trendspotter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare
  • Mixi
  • Google+

Social Media is great for businesses because it:

  • Draws awareness to your product or services
  • Attracts and drives traffic to your website
  • Fosters an environment for brand loyalty through direct consumer engagement and interaction
  • Provides social proof of your products and services
  • Provides an opportunity to educate people and add more value
  • Creates a community
  • Create engagement
  • Increase Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and people ability to find you
  • Manage brand and reputation

The Social Media Challenge

Social media and productivityMany small businesses are overwhelmed with Social media as it can take so much time to stay up to date and active on all these sites. It can be daunting just to think about how you will manage this along with the various other important roles you have in your organization. Large companies often think they don’t need it because they are already branded or have well established marketing channels. They don’t consider the impact of a lack of a presence, competitions ability to take away market share and the extended reach they could achieve.

Two ways to most effectively manage and measure your social media presence

1. Managing your Social Media

Multitasking can be good, especially when it comes to being able to manage multiple social media sites at once with one post.

What Can Social Media Cross-Platforms Management Systems Do For You?

  • Help track and manage your multiple social media channels
  • Monitor what is being said about your company or brand
  • Help you respond in a timely manner to social interactions
  • Update Posts
  • Schedule postings
  • Analyze conversations
  • Provide analytic reporting
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your social media presence

Check out these great Social Media Cross-Platform Management Tools such:

  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout Social
  • Buffer
  • Tweetdeck

2. Measuring Your Social Media Performance

You can maximize the effectiveness of your company’s social media presence by using analytical tools such as:  TweetReach, Facebook Insights, Unmetric, Netbase, Radian6, and Sysomos.  These tools can uncover what your competitors are posting, how effective your posts are, the effectiveness of your online engagement, and your overall performance.

For business professionals that may not be technically savvy or just don’t have the time to invest in solidifying a strong Social Media presence on multiple sites, then there are companies now that offer services you need, to be at the top of your online game and create productivity magic.

Penny Zenker is a strategic business coach and trainer, boosting productivity for business leaders and entrepreneurs. She leverages her personal experiences of building up and later selling a multi-million dollar business, as a senior executive at one of the worlds largest market research companies and working with business leaders all over the world as a Tony Robbins Business Coach. Penny proven and practical approach help people to get results quickly.


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