Communication is the sharing of messages back and forth. It’s not just delivering a stellar sales presentation, but making sure that you’re addressing the needs of your customer.

For me personally, I struggle with listening. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and really pay attention to what the other person is trying to convey. When I do, I find it makes all the difference in the world.

The fact is, you can’t sell if you don’t communicate effectively. Communication makes the difference between closing a deal and closing a door. If you want to improve your sales, follow these 5 steps to great communication:

1.     Listen. Communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. You should listen and respond. By doing this, you share information that is relevant, which you can’t do if you’re doing all the talking. I know you get excited, but contain the urge to dominate the conversation. The more you listen, the more you learn.

2.     Engage. Ask thoughtful questions to engage your customer in the discussion. Even when you offer a selling point, ask for feedback. “Is that a valuable feature for you?” Engaging a person in a conversation rather than treating them like your audience builds the rapport you need to make the sale.

3.     Focus. Give your undivided attention. Don’t interrupt. Don’t steal glances at your phone. Don’t let your mind wander through your checklist of things you want to say as the other person is speaking. You should treat every customer as though they are the most important person in the world—and frankly, at that moment, they are!

4.     Summarize and clarify. This is an important step. Some people are hesitant to ask questions when they don’t understand. Or they have misinterpreted something you said. Be sure to always summarize what you’ve discussed, point by point. It’s not redundant, but reassuring. Then ask your customers if they need you to clarify any point. “Does this make sense? Is there anything I haven’t covered? Do you have any questions about any of these features I’ve just described?”

5.     Practice! Communication is a life skill that requires ongoing attention. Great communicators are constantly aware of the steps required to do what they do. They are self-aware, making a concerted effort to be as good as they can be.

Listen up! Great communication skill is an acquired talent—and an essential one for sales professionals. Use these tips and let me know how this 5-step process works for you.

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