Do you ever feel like you’re having a totally different conversation than the person you’re speaking with is having?

If you’re a sales rep talking to a customer, that feeling is a warning. It’s letting you know that you’re not communicating as effectively as you could be.

It’s easy to blame that on the customer’s poor communication skills, but as the article “The Go-Around and How We Communicate with Our Customers points out, that’s not an especially helpful or useful strategy in many cases.

The problem is, your customer is seeing it from the opposite perspective – it’s your communication skills they’re blaming for the communication failure.

If you want to make the sale, you’re going to need to make the first move in finding a communication strategy that works.

Take a look at some communication tips that will help your small business….

Ask More Questions

When you’re the salesperson, active listening is just as important as been able to make a pitch, but it can be tough to switch gears from pitching to listening.

Asking more questions will not only help you focus more on what the customer is saying to you, it will also communicate to your customer that you’re really paying attention to what they’re telling you and attempting to meet them where they are.

For example, make sure that you ask the customer to clarify what they’re saying by repeating their statements back to them in your words.

You can say something like, “just to be sure that I understand, you’re asking that we prioritize ABC over XYZ.” That way if you’re correct, the customer won’t leave wondering if you really understood, they’ll know for certain that you do.

And if you do happen to have misunderstood, then they’ll know exactly what information needs to be corrected.

Avoid Confusing Language

This is not the time to impress anyone with your command of complicated syntax.

It’s important to be direct and clear when speaking with customers and that often means keeping things on the simple side, so as not to cause any undue confusion.

Negative questions are one common cause of such confusion.

If you say something like, “do you not have that part?” and the customer answers “no,” does that mean “no, I do not have that part,” or “no, I do <i>not</i> not have that part”? The latter answer – which would mean that the customer does have the part, once the double negative is removed – may be how you would take their “no” in your own mind, because of the way that you phrased the question.

But since most people don’t speak (or think) in double negatives, it’s entirely possible that the customer intended the former meaning – he doesn’t have the part in question.

You could avoid this confusion entirely just by dropping the “not” from the original question.

See Things from Your Customer’s Perspective

Being able to put yourself into another person’s shoes is an important quality in a sales professional. Remember that what is routine for you might be a huge disruption in your customer’s day.

Or, if this is a big sale and the most important thing on your plate right now, it’s good to keep in mind that it may be a low-priority task on their end.

Knowing where your customer is coming from can help you find ways to make things easier for them, or make yourself and your services more important to them. Either way, this ability to empathize will help you to close the deal.

It’s difficult to even break into the small business world if you don’t have good communication skills, so chances are that you already know the basics of communicating effectively.

However, there is always more that you can do.

When you go out of your way to improve your ability to communicate, your customer wins and so do you.

About the Author: Cheryl Baer is an author who writes about business and marketing.