Have you ever been in a conversation where you can’t get a word in? If not, this video is for you.

But seriously, most people love to talk. Like me, I’m talking your ear off right now. Ironically, marketing and sales, counter to what we all think, is all about listening.

How do you get to know your target audience? How do you figure out what your clients need? How do you sell better? No, you don’t go on and on about your services. You ask them questions.Then you listen to what they say.

How do we start listening better?

One: Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next when someone else is talking to you.

This isn’t easy to do because let’s be honest, you can’t just turn your thoughts off. Next time in a one-on-one conversation with someone, really focus on what that person is saying. Then once they’re done talking, you can formulate your thoughts.

Two: Stop cutting people off.

How do you really know if someone is done talking? Maybe they take a deep breath, maybe they pause for emphasis, or maybe it’s a rhetorical question. Either way, count to 5 in your head once someone is done talking because they might not be finished with a thought and are about to say something groundbreaking.

Three: Ask follow-up questions.

To make the person you’re talking to feel like they really matter, first listen and then ask specific follow-up questions based on what they just said. This reiterates and proves that you really are listening to what they’re saying. Be intentional about eye contact. This is kind of a no-brainer but it is a good reminder. If you’ve ever chatted with someone who doesn’t look you in the eye, it’s pretty distracting. Looking someone in the eye shows that you’re engaged and that you’re soley focused on what they’re saying.

Four: Give affirmation.

Listen for specific points that the person you’re talking to is making and affirm the ones that you agree with. This will boost their confidence and it will also build your relationship with them. Stop wasting money on unintentional marketing initiatives and start figuring out who your message resonates with.

The foundation of all of this is listening.