No matter what industry you are in, or what job title you hold, the art of the sale is an essential skill every professional needs in their toolkit. Even if you are not working in “sales,” you are selling things every day; whether it’s a pitch in a meeting, or convincing your boss you should be able to take a vacation next week, every professional interaction is about giving and taking. If you are skilled in influencing these interactions to your own benefit, you’ll get ahead in life.

Here are five tips to help improve your sales skills.

Find Ideal Customers

There’s a lot of truth in the age old saying that goes, “you can’t sell ice to eskimos.” No matter how convincing you are, there will be some people that just won’t buy what you are selling. Don’t waste your time on them. You should be “prospecting” new business about 80 percent of the time. This goes for all professional interactions as well. Determine who is most sympathetic to your cause and appeal to them. Once you “sell” them, you can gain a critical mass and be that much closer to your goal.

Build Rapport

Starting with your first conversation or contract, you need to build trust and credibility with your clients. You should be seeking to understand your clients’ wants and needs before you make any attempt at trying to sell them.

Jeff Bezos said, “ we see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.” You want customers to come back to you not just because they love the product, but because they love you. If you can do that early on, you’ll have a lifelong customer.

Build Persuasive Presentations

Once you have found a receptive customer and built a good foundational dialogue around identifying their needs. You need to have a logically organized presentation that allows you to show them how your product fills a gap that they have in their life. A one size fits all presentation just won’t work. You need to know your client, and cater to their emotions. You must convince them that until today, they are seriously lacking in a key area in their life, and that you hold the answer to their salvation.

Answer Questions and Objections Thoughtfully

Finally, you must be prepared when a potential client has an objection or challenge to something you have just told them. You need to think through every logical objection that a client might have and develop a complete and intelligent rebuttal to any claim that they make against you. This not only waylays their concern, but also shows that YOU are the expert, and that they would do well to trust you.

Ask For a Decision

No matter how good your pitch was, there will always be a moment of indecision. A tense few minutes where the client decides if they are going to buy what you are selling. You must move quickly and confidently ask them for their order. The idea is that your unshakable confidence will calm then and encourage them that they are making the right decision.

At the end of the day improving any skill takes time. In sales, it requires tons of practice and tons of rejection. If you’re resilient and follow the five tips above, you’ll be well on your way to closing that next deal!