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18 How-To Sales Secrets How do stellar sellers work their magic? From cold calls to closing, here are their top secrets to super selling.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How to sell more, better and faster: It's what keepssalespeople awake at night, no matter what they sell. And in aneconomy that's still soft around the edges, selling well ismore important than it's ever been.

So how can you and your sales team excel in turning prospectsinto long-term customers? Here are 17 how-to secrets and words ofwisdom from sales experts and entrepreneurs for mastering theentire sales process.

How to make a cold call
A cold call is not a time to make a sale. It's [a time] to givesomething. The first question is, "Is it OK if I share withyou what we do and why people use us? Then, we can decide whetherit makes sense to go further." Be as discerning of theprospect as they are of you. No one's going to do business witha beggar.--Bill Caskey, author of Same Game, New Rules: 23Timeless Principles for Selling and Negotiating" andfounder of Caskey Achievement Strategies, a B2B sales training andconsulting firm in Indianapolis,

How to get past the gatekeeper
Voice mail is today's gatekeeper. The [most important] part ofan effective voice mail is establishing your credibility byreferencing a referral, your research or some newsworthy event intheir company. The secret is to not talk about your product orservice; focus on results. Talk like a businessperson, not asalesperson.--Jill Konrath, founder of Selling toBig Companies, a St. Paul, Minnesota, sales trainingfirm

How to write a sales letter
The secret to a successful sales letter is making it look just likea typical business letter. You want to position yourself as a peerwho has a great idea and a helpful offer. In working with salesconsultants at IBM, we coach them to start where the lastconversation left off--something like, "After your comment tome on the phone last month, I've been thinking about a way toX." Your opening shot can't be a misfire.--DiannaBooher, author of E-Writing: 21st Century Tools for EffectiveCommunication and CEO of Booher Consultants Inc., a Dallas/FortWorth-area communication training firm

How to generate repeat business
Our customers aren't customers; our customers are owners. Thatsets a certain bar. If one of our owners is going to take a flight,a sales vice president may be helping with the luggage and thecatering. We feel like if we get in front of our customers and wehustle, at the end of the day, it will be translated into repeatbusiness.--Kenny Dichter, founder of New York City-based MarquisJet, an 80-employee global leader in private jet cards whoseMarquis JetCard Program has a 90 percent customer renewal rate

How to upsell your current clients
I asked a client if they were thinking about redoing their website.They said, "No." I didn't tell them, but I was goingto work on something because I had a vision for it. I presented itto them, and they loved it. I had a $10,000 sale for that website.The biggest secret is just taking the time to think, "Whatdoes my client need that he's not asking for?"--PaulaYakubik, founder of MassMedia, a 7-year-old Las Vegas PR and advertisingfirm with 18 employees and $3.5 million in annual sales

How to hire a good sales manager
Successfully hiring a strong sales manager is a balance betweenscience and art. All strong sales-manager candidates exhibit threebehavioral traits: a high energy level, tenacity andcompetitiveness. The biggest mistake companies make is that theytry to find someone who will change the process because sales arenot at the desired level. The majority of the time, the processisn't broken; what they didn't find was someone who hassold in that process before. Finding a manager compatible with theprocess is crucial.--Jim Kasper, author of Creating the #1Sales Force: What It Takes to Transform Your Sales Culture

How to offer great customer service
The big secret is to passionately believe in your people. It'seasy to say and difficult to execute unless you're in a culturethat supports and encourages great customer service. Everyone'sgoing that extra mile. Behind every transaction is a personalrelationship.--Jack Mitchell, author of Hug Your Customers:The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Resultsand CEO of Mitchells/Richards, a high-end Connecticut clothingretailer with $70 million in annual sales

How to close a sale
At the end of a sales conversation, the customer knows everything[he or she] needs to know to make a decision. The key is to ask thecustomer to take action. Simply ask, "Why don't you giveit a try?" Don't sit there hoping that somehow, sometime,somewhere, the customer will take action on his own. Like adentist's job is to pull the tooth, the sales-person's jobis to ask for the order at the end of the presentation.--BrianTracy, author of The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your SalesFaster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible and founder ofBrian TracyInternational, a Solana Beach, California, sales consultingfirm

How to sell when price is the determining factor
If you're selling something on price, you'd better startlearning how to declare Chapter 11, because you're on your way.Look at what's going on with the airlines and departmentstores. Everyone gets confused thinking it's all about price,but it's about relevance. Get away from price, and get tovalue.--Sergio Zyman, founder, chairman and CEO of the Zyman Group, an Atlantamanagement consulting firm

Quick Presentations, Surpassing Quotas and More

How to meet a prospect in person
This is your big chance to make an impression. Don't have yourcell phone and your pager on, and don't have anything in yournotebook that doesn't have to do with that customer. Askfollow-up questions, clarify that you understand what they'resaying, and give them feedback that you're listening. Youdon't want an hour to go by where [the prospect] didn'tfeel it was valuable spending time with you.--Seleste Lunsford,co-author of Strategies That Win Sales: Best Practices of theWorld's Leading Organizations

How to give a great sales presentation in five minutes orless
Whether you have six minutes or 60 minutes to make a presentation,always organize your content, adapt to the moment, and dialoguewith your audience. Reveal your core statement early and clearly,and support it with no more than three main points. If pressed fortime, leave anecdotes and stories on the sidelines.--Bob Lipp,president of Better Business Presentations, a Great Neck,New York, firm that helps executives improve their presentation andpublic speaking skills

How to surpass a sales quota
People sit back and relax when they've made their quota. Butthat's when you really pour it on. At 5 o'clock, make 15more calls. When you have a lot of business coming in andyou're doing well, that's the best time to make calls tosurpass your quota. Your actions are much more powerful whenyou're doing well than when you're trying to getstarted.--Barry Farber, Entrepreneur's "SalesSuccess" columnist and president of Farber Training Systems, aLivingston, New Jersey, sales management and motivationalcompany

How to schedule your week most effectively
Every weeknight I would complete my Day-Timer with contacts Ineeded to make and proposals I needed to present the next day. Ialways had a complete plan written down. Map out your sales callsso you minimize drive time. Log all details about each appointment,tracking all steps of the sale until it's closed. This preventsredoing or forgetting scheduled items and will keep your day ontask.--Henry A. Penix, author of Unwrap Your Gift and aformer salesperson who ranked in the upper 2 percent of allsalespeople for The Pitney Bowes Corp.

How to create customer loyalty
The hardest thing is getting somebody to trust you. After you builda relationship, the trust comes. Going the extra mile, being a goodcommunicator, letting them know if there are problems--that makespeople feel good. Be consistent. Do what you say you're goingto do. When I see a parent with one child bring a second child tome, that's when I know I've created customerloyalty.--Kara Vample Turner, president and CEO of 7-year-oldPrimary Colors Daycare Center in Durham, North Carolina

How to relate better to your prospect
Ninety-five percent of what's sold in the world isn't anend unto itself, it's a means to an end. Nobody wants to buycomputers; what they want is the ability to transfer informationmore quickly and accurately so groups can work together better, sothey can put products out to market faster, so they can capturemore market share. What does the client want to achieve? When youask that question, it changes everything.--Bill Stinnett, authorof Think Like Your Customer and president of SalesExcellence Inc., an Evergreen, Colorado, sales training andconsulting firm

How to follow up with a prospect
I learned the importance of follow-up early on. I probably lostseveral projects because I was shy. [Now], we look for reasons tocall back. If we get a sense of what they want, we'll sketchsomething, call them and try to get them back in. If you don'tcare enough to [take the initative and] call, I can't imaginepeople wanting you to build their dream home.--LambertArceneaux, owner of Allegro Builders, an 8-year-old Houston homebuilder with eight employees and projections of $12 million insales for 2005

How to reduce the sales cycle
There is little magic to this, but a lot of work. Reps are loath toask tough questions. [Does the prospect] have a committed budget?What's the process for releasing funds, and who has finalauthority to do so? What is the event driving this initiative? [Ifyou] want to reduce the sales cycle, target prospects better, andqualify them rigorously.--Barry Trailer, partner with CSO Insights, aCorte Madera, California, sales effectiveness research andbenchmarking firm

How to increase market share
To truly grow market share, a company must not only increaseoverall revenues but must also increase new customer acquisitionrates and average deal sizes. The 2005 "Miller Heiman SalesEffectiveness" study revealed that less than 5 percent ofcompanies accomplished this goal. The interesting thing about thewinning companies is commonality in the key strategies theypursued. Most of their new product initiatives were aimed atproviding additional value to their current clients rather thantrying to create new markets. These top companies also had a muchmore evolved process of sharing best practices; they understand thebenefit of quickly communicating and implementing successfulstrategies. --Sam Reese, CEO of sales consulting and trainingfirm Miller Heiman in Reno, Nevada

Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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