**Originally posted on Forbes.com**
As a seasoned expert in sales training, salespeople are always asking me for secrets or best practices to improve their close rates, sell bigger deals, close business faster and ultimately make more money.
The good news is our team has identified 10 of these best practices. I’d like to share them with you in this article.
How To Quickly Sell Bigger And Better Deals
1. Call on bigger prospects. Larger companies and organizations have greater needs and bigger budgets than small or midsize companies.
2. Get to the decision maker early in the sales process. Salespeople often sell to people who can’t buy. Get to the person with the “power of the pen.” It will increase your probability of making the sale while significantly shortening the sales cycle.
3. Engage the decision maker in proactive, strategic conversations. Ask situational and/or behavioral questions to engage the decision maker in a strategic and proactive conversation. Don’t talk about your products, features or functions. Rather, talk about how your product benefits them. Remember, the job of a salesperson is to uncover and prioritize a need, and then match the appropriate solution. You can’t do that without asking good questions!
4. Retain and upsell existing customers. Existing customers are more loyal and spend more money than first-time customers. Identify other departments, divisions or subsidiaries that could potentially want your products or services. If you look for cross-selling or upselling opportunities within your customer base, you’ll increase your share of wallet with your existing customers and improve your retention rate.
5. Weave a web of influence before you need it. Avoid single points of contact. Establish relationships with people up and down the “pyramid of power.” Too often, salespeople have a great relationship with one person within an organization, but if that person were to get promoted or leave, that customer relationship would be jeopardized.
6. Ask existing clients for referrals. Our research shows that referred business closes at a higher rate, for more money, in a shorter period of time. Here is a great ask: “Is there anyone in your professional network who would benefit from my solutions?”
7. Learn all you can about your competition. Create a “competition intelligence” library. Collect information regarding your competitors’ market messaging, advertising, social media fields, website messaging, pricing information, proposals, spreadsheets, etc. And don’t just focus on who you’re competing with now, but who you might be competing with in the future.
8. Cost-justify your solutions even if they’re more expensive. One of the primary reasons people don’t buy is because they can’t justify the cost of an investment or rationalize a feasible payback. Even when under pressure, if salespeople prematurely quote the price of a product/service before the prospect has seen value, it is almost guaranteed that a price war will ensue.
The time to build a cost justification is during the “need development” phase when the prospect is revealing their problems and issues. The most successful salespeople I know are able to show how their product/service helps their customers make more money, save them money, improve their operating efficiencies and/or become compliant. If you look for win-win solutions in negotiations, you’ll close more profitable business, and you won’t have to discount price.
9. Articulate your unique value proposition. Be able to articulate what your company or product does that your competition doesn’t, can’t or won’t do. Be prepared to answer the questions, “Why should I buy from you?” and “Why should I buy from you now?”
10. Proactively address sales objections. I believe that sales objections are actually buying signals. I’d rather have someone give me a sales objection than not return my phone call, not respond to my email or not take a meeting. Once your prospect goes dark, it’s hard to turn the lights back on. But if they voice an objection, you have the opportunity to change a negative perception into a positive one.
Everyone knows that the size and quality of a salesperson’s pipeline determines their ultimate success. If salespeople establish a repeatable and scalable sales process, they will improve the size and quality of that pipeline.
If you improve your pre-call-planning process, you will have more productive meetings and shorten your sales cycle. If you identify selling stages and milestones, you will be able to improve forecast accuracy. If you segment your market by opportunity size, you will increase overall sales performance.