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

So how can you and your sales team excel in turning prospects into long-term customers? Here are 17 how-to secrets and words of wisdom from sales experts and entrepreneurs for mastering the entire sales process.

How to make a cold call
A cold call is not a time to make a sale. It's [a time] to give something. The first question is, "Is it OK if I share with you what we do and why people use us? Then, we can decide whether it makes sense to go further." Be as discerning of the prospect as they are of you. No one's going to do business with a beggar.

How to get past the gatekeeper
Voice mail is today's gatekeeper. The [most important] part of an effective voice mail is establishing your credibility by referencing a referral, your research or some newsworthy event in their company. The secret is to not talk about your product or service; focus on results.

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