There are only two real categories of salespeople: top performers, and everyone else. When salespeople are just starting out, they tend to learn as they go. And with the right techniques, any salesperson can ultimately become a superstar who closes the biggest deals and routinely takes home six-figure commissions--or more.

In order to become one of these top 1-percenters, there are a few key strategies you must implement into your sales process. Read on to discover the 3 surprising sales techniques that can take you to the top--so you can crush your sales goals:

1. Devote time to exploring your prospects' challenges.

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is trying to pitch their offering in any and all selling situations. This is a huge turnoff to high-level prospects who are approached by salespeople every single day. To turn this approach on its head, you must dig into your prospects' challenges instead.

To implement this strategy, focus on asking questions that will help you understand what's really going on in your prospects' world. Find out what's working for them, what isn't, and what they've already tried without success. When prospects open up to you about their issues, you'll learn important information that will ultimately help you shape and present a solution with clear value to the customer.

2. Clarify the value of the delta.

The "delta" isn't a complicated concept--it's simply the difference between where your prospects are today and where they'd like to be. For example, if your prospect is facing challenges that keep their revenues lower than desired, you should ask, "If you could solve these challenges, what sort of difference do you think it would make in your company's revenues?"

Your prospect might reveal that the right solution could result in a $10 million increase in revenues every year! As you can imagine, an answer like this can create a ton of value for the right solution. Before you ever get around to presenting your product or service, ask value-building questions to find out how much those key challenges are costing the company. When you do, you'll automatically create immense value for the solution you'll soon present.

3. Commit to establishing a budget.

Many rookie salespeople believe that asking for a budget is a waste of time, mainly because they think prospects would never share that type of information freely. But when you ask for a budget in the right way, you can get one nearly every time.

After you've identified the delta and created value for your solution, it's an easy transition to then ask, "What would you be willing to invest in order to solve these challenges?" Once you establish that budget, it's much easier to come back later and confidently present your solution--knowing that you're neither leaving money on the table nor killing your chances at closing the sale. This strategy will dramatically improve your close rate.

Which of these techniques did you find most useful? How will you use what you learned to become a top 1-percenter in sales? Share your plans in the comments below.