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Six Tips to Nail Your Sales Position Interview

Jeff Cochran

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Interviewing for your dream sales position is no different than making a sales call. Remember that you are your product, and you are making the pitch. Here are six tips to help you close the deal:

1. Dress for the Occasion

You get only one chance to make a first impression, or so the saying goes. It turns out this saying has scientific proof behind it. A study the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology published may surprise you. It found that interviewers take 15 minutes to cut a candidate. What can a candidate do to make a good impression in those 15 minutes? Show up to your interview well groomed and well dressed. Your clothes don’t need to be expensive, but they need to be clean and pressed.

2. Do Your Research

To be a successful salesperson, you need to know your customers’ needs. Before your interview, research the market for your industry. Read industry blogs and study the key players. Do background research about the company with which you are interviewing. You should know the product or service it sells and its customers. Educate yourself about the company’s competition. How does this company measure up against the competition?

3. Show Your Work

You are a salesperson. Now is the time to sell yourself. How was your performance at your previous position? You should have your previous sales numbers ready to show your interviewer. Hiring managers want evidence that you are great at your job. Specific numbers are more impressive than general self-praise.

4. Any Questions?

When the interview is over, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. It is a grave mistake to say no. This is the time to signal your interest in the position. Prepare a list of questions for the interviewer while researching the company. Your questions should demonstrate that you have done your homework. Make sure your questions include asking about the type of employee the company wants to hire. This creates yet another opportunity to sell yourself.

5. Ask for the Job

Interviewees may talk about their qualifications so much they forget to say they want the job. Remember, this is a sales position. Now is the time to close the deal. Make sure not to pressure your interviewer – you should never ask if you’re hired. Let the interviewer know you want the job by asking about your next steps.

6. Follow Up

Old advice tells us we should send a hand-written thank you note after the interview. That’s good advice, but we live in the digital age. Write the note if you must, but you should also write an email to your interviewer. This shows that you want the job and keeps you on your interviewer’s radar. Don’t just sit at your desk waiting for a response. You are a salesperson – go chase that sale.

How to Influence Without Being Pushy

Andres Lares

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Sometimes leads are already interested before you start your pitch, but how you attempt to influence them will make or break the deal. There’s a big difference between influencing and selling – your audience is less likely to take your words to heart if you come off as pushy, rehearsed, or “salesy.”

When it comes to influencing people, a few key strategies will lead you to more effective interactions with more positive results. Keep the following in mind.

 

Build Trust

When you have rapport with other people, it’s easier to speak with them. You need to be able to reach people on a personal level while staying professional. Carefully listen to their concerns and address them fully. Try to take your resolution a step beyond what they may expect from you to show them you are acting with their best interests in mind. Find common ground and work from there. You cannot force people to do things. Instead, you should try to persuade them to want what you want.

 

Focus on Positives

Of course, you want to be able to relate to the other party if you want them to see things your way, but it’s important to stick to your guns while staying positive. Instead of sympathizing with their complaints, get them to focus on the positive aspects of your discussion. Demonstrate value and emphasize how they will benefit from the decision you want them to make.

 

Speak Naturally

You may work on your speaking technique in private, but it’s important to be prepared without sounding rehearsed. If you want to influence people, the number one way to fail is to to be unprepared and not know what you are trying to say or sound like you’re selling something or reading from a script. Speak as you would in any other conversation (again, remember to stick to your professional boundaries) and be relaxed. Pay close attention to body language – both the other party’s and your own. Don’t come off as rigid, closed-off, or unapproachable. People will be more willing to converse and be influenced if it feels natural.

 

Generate Enthusiasm

One of the best methods of influencing others to do what you want is to demonstrate what an amazing opportunity they have and make them excited to see it happen. Generating energy and enthusiasm is a great way to get others on board with your vision and get them to see things from your perspective.

 

Be Adaptable

Your conversation style needs to be flexible – you can’t speak with everyone in the same way, and every interaction has unique factors that you need to consider. This is the biggest reason that maintaining a natural demeanor is important – when you lock yourself into a routine, it becomes much harder to deal with the unexpected. To influence the other party, you need to be on your toes and ready to handle any question or concern they have. .

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next major conversation. Remember that influencing is all about getting other people to want what you want – not hammering them until they see things your way.

The Pros and Cons of the Indirect Sale

Jeff Cochran

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Many companies—particularly new or small firms—may wonder if there’s profit in indirect sales. The debate has been going on for many years, and any simple internet search will render countless opinions about the best business decision. Like most things, there are pros and cons that you need to examine fully before you make your choice.

Pros

  • Indirect sales channels have more visitors. Since these websites and businesses are already established, they have an existing customer base. People get exposure to your brand during their regular shopping, even if they’ve never heard about it before.
  • A sales channel can be more functional. Larger companies may have access to better programs and technology, making for a more sophisticated customer experience. You can eliminate the need to build your own website when you list products with an affiliate or on a marketplace.
  • They provide lower maintenance once established. Since you’re not in charge of the channel itself, you don’t have to worry about upkeep or updates. The initial setup may be a bit extensive, but after that, your ride may be significantly easier.
  • Expansion is at your fingertips. Working with an indirect sales channel can give you nationwide or global access Instead of having to build your own team, you can rely on their existing resources to get your brand into the far corners of the world.

Indirect sales are a clear answer for some businesses, but not others. Considering the downsides of third-party involvement is important when choosing the future of your business.

Cons

  • They’re not as passionate. Since you have your own time and money invested in your business, you want it to work. It may be a lifelong dream or even your lone source of income. But no matter how incredible your products are, an affiliate will never be as eager. They have their own companies to run, and if you want maximum drive, you’ll have to do it yourself.
  • There can be conflict. The world is full of competitors, and it may be hard to find a channel that can work for you—particularly in more heavily populated areas.
  • You have more competition. Most partners aren’t going to stock only your brand—after all, it’s less profitable for them. Customers enjoy having options, and it’s likely that the product of your hard work will be right next to its biggest contender.

With the proper relationship and platform, indirect sales can be incredible. They may reach far greater heights than you ever could alone, but it won’t come without cost. Consider all the facts and make the choice that’s best for your business.

Sales Effectiveness Guide

Jeff Cochran

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sales effectiveness success

Sales effectiveness is a measurement of a company’s ability to succeed at each stage of the buying process, from the first interaction with the customer to the last. Most of the time, that interaction happens before a sales representative has even become involved, with the customer becoming engaged through marketing, or even the client’s own web search for a particular product or service.

The purpose of sales effectiveness strategies is to increase the company’s revenue through more involved processes that not only acquire new customers, but engage them, win their sales, and creates a relationship that encourages the sale of other products and services with that customer and others. Obviously, any company is going to want to increase its revenue, but sales effectiveness is crucial, and several companies have invested time and energy to boost the effectiveness of their sales processes with impressive results. With the training that Shapiro Negotiations offers, your company can achieve similar results.

Assessing Your Sales Effectiveness

sales contract

Improving sales effectiveness is best done through several multi-stage and systematic processes. The first step is, of course, to assess your team’s current sales effectiveness. According to a survey conducted by Vantage Point Performance and Sales Management Association, 44% of sales executives believe that their organization is ineffective at managing its sales pipeline. This study included 62 B2B companies, a third of which had revenues over $1 billion. There is a direct relationship between sales effectiveness and revenue, and it comes from this relationship between the sales reps, the pipeline, and sales managers.

In order to properly assess this relationship, it is crucial to create metrics to measure how effective your sales tactics are. These are ratios that quantifiably relate different aspects of the sales process to the actual revenue generated from sales. These can be sales vs. conversion rate, sales vs. win rate, sales vs. pipeline accuracy, etc. The metrics are important, and will ultimately arise from each team’s skills and perceptions of the pipeline. In a 2010 study by MASB as part of their Common Language in Marketing Project, 54% of 200 senior marketing managers found these sales effectiveness metrics to be useful.

Defining the Process

sales process

After assessing your sales effectiveness, the next logical step is to improve the actual process itself. The best way to do this is to come up with a clearly defined sales process. The sales pipeline is, after all, just a representation of a team’s strategies, and the actual structure of the pipeline is what is most important when boosting sales effectiveness.

To do this, take the time to invest in a well-defined plan of action for the entire sales process. With the Corporate Sales Training and negotiation training that Shapiro Negotiations offers, companies won’t be forced to scrap the entire process and start from the beginning. Because each course is tailored to the individual client, SNI takes the client’s existing sales platforms and improves upon them, incorporating new tools, skills, behaviors, habits, and systematic processes.Because salespeople are able to keep using the processes with which they are familiar, the training and new tools don’t disrupt their work. Instead, the training incorporates those processes and improves upon them, enhancing the process’s ROI and improving sales effectiveness across the board.

As much as the sales process should remain a formal part of the company plan, however, it is important to pay attention to the team’s dynamics and to receive input from team members. Sales is an art, after all, and many sales reps are going to be more used to judging a situation for themselves. They should still be trusted with that, but by defining the flow of pipeline, you are strengthening it, cutting the fat away from the process to optimize it for all of your employees.

By viewing sales effectiveness as a systemic relationship between each part of the business, rather than a simple equation, it becomes clear that communication is paramount. Not only should managers be trained to communicate effectively with sales reps, but different departments, marketing in particular, must be involved in the communication as well. Marketing is most often the first encounter that a customer has with the company, and it is  an integral part of sales generation. Therefore, it is helpful to promote sales objectives across departments, and to get each department invested in the success of the company as a whole.

Marketing generates sales for the sales teams, and the sales teams close on those opportunities and build connections with the customers, who will likely recommend the product or service to others. This is how the ideal sales pipeline functions, but as simple as it seems, it requires a well thought out plan of action, along with clear objectives and incentives to foster communication.

It is possible to over-engineer a process, but without any structure it will be impossible to make changes that actually improve things. Too often, while trying to increase revenue, a company will rely on software or departmental shifts that do not actually bring improvement and only serve as a symbol of progress.

By communicating with many departments, and by facilitating communication, the process will actually come to define itself. By formalizing the process further, sales reps are able to follow previously-set precedents for customer interactions of which they may be unsure, and sales leaders can follow along the pipeline, keeping up with every part of the sale. Not only that, but sales managers can build contingencies for problems when they arise and neutralize them quickly, sometimes by intervening, but ideally by training the sales reps to adequately deal with any issues that may arise.

Up-keeping and Revitalizing the Pipeline

sales funnel effectiveness

This brings up another important aspect of sales effectiveness: management training. According to that same survey from Vantage Point, 61% of sales executives claim that their sales managers are not properly trained for the positions they occupy. Obviously, it is impossible for an employee to perform a job to the expectations they are given if little, or improper, training has been given.

Management training in sales effectiveness extends beyond simply projecting sales and using CRM tools, it means acquainting the managers with the pipeline as a process and having them make decisions on a daily basis, all while closely watching their team follow the pipeline. They need to understand which step is the most crucial, determine at what their team or even particular members are especially skilled, and then utilize those features to their full potential. Not only that, they need to understand the pipeline well enough to recognize when new technology needs to be implemented, perhaps to bolster a flagging step or streamline a step that takes too long for the rewards that it returns.

Along with training the management, it is recommended that at least a few hours each month should be used to manage sales effectiveness. This can take many forms, and will usually change from month to month. If meetings are held, they should consist of more than just sales projections—they should actually ask for input on the sales pipeline from participants, as well as suggestions for improvements. This time could also be well-spent reviewing the company’s sales effectiveness through your previously set metrics, or even proposing new metrics. Whether you are using the time for meetings, review, selection of employees who are well versed in the pipeline and giving them more training, or implementing new technology, actually spending the time is what’s most important.

The Results of Proper Sales Effectiveness

According to the Vantage Point study, companies that follow these basic guidelines, especially those who defined their process, saw an increase in their sales revenue of 28%. Further, those that spent at least 3 hours a month reviewing their pipeline and sales effectiveness saw an additional 11% increase in revenue over companies that did not.

Sales effectiveness is about more than revenue, though. By increasing the efficiency of your company’s communication, you trim away wasted work, wasted ideas, and wasted time while actually creating a better environment for all employees. A critical part of managing the pipeline is getting people invested, and when the pipeline conforms to skills that your team already has and has defined ways to foster those skills if they are lacking, then the value of everyone involved rises alongside the value of the company.

Three Selling Techniques to Avoid and What to Do Instead

Jeff Cochran

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Through Corporate Sales Training, you can learn that sometimes your potential clients may be interested in what you have to offer, but your demeanor turns them off. While the temptation to “go in for the kill” on an interested lead may arise, it’s important to be mindful of the image you project. Are they going to feel valued? Will they have a positive impression of your interaction that they’ll remember for future sales?

You may be surprised when you hear some of the more manipulative and underhanded sales tactics being used today. Negotiation is an art, and the compromise is the key to successful negotiation. Tricking customers won’t enhance your organization’s reputation or your own as a trustworthy salesperson. We’ve compiled a list of some sales tactics that may be tempting but which you should certainly avoid.

Bait and Switch

A customer enters a store planning to buy a promotional item, only to find it isn’t available or wasn’t depicted accurately in the advertisement. The salesperson then immediately encourages the more expensive option. While it may be tempting to try to get something into the hands of every customer who comes to your store, they’re going to leave disappointed if they can’t get what they intended to buy, and will only grow more frustrated if you attempt to upsell them on something they don’t want.

Instead, turn the interaction into a conversation. Ask them why they wanted that particular item and find out what they thought it would do for them. You can then offer something that fits their needs or correct any misunderstandings they may have had about the initial item. You may be able to turn a failed sale and frustration into a future sale. They’ll appreciate the time you took to answer their questions and address their needs, even if you didn’t have the right product at the time.

The “Flyfish” Close

This technique puts pressure on the buyer to make an immediate decision, possibly by offering a percentage discount if the item is purchased immediately. While you might assume that instant savings would appeal to buyers, customers know when you’re pressuring them into buying something they don’t need.
Rather than pushing for an immediate close, take the time to find out exactly what your customer is looking for and what you have that fits the bill. By taking the time to address their needs, they see you are more concerned with them being pleased with their purchase than you are with just making a sale.

Assuming the Sale

You want to ask for the sale, not assume you’ve made it. Using assumptive language with a customer is an excellent way to turn them off from buying anything from you again. Assuming the sale usually stems from the seller’s expectation that if the customer seems to be indicating that they’re buying something, they’re rude if they don’t. What actually happens is that the customer feels rushed.

Don’t assume that because the buyer displays interest that you’ve got the sale. Wait for them to make closing statements and ask them if they want to complete the sale. They may have lingering questions; address them fully so they can feel confident about their purchase.

 

5 Little Tips to Perfecting Your Sales Approach

Jeff Cochran

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The sales profession is one of the oldest and most prolific out there. Selling products can be fulfilling and enjoyable, but finding the right sales approach is often a challenge. The wrong sales approach can ruin negotiations and keep you from getting what you need from a deal. If you need to improve your sales approach, several easy, proven tips exist.

Determine Your Audience 

What do you do best? Who needs what you do or sell? How will they use it and benefit from it? Experts agree that asking questions like these can be extremely helpful even before you’ve found one client or customer. Perhaps you are a fiction writer but you don’t know who your audience is yet. Think about the genres you like best or the characters you most often create and the story arcs they experience. Then ask yourself who is likely to read that type of story. Who can relate to these characters and why? Are there books on the market similar to yours? Answering such questions will make it easier to sell your product and create a marketing vision when a publisher asks for one.

Set Measurable Goals 

Almost everyone knows about goal-setting, but most people don’t do it correctly. They set goals like “I’m going to sell more products this year” or “I’m going to increase my productivity by 10%.” These are good starting points but they aren’t real goals. Goals should be broken down into manageable steps. Instead of saying, “I will sell more products by March,” write down how much you want to sell per month. Outline the steps that will get you there, such as the ads you will write and the social media accounts you will use. Plan how you will obtain and use customer feedback.

Use Time Wisely 

Time management is a huge obstacle for many people in sales and negotiation. We often think we have more time than we do, so we procrastinate on important matters. Examine your activities each day. Which ones need to be done immediately? Which ones can wait and for how long? What tasks are easiest and most difficult? Break your activities down using a system that works for you, and stick to it.

Listen to Customers 

Even the best listeners need help maintaining their skills. Most of us get so excited about sales or negotiations that we don’t actively listen to customers’ reactions. Ask for feedback often and utilize it. Perhaps you own a sporting goods store, and your sales are down because customers find your merchandise boring or outdated. Then listen to what the customers tell you. You’ll often find they are looking for an experience alongside the product.

Learn Strengths and Weaknesses 

Every salesperson has a special set of strengths and weaknesses. These can come from his or her personality, past experiences, and many other factors. If you don’t know what yours are, you might be inadvertently turning customers off. You can learn your strengths and weaknesses, and how to capitalize on them, through corporate sales training, conferences, and other venues.

How to Use Compromise to Achieve Your Goals

Jeff Cochran

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Compromise is an essential element in any interaction. In business specifically, compromise is critical to ensuring the needs of all parties are met and that healthy and prosperous relationships are fostered and maintained.

Leave the Emotions Out of It

In some business situations, emotions can be helpful. Compromising is not one of these situations. When either side shows emotion, it can convey weakness, which the other party will use to their advantage. A compromise is when both parties come to a mutual agreement that is beneficial to everyone. To leave emotions out of the process, you must remain solution oriented. Address facts and problems, and work together to solve them. If you start to show anger towards the other party, it becomes personal. The desire to make a compromise will be squelched. Keep it rational, and ignore your personal differences.

Be Honest

Being honest with yourself and others is one of the most effective ways to reach a compromise. If you establish your goals up front, there’s no need to beat around the bush and waste time. Communicate with the other parties why these goals are important, and they will be more likely to understand and work with you. Likewise, be honest with yourself and your own responses. Identify the traits within yourself that may negatively affect your ability to compromise, and manage them before they become a problem.

Explore All Your Options

Prior to negotiating, come up with all possible outcomes and their alternatives. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each for both sides. Addressing multiple solutions to a problem demonstrates your willingness to meet in the middle. If you communicate effectively and intelligently, it shows the other side that compromise works for everyone. You will end the negotiation on a positive note and leave them with a feeling that they’ve “won” something, too. 

Above All, Stay Positive

In all situations, a positive attitude greatly affects the outcome. Staying positive reflects confidence and a genuine regard for others. Others will be much more willing to compromise their needs and meet yours if you maintain a persistently positive attitude throughout the meeting. Think about it: why are successful salespeople good at their jobs? They’re warm and welcoming, and they make customers feel like their needs matter. It’s much easier to reach a compromise with a pleasant and genuine person, and it allows both sides to feel like they’ve come out on top.

 

Sources:

https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Sites/Ombuds/files/NegotiationConflictStyles.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/jul/31/startups-negotiation-compromise-credibility

http://blog.dalecarnegie.com/leadership/12-tips-for-negotiating-and-compromising-with-difficult-people/

How to Keep the Client After You Made the Sale

Jeff Cochran

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Oftentimes, people labor under the impression that once a sale is made, the sales and negotiation process ends. This, however, could not be further from the truth. The initial acquisition is the first in an extended series of talks, negotiations, compromises, and pitches that will continue throughout the newly established working relationship.

Seek Feedback

Feedback is just as useful to you as it is to maintaining relationships with your clients. They want to be heard, and you can use the information to improve the product or service, or even your own sales tactics. Engaging your customers will show them you genuinely care and haven’t forgotten about them. When consumers don’t like a product or service, they are likely to not return rather than voicing their opinion. Well, they will voice their opinion; it just won’t be with you. However, if you take the time to ask them for feedback, they’ll be more inclined to seek your service in the future because they know you care about their needs.

Stay Organized

If you’re maintaining ongoing relationships with clients, you probably have a variety of client types with an assortment of needs. Keeping your clients organized by what their wants and needs enables you to make more meaningful connections with them. It also helps you make better sales in the future.

Knowing exactly what customers bought and how they feel about it makes them feel respected and “special,” and keeping their information systematically organized is the most efficient way to do this. Additionally, keeping things organized internally gives you insight into your product or service. Are you consistent in your delivery? Do you have a set schedule for following up with clients? Do all your employees abide by the same sales policies? Answering these questions can improve your business and your ongoing relationship with clients.

Look For More Opportunities

Don’t build relationships with just one person within a company. Get to know other people within the office and identify his or her needs. Make an effort to understand the company culture, goals, and mission. You never know; someone else in the company could come to you for a product, or someone could move on to another company and tell them about your exceptional service. Keeping your options open and eyes peeled allows you to identify opportunities in the future. Plus, it’s easier to maintain a relationship with your client if his or her coworkers like you, too.

 

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickhull/2013/12/06/tools-for-entrepreneurs-to-retain-clients/

http://www.inc.com/adam-heitzman/5-strategies-guaranteed-to-improve-client-retention.html

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217513

How to Respond to 7 Common Sales Objections

Jeff Cochran

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One of the most terrifying words in the English language is ‘NO.’ It’s the spoken expression of rejection, and it can really sting. For those who work in sales or jobs that involve heavy amounts of negotiation, and interpersonal communication the word ‘NO’ sounds like a death sentence. And a long-term string of NO’s can turn into a situation that does more than just sound like a death sentence. Human being communicate with each other all day long. Our capacity for language is what distinguishes us as a species. But, because it comes naturally to us, many of us tend to take it for granted.

Those of us who have an aversion to hearing the word ‘NO’ need to stop doing that. Really elegant communication skills are an art form, something that requires practice, study, and long-term cultivation. For people who work in sales and negotiation jobs, communication is their bread and butter. The following infographic outlines a few of the ways people say ‘NO.” It also includes some of the techniques we teach in our corporate sales training and sales negotiation training programs, to ensure that ‘NO’ is not the last word in the conversation.

INF--7-most-common-Sales-Objections-AUG-19-2015 (1)

What Are Sales Enablement Tools, and How Do They Work?

Jeff Cochran

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Automation software can be greatly beneficial for sales and marketing professionals. Not only does it make sales processes and marketing campaigns easier to design and launch, but it can enable a sales team itself. A variety of sales enablement tools exist, each offering a different way to manage your sales and marketing team. Here’s how a bevy of sales enablement tools can help you gain real insight into your customers and empower your teams to sell.

Go Beyond Leads

Most sales and marketing departments use sales enablement tools for generating leads. Some go beyond that and use these tools to follow up with prospects, as well. But sales enablement tools have the potential to do more. In fact, using their data collection capability, you can gain insights on your buyer and mitigate a lot of legwork.

Gain Insight 

Sales enablement tools let you collect deep pools of data for developing buyer insights. You can find out who has buying power in a certain company, what their company challenges are, and what industry trends are influencing their behavior. This type of data, paired with market research, gives you the information you need to empower your sales team. Enablement tools like Amacus automatically collect and analyze data like this and display real-time sales analytics.

Stay in Front of Your Customers

Following up with your prospects and providing them with valuable content keeps you in the forefront of their minds. Content marketing is a great way to do this across a variety of channels. You can keep your customers up to date with social media, e-mail newsletters, and blog posts. However, some busy sales teams might not have time to dominate all these channels.

Platforms like LogicBay help you create and optimize multiple sales channels and manage individual leads. Likewise, Eloqua by Oracle is marketing automation software that optimizes both sales and marketing efforts. It analyzes prospect behavior and delivers it in a way you can use to launch new campaigns and improve old ones.

Manage Your Sales Team

Some enablement tools put everything you need to manage a sales team right in your hands. Help your sales team perform like they are meant to with coaching tools, best practice policies, call management, and playbook development. The PlayBoox platform, and other platforms like MindMatrix, let you manage the processes and tools you use to run your sales team efficiently. These platforms offer insight as to what material you need at any given point in the sales cycle, and they then help you develop them.

Using a combination of these tools, you can manage every step of the sales cycle. From lead generation to prospect nurturing and follow up, and even managing sellers themselves, sales enablement tools give you full control.

Sources:

http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/top-54-sales-enablement-tools

http://www.customshow.com/sales-enablement-best-practices-solutions/

https://salesenablement.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/work-in-progress-list-of-sales-enablement-vendors/