Interpersonal Skills and Mentoring Abilities Are Top Sales Force Traits for Mid-Marketers

If you’re best salesperson is a cut-throat, take no prisoners, numbers-oriented deliverer, he or she may become a has-been in the near future. That’s because the ability to “serve” is overtaking the ability to “sell” as the key trait of a champion salesperson, according to a new study by the National Center for the Middle Market.

“Across the board, sales forces are really good when it comes to selling, however they are less effective at becoming real drivers and shapers of the business,” the report noted.

“When interviewing, middle market companies look for salespeople with good relationship-building skills.”

High-growth firms consider interpersonal skills the most important trait in hiring a salesperson, compared with 90% for executional skills and sales skills coming in third at 89%. When interviewing, middle market companies look for salespeople with good relationship-building skills.

To find the right salespeople for the job, middle market companies—especially smaller middle market organizations with revenues between $10 million and $50 million—primarily rely on referrals from their staff and other contacts. About a quarter of larger middle market organizations engage professional recruiters, and some bigger businesses tap into sales programs at colleges or universities, the report said.

Once hired, mid-marketers nurture their sales teams’ skills primarily through in-house training (76% for high-growth firms), followed by formal mentoring/coaching (71%) and online or virtual training (40%).

More than half (55%) of middle market companies have a top executive in the lead sales position, including chief sales officer, Managing Director or CEO at the sales helm. The CEO leads the sales team in 23% of middle market companies, compared with 24% for chief sales officers.

The most popular way to organize sales teams is geographically. More than half (52%) of high growth firms use this method, compared with 44% for the total middle-market. The second most popular method was by key account.

To download the NCMM report, click here.


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