Most Important Sales Skill: The Results

4 minute read

Since we launched the Dealmaker Partner Network (DPN), there’s been a very steady stream of companies inquiring about participation. Various providers of sales methodologies, productivity tools, sales skills, and other more esoteric capabilities, have expressed interest in helping us provide a more complete sales effectiveness platform. The DPN is off to a great start, and the charter members we announced in late September have already had tremendous success, but there is yet tremendous scope for expansion.

Part of my job is to prioritize for customers the skills or capabilities we should support in the Dealmaker Sales Performance Automation software platform, and as a consequence, which partners we should select. I’ve always believed that creating a product strategy should always be a combination of vision and market research. To help me prioritize, I went to the web and crowd-sourced opinion. Using the poll feature on LinkedIn and through activity on Twitter I asked an audience of 331 participants to select, from four sales skills, the most important.

The audience that responded was quite broad. If you participated – thank you for your insight.

Of the 331 participants, the make up was as follows:

Company Size

  • Small companies – 37%
  • Medium companies – 19%
  • Large companies – 19%
  • Enterprise companies – 25%

Job Function

  • Administrative – 2%
  • Business Development – 8%
  • Marketing – 6%
  • Sales – 84%


  • Female – 17%
  • Male – 83%

Job Title

  • Owner – 1%
  • C-Level & VP – 5%
  • Management – 49%
  • Other – 45%

The Results

As you can see from the chart here, the ‘winner’ with 49% of the votes, across the entire group, was Presenting a Value Proposition.

However, when analyzed by Job Title, or Age, High Impact Questioning was more important with the older, more senior, (perhaps more experienced?) group. A full 55% of those in the 35-54 age group (41% of the participants), and 75% of C-Level or VP respondents (5% of the group) felt that Questioning was most important. Some of the comments that were added in the responses would suggest that unless you can ask question well, you don’t know whether the Value you’re Proposing is relevant.

Perhaps surprisingly, Business Acumen featured only in responses from the Medium and Small companies.

Negotiation, at 13%, had a smattering of advocates across all company sizes, but solely among those responses from Sales (84% of participants) and Administrative (2% of participants). It looks like Marketing and Business Development don’t view Negotiation as a necessary skill! For some reason, none of the female participants in the survey (17% of all participants) selected Negotiation as the most important skill.

One of the results I found most interesting was the difference between Sales and Marketing on the importance of Presenting a Value Proposition as a skill for sales professionals. As you will see from the chart below, only 25% of those who identified themselves are marketing professionals felt that this was the most important, while of their counterparts in Sales, 54% felt this was most important. Is this because Marketing believes this is their job, or that the messages they provide are perfect, or is it a reflection of that old chestnut of mis-alignment between sales and marketing, where the sales folks think they need to do it because (in their opinion) Marketing doesn’t know what works when you’re at the coal-face. I imagine this debate will continue to rage.

In any case, I’m now more informed than I was when I started the exercise, and through the wonders of the web, I was able to gather this information in just four days. If you’re interested in some further analysis, or to review the comments on the poll, you can visit it here. Thanks for your input. If you’ve any comments, I love to hear your thoughts.



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