Does your sales training emphasize the top four skills in the list below? More than 1,500 sales managers and reps were asked to rank 14 basic skills in order of importance to their long-term success. "The top four tie in to activities that are done before you meet a prospect face-to-face," notes Chris Heide, who conducted the poll for the Darnell Corp. "Ten years ago selling was more technique oriented." Managing time, while a broad category, is key to setting priorities before calling prospects.

% of respondents who
ranked skill in top four
Precall planning 54%

Approach and involvement 48

Qualifying prospect's needs 47

Managing time 45

Overcoming objections 42

Closing 36

Prospecting/cold calling 30

Making presentations 26

Handling problems 20

Negotiating 19

Postcall follow-up 16

Using the telephone 15

Managing paperwork 7

Demonstrating 4

Source: Survey of 1,233 Sales managers and 437 sales reps at companies with sales of $5 million to $35 million, the Dartnell Corp., Chicago 1992.