In today’s economy, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly challenged with managing costs as they try to maintain their sales teams and reach their sales targets. So, how are these SME’s identifying and nurturing the sales skills when hiring and retaining salespeople?

Aberdeen-based Sales Enablement Consultancy, Doqaru Limited, has launched its 2nd annual sales research report, which outlines the state of sales skills in UK SMEs. The report shows that there needs to be a deeper understanding of the skills required in each type of sales role. For instance, the hiring process focuses more on recruiting likeable, technically minded salespersons and less on actual selling skills. Once the salesperson is in the door, they are less likely to improve their sales skills, with 8 out of 10 SMEs having no budget for sales training.

Co-founder, Dr Yekemi Otaru, led the research that saw twelve business leaders take part in interviews. She notes, “There’s so much potential for UK SMEs to grow and scale. But the limited support for the sales function is holding back many. I was encouraged to see the openness of leaders in sharing their experience and challenges with nurturing sales talent.”

SMEs almost always hire people they know to reduce the perceived risk. Though this might be a good idea in theory, it creates a limited pool for those who are focusing predominantly on their personal networks when looking for salespeople.

Using qualitative interviews with sales and business leaders from twelve UK SMEs, the Doqaru team determined how UK SMEs identify, evaluate and nurture sales skills in their organisations. Topics such as areas of hiring, onboarding, training and performance were covered between Doqaru and the interviewees.

Some key takeaways from the research were:

  • Smaller SMEs (less than 250 people) tend not to have internal training programmes and have no budget.
  • Larger SMEs (more than 250 people) generally have an annual training budget of £500 to £5,000 per person. On average, the budget is around £1,000.
  • Most SMEs shared nervousness about hiring salespeople due to a lack of understanding around sales compensation packages and fear of hiring someone with the wrong cultural fit.

Understanding the skills needed in each type of role lets SMEs know whether they need an out-and-out salesperson, a business developer or even an account manager. Click here to download the research.

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