What is the best approach to learning and development for salespeople? 

Well for many sales manager the go-to answer is “send them on a training course”. This is lazy. For managers, this is the easiest way to outsource the problem. Worse still is that training alone will not do a great job of changing performance and the same,[lazy] managers then criticise the training for “not working”.

Despite the fact that we ourselves offer training courses, we do not believe that they alone will change performance. Quite the opposite in fact.

Training must be one part of your solution. Together with reinforcement and coaching from sales managers it can start the journey toward changing the habits of your sales team. Alone it will fail mostly to move the needle in performance, because 70% of the training of forgotten in hours, and nearly all of it in a month. There needs to be a better way of changing the habits of your sales team. Read on…

As a leader, you can set any number of stretch targets, quotas and goals. You can develop new comp plans based on [typically] extrinsic motivation rather than actual activities that drive sales performance. These things are doomed to failure unless your salespeople change the way they respond to selling situations day in, day out. This means new habits.

A balanced view of training and development is required and the 70:20:10 model from Lombardo and Eichinger provides a strong model for this. It can be useful in helping you to think about the activities that can be used to sustain performance improvement.

Watch a short introduction below.

Source: Cognology


For sales leaders and managers, this means:

  • 10% is formal EDUCATION, books, youtube and blogs [like this one] on sales-related topics – Training course and eLearning, Reinforcement webinars and content to aid the education. 
  • 20% networking, sharing and raising EXPOSURE to new insights and know-how. 
  • 70% on the job EXPERIENCE, where an individual understands the potential for improvement and takes on projects, practice, coaching and reflection on their real performance on a regular basis. 


A total focus on the 10% will not change performance. Just because someone sits through a course, or reads a document, it does not mean they will apply this in their working lives.

This is one of the major benefits of sales coaching – where managers carry a huge responsibility to help their team to improve. Helping them through the 70 and 20 aspects.

Sales managers – What are you doing today to coach and reinforce the learning of your team members?

Salespeople – How are you taking responsibility for your own learning, and focusing your development effort in the workplace on the areas of potential improvement?