The Practitioner Scholar

Doctor of Management Blog

Betty Moon Finds Learning Styles & Adaptability Drive Sales Performance

March 25, 2010 ·

As products continually become more complex, the role of salespeople in bringing these products to market continues to be critical to organizational success.  While research has found that the competence and trustworthiness of salespeople is important for nurturing customer relationships, Dr. Betty Moon (DM 2008), argues that the preferred learning styles of salespeople are particularly important for selling complex, abstract products such as financial services.

To explore this issue, Dr. Moon studied over 400 salespeople in the financial services industry.  She found that an abstract learning style is positively associated with sales performance.  In part this is because a tendency toward abstract reasoning appears to enable salespeople to be more flexible in certain ways. This research is particularly important because abstract reasoning is not an attribute which is typically associated with salespeople. In addition, Dr. Moon's continuing research is focusing on the impacts of adapting and delivering training programs for sales people in which learning styles are explored and discussed.  Early indications suggest that raising the awareness of sales personnel about the impacts their customers' learning styles may play in the relationship selling process can positively impact the customer/salesperson relationship.

Much of Dr. Moon's work is based on the research of Weatherhead Faculty David Kolb and Richard Boyatzis known as the "Learning Style Inventory" and "Adaptive Style Inventory." A prime example of practitioner scholarship, Dr. Moon's research leverages well-established academic theory to help with the particular practice-based issue she faces every day.  She has presented her work at a number of organizations, most recently for the Bank Insurance and Securities Association conference in Miami (March 2010).  This work was also featured in that organization's magazine:

Dr. Betty Moon a Senior Vice President with Bank of America's Home Loan division based in Charlotte, where she is a member of the National Sales Performance team.  In addition, Betty is a partner of MoonInsights, LLC, a corporate consulting and coaching firm ( ).  MoonInsight's consultants provide "Sales Centric" leadership training and employee assessments to improve employee selection and training and positively impact sales outcomes and firm profitability.

Tags: DM Profiles · DM Research

1 response

  • 1 Edward Lott // Mar 27, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Fascinating and interesting research. As a Sales Manager in the Home Building industry I can see where this theory has utility value. Our sales team adapts our communication style to the dimensions of assertiveness and emotionality to build trusting relationships with our customers every day. Our research shows that the vast majority of customers are looking for sales team members that can clearly educate them on how the building process works - which can often be percieved to be complex and abstract when selling dreams!