What Sex, Drugs, Chocolate & Sales Enablement Have in Common…

What if you could motivate your sales team to not just want to improve, but to crave sales development? It’s more than possible. You just have to understand the real reasons humans love sex, drugs, and chocolate and use it to your (and your quota’s) advantage….

Why Do People Love Sex, Drugs & Chocolate?

Deep within the skulls of every human, a cocktail of chemicals rushes from one neuron to the next. Each sending a signal that can trigger intense desire, distaste – and even disinterest. 

Present one of your sales reps with something they love or desire – like a monetary bonus – and you will turn the key that opens a floodgate of brain chemicals that fuel human drive, focus, and obsession. 

The rep may enjoy a burst of happiness at the prospect of a fatter bank account, but the dopamine pouring down the neurological reward pathways in their mesolimbic dopamine system does more than take their brain for a ride on a wave of happy juice. Attention sharpens. Details are scrutinized. And the rep’s brain creates a memory of the event.

The Science of Desire, Attention – and Learning

Positive feelings are largely triggered by the two “happy hormones”: dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine plays a significant role in brain processes related to desire, cravings, and motivation. It fuels the brain’s reward system, helping humans make the connection between events and positive outcomes by giving us a rush of pleasure. Dopamine is also integral to the brain’s ability to form memories.

Imagine if you were a caveman that happened upon a grove of delicious fruit trees. Your brain would want you to remember those fruit trees, so it gives you that burst of happiness. This, in turn, reinforces your memory of the event, the location, etc. as your brain wants more delicious, fruity rewards. 

Serotonin is another brain chemical that can trigger pleasurable feelings. Think of a time when you were recognized as a top performer in your sales organization. You can thank serotonin for that feeling of pleasure you get when recalling your moment in the sun. Whenever you recognize a member of your sales team for positive performance, their brains are awash in serotonin.

It’s a bit discomforting to realize that we have less control over our emotions than we think. However, an understanding of the chemistry bubbling inside your team’s brains helps explain why some sales management and sales development tactics work – and others don’t.

For instance, take the rep to whom you just gave an unexpected bonus. They may think they made a decision to be happy about your offer, but what really just happened is you pulled a very reliable neurological trigger. One that can be used to help their sales skills grow. 

Sales Development Tip: Put Your Rep’s Brain on Games.

Game play – and specifically video game play – triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. As a result, players really lean into the game. It’s why you have trouble pulling your kids away from their PS4 – the highly stimulating environment keeps those happy hormones flowing.

Why would something so unnatural as a round of Xbox trigger such a primordial response? Studies show the brain actually has difficulty discerning between real-life events and those that are imagined. So, when placed in a simulated virtual gaming environment, the brain reacts with the same increase in attention as it would to a real event. 

Video games are intentionally made to trigger our mesolimbic dopamine system. The frequency and intensity of rewards in gaming is something our brains LOVE. When your reps are working through the levels on their favorite video game they are in an intense state of attention and learning – all the while creating memories.

How to Gamify Sales Development:

One of the biggest issues in sales training and development is retention. You invest in sales development so that your sales team ingests information and retains it. Unfortunately, most approaches to sales development – like lectures or reading PDFs – aren’t designed to trigger the release of brain chemicals which enable memory creation.

That’s why it’s time to ditch traditional classroom learning and instead start implementing a virtual sales development environment or gamified online sales training platform. 

Look for a platform with frequent rewards and levels that offer progressively more challenging content. You want your sales reps to be engaged with fun challenges that trigger the flow of dopamine and rewarded with success to get their serotonin flowing. 

The emotions they experience while playing through the sales development material will create a deeper investment and connection to what they have learned, so the information will be coded and easily recalled for real life situations. Plus, when those skills are recalled, they will automatically have positive emotions attached, creating a more pleasant selling experience. The right gamified sales training platform will have them craving to play while preparing for real life success.

But don’t choose an e-learning platform that sugar coats sales learning. Choose one that was created specifically for sales education. Studies have shown that people learn more from educational games where learning is intrinsic to game play. 

When you adopt a gamified approach to sales development, you are giving your sales reps information the way they crave it. Fast, intense, fun. You can’t go wrong by following the neurological example set by sex, drugs, and chocolate. 

Author: Nick Rini

Nick Rini, with an extensive tenure in tech as an entrepreneur, has led three companies as CEO, and served as an advisor to several tech company CEOs. Nick’s experience includes raising venture funding, mergers and acquisitions, sales forensics consulting, sales, marketing, and sales management.


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