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Why Your Sales Training Should Be More Like Candy Crush

If you ever play games on a mobile device, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve at least heard of Candy Crush Saga. At the time of writing, this simple puzzle game had more than 9.3 million users playing every day—and it was signing up 111,508 new users every day.

What is it that makes so many people want to spend so much time moving little pieces of candy around?

Gamification researchers (people who study ways to make other parts of life more like games) say that people are hard-wired to want to play games. If you simply call an activity a game, it makes people want to participate. And if you throw in awards, badges and a little friendly competition, you can get people hooked.

There’s another example of the power of gamification over at the website Reddit. For April Fool’s Day, the site posted a button next to a 60-second countdown timer. Every time someone clicks the button, the timer resets, but each Reddit user can only push the button once. (And you must have signed up before April 1 to play). The gamification comes in because users get different badges based on how close the timer was to zero when they clicked it. As of writing, the timer has never dropped below 26 seconds.

No one knows what will happen if the Reddit timer hits zero, and the only thing users get for pushing the button is a little colored “flair” dot next to their username on Reddit. Yet more than 760,000 people have played, many of them staying up very late at night in the hopes of catching the button below 32 seconds and earning the coveted yellow flair.

What if you could generate that level of interest in your sales training?

People who work in sales tend to be very competitive by nature. If you can “reward” them for participating in—and more importantly, applying—sales training, you can dramatically increase interest in training opportunities. And over time, that increased interest should yield increased sales for your company.

Training rewards don’t have to be tangible or costly. In fact, like Candy Crush levels and Reddit button flair, they may well be more effective they don’t cost any money at all. For example, you could provide recognition at the company meeting or a mention in the company newsletter for the person who has done the best job implementing the sales training over the last quarter.

You might also consider building in “levels” of achievement. As mobile game developers have learned, you can maximize involvement by making the early levels fairly easy to attain and gradually ramping up the level of difficultly. In the same way that gamers might spend months trying to get past level 65 or Redditors might spend hours looking at a countdown timer, your sales staff might surprise you with the level of effort that are willing to put in to go from “gold” level to “platinum” level in their sales training.

When you are planning your sales training tactics, think carefully about your rewards and recognitions system. Applying some of the principles of gamification may make your training a lot more interesting to your sales team. And that could make your training a lot more effective in the long run.

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