Today, June 6, is the 29th anniversary of the day Tetris hit the world market. When I saw that tidbit of trivia, it got me thinking about how Tetris can teach a lesson about Sales.

In case you are one of the three people in the world who haven’t played it, Tetris works like this. A random sequence of blocks falls down the screen, and you quickly manipulate each new block to complete a solid horizontal line after it hits bottom. When a line is created, it disappears and makes room for more. If you form multiple lines at once from one shape, you get more points. After you clear a certain number of lines, you reach a new level. The higher the level, the faster the blocks fall. Some versions of Tetris give you control, allowing you to do things like save a block for later, or speed up a block’s fall and get more time with the next one.

So how is Tetris like Sales? Fill in the blanks below with either “Tetris block” or “customer” and you will see:

  1. You won’t always get the __________ you want, but if you deal with the hard ones and find a fit, you will get better and better at the game. Sometimes you have a lot of control, and sometimes you don’t.
  2. Each __________ is slightly different, and few will slip right into the spot you think they might. You will need to do some rotating and flipping around to find the best solution. If one __________ fits in multiple lines, the rewards are higher.
  3. Focus on the __________ in front of you, with an eye toward the next one. And never forget the previous __________, because they got you where you are now. You will see them again.

But, you protest, I can destroy your little metaphor with one point: Sales requires prospecting for new customers, but in Tetris you don’t have to go out and find new blocks. That is true, but the better you are at the game, the faster the Tetris blocks come to you. So Tetris and Sales have this in common, too. The better you are at selling and servicing your customers, the faster new ones will come to you. Make sure you’re ready for them and they will fit nicely.

Go ahead and play a few rounds of Tetris with your agency team, because it’s actually good for you (in moderation). Research has shown that playing Tetris actually increases the thickness of the brain cortex and helps your brain work more efficiently. Just don’t tell the kids.

Helene Goldson

About Helene Goldson

Helene spent much of her career in Canadian health benefits marketing communications, then spent a few years marketing HR software in California and Florida. She is a Duke graduate, and has a Masters in Journalism from the University of Alabama, both of which happened before the turn of the century.