Memory Systems and Productivity Biohacking for Salespeople

By Jonathan Roseland

Being a salesperson is one of the most cognitively challenging vocations...

Memory Systems and Productivity Biohacking for Salespeople

From the neocortex to the croc brain, being an effective salesperson requires vigorously exercising a wide spectrum of cognitive functions.

  • SalesPsychologyDoctors, attorneys, and engineers are highly analytical but their verbal intelligence or presentation skills are often lackluster.
  • Graphic designers need a high degree of spatial intelligence but their social intelligence is unused all day.
  • Customer service agents are usually good communicators but they don't need to establish deep rapport and psychoanalyze their customers' needs to persuade them to buy big-ticket items.

In the past 9 years, I've increased my sales revenues and opportunities significantly while simultaneously decreasing my stress levels and the number of hours I worked by applying historical memory systems, cutting edge applied neuroscience, and even a little chemistry to biohack my mind to its maximum potential as a sales tool. This article will outline the short term and long term strategies from these disciplines I utilize to maximize my performance as a salesman.

 What are memory systems? Memory systems are a 'human technology' that has been around for approximately 3000 years. Today, unfortunately, they are something of a lost art. To summarize, they involve creating absurd, highly creative yet complicated visual mental associations and representations to enable near-instantaneous recall of information, data, memories, etc.

What is biohacking? A hacker is a person that seeks full control of the system, so biohacking is a scientifically-based strategy that calibrates your mind and body for maximum productivity.

Remembering people's names
Remember Names Sales

Remembering and using people's names is consistently one of the most effective ways to increase rapport and trust, those who understand social dynamics from Dale Carnegie (How to Make Friends and Influence People) to modern-day social engineers, marvel at the persuasive power that names have. Most salespeople STINK at remembering people's names so you will stand out when you use this memory system to recall the names of your prospective buyers, clients, and customers.

Step 1: When you greet a new prospect, look at their face, and pick out the most distinctive feature of their face, this could be their large nostrils, wide forehead, slim lips... Whatever feature stands out to you. You may even want to do this before introducing yourself at the moment you have as you walk up to them.
Step 2: When you hear their name, visualize something physical that sounds like their name:
'Alex' sounds like 'A Lexus' visualize: the Lexus logo
'Phil' sounds like 'fill' visualize: visualize a cup filling up with water
'Tristan' sounds like 'tryst' visualize: lips kissing, making out
'Lauren' sounds like 'lowering' visualize: something being lowered on a platform
The 'sounds like' is just whatever comes to mind, no matter how strange nonsensical! As you can see this requires some creative energy, as you practice it more you'll find your creative intelligence increasing which will actually improve your sense of humor (a valuable asset in sales!).
Step 3: Finally, you want to create an absurd visual association between the most distinctive feature of their face you picked out and the thing you visualize that 'sounds like' their name
'Alex' visualize: the Lexus logo on Alex's wrinkled yet wide forehead
'Phil' visualize: that his large ears are actually cups full of water and they are overflowing water on his shoulders and the ground.
'Tristan' sounds like 'tryst'-kissing visualize: On his high cheekbones imagine two sets of disembodied lips kissing each other passionately.
'Lauren' sounds like 'lowering' visualize: Imagine that Lauren's large nose is actually detached from her face and is being lowered into place by a crane that comes out of her head.
These visualizations are actually more effective as memory systems the more bizarre, violent, outlandish, and weird you make them. It's a little tricky to first learn this technique in real-world sales situations so I created a practice session video course that gives you chance to practice it with about 40 different names and faces first. The course is free and takes about an hour to get through, you can access it here.

Remembering essential personal details and customer information
Remembering Customer Information

The most successful sales forces in the world utilize powerful software or sophisticated note-taking systems so that salespeople can record lots of details and information about their customers. Instantly recalling details about your customers ranging from the intimately personal (their favorite movie or kids names) to transaction-related information (their FICO scores or their organization's product line in the case of B2B sales) not only builds essential rapport but can give you a real advantage in winning the deal. It's a sad irony that sales organizations spend some much time and money on tools and systems to recall customer data when the most powerful and effective computer on the planet for storing customer information and personal details is actually in between the ears of every salesperson on the floor! The memory system for doing just this builds upon the memory system we use to associate names and faces, so if you haven't practiced it yet using the video course we provide, please do so now.

The Simplified Mental Process

  1. When you hear a detail you want to remember about your customer pick a keyword or two which you can visualize that will represent that detail.
  2. Go back to the 'sounds like' object visualization you came up with for remembering their name.
  3. Create an absurd visual scenario of their name's 'sounds like' object interacting with detail observation.
  4. As you acquire more details about a person, create visualizations for the details, and link them to the visualizations of the previous details OR back to the original 'sounds like' visualizations of your name. Don't link TOO MANY visualizations back to the original 'sounds like' visualization of their name. For example: if someone has seven children don't create seven different associations between their name and their children's names, that would just be confusing to keep track of!

The objective is for each person you meet in your sales career: create a linear mental chain of details, each link in the chain is separated by an absurd mental scenario.

Tammy memory 1st Example: Yoga
NameTammy, Name 'Sounds Like' Visualization: T Hammy, a ham standing up shaped like a T
Detail to Recall: Tammy likes to do yoga.
Name-Detail Interaction Visualization: I imagine a sweaty yoga class, I go into Yoga class with Tammy we both are holding a big piece of ham and start slapping the sweaty yoga practitioners with it.
SteveMemory 2nd Example: Where they are from
NameTim, Name 'Sounds Like' Visualization: Time, I visualize a large clock
Where He's From: Pittsburgh
Name-Detail Interaction Visualization: I imagine a massive round clock made out of steel (manufactured in Pittsburgh!) rolling through a factory crushing machinery, buildings, and pipes.
MomKids 3rd Example: Kids Names
NameChristy, kids names Simon and Felicia. 'Sounds Like' Visualization: Christy=Christmas, Christmas tree. Simon=Lime on, imagine a bunch of lime juice. Felicia=Feliz (happiness), a giant happy face.
Visualization: First of all I imagine a giant Christmas tree in a large hall, then a giant Climon crashes through the ceiling and starts squirting lots of lime juice on (Lime on) the Christmas tree, then hundreds of anthropomorphized yellow happy faces runs into the large hall and eat the giant lemon.
Derrickname 4th Example: Transaction Details
Name: Derrick, 'Sounds Like' Visualization: an old oil Derrick.
Transaction Detail to Recall: Derrick's company is going through a big lawsuit because of a software patent infringement.
Visualization: Imagine an oil derrick shooting oil out at an attorney (wearing a suit), who is trying to destroy a computer with a gavel.

Are memory systems time-consuming? TimeManagementMemorySystemsSomeone reading this may think, it seems like these memory systems make the job of a salesperson MORE complicated, instead of just listening to their customers now they have to come up with these crazy visualizations also? Doesn't this distract from the essential job functions of selling?

When you first start using memory systems they require a fair amount of creative energy and may take you up to a few minutes to learn. Which is why we highly recommend you take the AV Technique video course to practice them first, in the beginning, DO NOT create a new visual association for everything your customer tells you, this will just be confusing. Instead, create a single visualization per 30 minutes of conversation with your customer. If you have to, take notes and create your visual associations later when you review your notes. You'll find that after just a few days or weeks of applying some 'creative discipline' using memory systems you will become highly proficient in coming up with them on the spot in a matter of just a few seconds.

Sales script memorization

Many companies require their salespeople to memorize scripts for lead generation, handling inbound calls, or making the product pitch. Memorizing scripts is time-consuming for salespeople and sales trainers. You probably don't want to recite sales scripts word for word, the primary purpose of a sales script is to provide an outline of important things to say to move onto the next step of the sales process.

This is why the 'Loci' Memory System of script memorization works great. Let's use it on my script: Cold Calling Phone Script for getting through the Gatekeeper

Call Corporate Office: Hello Stacy (admin assistant's name), how are you today? I'm Jonathan Roseland and I'm calling in regards to marketing. Is the person in charge of that type of thing at your office?
(If you found this useful here's a voicemail script that gets me a call back from busy decision-makers 50%-70% of the time.)
The first step of memorizing scripts is to break them down by individual thoughts that we can create absurd visual associations for.
1st Thought: Hello Stacy (admin assistant's name) Visualize: A Giant Nametag with a secretary stuck to it by a giant piece of tape, she is screaming.
2nd Thought: how are you today? Visualize: Visualize a wall full of artistic expression masks, with the words 'Today' above them.
3rd Thought: I'm calling in regards to marketing. Visualize: A big stack of old school Yellow Pages phonebooks with a giant telephone on top of them. It's ringing very loud.
4th Thought: Is the person in charge of that type of thing at your office? Visualize: A person in charge, like an old school military commander, leading a charge of barbaric soldiers through a cubicle office space.
Now pick a place ('loci') you are very familiar with to visualize, this could be your home, your parents' house, or even your place of work. What's important is that it's a location with personality and multiple distinct rooms. So a studio apartment probably wouldn't work.

Product knowledge and memory systems

Memorizing Product Knowledge

When I had my first sales job at the busiest Toyota dealership in Colorado, I observed that the consistently top-performing salespeople also consistently scored the best in the vehicle specifications quizzes. Which makes perfect sense if you consider things from the customer's perspective, when you are spending a lot of money on a high ticket item would you rather deal with a 'salesperson' or someone who is a real expert on what you are in the market for? In my sales career, I used to spend a lot of time memorizing pricing grids, comparative feature tables, financing requirements, etc. Using memory systems it takes me less than 1/4 of the time to memorize product specific information, here's how:
Step 1: Product Visualizations: If you sell something like cars, boats, or houses this is easy. Just visualize the item you sell. If you sell something intangible like software, advertising, financial services, or consulting you will either have to pick a representative visualization or a 'sounds like' visualization for each item in your product line up. For example:

  • You are selling Forex Monkey, a trading software. Visualize a giant monkey attacking a mint.
  • You are selling a Print Media Marketing Package: Visualize a giant made with a body made out of yellow pages, yelling.
  • You are selling an IPO stock of CalRose, a hot technology company to investors: Visualize a fat person (cal=calories) with a rose for their head.

Step 2Feature Visualizations: As you can imagine at this point you need to create visualizations for specific features or attributes of your product, some features or attributes will be easy to visualize by nature, whereas others you will need to use a 'sounds like' association:

  • Feature: Monthly payment plans Visualize: The Moon (Moon cycle corresponds to monthly calendar)
  • Feature: Marketing package includes a yearly subscription to a leads exchange group Visualize: lead exchange=visualize people exchanging pencil lead (instead of business leads), a group of people is throwing giant mechanical pencils full of lead at each other.
  • Feature: Tech stocks in the SAAS industry are on average 12 times more than annual earnings Visualize: For SAAS let's use a 'sounds like', my old dog was named 'Sassy' so I'm just going to visualize my old dog. For 12 I create a visualization of the phonetic alphabet characters that represent 12 (1=D 2=N), with these two phonetic alphabet characters I get Dawn which I can visualize, I will explain below how the phonetic alphabet is used in correlation with memory systems. So for this feature, I visualize my old dog playing in the yard at dawn, a very memorable image indeed!

Step 3Product-Feature Association: Now we need to create visualizations between our product and our features.

  • Example 1: Forex Monkey Visualize: The giant forex monkey attacking a mint while out of the sky several Apollo Moon landers start flying around fighting the monkey (Like Godzilla on the Empire State Building vs biplanes style!)
  • Example 2: Print Media Marketing Visualize: The giant made out of yellow pages runs into another giant made out of yellow pages then they joust each other with huge pencils full of lead!
  • Example 3: IPO stock of CalRose Visualize: The fat person with thorns for hands and a rose for a head is hunting my old dog Sassy at dawn!

I particularly like anthropomorphizing my product representations into absurd human-like characters because then I can build storyboard journeys in my imagination of them traveling through a landscape of absurd scenes, each representing different features of the product. Does this mean I have to mentally go through the entire storyboard journey each time I want to recall a piece of product data? Maybe in the very beginning of using memory systems but after a few days or weeks of practice, your brain will locate the pertinent information almost instantaneously!

Bizarre Associations


The more bizarre, absurd, or flat weird your visualizations are the more effective they will be for building strong memory links. Apply the following to your associations to make them more memorable:

  • Substitution
  • Out of Proportion
  • Action or Violence
  • Multiplication
  • Sexiness (If you are like me your private thoughts tend to be dirty more often than not. So, by all means, feel free to make absurd associations sexual - it certainly helps to make them more bizarre!)

MemoryPegsMemory Pegs: These are visualization rules or standardizations you apply across the board to remember technical knowledge. For example:

  • Visualization Rule: It's snowing giant snowflakes What it means: This visualization applies to the cold weather package of the vehicles you sell.
  • Visualization Rule: Someone is wearing handcuffs in the visualization What it means: This visualization just applies to the products that have security restrictions
  • Visualization Rule: There is a giant samurai sword in the visualization What it means: This memory system applies just to your Japanese customers.

What about remembering product details with specific numerical values? A lot of the information we need to remember for sales transactions are specific numbers which are intangible, you might be able to visualize a giant number 7 but what about when you need to remember a long number? Break the 1-0 digits of the number down into corresponding sounds from the phonetic alphabet:

RememberingNumbersanddigits1 = t or d. A typewritten small t has one downstroke
2 = n. a typewritten small n has two downstrokes
3 = m. a typewritten small m has three downstrokes
4 = r. The word four ends with an r
5 = l. Your five fingers with thumb out form an L
6 = j, sh, ch and soft g. 6 and capital J form an almost mirror image
7 = k, hard c, hard g. You can make a capital K with two sevens
8 = f, v, ph. An 8 and a handwritten f look similar.
9 = p or b. a 9 and a P are mirror images of each other
0 = z, s or soft c. The first sound in the word zero is z.

Once you can represent your numbers by sounds you can visualize things using the sounds like technique, this is obviously a more advanced memory system technique that requires some practice before you can use it effectively on the fly. The hardest rule to keep in mind is that vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) can be used around the phonetic alphabet characters to create works. Here are a few examples:

  • Thus my age 27 becomes: nk=nuke (visualize a mushroom cloud)
  • My area code 303 becomes: mzm=Maze ma (my mom stuck in a maze)
  • My zip code 80203 becomes: fznzm= fuzz nice me (giant fuzz balls are being nice to me)

Do memory systems improve your personality? They do, memory systems naturally build your creative intelligence which improves your sense of humor and ability to banter with people. They also make you much more attentive to details and a better observer of others.

IvanPavlovExperimentInstant closing confidence biohack

This biohack uses a triggering mechanism that would make Ivan Pavlov proud. The objective is to trigger instant closing confidence on demand, like when you are about to walk into the boardroom of a big prospective client you are pitching.

  1. Pick a unique, yet strong scent that you don't run into very often in the world. This could be a unique spice, an old cigar, pretty much anything that has a consistent scent that you don't smell very much in the real world.
  2. Whenever you complete a successful sales call, meeting, or customer interaction, and feel great smell this scent, something like a food spice with a distinctive scent works great since you can keep it near your desk. Draw it deeply into your nostrils.
  3. Now when you want to summon instant closing confidence, just take a hit of this scent and it will bring it back for you, like Pavlov's dogs salivating to the sound of Pavlov's bells.

Arbitrarily inflated deadlines and phantom consistency
DeadlinesCustomers want to do business with salespeople and organizations who do what they say and say what they do so. One of the most common sources of perceived flakiness in salespeople is that they over promise and under deliver on their deadlines. The solution to this is to always inflate the deadlines of how long it will take you to get things done.

  • If it's going to take you 10 minutes to put together a quote, tell them it will take 24 hours.
  • If it's going to take a week to get a client closed, tell your boss it's going to take a month and a half.
  • If it's going to take 3 hours for you to get that paperwork done, tell them it's going to take 4 days.

Boomerang life hackingI use a free tool called Boomerang for Gmail to automate this, Boomerang allows you to program emails to be sent at a set time in the future. So if it's only going to take me 10 minutes to prep a requested proposal I will do it as soon as I get off the phone with the customer, as their needs will be super fresh in my mind. Then I will set the email to go out in 24 hours in Boomerang. If your sales organization doesn't use Gmail for email you might want to show your boss this guide on How to Set Up Corporate-Branded Email from Gmail, it's a major money and time saver along with averting a lot of IT headaches. Once you go Gmail you don't go back.

Dual N-Back Training

One of the most consistently effective tools in the bio hacker's toolkit for maximizing mental performance is Dual N-Back Training. A landmark 2008 study demonstrated that Dual N-Back Training increases fluid intelligence in those who spend 20 minutes daily training 5 days a week. Fluid intelligence translates into problem-solving skills, the quickness with which you acquire new skills, and your ability to think critically when facing new or unique challenges. All very valuable assets of highly effective salespeople. The only problem with Dual N-Back training is that it's not very fun, at least in the beginning when you will suck at it. So it's kind of monotonous but it will make you a smarter person.

How much does Dual N-Back Software cost? Dual N-Back Pro, the Dual N-Back software we recommend which is developed by a leading neuroscientist is $35. There are also free versions of Dual N-Back Software for PC, Mac, iPhone, and Android that are downloadable from the Limitless Mindset subscribers section. You can subscribe below and will get instant access to these downloads.


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