Sales Gamification

Though many might shrug off gamification as a fad, chances are you’re already using it. Did you ever run a sales contest? Do you motivate AEs with bonuses or prizes? If you are (and I hope you are) that means you’re incorporating game elements in your day to day work. This is essentially what gamification is all about – using game mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics to drive desired behavior and performance. In fact, 71% of companies implementing sales gamification tools, said they saw between 11% to 50% increases in measured sales performance. So, if you’re already using it, why not up the ante and get the most out of it? In this article, we will explore some of the main elements of sales gamification and provide dos and don’ts on how to implement them well.

Contests and leaderboards

Any attempt at gamifying sales usually starts with these two usual suspects. They are relatively self-explanatory which is part of their strong appeal. Frivolous as they seem, these game elements can have profound impact on performance. Remember though, while using gamification, the game is a tool, not a goal. To get the most from leaderboards and competitions there’s a couple of pitfalls you should avoid:
• Competitions will only motivate employees if they believe they have a chance at winning. Set competitions only between employees with similar prospects of success (e.g. experience, geography, product lines, etc.)
• Leaderboards don’t have to be about who closed the most deals. It’s probably better if they’re not. A leaderboard showing which agents assisted the most sales, as opposed to the ones who closed the most deals, for example can foster collaboration instead of disengagement and hostility

Points and badges

Two of the strongest drives in the human psyche are scarcity, and a sense of accomplishment. Utilizing points and badges in sales gamification, you can simulate these drives to motivate performance and foster desired behavior. Here’s what you should be aware of if deciding to implement points and badges in sales gamification
• Points should award activities that breed success, not success itself. Rewarding points simply for closing deals won’t teach your sales agents how to get better at it. Try assigning points for sales behaviours.
• A player should be able to lose points, not only gain them. Loss prevention is another strong motivational element and on top of driving us to improve, it makes us be more careful.
• Badges should be a sign of honor or an indicator that the badge owner has experience with a certain subject (like a bugling badge on a boy scout indicating, well – that this boy can bugle). Don’t slap badges around like a kindergarten teacher. Use badges for actual progress (e.g. making your first 10 sales) or mastery of a certain field (e.g. showing proficiency in salesforce).
Social Feeds and Feedback
Not many people know this but Slack, the super successful team collaboration software, started its life as a chat feed in a now defunct online game. This is not just a fun anecdote. Social feeds are some of the most powerful game elements out there. Creating a space for unmitigated social communication as part of your sales games will provide several awesome benefits:
• Opening an informal channel for discussion between sales agents and their managers.
• Foster collaboration on team challenges (both game or sales related)
• Allow casual coaching and collaboration between geographically dispersed teams – employees are much more likely to approach colleagues outside their immediate circle with questions if they are all part of the same game and on the same chat feed.
• Social feeds allowing agents to congratulate each other and give feedback on the fly enable peer review. Feedback coming from your co-workers has been proven to carry much more meaning with employees than feedback from managers.

Campaigns and Challenges

Campaigns are a set of challenges. Challenges have the value of creating purpose and defining parameters to our efforts. In a game environment, a challenge might be completing a level or winning a race. In sales gamification challenges can be completing a certain training course or achieving a benchmark win rate. Here are some things to be mindful of when creating challenges
• Challenges should be achievable but not easy to keep agents engaged and eager. To that end its important to tailor challenges based on each agent’s unique capabilities and needs.
• Progress should be transparent. Allowing agents to monitor progress (via gauges or KPIs) will let them know where they should focus and what’s the next best action to reach the goal.
• The actions required to complete a challenge should be clear and self-explanatory. If an agent’s challenge is to make 10 sales there’s fat chance he will know how to get there. If the challenge is getting 20 leads on the phone by the end of the day, he’ll know exactly what to do.

Conclusion and a final word of warning

In this article, we’ve provided some of the main elements of sales gamification. By having a better understanding of your agents’ motivations and employing game elements well, you can boost sales performance and get the most from your team.
Be aware though that gamification is not a silver bullet and won’t get your sales up overnight. Employing gamification should be a long-term strategy targeting behavioral change with entertainment as an added boon not as the focus. A variety of platforms out there focus too much on making work seem like a game and, unfortunately, achieve just that. After all, nobody wants their sales agents playing all day.
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