Sales Gamification

Update: we’ve published a fairly extensive white paper about enterprise gamification for CRM. You can download it here or read the blog post… or do both!

Here’s the post:

Is your CRM perfect? Can you click a button and get a pipeline that will easily turn into an accurate sales forecast? If your answer is yes, you’re one of the lucky few.

pipelineManaging the sales pipeline based on the data present in your CRM is tricky, and it’s not because your sales people do a bad job or because something is amiss in your CRM. It is because of these 6 bad habits that wreck your ability to manage the sales pipeline based on the data in the CRM system alone.

1: over or under forecasting

One of the great issues with pipeline management is an over or under statement of the size of the sales opportunity. There are a ton of reasons for this. A sales person may be inexperienced, may want to buffer their forecasts, fudge them or aggrandize their importance. They may also just forget to update the number.

2: no lead housekeeping

Many sales people, when happening on a duplicate lead, gingerly skip over it. They don’t think they should do anything about it.  In a perverse way, this actually makes sense. The sales person wants to sell and not be a data entry person. The lack of the ability to do tabular data entry in some CRM systems also means that fixing duplicate leads is time consuming. But duplicate leads skew estimates, don’t give the right data about your lead generation efforts (did the last campaign generate 40 or 80 leads?) and generally mess things up…

3: Letting information become stale

Clean up dead leads, contacts, create meeting and opportunity updates? Many sales people skip this altogether, making data go stale.

4: Keeping leads where they are

Even if a sales person can’t make use of a lead, they may not act to share with a colleague that can serve that lead. The lead is then effectively lost.

5: Deals are never lost

When an opportunity cannot close, its status should be changed to “closed-lost”. Sales people will avoid doing this. They may want to hide failure or be overly optimistic.

6: “updating the CRM isn’t for me”

Most CRM systems don’t support tabular data entry – and no one likes the repetitive task of updating records one by one.  Remember: sales people hate data entry.

The bad news is that CRM pipelines obey the law of “garbage in – garbage out”.

CRM is a data repository for anything customer – prospective customers, current customers and customer issues post-sale. But if the data isn’t good, pipelines aren’t either.

Ask a sales person about this and they will have one answer: I was hired to sell, not to enter data and clean up records on a CRM. And even if they do all the data maintenance jobs they need to do, they still lack the buzz that drives their actual sales activities, where they are going for the rush after the deal is closed.

The good news is that you can fix this

The trick? Use gamification to ensure that data is good – and that pipeline management is easier.

This isn’t about “classic” sales gamificationleaderboards for top sellers. Gamification today isn’t just about sales competitions – it is about creating a sense of completion and mastery (think the profile completion bar in LinkedIn). Enterprise gamification today is used to implement processes – on top of enterprise applications such as CRM.

What’s more, gamification works best to encourage the less complex, simpler tasks, like data entry. You can use it to encourage lead sharing, information updates and correct forecasting. You can even give out points for prompt notification when a deal dies.  Think about gamification for good housekeeping – good CRM housekeeping.  Don’t use it to “encourage better use of CRM”. Set game rules that reward and drive people for changing the bad habits that matter – be they stale information or lead sharing. If correct forecasting is a pain point, set game rules that can fix it. The game rules you choose should communicate what’s important (read this post about whether gamification is the new corporate performance management). Take care to think about balance when you set game rules – good housekeepers that are bad at selling shouldn’t “win” the game.

Whatever points people collect can be translated into a fantasy sports game or song contest. Points can also be rewarded on a team basis, if team work needs to be improved.

The main lesson here is that gamification can fix bad CRM habits, but for it to succeed, set the goals that matter and game rules and mechanics to reflect them. Hopefully your next pipeline forecast will improve.

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