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How to use CRM gamification to create a better sales pipeline

November 4, 2014 • gal

gamification pipeline management

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!

We’ve already written about the 6 bad habits sales people have and how that can mess up your pipeline. The main issue is simple: to make a good pipeline, the CRM has to include quality up to date information. Sales people would rather not spend their time doing the quality up to date thing. They would rather do something else.

Below you will find some guidelines about the best ways to use gamification to improve data quality, timeliness and, as a result, the quality of your pipeline management.

1. Gamify Performance

Gamification is the use of game mechanics (such as narratives, points, leaderboards, completion bars etc) and game rules to modify behavior by driving employees to change their actions based on the cues given through gamification. Enterprise gamification is the use of game mechanics in conjunction with enterprise apps, such as CRM.

Using enterprise gamification together with CRM can have surprising results, creating lasting changes in employee behavior.

2. Don’t let leaderboards confuse you

The immediate thought for most people, when they think about gamification and sales, is a leaderboard. But leaderboards are just one of a large arsenal of game mechanics.  They can be great for the person who is at the top of the board – the best sales person – but can be discouraging for the rest. Leaderboards are also focused on the bottom line – sales – and won’t necessarily work well to promote the actions that will make your sales pipeline management better. More about that in item number 3.

3. Don’t forget the small actions

What are small actions? Let’s begin by defining the “big action” – this one is pretty straightforward when thinking about sales and CRM gamification. In this case, the big action is “sell more”.

But for pipeline management quality data that timely is all about the “small actions” – update a lost deal, insert more information about the customer, make a realistic estimate of the deal size and more.  Smaller actions are sharing leads and eliminating duplicates. When you think about gamifying the small actions, you can also see why leaderboards aren’t best here. It isn’t about competition – it is about the satisfaction that comes from completion. This is where game mechanics that reward completion work well.

4. Reward Speed

Aside from the quality of the data, the data also needs to be timely, or else the pipeline will be based on old data.

Salespeople can be rewarded for timely updates of the CRM by implementing a simple game rule: the faster the update, the better. Let’s say a sales person just finished qualifying a lead. If they put the data into the CRM earlier, they will get more points than if they had taken several days to update. An ancillary benefit here is that salespeople will also, as a result, try to do their job quicker, creating more momentum in the sales process.

5. Gamification is an opportunity to communicate

One of the great benefits of gamification, a benefit that is often missed, is that game rules, calls to actions and game mechanics are all great ways to convey messages about corporate objectives and what’s the best way to achieve them.

People pay attention to game rules. Game rules let them know what’s important – and they often convey this message better than through exhortations and lecturing.

Messages can be about the importance of a live demo, if the game rules reward that, about the importance of actually visiting with customers or about pursuing cross and up sale opportunities. Using a gamification avatar  (like Gameffective’s) which pulls in data from several enterprise systems can suggest calls to action that span several applications.

6. Think about the learning moment

Not doing well on a game or being unable to complete a suggested course of action aren’t necessarily regarded as failure in a gamified world. Sometimes they can be gateways into learning and training opportunities. Want to have your sales people offer more of that new, complex product? Gamify the offering and tie gamification into the training systems you have in place – when a sales person will suspect they are not doing well, they can stop and learn more. Other sales people can earn points by helping others engage with the new products.

7. Think about forming habits

Gamification can form habits – good ones. It can suggest new behaviors to replace the habits that come when certain cues are made, and can also offer the reward, a sense of mastery and completion.

8. Use Karma

Rather than viewing your sales force as a bunch of hyper competitive individuals, think of a game rule that involves “karma”  – rewarding people for their contributions to others’ success, for their assistance, information and examples loaded on corporate knowledge management systems and activity on corporate social networks.

9. Use Narratives


Narrative based gamification lets  you set weekly matches (like fantasy sports) based on the achievements of the previous week. These events are fun – they are also very good at communicating the message that every week is a new one and should be approached with energy. Gamification Narratives are also a way of driving complex and nuanced behaviors.

10. Avoid vanity KPIs

Whatever you do, think about the behavior you want to encourage and that matters, and not about amorphous “metrics” that look good but matter less.


Some people say that CRM lacks process – that it is a good system for tracking customer interactions but not for ensuring that opportunities and leads are sold to. Gamification can insert this process component into the use of CRM and encourage reporting. In this way the CRM stops being a data repository and becomes a living system. Gamification is not an external leaderboard or reward system that is nailed on top of your CRM. It can turn CRM from a data store of customer data into a process oriented application,  and support continuous optimization, giving managers information that they can trust.

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