Sales Performance Management (SPM) is a term that describes monitoring and training sales personnel to improve their sales skills, methods, and conclusively, their outcomes. It includes applying specific sales analytics in order to estimate and forecast sales and guide salespeople accordingly.
Using performance reviews and skill development and feedback, SPM involves observing sales practices, drawing conclusions and implementing changes for improved results.
How can gamification apply to sales performance management?
Contrary to what many people believe, gamification isn’t about applying a video game veneer to work; it also isn’t about sales competition with weekly or monthly winners. Actually, choosing a sales competition may have the opposite result, alienating employees or discouraging them, because they can’t compete with the people in the top 10%.
That’s why gamification is about creating intrinsic motivation, learning and better performance by using real-time feedback and digital motivation. It awakens the inner motivation that is a long term driver of performance, by making sales people inner-driven and also better at understanding their performance goals and activity expectations.
In a sense, gamification can take the goals and insights from Sales Performance Management and make sure employees are engaged and motivated by them. Let’s take a look at how this can be accomplished..
All the above might sound a bit conceptual to you but what are the actions needed to deliver on this promise of sales performance management through gamification? Motivated salespeople, better pipeline management and best-practice sales techniques all sound great in theory, but can we really make these things happen and result in positive and productive changes for the long term? Purchasing technology for sales performance is actually much easier than maximizing the performance of the people that sell. However, the people are what really drive the business, not the technology alone.
Setting goals is extremely important for sales performance management gamification – and this is where the journey begins. It is the first step that gives scale and proportion regarding the destination we are heading to. Sales managers should define clear and specific sales goals that are aligned with the overall goals of the company.
Goals aren’t like the classic goals we know in the performance review of old. They aren’t set once a year – they change continuously. This is important, since the employee should get the right goals, and if the manager wants to change emphasis on certain activities, they should do so.
Communicating short-term goals and reflecting them to the employees, as well as tracking them in actual time, is the key for reaching the engagement of our sales personnel. Many companies are now realizing that breaking down their goals into sets of personalized missions which are adjusted continuously throughout time makes them easier to communicate to their employees, and makes their employees comprehend and engage with them in a much better way.
Personalized goal setting is very important since it creates an environment where everyone can be a winner. If my goals are aligned with my past performance – and the range in which I can improve – my chances of winning and feeling that these goals make sense, making me strive to achieve them, will be better.
Extrinsic incentives are incentives such as winning a competition, getting a prize, etc. However, these motivators are not what drive long term performance. The reason is that they wear off and sometimes performance can even drop after their use. This isn’t to say that salespeople shouldn’t be rewarded, but it is to say that gamification that’s focused on prizes and competition isn’t likely to work.
That’s where gamification comes in. It engages sales people with their personalized goals, using social proof, game narratives and many other game mechanics that drive motivation and engagement. But how exactly? Let’s explore the feedback angle
Observing, promoting visibility of goals and encouraging dialogue are important.
When feedback is immediate, and related to “competing” against your own personal goals, your past performance, your team average, you begin to care. Just like people using a fitness tracker take more steps, real-time feedback about achieving sales activities and sales goals is a powerful motivator. Feedback should be fair, transparent and objective, and preferably not based on ranking, since we want to create motivation to improve and not comparison and competition that could cause the opposite.
Feedback should also be given in a timely manner, in a way that is timely enough to allow an employee to re-work what they are doing instead of regretting over their past failure, get up and fix their act. This is what real-time feedback in gamification is
Good performance always depends on quality learning. We want our salesforce to be proficient in the company’s products and technologies, to know what the best practices are, to be able to solve problems and deliver good service and solutions in the long term. To do that, we need to make learning accessible on an almost daily basis, accessible in micro-learning boosts, so it will be effective yet not take up too much time.
Sales managers want to reinforce education among their employees and also keep their knowledge retention high levels. To reach that goal, they first have to create an environment that is conductive to learning, productivity and well-being. Companies need to provide high quality learning material, practices, and solutions and focus on their employees learning process, making it meaningful and profound. One way of doing that is using interactive and engaging methods like gamification. For instance, when certain KPIs aren’t met or analytics shows the employee has a difficulty with them, the gamification platform will suggest those learning goals as a next-best-action. In a similar manner, gamification of learning (for instance, of a new service offering) can greatly contribute to knowledge retention. After the learning is completed, the employee can get new KPIs related to the sales of that new product.
A productive sales manager must employ accurate sales analytics and use proper and precise metrics. Proper measurements and indicators are essential for the sales manager to be able to form correct judgments and generate the appropriate conclusions, resulting in making decisions that are good for his salesforce.
Analytics are a key part of any sales performance gamification platform, since they help in understanding how to set personalized goals, who should be trained and how KPIs and learning content can be optimized for even better results.