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Though many might shrug off sales 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 do (and I hope you do), that means you are 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, reported between 11% to 50% increases in measured sales performance. So, if you are 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 leader-boards
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 a profound impact on performance. Remember though, when using gamification, the game is a tool, not a goal. To get the most out of leader-boards and competitions, there are a few pitfalls you should avoid:
- Competitions will only motivate employees if they believe they have a chance of winning them. Therefore, only set up challenges between employees with similar prospects of success (e.g. experience, geography, product lines, etc.)
- Leader-boards don’t have to be about who closed the most deals. It’s probably better if they are not. A leader-board showing which agents assisted on 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 human psyche’s strongest drives are scarcity and a sense of accomplishment. Utilizing points and badges in sales gamification will allow you to simulate these drives to motivate performance and foster desired behavior. Here are the issues you should be aware of when 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 their job. Try assigning points for sales behaviors.
- A player should be able to lose points, not only gain them. Loss prevention is another strong motivational element; on top of driving us to improve, it makes us become more careful.
- Badges should be a sign of honor or an indicator that the badge owner has experience with a certain subject (similar to how a bugling badge on a boy scout indicates, well – that said boy can bugle). Don’t hand-out badges 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 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.
- Fosters collaboration on team challenges (both game or sales-related)
- Allows for 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, which in-turn enable peer review. Feedback coming from your co-workers has been proven to carry much more weight with employees than when it comes from managers.
Campaigns and challenges
Campaigns are a set of challenges. Challenges have the value of creating purpose and defining parameters for our work-related efforts. In a game environment, a challenge may come in the form of completing a level, or winning a race. In sales, gamification challenges range from completing a certain training course all the way to achieving a benchmark win-rate. Here are some things to be mindful of when creating challenges
- Challenges should be attainable but not easy; that way agents remain engaged and eager. To that end, it is 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 which areas they should focus on and what is the next best action to reach their goal.
- The actions required to complete a challenge should be clear and self-explanatory. If an agent’s challenge is to make 10 sales, your employee is unlikely to know how to get there. If the challenge is getting 20 leads on the phone by the end of the day, he or she will know exactly what to do.
Conclusion and a final word of warning
In this article, we have provided some of the main elements of sales gamification. By gaining a better understanding of your agents’ motivations and properly employing game elements, you can boost sales performance and get the most out of your team.
Be aware though that gamification is not a silver bullet, and will not have an overnight effect on sales. Implementing 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 put too heavy a focus on making work seem like a game and, unfortunately, achieve just that. Nobody wants their sales agents to play all day. Whatever approach and platform you choose to go with, make sure it is one that will empower your employees towards reaching higher levels of performance and productivity.