Gamification has been a buzzword in the realm of employee engagement for quite some time now. It’s far from being a new hot topic or a fad. Even if you’re new to the concept, chances are you’ve used it. Think about that last sales contest you ran or the bonuses and prizes you offered your sales teams for hitting some short-term goal. Each of these is a time you incorporated game elements in your employees’ day-to-day activities. You were essentially doing sales gamification.
Gamification is all about using game mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics to drive desired behaviors and performance. When done well, it really works. More than 70% of companies using sales gamification tools, report between 11% to 50% increases in key sales performance metrics.
If you’re using gamification, great. But are you getting the most out of it? Read on! Here are some key elements of sales gamification and a few do’s and don’ts.
Contests and leaderboards
Most gamified sales initiatives start with contests and leaderboards. People immediately get them and that’s part of their appeal. They can have a profound impact on performance. Keep in mind, when using gamification, the game is a tool, not a goal. To get the most out of competitions and leaderboards, consider that:
- Competitions will motivate employees only if they believe they have a chance at winning.
- Set up challenges between employees with similar prospects for success (e.g. experience, geography, product lines)
- Leaderboards are more useful when they foster desired behaviors than merely keep score. They don’t only have to be a competition on who made the most sales. For example, a leaderboard that shows which agents assisted on the most sales can serve to nurture collaboration, instead of disengagement and unneeded 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 lets you simulate them to motivate performance and encourage desired behaviors. When choosing to use points and badges in a sales situation, be aware that:
- Points should award activities that breed success, not success itself. Rewarding points for closing deals won’t teach salespeople how to get better at their job. Assigning points for exhibiting desired sales behaviors will produce more effective sellers.
- A player should be able to lose points, not only gain them. Loss prevention is a strong motivation; linked to the drive to improve. It helps make salespersons more careful.
- Badges should be a sign of honor or an indicator that the badge holder has substantive experience with the badge-related subject. It’s akin to a Boy Scout’s merit badge for bugling; a sign the scout has a mastery of that instrument. Don’t hand out badges like a kindergarten teacher, however. Use badges for actual progress or proficiency in a certain aspect of the job, like demonstrating skill using Salesforce.
Social-feeds and feedback
Slack, the collaboration software, began as a chat-feed in an online game. This fun fact is offered to show that social feeds are among the most powerful game elements available. Creating a space for unmitigated social communications as a part of your sales games will provide several benefits. They include:
- Opening an informal channel for discussion between sales team members and their managers.
- Promoting collaboration on team challenges (both game or sales-related)
- Coaching and collaborating between geographically-dispersed teams.
- Employees are more likely to approach colleagues outside their immediate circle with questions if they’re part of the same game, and on the same chat feed.
- Allowing team members to congratulate each other, give feedback on the fly, and enable peer review. Feedback from coworkers carries more weight, often, than praise from managers.
Campaigns and challenges
Campaigns are a set of challenges. Challenges have the value of creating purpose and parameters for work-related efforts. In a game environment, a challenge is trying to win a race. In sales, gamification challenges range from completing a training course to attaining a benchmark win-rate. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating challenges.
- Challenges should be attainable but not easy. That helps to keep employees engaged and eager. To that end, it’s important to tailor challenges based on each person’s capabilities and needs.
- Progress should be transparent. Let salespeople monitor progress so they know which areas need focus and what’s the next best action to reach their goals.
- Actions required to complete a challenge should be clear and self-explanatory. If a challenge is to make 10 sales, make certain your employees know how to do that.
Conclusion and a word of caution
By gaining a better understanding of the motivations of individuals on your sales team and properly employing game elements, you can boost sales performance and get the most out of each member.
But know that gamification is not a silver bullet. And, you won’t see an effect on sales overnight. Look at gamification as part of a long-term strategy, targeting behavioral change with entertainment as an added plus not as the focus.
Be aware that too many platforms out there put too much of an emphasis on making work seem like a game. Unfortunately, that’s all they’re able to accomplish. Obviously, sales managers don’t want their salespeople playing pointless games all day. Whatever approach and platform you choose to go with, make sure it will empower your employees to reach higher levels of performance and productivity.