You may see the word “gamification” in the title of this post and think, “What on earth do games and sales have in common?” They have plenty in common, if you look more critically. In games, as in sales, you have certain goals that you have to achieve. In Super Mario Bros. you have to get Mario to the castle to save Princess Peach. In Candy Crush you need to match three or more candies to crush them and eventually beat the level.
The world of sales is no different. As a salesperson you have certain goals you have set out for yourself or goals that the company has set out for you to achieve. To achieve these goals, there are actions you need to take that will bring you step-by-step closer to the end point.
For example, your ultimate goal may be to get “x” number of face-to-face meetings with leads for a specific week. To get those meetings, you need to get a list of qualified leads, get their details, call them or email them, and ultimately set up a meeting with each lead. As with any game, you will get obstacles that block your path to achieving your goal. Obstacles may be that you don’t have enough qualified leads to contact, there is not enough time to contact each lead, not all leads are open to meeting with you, and so forth.
What is gamification? Simply put, gamification is the act of applying elements (such as point scoring) usually associated with games and gaming to other areas such as online marketing or in our example, sales. Gamification has been applied to many non-game activities such as user engagement, physical exercise, learning, return on investment and data quality.
Gamification used in sales can provide the salespeople involved in the activity with a feeling that they are being recognised, a sense of competition, status, rewards (either physical or psychological), the visualisation of progress (which makes it easier to stay motivated), the breakdown of a large task into more manageable pieces and positive reinforcement.
There are three types of rewards that are found to be quite useful in something like sales or business gamification:
Being recognised is something that every human craves, and recognition also encourages repetitive behavior and engagement.
This type of reward can help the person feel like they are increasing their status in the company or among their peers, which in turn helps them to feel more successful.
* Monetary rewards
Depending on the user, some prefer to hold out for something more tangible such as money but can even include free gifts, vouchers and so forth.
Game mechanics can be a great opportunity for an individual salesperson to try out a new motivational sales tool or a sales manager who wants to apply a unique technique to challenge his or her sales team. You must be asking yourself now, how can you use gaming mechanics in an industry that seems to not gel (on the surface) with something as creative as gaming?
Each step in a process can have a certain number of points allocated to it. The more steps a person completes, the more points they receive and the closer they get to getting a reward. Additional points can be allocated for how well a step has been performed, making the reward happen quicker. This can provide motivation to not only complete the step to gain points but also to do it to the best of the ability of the person.
This tool allows people to achieve a certain status among their peers by linking the points system to leaderboards. This promotes healthy competition between people as sometimes people will pass others and then drop down the board at other times. It also helps people to communicate more with others. To further this even more, you can team up individual salespeople with each other to compete against other teams.
* Missions, quests or challenges
In a sales environment, one can turn ordinary sales quotas into missions or quests that teams or individual salespeople need to achieve. To make these more gamified, certain steps need to be taken in order to complete the mission or challenge. If these steps aren’t taken, the mission cannot be completed.
Set certain levels that can be achieved if a certain number of challenges have been completed. Those levels are then associated with privileges that are not given to people on lower levels. This will motivate people on lower levels to work harder to get to the next level. This will only work if the rewards or privileges are worthwhile to the salespeople participating. If it is not something that they truly want, then there will be no motivation to level up.
Create a feedback system where people are notified as soon as they get points and move up or down on a leaderboard. This provides instant gratification (if the notification is good) and motivation to do better next time to compete (if the news is bad).
It is definitely not necessary to use all of these game mechanics at once. It is actually advisable to start by using only one of the game mechanics suggested with your sales team. As with any task (and mission), doing too many things at once can make you lose focus. Especially with something as new and unfamiliar as gamification, you want to introduce it step-by-step. If that one thing you’ve introduced works and the salespeople enjoy it, take another step. You can even just stick to that one thing, not risking the introduction of another foreign concept.
Gamification may not be the answer to a more productive sales team for all companies but it is definitely worth a try. Especially try it if you feel like figures are not where they are supposed to be (it has been proven to increase engagement from salespeople) or that processes are getting a bit stale and repetitive.