Set, Go, Dominion, Chess, Settlers of Catan, and Zombie Dice are just some of the games that the team play at lunch or at the end of the work day.  Our day job is to design and develop Lattice Engines’ flagship B2B sales intelligence software.  We play while we work.  When people walk through the office, they often stop to find another match from the Set cards on the table or ponder their next chess move.  Games are one way we have fun, relax, and socialize.

The Lattice Engines Development Team plays a game at lunch

Can the user experience of enterprise sales software be as engaging as playing FarmVille?  One of the thorniest issues facing an organization after rolling out their shiny new sales application is how to convince their overworked sales organization to use it.  After the initial enthusiasm, how do you motivate your users so they want to use the service or product, rather than have to use the service.

Photo credit: Katy Franklin 2007

Gamification is the latest buzzword.  The goal of gamification is to engage users and create a connection between the consumer and a product or service.  While game design techniques are typically applied to consumer-oriented sites to promote social behaviors like shopping on or sharing on Facebook, they also extend to business networking sites like LinkedIn and personal finance sites like that encourage work activities.

Let’s put this in the context of the software your sales people are supposed to be using to increase sales lift.  By nature, sales professionals tend to be socializers and achievers. These are two of the four player types identified by Richard Bartle, who studied players of MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games) to identify what makes a game fun.  The question is how to turn a serious non-game application into a more game-like experience, because if you can increase the number of reps using your sales application, the revenue will follow.


The socializer player type wants to play games for the benefit of social interaction.  Enabling reps to share their success stories, creative ideas on how to use the application, and ideas for improvement contribute to the personalization and ownership of the application.  Integrating socializing into your application can embed an enjoyable activity into a work application.  A named post with a quote like, “Holy bleep this thing works!” with details about who, what, and when, will go a long way in encouraging others to join in.  By bringing in the hallway conversations and personal relationships, your software can leverage real life connections to spread the word and build a community within your application.


Achiever player types are results-oriented and are motivated by increasing their level and score.  Their goal may be to surpass their own personal record or challenge co-workers in a competition.  The ubiquitous leaderboard you see on sales floors is one example of how companies try to encourage by giving public recognition.  Online versions of leaderboards can be used to automatically share rankings and award spiffs throughout the day and promote changes in activity in real time rather than at the monthly sales meeting.  Alternatively, a team might start with a reward that diminishes if users don’t perform specific activities to motivate through peer pressure and obligation to other team members.  The basics are simple, but the challenge is applying them in a thoughtful way that doesn’t feel contrived.

If your product or service doesn’t provide value or benefits, then gamification alone will not drive engagement, but if you have a product with substance, then let the games begin.

Are you leveraging game mechanics in your sales application? We welcome your thoughts on techniques that drive user engagement.