What is Gamification? A Primer on Sales Gamification

We’ve all played video games (some a lot more than others). But it’s less known that companies are using a strategy (involving gaming) to improve customer retention, lower the sales cycle, and improve team performance. It’s called gamification. And some may immediately ask, “What is gamification?”

Fair enough question.

In the simplest terms, it’s a way to boost the engagement level of certain activities. A different kind of motivation to strive for goals. Your next question (whether you’ve heard the term or not) is likely “Why is this on a sales blog?”

Fair enough, yet again.

Have you done anything to make your sales team compete with one another? Set group goals, or motivate in any way that is more positive than negative? If so, you’ve used a form of gamification already.

This post is to help you determine:

  • What gamification is exactly.
  • 5 Steps to Successfully Implement Gamification into the Sales Process.
  • 7 Different Ways/Ideas of What to Track.

Let’s get into it.

What is Gamification (exactly)?

Gamification: The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service. (source)

Primarily our term in question is used in the software world. If a developer can get users to perform a certain function a certain number of times, or use the product in a certain way, it increases the likelihood of that individual becoming a long-term user.

Couple Examples:

  • If an Android/iPhone game can get a user to play 10 levels on your first go, that user is X% more likely to make an “in-app purchase”.
  • An invoicing SaaS can increase the lifetime value of a user if they create X invoices in the their first month.

But it’s not just for Silicon Valley.

Marketing and sales teams can use certain elements of gamification to motivate leads within the funnel and the team selling those leads. This post will focus on how to motivate your reps.

If you’ve ever played role-playing video games, you understand that mini-games help you break up the content and keep you motivated to move onto the next phase of the game. Essentially, this is what you’re doing when you install little indicators and mini-games into your sales process.

5 Necessary Steps to Implement Sales Gamification

Thinking of the price is right. It’s a show of games, but when one is in progress — everyone is focused on three things.

  1. The prize
  2. The goal
  3. The rules

Once the game starts everyone is trying to figure out the price of the gizmo, or the path of the plinko because they know these three things. If you want the team to gather around your gamification program, they’ll need all three of these.

what is gamification

Number One: The Prize (Choose Your Reward)

Don’t panic. This doesn’t mean you have to start buying expensive swag and vacations for your team. And gamification is not about coddling your poor performing reps into better performance.

It’s about raising the bar and sometimes that takes a little incentive. There are a few different types to consider.

Recognition: Some of the more discreet forms of recognition are things like a progress bar during training, or a handwritten note from the CEO. This is for both individual or cooperative play. For instance, you hit the revenue target as a company and write out personal thank you notes to every sales-facing employee. Your hand would hurt, but think of what it would mean to your crew.

Here’s a great resource with 13 simple ways to recognize employees via YouEarnedIt.com

Rewards: Picking a prize for winning needs to be set before the game begins. It can be continuous, but that requires it to be something worth winning multiple times. Typically, the best loved (by the majority) are things that deal with food or time off. Let’s do a couple of examples.

  • Work from Home: The individual that has the [insert goal and metric here] at the end of every month can work from home every Wednesday the following month.
  • Food Truck Lunch: If a team goal is hit, get them food. Have a food truck come by and feed everyone full of tacos. You could even take it up a notch by telling them to go home right after lunch.

Snack nation put this massive list of 121 ways to reward your awesome people.

Number Two: The Goal (Choose Your Metric)

This one is tricky.

What do you need more of right now? While I can’t speak to your individual needs, we can do an example to help you work this one out on your own.

Problem: Close rate is good, but the number of qualifying calls are too low to make your revenue target.

Research: Upon a closer look, you’re contacting a good amount of leads (via cold email) just not getting enough conversations started due to poor open rate.

Metrics: The contest would be for your sales team to come up with the best subject line they can (obviously this would be for smaller teams, or you could have groups work together). You run a couple hundred with each subject line and the one that results in the highest open rate wins.

This would be an example of a short-term game, but you’ll have to determine the metrics that fit the company’s goals best.

what is gamification

Number Three: The Rules (Set the Terms)

Clearly lay out what you want to happen and how you want them to go about it.

Without some boundaries, you may have a “the ends justify the means” type and end up with a potential ethics issue on your hands. All prompted by a contest that you started. They should be basic, presenting the key things that employees need to know.

  • Timeframe (monthly, one time, date?)
  • Do’s (specific best practices)
  • Don’t(s) (Don’t buy leads, work off the clock, etc.)

Number Four: Be Consistent

You can test the waters with small games (like the one we mentioned earlier), but don’t start a long-term program unless you’re willing to roll with the punches and keep it going.

Gamification can improve morale and performance, unless you jump ship within a couple months and your crew doesn’t see you fulfilling your end of the bargain.

Set reminders, pre-purchase the prizes, check in on progress — do whatever it takes. Which leads us to our last tip for implementation.

Number Five: Get an App

The last thing you want hanging in the office is one of those thermometers that you fill in with a red marker. You know the ones, like you got the template from Windows 98.

I’d argue the case that you won’t be consistent unless your gamification involves automation.

You’ll forget to create that spreadsheet, run those numbers, and maybe even see who was the winner. Then, someone from your team will remind you and you’ll say, “oh, yea…give me until the end of the day”.

Then, everyone will be the opposite of motivated.

what is gamification

We could put together a list of the top apps to help gamify your sales process, but TenFold already did it. They’ve listed their top 15 right here.

7 Ideas for Sales Gamification

Cooperative Play (Team works together)

  • New Product/Service Launch: Trying to get traction behind a new feature/product/service can be difficult if your sales team isn’t focused. They know the scripts for your current stuff and don’t want to risk their commissions by spending too much energy on the new. Contests, metric-tracking, and incentives (e.g. gamification) works.
  • Revenue Targets: Trying to grow your business typically involves more ad spend, infrastructure, better sales funnels, etc.. But if you’re not looping the sales team into the push and getting them excited about growing, you’re doing the company (and your reps) a disservice.

Competitive Play

  • Sales: This one is tricky if you have a more complex sales team. Sales development may not necessarily close deals. This means that the metrics will have to be different depending on the size of your team. Small companies could just rate the number of qualified calls that go to the closer/owner.
  • Prospecting: Businesses can have a lot of problems, but there are few (if any) that are more destructive than a sales team that isn’t constantly prospecting for new leads. Sales reps run out of fresh leads end up in one of two places. One, scrambling to find more quality leads. Or two, buying a list of poor quality leads. Constantly tracking, recognizing and rewarding prospecting can break the roller coaster ride.

Make the Mundane Fun-dane

  • Training: Bringing on new reps, implementing HR training, or refreshing the team on new/upcoming products. Making your training fun is one of the easiest ways to increase participation while getting the point across.
  • CRM Upkeep: We’ve all dealt with the reps who are great with people, but not so great with the backend. Inputting data, keeping contacts updated, you name it. All can be gamified and rewarded to keep the CRM clean and effective.
  • Efficiency: Hustle and hard work moves the needle. But there’s a huge difference between working effectively and just working. Conversion rates, close rates, open rates, responses—all of these things can be tracked. Those who are more efficient can help others improve by sharing tactics. This makes gamification even more valuable to businesses.

Ready to Use Sales Gamification?

You’re probably already using some elements of sales gamification to motivate your team, but maybe don’t have a process.

What are some of your favorite ways to get better performance from your team?

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