Back in 2014, gamification as a strategy for improving sales productivity was the trend – not that it was a new breakthrough idea then.
The theory of gamification gained popularity as early as 2010, when the engagement and productivity gains from the strategy captured the fascination and funds of venture capitalists. In fact, Badgeville, one of today’s leading enterprise gamification software companies, started operating in 2010. It was able to raise $15 million in venture capital funding within its first year.
Gamification pertains to the use of gaming principles and design in non-game contexts. Prior the buzz and the “gamification” buzzword, select elements of gaming were already being employed in education, scientific visualization and, yes, business. It has since been used by the big guns of industry, such as Paypal, SAP and Comcast, to improve customer engagement and employee performance.
For start-ups and businesses with experience under their belt alike, sales gamification is something to seriously consider if the goal is to improve sales performance.
Jared Haleck of InsideSales.com restates an often-used reason why sales gamification works: “Sales reps are competitive by nature, but too often that competitive energy doesn’t get utilized on the sales floor. Gamification harnesses that energy by systematically placing them in direct competition with one another. As they are recognized and rewarded for their accomplishments, they become even more motivated to work harder.”
The Case for Sales Gamification
The concept of winning as a reward in itself is not new to many sales managers. They know that money alone will not motivate their best salespeople. According to research conducted by the Tas Group, almost all sales practitioners look beyond financial gain for motivation. 40 percent of them say that they are encouraged when they “make progress or win.”
This fact is supported by observed gains when sales gamification strategies are adopted by businesses:
Increased Sales Performance
Bob Marsh of LevelEleven, a CRM and sales gamification solutions company, says that more than 90 percent of businesses with gamification initiatives have successfully improved the performance of their sales team. Of these, 71 percent see increased sales productivity from 11 percent to 50 percent.
Better CRM Usage
Today’s leading CRM systems come packed with several features and functions that are often not effectively used. With sales gamification, managers have had to revisit these features and functions in order to focus on the top behaviors they want from their sales team.
It could be something as simple as updating client information on their CRM system. Or, it could be actions that have direct bearing on sales performance, such as improved response time or faster issue resolution.
Making a game out of these key behaviors has helped 84 percent of surveyed businesses improve the use of their CRM system.
Reinforced Desired Behaviors
It is not just the use of CRM that’s reinforced with sales gamification. Other desired behaviors can also be encouraged.
Marsh says: “When you take those critical sales behaviors and launch contests and leaderboards around them, you can watch your sales team’s competitive side kick into high gear and they’ll be excited to do it. But the key is that the goal isn’t ‘adoption,’ it’s motivating the right sales behaviors that will help you sell more and grow faster.”
The use of sales gamification is a reliable way of pointing sales teams towards behaviors deemed valuable to the bottom line. It is a fun way to teach and encourage.
According to Brian Burke of Gartner: “Gamification can be used to nudge salespeople to enter client information, assess the quality of sales leads, and follow-up after sales meetings. Following these steps leads to a more effective sales process, benefiting both the salesperson and the company.”
A survey by CSO Insights has found that half of its respondent organizations run contests for its sales teams several times a year. These competitions are consistently implemented, regardless of difficulties in managing them. The shared reason why management keeps on doing this is because it works. Games can motivate teams into working their best to win.
When these same companies switched from manually managing contests to using enterprise gamification software, 73 percent of them claim to run more sales contests than ever, with 51 percent running at least two contests per month.
Easy Progress Monitoring
Another plus with gamification is that it also encourages sales managers to be better in their monitoring and assessment functions. Tools, like CRM and gamification apps, track a gamut of data, which are sometimes taken for granted by managers. Gamification forces them to consistently monitor important metrics. Not only does this go into determining contest winners – it also improves their decision-making capabilities.
Reinforced Sense of Individual Responsibility
CoachSimple.net’s Greg Ausley says: “Creating small challenges with a simple leaderboard made available to the team either in real-time, nightly or weekly combined with small prizes and bragging rights during the sales meetings can provide that extra shorter term motivation which will lead to more sales and a higher participation rates in your achiever awards and success trips.”
Whether the competition is between individuals or teams, games remind salespeople of the importance of everything that they do to achieve goals. Their actions could be towards achieving quotas; or, these might be their contribution towards group goals. In any case, their sense of responsibility is reinforced and, in a way, monitored. Their work – or lack of – is measured and visible to the rest of the team.
The Case Against It
Wall Street Journal’s Farhad Manjoo has described gamification as: “an ugly neologism that has seen terrific hype and terrific backlash in Silicon Valley over the past few years.”
The gist of his critique is that gamification seems poised to killing flexibility and creativity within the workplace. Instead of careers/ jobs being crafts that people work to excel in, they become games wherein each condoned action earns points. Points – instead of excellence – become the goal.
Sales Gamification: Aligning Expectations
And surely, there are risks in implementing sales gamification for the sake of gamification alone. It has to exist alongside an organizational mindset that also takes into account real returns on investment. This goes beyond points and badges, and looks at the progress made by the organization and its team members:
Is the team learning through the competitions you implement?
Has the sales process become more efficient and effective?
Are team members becoming better salespeople?
Is the competitive boost reflected in sales returns?
Sales gamification can be a strategic aspect of business operations, as long as expectations are aligned with what it can really offer.
Gamification does not instantly stoke competitiveness.
Harnessing the competitiveness of salespeople is one of the main selling points of sales gamification. That’s well and good if all members of the team are competitive by nature. Research claims the contrary.
In reality, competition through gamification is only an extrinsic short-term motivator. What motivates in the long run is the feeling of having done a good job. The better sales gamification apps take this into consideration.
Gamification is not the same as cash rewards.
When it comes to motivational strategies, gamification offers something more than cash bonuses. It stokes a person’s drive to lead and move ahead of the rest. It is never equivalent to handing out cash rewards. It’s been found that more money often does not translate to getting more done and may actually backfire.
Gamification can improve employee engagement.
Between gamification software that targets consumers and those intended for business teams, study shows that gamification apps for employees work almost 100 percent of the time. It has been observed to improve employee performance through real-time objectives and feedback.
Gamification does not always need a platform.
Sales gamification using a platform only works if the platform is well-designed. It means choosing one that goes beyond badges and points, and actually encourages actions that lead to better sales performance and real life skills improvement.
When choosing sales gamification apps, see how well it integrates with current sales processes and existing systems, especially your CRM software. The reality is that some gamification apps provide little improvement to implementing games manually. In these cases, it might be better to forego sales apps and do manually administered competitions with the help of your CRM and other available tools.
Gamify Your Sales with These Apps
However, if having a sales gamification software is strategic to your sales process, here are some of the best apps around.
Fantasy Sales Team: Think of it as fantasy football but with less wannabe quarterbacks and more wins. Fantasy Sales Team puts together the fun elements of fantasy football and has applied it in sales. It dubs itself as a gamification app that’s made by sales teams for sales teams – so expectations are high.
Fantasy Sales Team (now Microsoft Dynamics 365) is a SaaS app and can be easily integrated into most CRM systems. The metrics it keeps track of can be specified for each player and team. It provides you with an easy way to implement and manage individual and team competitions.
Badgeville: Badgeville is available as a SaaS application, designed to provide your team with advanced digital-based motivational tools. It is focused of making the most use of your CRM system, which makes sense. When you make the most of CRM’s management and assessment tools, you can empower your salespeople to stay focused on what’s important, and reach their personal and team goals.
GamEffective: GamEffective offers a flexible gamification platform that’s customizable for different-sized organizations. You get rich game narratives that employ a variety of mechanics and game play. Their emphasis is on working towards job mastery through progressing team and individual challenges.
Xactly Express: With Xactly Express, your team knows exactly how much commission they’ve earned while doing the app’s pre-set or customized goals. Aside from real-time metrics visibility, Xactly integrates easily with most CRM systems.
Q-Stream: If you prefer quiz-based game shows, then Q-Stream is the gamification app for your team. It broadcasts questions on sales, your products and common customer issues through ready-made or customized courses. Points are made, but teams and individuals can always catch up during “lightning rounds.”
The advantage of Q-Stream is that not only does it encourage friendly competition, it also requires mastery of your product and organizational content.
MindTickle: This SaaS platform gamification app is designed to fastforward your sales and customer readiness. It employs user-friendly interface, easy mobile integration and social features. It focuses on measuring salesperson activity, sales and customer readiness and pitch testing.
PARKA Simulation Games: PARKA offer SaaS platform games that are designed to improve your team’s selling capabilities, customer service and problem-solving skills. There are pre-set simulations that are supposed to improve your team’s response to tech issues, and other customer concerns. PARKA is popular among top companies, such as JP Morgan Chase, NBC and Pitney Bowes.
Monitae: Having several language options is one of the key features of Monitae, which makes it the perfect gamification app for companies with global sales operations. Monitae easily integrates with several ERP and CRM platforms. It encourages CRM adoption, and sales’ and operational best practices.
MySalesGame: MySalesGame is designed to improve the adoption of your business tools, such as CRM and training apps, and encourages ideal sales behaviors. It also integrates with MySalesSherpa, which provides a steady flow of sales advice. It employs missions that earn points and badges, which are rewarded prizes in real life.
The app is developed by CallidusCloud, with your sales team’s engagement in self and sales process improvements. Sales goals are shared but still drive competition between your team members.
CRMGamified: GRMGamified offers top-of-the-line graphics that take your corporate competition to the next level. You get features and functions for engaging and measuring your team’s performance. It also integrates with all MS Dynamics CRM software.
Agile CRM Gamification Software: As its name suggests, Agile CRM Gamification easily integrates with your CRM system, in order for you to run friendly competition and collaboration between team members. The focus is on your numbers, which are made visible through custom leaderboards, advanced sales metrics and real-time alerts.
Apparound CPQ: Apparound centers on missions that improve your team’s surveying, upselling and product bundling skills, among others. It easily integrates with your product catalog, CRM and sales process.
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