How to improve sales performance? It's a question that many companies face and which many others hope they never need to tackle. We all want to improve our businesses, but some of us know that if we do business in a particular way, that stands between profitability and loss. That’s especially true when it comes to sales teams—the employees who are the frontline of your business.
The Salesforce SVP, Daniel Debow, once said, “It’s a play that helps us do serious things better.”
Sales gamification is the practice of making sales tasks more like games, with players earning points, badges, and achievements. The idea behind sales gamification is that it makes unpleasant tasks more fun to perform.
Sales gamification is a mindset and approach to sales that uses game mechanics and game-like elements to create an exciting, competitive environment. Game mechanics are the rules and rewards in a game that exists to make gameplay fun and engaging. In a sales context, game mechanics can be used to incent behaviors that are beneficial to the company, like higher sales volume, faster pipeline velocity, or closing more deals. Sales gamification makes your job as a salesperson easier by automating parts of the sales process, which allows you more time to focus on your strengths and close more deals.
By definition, gamification involves inserting game-like mechanics in any non-game environment to engage and motivate people to achieve goals. It involves applying game-design elements and game principles to make difficult tasks palatable. It makes the players take action, motivates them to take any action, or guides them to take action by leveraging our inherent desires for status, achievement, socialization, and competition as rewards.
Gamification employs one fundamental psychological principle of positive reinforcement to nudge behavioral response (or action). This principle involves increasing the occurrence of a behavioral response by offering a reward for the response. By gamification, managers set milestones of business objectives, and employees receive positive payouts on achieving those goals.
The term was coined by Dave Elkington in 2012, who proposed seven ways to apply game dynamics to sales. One of the most effective techniques that sales gamification offers is the use of rewards, which helps to motivate salespeople to repeat the behaviors that helped them succeed.
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Today, gamification finds usage in many companies and their various business functions. It helps in increasing the return on investments for organizations. For this reason, a research report by MarketsandMarkets, projects the gamification market to grow from USD 9.1 billion in 2020 to USD 30.7 billion by 2025, a whopping Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 27.4%. Implementing rewards and recognitions over performance results in better employee engagement with increased productivity and drives more interaction with your brand for customers.
Many sales leaders note gamification as a powerful new tool in the sales acceleration arsenal. Gamification offers an alternative to the traditional way of incentive-driven reward strategies for sales teams. Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, has said that “gamification is a critical way to engage people,” and it is no surprise why.
To implement gamification for sales reps, a few basics need to be in place:
One needs to have a deep understanding of business outcomes through gamification. For example, it can range from more engagement and viral growth for marketing to increased absolute numbers for sales to better employee onboarding and training for HR, etc.
This involves user-generated data based on their present interaction with various systems. This data is used to drive actions through gamification, which supports business goals.
Understanding the target audience for gamification, their current behaviors, and motivations will help design a better experience.
Brains are wired to take action and align behavior in response to rewards. So do an apt mix of intrinsic (e.g., social status, rank, progress) and extrinsic (e.g., gifts, prizes, money) rewards.
Sales are one of the most touched functions in applying gamification to achieve business objectives. This may start from something as simple as communicating to a sales representative their daily progress vs. target in terms of achieving absolute sales numbers as compared to his teammates verbally, in visual form via spreadsheets, graphs, and rewards to be won when they complete their quota (zero to little gamification) to presenting well laid out individual, team level, city level or even country-level challenges tied to monthly, quarterly and annual targets with multiple business metrics being tracked in real-time.
Here, different personalized rewards and recognition forms are collected to achieve each milestone, making the entire sales process a big game to win ( complete gamification). Human beings are goal-oriented and competitive; sales work enables them to play to this natural tendency. What more than adding the thrill of a game that challenges them to win?
Ultimately, having a sales team use gamification to improve sales performance is an excellent idea. It will help them to work harder and be more (and consistently) productive. The best option is to select a program that fits your company's specific goals. Once you choose which program meets those objectives, you will be well to positive sales results.
Your ambitious and competitive sales teams might have team members who mostly love to compete against each other. In contrast, others may like competing against themselves more. But one thing common here is that both these types of team members desire growth. Sales gamification allows you to motivate both types by providing an external environment to support this behavior. It blends extrinsic (the desire to be better when compared) and intrinsic (the desire to improve your skill-set) motivators in a system of rewards, thereby nudging behavior that supports business objectives.
Sales gamification makes the work fun. This results in more and better work, hence driving performance up. Without the employees directly noticing it, gamification of sales processes changes the engagement rules, and employees change their behavior. It increases sales reps' perceived ability by making difficult tasks simpler through practice or by reducing the activation threshold of targeted behavior to complete that task.
There is no doubt that sales gamification plays an important role in enhancing overall productivity and motivation, but its efficacy in any organization relies on successful implementation.
First, you need to identify steps in your sales process that are crucial in driving the numbers up but are not getting enough attention from the sales reps. These are the key steps you need to build your gamification elements.
Here are 5 effective sales gamification ideas to improve sales performance that will also help you to push your sales numbers up and keep your sales team working together in tandem:
Neuroscience says that rewards trigger dopamine release and the same level of rewards over time results in lesser dopamine release due to habituation. The more challenges and higher or unknown rewards you present to your team as the levels progress, the greater the dopamine release. They will hence be more motivated and continue to participate and attempt higher goals.
No one is interested in a movie with less drama and no plot. The same goes for your reward system. If you start a competition with little logic, base rewards on scoring high in random activities, and start a gamified competition with no clear vision, you cannot keep the sales teams motivated for too long.
On the other hand, if you create a point-based reward system in alignment with the organization’s larger goals and daily activities, which sales representatives need to do, your sales teams will be chasing the rewards as they will be able to see clearly how winning in the game is also enabling them to tick necessary items in their daily to-do lists.
You may include entering leads data, stages of client meetings, upselling, prospecting, etc., in an increasing reward for completing each step.
When gamification enables visual leaderboards to show how employees rank compared to other team members and social media-friendly shareable content on winning a challenge. At the same time, you support the teams by celebrating small wins; the team members' sense of self-worth is amplified. This helps push your already motivated sales teams to achieve the next goal and infuses positive team spirit.
The world is increasingly moving towards dynamism. Gone are the days of spreadsheet-based plans, simple graphs, and charts with little to no engagement. Gamified sales dashboards enable your sales representatives to see KPIs, remaining targets, and bonuses in a new light as levels to unlock badges to earn, win tally, or empower their game avatar, etc., thereby improving engagement with the whole sales process.
Haninger’s tip is to measure gamification metrics and results in accurate, automated systems. “You need to use...something that is analyzed automatically,” Haninger said.
Gamification tools aren't just for fun; they’re a way to improve performance and lift conversions while also helping you collect valuable data that you can use to improve your sales and marketing processes in the future. Sales gamification tools can help you better handle your company's sales performance and help you measure gamification metrics like how many people are playing along with your sales contests or how many games were played.
On putting these levers to practice and using Compass incentive gamification software, Swiggy, one of India's online food delivery companies that Compass worked with, improved productivity and engagement for its 1.2 lakh strong delivery partners fleet.
The problem was aligning each of its geographically dispersed (120 locations) 1.2 lakh delivery partners who worked out of their delivery vehicles on organization values and strategic priorities. Due to these operational challenges, it was extremely difficult to unify and implement initiatives and track their activities. Even worse, local management teams' regional partner rewards programs were time-consuming and ran into operational overheads with limited efficacy.
So, the company turned to the gamification of the process and set up a plan using Compass that rewarded delivery partners with points on achieving each milestone, which was designed on its key business metrics for delivery partners’ performance and efficiency, which included attendance, shift completion, and quick delivery time. Compass provided detailed data reporting and analytics tools to track the enormous amount of incoming data from these 1.2 lakh users on these key metrics. Also, it provided customer support for the entire fleet since the support was necessary to drive the tool's adoption directly.
The points-based reward system instilled an interest in delivery partners and led them to start using Compass to evaluate their achievements. To increase adoption and usage, existing privileges like Insurance, doctor on call, educational scholarship, and personal loan facility were incorporated on Compass, making it a unified platform.
Compass’ Feeds & Announcements feature enabled instantaneously updating every delivery partner on the most recent rewards scheme and initiatives with zero operational overheads.
As a result, in just six months, the percentage of partners rewarded (achieving business metrics) went up from 14% to 86%. Rewards redemption increased from 26% to 70%, which indicated engaged partners who revel in their achievements.
This robust implementation of Compass led to cost savings in implementing incentive and benefits programs across 120 locations and helped achieve incremental operational efficiencies due to regularised attendance and efficient delivery times.
To sum up, gamification (when implemented well) is an almost fool-proof way to encourage teams to deliver improved performance and get noticed and show off their work in the process. With sales teams, gamification is an even better strategy to drum up higher sales and better results across the group.
In the end, what matters is the business outcome. Gamification can help your sales teams bring in additional revenue without sacrificing individual success and have the feeling of play at work without disturbing their workflow.