Skip to main content

Sales Gamification Increases Motivation & Performance

Aug 04, 2016
6 min read
Sales leaders are constantly challenged with motivating their sales teams. Learn how gamification increases motivation and performance in sales organizations.

We've talked about sales gamification a lot over the years, and we wanted to put together a valuable post that included all of the information about how to gamify sales in one easy to access location; from the definition, to tips, gamification ideas, examples, and more.

Why? Because gamification in sales is a growing topic of interest, with companies regularly looking for new and different ways to increase their existing sales performance and keep employees engaged.

But while professionals are given tools that can help increase annual sales, these methods are often overlooked in favor of the traditional means already in place. This inability to implement new techniques leaves organizations with unfulfilled sales quotas and limited visibility into pending sales transactions.

Enter gamification for sales, which is quickly becoming the answer for those wanting to increase volume, but reluctant to introduce a major departure from existing processes.

Gamification Definition

Gamification describes the integration of game mechanics and theory into non-game scenarios and workplace situations. When you see using goal tracking and providing visuals on individuals spending habits, budgets, etc., that’s the idea at its finest. UPS using games to train new drivers is an early example of how this works effectively in the workplace.

These companies are taking every day activities and making them into games – they are “gamifying” them – and reaping the benefits of engagement and competition, and building morale in the workplace by doing so.

Sales Gamification Definition

Thus, sales gamification is applying game mechanics to sales in order to increase competition and resulting positive behavior.

Psychologists refer to the concept of gamification as an affect-motivation tool. They believe that when people are able to produce an impact on their environment, they will be happier in their day to day routines. You can also surmise that when people are happy, they tend to take more ownership of their work, and work harder in general to achieve desired results and beat the status quo. Just like anyone who has ever played a video game will tell you—

There’s an immense desire to reach that next level.

Thus, it’s not a long shot to think that sales and quota performance can increase as a result of gamifying activities as well. And many are taking note, as the overall market for gamification tools, services, and applications is projected to be $2.8 billion by 2016, according to M2 research.

Examples of How Companies use Gamification Techniques to Score Results

Gamification is currently being included in a large variety of business functions, including sales and marketing, with some companies even using it as part of their customer engagement strategy.

Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven, has applied his extensive direct sales, sales management, and sales operations experience to build a thriving enterprise software business. He too has seen the positive impact.

Having rolled out a new mobile product, one technology company Level Eleven worked with was expecting an easy upsell thanks to the popular adoption of all things mobile. Problem was, sales people weren’t pitching it. Even worse, the company wasn’t sure exactly why the sales reps were shying away from doing so. They were lost in terms of pinpointing the behavior needing to be changed.

As it turns out, salespeople were holding back from pitching the product out of fear of uncertainty on how to go about explaining it. Such fear led to reluctance, and without any other driver motivating performance, pitching this particular new product all but ceased.

So the company turned to gamification of the sales process, and set up a plan that rewarded reps with points for every pitch, with the winning team ultimately earning a party at the end of the specified period. Two divisions ran the gamified competition, and one did not, creating the perfect control group.

Can you imagine what happened when you ask competitive-by-nature reps to now go about their job as a game? When the dust settled, the participating divisions had twice as many pitches as the non-participating division. Not bad, right?

You might be thinking, pitches are great, but they’re not closed deals. Leadership felt the same way, and was concerned that they had rewarded the wrong behavior. However, when they got the results at the end of the quarter, those increased meetings had also led to a 230% increase in closed deals for the participating group. Convinced of the effectiveness yet?

In many instances, by gamifying, you align and motivate, with increased productivity as a result. This is one example of many that highlights the benefits of gamification, and the impact it can have on everyday employee behavior. Think about the different ideas around sales training, performance, and other areas, and how they can be impacted through the power of games.

Best Practices for Implementing

While it’s clear that games have their place, their success within the organization really hinges on how well it’s implemented.

In order for the gamification process to be productive at your company, it should be introduced using focused strategies that help your sales teams work together in a productive and profitable manner. It’s also crucial to keep your team interested by continually raising the bar. The more that you challenge the sales team; the more likely they are to remain active participants in the program.

Additional Ideas to Keep Games Working for your Sales Numbers

Use Rewards: When using gamification in sales, it is important that you apply a rewards based system.

That said, it doesn’t work to throw together a bunch of competitions, give out random badges and expect people to be motivated.

Instead, your point-based system for employees should be rooted in those tasks that must be performed on a daily basis. Such an approach not only allows employees to be more enthusiastic about the rewards in place, but its motivating for them to know they are also checking off items on their task list at the same time.

You can – and should – also focus on sales incentives that lead to larger organizational goals such as increased sales, lead conversion, prospecting, face-to-face conversations, and advancing stages.

Incite Friendly Competition: One key to gamifying the workplace is keeping your employees competitive! Experts suggest using visible leader boards that show how employees rank in comparison to co-workers. Why? Most sales people are Type A personalities. They enjoy winning and competing, but importantly, they thrive on being held accountable. By creating a leader board you feed into that natural competitiveness.

You can also amp up the competition with leaderboards and give reps the ability to share their results on social media.

Encourage Success: Games appeal to innate predispositions. If reps are competitive by nature, this process will put that tendency to work for you. Not only are you encouraging your employees to embrace their competitive side, you are challenging them to succeed.

Believe it or not, the final prize is not what motivates your sales reps to keep their numbers high and bring in money for the business. Focus instead on the buzz of competition; the positive camaraderie, and process of seeing sales reps meet their goals while pushing forth to reach the next one. Don’t forget to celebrate small victories along the way, as this increases the motivation provided by gamification.

Gamification Software and Apps

In order to take games to the max, you really have to look to the different software and apps available that specialize in enhancing competition through games, leaderboards, and more. Here are a few resources for more information:

15 Sleek Apps To Gamify Sales In Your Company
10 Great Apps to Gamify Your Sales
Gamification on Salesforce AppExchange
Best Sales Gamification Software from G2 Crowd

Benefits of Integrating Gamification with an Automated Sales Plan

If the benefits aren’t yet clear enough, here are some important points to consider when implementing a gamified automated sales plan:

  • Gamification for sales provides a goal structure, ways to measure accomplishments (scores), and ways to recognize achievements (badges) that propel participation and results.
  • Because reps see their accomplishments and status in real-time, gamifying an incentive plan is a powerful employee motivator.
  • Game-ready compensation software and apps supply reps with charts and graphs to see quota opportunities (product sales, services, etc.), what bonuses are awarded for deal closings, and what status attainments are possible.
  • Gamified plans are dynamic and inviting; spreadsheet-based plans are slow, error-prone, and don’t spur employee engagement.
  • A clear view into the sales performance process helps reps focus on — and achieve — their goals. Gamified plans provide that visibility.

All in all, gamification is an excellent tool to use when you are trying to encourage your sales team to work harder, and it’s a great way to freshen up a sales department that may have become stagnant or ineffective. Your team will feel the work they do is getting noticed and broadcasted, providing them with an improved sense of self-worth and determination to keep it going.

  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
  • Sales Performance Management
Jordan Scott Headshot
Jordan Scott
Senior Manager, PR and Customer Communications

Jordan Scott is the Senior Manager of PR and Customer Communications at Xactly. She attended The University of California at Santa Cruz, and received degrees in Literature and Education.