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If you’re lucky enough to employ a highly-motivated pack of aggressive sales hounds, you may feel that gamification has nothing to offer your business. In truth, you couldn’t be more wrong. Read on to find out how gamification can push an already effective team to multiply its achievements exponentially.

What is sales gamification?

You may not realise it, but you’re probably already using gamification in some shape or form. If you’ve ever run a sales competition or dangled a motivational carrot, such as a prize or a bonus, then you’re engaging in gamification at its simplest. Gamification mimics the mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics of computer games to encourage behavioural shifts and drive performance.

What’s in the toolbox?

Most gamification projects start with contests and leaderboards, but it’s very important that these don’t create a ‘win at all costs’ scenario. To avoid this kind of dynamic, it’s probably better to incorporate an element of collaboration into the contest, and also to only pit people against competitors whom they can realistically outperform (people from the same department/region/tier).

Points and badges are another vital weapon in the armoury of anyone planning on effecting behavioural change. Rather than acknowledging success in itself, points should reward habits that breed success. What’s more, to discourage the kind of gung-ho behaviour favoured by some sales hounds, employees should be able to both gain and lose points. Employees should have to really sweat to earn badges (‘scarcity’ is a core human driver) and these badges should acknowledge real progress (sharing information on 10 prospective clients on the company CRM, for example).

Campaigns and challenges can be used to encourage employees to achieve specific goals, like completing a training course or improving their conversion rate. Challenges should be achievable (but never easy) and clearly defined. Plus, employees should always know where they stand in relation to their colleagues.

Getting eagles to flock

Contests, badges and challenges will hold intrinsic appeal for a sales team that is already aggressive and results-orientated, but crafting a culture of sharing and collaboration requires a more subtle approach. This where social feeds come into their own.

When designing a gamification product, it is essential that you create a space for social communication that is modelled on Facebook, Twitter and the gang. What may, on the face of it, seem like banal banter is actually solid skills development gold. To paraphrase, social communication is essential for skills development because it:

  • Opens an informal channel of discussion between agents and managers
  • Fosters collaboration on team challenges (be they real or gamified)
  • Enables casual coaching and collaboration between geographically dispersed teams who are not in direct competition with one another
  • Encourages agents to congratulate each other and give feedback. Feedback from peers has been shown to carry much more weight than feedback from managers.

The long and the short

We’re not for a minute knocking the performance of your toughest sales guy. But we are saying that gamification will encourage him to share his skills with others, and maybe even learn a few new tricks himself. In the process making your entire sales team more ruthlessly effective than ever before.