Three Ways Gamification Creates Passionate Salespeople

Get your team more engaged while having a bit of fun. 

September/October 2016

The growing popularity of online and social media gaming can make a positive impact on your bottom line. Friendly competition can spur innovation, creativity and growth. By implementing gamification, you can capitalize on the benefits of motivating employees through competition.

Gamification is the process of integrating game principles and design into existing tasks or goals as a way to motivate participation, engagement and loyalty.

For example, if one of your salespeople gets three new client meetings in a week or another employee streamlines delivery of your product, they earn badges or points. Just like at the arcade or in front of the PlayStation, the high score wins. This taps into the natural desire for status and achievement most people have and drives employees to work toward improvement.

But do employees really care about playing digital games? The assumption that mobile game apps like Candy Crush and Angry Birds Friends are for teens is false. Studies show that 16 to 24 year olds represent only about 14% of mobile gamers, while people older than 45 make up nearly a third.

Before you rush to make every task feel like playing Pokémon Go, a few experts weigh in on three ways this popular trend can incentivize workers.

1. Start with the behaviors, not the results

Becoming too focused on the idea of gamifying results can be a step in the wrong direction, says Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven, a sales gamification app development company. Marsh says companies should start by focusing on how they can steer workers toward good habits on the job. “What are the behaviors and activities that you need to keep people focused on to help them be more productive?” he asks.

One of Marsh’s customers, a company in the payroll industry, was growing very fast and needed its sales staff to keep pace. Marsh says their digital rewards and recognition program generated personal scorecards on workers’ mobile phones or desktop computers, showing their current goal standings and sales activity pacing.

The digital scorecard generated by LevelEleven can show, for example, day-to-day sales performance, what the overall team target is, and the percentage of that goal they have reached. A leaderboard can display where each employee stands in terms of those targets, and can be used to set up contests among the staff.

The payroll company was able to give instructive direction to its sales team and create visibility for their successes. This helped increase the number of meetings with potential customers by 46%. “That led to closing a lot more business,” Marsh says.

Gamification can break down big milestones into achievable tasks or missions. “It helps on a daily basis to have an emotional connection and clarity of purpose around the tasks that need to be accomplished in order to get there,” says Molly Kittle, vice president of digital strategy with Bunchball.

2. Keep it simple, and focused

When being creative about getting workers interested, game strategies should not become overly complex, says Mike Smalls, CEO of Hoopla, which develops software that uses gamification to motivate staff.

Smalls’ product enables companies to treat employees like professional athletes. With his tool, businesses can broadcast prospects moving through the pipeline and tallies of closed deals on a sports-style leaderboard. The game also allows employees to choose “walk out” songs and post smack talk to colleagues. Employers can also post countdown clocks for specific projects or blast out inspirational messages.

He cautions that trying to create an elaborate game (overloaded with too many features and hard-to-follow ideas that get in the way of the job) will result in it quickly being abandoned by your staff.

3. Measure what matters

Determine the performance indicators you want to use to measure your people. Implementing gamification to incentivize activities or results that don’t directly impact your bottom line can be a waste of time and money.

Think about gamification like building a business case for anything, Kittle says. You want to know what your organization’s goals and objectives are, the key performance indicators, and what they will drive in terms of strategic objectives.

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Top Takeaway

Creating a company culture that encourages some friendly competition can help increase your revenue. However, competition and gamification that aren’t directly tied to activities and goals that contribute to generating more sales or improving customer service can be a waste of time and productivity.