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Beyond The Sales Leaderboard: How Sales Gamification Evolved And Winning With Gamification In Sales

Digital sales leaderboards are the future and this is how sales gamification gets you across the finish line.

Sales Motivation
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10 Min read
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Last Updated on
March 18, 2021
“Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work.” ― Jane McGonigal.

Simply put, gamification is using elements of game design and psychological principles in a non-game environment (or real-world problems). The term "gamification" was introduced in 2002 but first gained widespread usage in 2010, specifically referring to incorporating social/reward aspects of games into the software. Today, in addition to a lot of companies using this technique, many businesses create gamification platforms.

Below is a Google trend line for the last 15 years for the term “gamification.” As you may have noticed, once it went up in 2010, it has stayed up!

Google Trend for "Gamification"
Google Interest Trend for the term ‘Gamification.’

Any form of gamification is intended to leverage people’s natural desires such as socializing, learning, competition, achievement, altruism, status, or self-expression. At its core, gamification satisfies a basic need of self-fulfillment and satisfies the participants intrinsically.

Games generate a flow effect in their participants, which leads to involvement in the activity being conducted. Besides, we humans want to feel valued. We are competitive and need dominance and fame. With gamification, we trick ourselves into becoming productive as well as have fun while we complete challenges.

Three elements of a Sales Gamification Leaderboard

For sales gamification to work effectively, three critical things are needed:

  • Context: The gamification element needs to relate to the industry or specific topic.
  • Value: Participants should feel that they are getting value from the activity. It could be rewards, knowledge, status, or anything else that translates into real value for the participant.
  • Success: If the gamification strategy is too complex, no one will complete the challenge. This can create frustration. So make sure that the end goal is surely achievable, though, even if it might be difficult.

Building Blocks of a Digital Sales Leaderboard Software

Various elements are used as basic building blocks in gamification applications. These elements are proven to stimulate users and motivate them to perform the desired task even outside the game context. Some of the widely used elements are:

1. Points

Points are basic elements of a gamified application that serve the purpose of feedback. Points are assigned to specific tasks that are required of teams to close. Usually, one can take advantage, and more points can be assigned to a less desirable or higher task on the difficulty levels.

2. Badges

Badges are visual representations of achievements. They let the sales team show off what they’ve done and helped them feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

3. Leaderboards

Leaderboards are competitive indicators as they rank players according to their relative success, measuring them against a certain success criterion. This increases competitiveness between participants and gets participants to outdo each other as they progress.

4. Performance Graphs

These provide information about the players' performance compared to their preceding performance during a game. It helps the player focus on his/her improvement over time.

5. Avatars

Avatars are visual representations of players within the gamification environment. They can be chosen or created by the player.

Why Sales Gamification Matters?

There is no denying that businesses are taught to be customer-focused, but real results follow from engaging their own workforce. Deploying technologies that work on changing employees’ mindset and behavior and shaping the organization's culture brings real transformation.

Gamification is not just a goal-driven method to track metrics digitally. Still, it is a method to actively engage employees to excel and innovate in their daily tasks and achieve objectives. Gamification enables recognizing and rewarding positive behaviors incrementally and unconsciously build a mindset for winning.

  • It transforms ordinary tasks into interesting and fun experiences.
  • It gives a fresh look to repetitive tasks and doesn’t make them look like chores.
  • Improves adoption of new processes.
  • Provides players a map of their own performance and where they are headed to.
  • Setting goals and competing against oneself to improve.
  • Employees are more likely to try new and risky sales tactics to get ahead of the game!

Now gamification is increasingly being introduced to various departments in businesses like customer services, training, marketing, IT, etc. Still, there is only one department across organizations that have been using it for decades in some form or another. Yes, you guessed it right, it’s the sales department.

The sales department has always applied game mechanics to drive the selling process - right from awarding prizes for those clocking the highest sales, using sales leaderboards, email dashboards, live scores/TV-style broadcasts, and built-in rewards marketplaces (points accumulating systems), etc.

Each of these systems works on healthy competition, which is extremely important in a growing sales team. It is perhaps one of the best motivators (in addition to rewards and recognition). Anyone who has ever played a video game can tell you that there’s always a desire to reach that next level. So it’s fair to say that sales can increase when we gamify activities, especially in closing a sale.

The Sales Gamification History

In the early days of sales gamification (2005 - 2011), achievements were given in avatars and badges. With more innovation coming into the market and the advent of dynamic, engaging software, 2011 - 2014 was an age of Sales leaderboard dashboards, points-based rewards, and more flexible metrics. 2015 onwards was the time when sales gamification eventually moved towards a more holistic approach. In the present context, sales gamification is not just focused on competition but has emerged as a tool for enhancing business collaboration and maximizing business outcomes. Current day sales gamification systems consider the elements of the ‘Quantified Self’ into employee development.

Take, for example, digital Sales Leaderboards dashboards. Many of the sales leaders swear by the efficacy of sales leaderboards. Sales leaderboards work on the principle that salespeople thrive on competition. These digital Sales leaderboards help in performance management and provide a way to track how everyone in the team is doing. They track defined KPIs and ensure rewarding and recognizing employees on their achievement vs. targets. It provides an avenue to track live sales data and makes it easier to run sales competitions. The live data keeps everyone informed and working to stay in the running.

While sales leaderboards did a great job at keeping the scores and motivating employees to put in their best efforts, present-day gamifying, which involves the entire sales process than just the leaderboard, shifted the perspective to a whole new level. It brought the concept of self-improvement and removed unnecessary hostility between team members. Instead, it focuses on collaboration for team challenges, working on various aspects of a sales process from the start rather than just closing a deal, and the opportunity to chat, cross-learn, and congratulate fellow team-mates, besides many other benefits.

According to a Salesforce blog post, 71% of surveyed companies that use sales gamification tools report between 11% to 50% increases in measured sales performance.

Designing Sales Gamification Strategy

To reap the real benefits of sales gamification in the current scenario, one should define their transformation objectives, metrics, and desired outcomes. The focus needs to be on what kind of behavior you want to reinforce and apply gamification techniques accordingly.

It is advisable to design your sales gamification strategy to work on two of the strongest human psychology drives: scarcity and a sense of accomplishment. Some of how these behaviors are rewarded are:

1. Sense of accomplishment

Awarding points for activities and behaviors that enable success and not success itself. In terms of sales, this could be translated to adding leads data correctly, CRM adoption, helping out a teammate, etc. Finding games/processes that actively engage different generations across the workforce since the sales team may mix baby boomers, millennials, and other different age groups. Promoting collaboration on team challenges.

2. Scarcity

Allowing a loss of points too, and not just the gaining of them. Loss prevention is a strong motivation to improve and be more careful. Sales gamification leaderboards become quite useful in companies having sizable sales departments as they will have enough players to create teams and compete. Rightly so, gamification of sales brings great results, such as encouraged collaboration, improved communication, creation of new habits, data consistency, and motivated teams.

A Word of Caution

Organizations should look at gamification as a long-term strategy that targets behavior change with entertainment and engagement. The gamification platform should be aimed at empowering employees to reach higher levels of productivity and performance. This should not be treated as something that can bring sales results overnight.

Gaining a better understanding of each team member, his/her intrinsic motivations, personalizing rewards, and employing game elements accordingly can help boost sales performance and let businesses get the most out of each member of their sales team.

Did you know? Compass by Xoxoday, our gamification engine, comes packed with gamification features that will put your team back on the burner - with active involvement from all of them! Right from game mechanics to leaderboards, contests, nudges, and notifications, Compass, our sales leaderboard software, can set the stage for greater collaboration and increased motivation across the board.

Want to see the platform in action? Want to know how you can make it a part of your organization? Book a demo now!

We commonly think playing games is so much fun that people do it voluntarily when actually it’s the other way around: because the gameplay is a voluntary activity, it satisfies our need for autonomy, and that is part of what makes it fun.” - Sebastian Deterding.

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