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How can sales gamification help small businesses grow?

  1. Gamification of sales

    webgeek UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 3,707 Likes: 1,379
    2 |

    Gamification has swept the corporate world by storm since its first being coined by Nick Pelling in 2002. In a nutshell, gamification is about taking the psychology and mechanics of games and applying them to the corporate world, as businesses seek to achieve better results with customers, staff or both. Robb Sands, marketing manager at Target Dashboard, explains what it means for small businesses.

    Why companies use gamification

    Many companies are hoping to improve customer engagement and loyalty, so their clients feel more closely aligned to the brand, thus purchasing more. They also use gamification for training, onboarding or implementation to increase customer uptake of a product or service. Some even add elements to increase social sharing, so that their brand is seen by a wider audience.

    Besides the customer facing aspects, many companies are using gamification to drive internal performance through leadership development, sales training, team building, health and wellness, CRM usage and generally motivating team members to beat sales targets.

    The market is set to grow from £1.3bn in 2015 to over £8.7bn by 2020 due to increasing demand from companies who have found the Return on Investment (ROI) to be substantial.

    Tools and techniques

    Gamification can take many shapes, but is most commonly found in companies which use some or all of the following:

    • Leaderboards
    • Achievement badges
    • Challenges and contests with prizes
    • Points and levels
    • Rewards programmes
    • Report cards

    Where is gamification most popular?

    For UK B2B companies, sales teams are the number one users of gamification tools techniques and technology. Rewarding behaviours that lead to increased top-line revenue is a business no brainer, because sales organisations have been using these for years, in the form of President's Clubs, leaderboards, and ringing a bell or gong for recognition.

    The most effective sales managers have known about gamification and used it to their advantage, in one form or another for years, because it pushes their teams to keep the pipeline filled, close more sales, cut sales cycle time, and increase CRM usage and uptake. Competition and recognition are two incredible motivators!

    Differences Between UK and USA

    The psychology of how gamification works is the same across borders, but the way its implemented needs to differ based on cultural differences.

    For those unaware, in general, Britons tend to be more private and reserved valuing modesty (and self-deprecation) much more so than their American counterparts. Americans are considerably more enthusiastic and willing to show their enthusiasm about matters at work.

    For example, when a salesperson closes a deal, in the UK one might hear the faint tinkling of a small bell and pat on the back and a few on the sales team saying ‘good on you’ or ‘not bad’. In the USA, that sale would be signalled with a loud gong being struck, followed by high-fives around the room. If it was a particularly significant sale, it could more resemble the locker room following a win at the FIFA World Cup Finals, with loud cheers as people break into a chorus of We are the champions.

    Differences in gamification between UK and USA

    Leaderboards are one of the most popular gamification techniques, now appearing as wall-mounted televisions with rank ordered lists of team members and their performance, relative to one another, updated regularly (often in real-time).

    In the case of sales teams, these rank ordered lists often show their sales order values for the month and progress versus target, changing colours as they move from below target (red) and then reaching target (green).

    Some leaderboards also include a 'virtual gong' which sounds when a deal is made or when some threshold is reached. In the more extreme versions, there's even a virtual crowd which cheers as if a goal had been scored by the home team.

    The case for modesty

    It is precisely the occasions in which a cheering crowd-filled stadium appears, with gongs and drums banging, fireworks crackling and a virtual ticker-tape parade filling the sky with confetti that the average Briton will find a bit much, to say the least.

    After polling a number of UK sales managers, this author is convinced that the typical UK sales manager in a B2B sales environment (at the very least), will find this particular boisterous 'American' approach to leader board recognition to be unacceptable on the sales floor. As to whether this is something that's okay as a mobile phone notification, or in the pub after work, is a matter for further research and speculation.

    Going forward

    However, gamification, in the UK B2B sales environment, can recognise and reward sales talent, without upsetting British sensibilities, by:

    • Scaling awards to the team at hand such as executive parking for the month, or a paid dinner or night-out
    • Considering travelling trophies put on the desk of the number one person on the board using wall-mounted TV's to recognise achievement and drive competition
    • Thinking about the pre-sale pipeline activities that keep funnels filled and make leaderboards for calls, meetings, demos and other key tasks
    • Avoiding loud audible notifications which overpower the senses
  2. David Reinhardt

    David Reinhardt UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 34 Likes: 7
    Thanks. This is quite interesting, especially the socio-cultural aspects.

    The one thing I'd like to think more about is how gamification can be used to drive a mutually cooperative competition rather than a mutually destructive one. Think Bake-off (where everyone is supportive of each other) versus The Apprentice (where people actively sabotage each other). In practice (unlike the Apprentice), the idea is to grow the whole pie rather than grow one sales person's pie at the expense of the others. It would be interesting to think about how gamification software (and the associated reinforcements) could be designed to support this kind of thinking.
    Posted: Dec 16, 2016 By: David Reinhardt Member since: Dec 5, 2016
    ChrisGoodfellow likes this.
  3. webgeek

    webgeek UKBF Big Shot Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 3,707 Likes: 1,379
    In the B2B world, sales teams using leaderboards and sales contests are the most common. While there's incentive to win as individuals, the real goal is for the team/department/company to come out winners by meeting and beating the sales targets set for them as a team.

    In support of business initiatives, a number of companies are using forums whereby user generated content (the users making posts, rather than the company) is how many questions are answered. Then the users get points for 'likes', 'useful post', 'thumbs up', or 'best answer'. This is found on UKBF, Microsoft Communities, and many, many others.

    As to how these cooperative implementations are different between UK and USA - I'm not sure that there are huge differences. Both cultures are generally very cooperative, team oriented and success/goal driven!
    Posted: Dec 19, 2016 By: webgeek Member since: May 19, 2009
    ChrisGoodfellow likes this.