Keeping sales people motivated and engaged is the key challenge for businesses of every size, and failing to do so will seriously hurt small businesses, which often have smaller teams and a larger dependence on sales productivity.

Lack of engagement and motivation on your sales team will result in lackluster productivity, wasted talent and resources, and reduced profits.

Despite the importance of having an engaged sales force, a shocking 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged, according to Gallup research. And, the most talented employees who feel disengaged will quit their jobs with the same likelihood as less talented employees who feel disengaged.

Businesses must find ways to actively engage sales teams, or they risk losing top performers and building an underperforming team with a high turnover rate and low productivity.

One of the reasons this is a challenge is that sales people spend a lot of time in the field, which can make them feel disconnected from life in the office. As a result, they may miss out on the camaraderie that comes from spending time with teammates.

Sales gamification is one way to combat that feeling of isolation among sales teams and actively engage and motivate team members to perform better through friendly competition. What’s more, businesses that have engaged employees see a 20 percent increase in sales.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the elements that make up sales gamification and learn how it can help motivate and engage your sales staff. We’ll also go over some recommendations for implementing sales gamification software solutions to ensure success.

What is sales gamification?

Sales gamification is the process of turning an ordinary sales task into a game through the use of gaming elements.

Gamification generally applies to the use of gaming elements, such as points and badges, to improve worker performance in non-game tasks.

Therefore, applying game mechanics (such as leaderboards, badges, and levels) to sales tasks to motivate and engage sales teams, drive high performance, increase competition, and instill more positive behavior in general, is known as sales gamification.

Simple awards or recognition for reaching a milestone do not qualify as gamification if there is no gaming element involved.

Competition is already a big part of sales, so gamification is a great strategy for engaging sales teams.

Popular Gamification Elements

Leaderboards Public display of each team member’s standings or points.
Badges Visual representation of specific achievements.
Points and scores Method for tracking the successful completion of an action or task.
Levels Multiple stages in the game.
Challenges Represents tasks that must be completed within the game.

Defining the problem: Why small businesses need sales gamification

More and more businesses are adopting gamification, and it’s not just large enterprises. Gamification can work equally well for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

In fact, the employee-centric nature of gamification can fit perfectly into the unique culture of smaller businesses and startups.

4 challenges that almost all the businesses face when using traditional methods to manage their sales staff

1. Traditional incentives engage only 20 percent of your sales force

Traditional sales incentive programs are often one-size-fits-all. They reward only top performers (about 20 percent), and they overlook the middle 60 percent, which is responsible for between 65 and 85 percent of the sales quota. In addition, traditional sales awards make salespeople compete against themselves, which is less engaging and more stressful.

 HOW GAMIFICATION SOLVES IT:  Gamification involves the entire team, rather than just the top performers, since all team members can earn rewards, badges, and points. Through contests and target/goal setting, gamification helps engage sales reps and drive a high-performance culture.

 APPLICABLE GAMIFICATION TOOLS:  mLevel leverages gamification and microlearning (sharing information in small, very specific bursts) to improve engagement, knowledge retention, and learning effectiveness. Bunchball integrates gamification and big data analytics with an organization’s existing databases (learning, training, customer service, sales, CRM, etc. ) to share actionable insights.


2. Your sales managers don’t understand how to motivate

Most sales managers fail to understand what motivates performance beyond financial incentives. Monetary incentives may drive some salespeople to perform better, but they often leave out the majority of your team.

For example, if you have an incentive plan in place that rewards only the top 10 percent of your salespeople, those who fall just under that mark and never receive the incentive will see lowered morale in the long term. After all, they’re also contributing, even if they just miss the top 10 percent.

And, if you’re failing to motivate the rest of your sales staff, you are underperforming, since unengaged sales people will put only 60 percent of their total effort into the job.

 HOW GAMIFICATION SOLVES IT:  Friendly competition through gamification helps build morale. The natural desire for recognition and status motivate sales reps to perform better, even in the absence of monetary incentives.

 APPLICABLE GAMIFICATION TOOLS:  Hoopla blends data analytics, competition theory, and video broadcasting to motivate salespeople and shares a live broadcast of winning team, while leaderboards recognize top performers across all sales metrics. GamEffective helps drive employee performance with personalized goals and eLearning.


3. Your training processes aren’t as effective as they could be

Small businesses in the U.S. spent an average of 43.2 hours and $1,886 per learner on training in 2017. Even then, most sales training fails because of several factors. These include:

  • Failing to explain “what’s in it for me?” to participants
  • A lack of ongoing reinforcement
  • Too few posttraining activities to help employees contextualize what they’ve learned

Studies show that continuous dedicated training can result in 50 percent higher net sales per employee.

 HOW GAMIFICATION SOLVES IT:  Companies integrating gamification into LMSs have seen a 417 percent increase in employee engagement. Gamification improves problem-solving and decision-making skills, as it takes experience, trial-and-error, and lateral thinking to reach the end of the game.

 APPLICABLE GAMIFICATION TOOLS:  Gamification platforms such as Trivie, GamEffective, and Bunchball offer game challenges with multiple choice, true-false, pictures, videos, in-game social interaction, helping businesses train staff, reinforce training, and advance skill sets. Trivie leverages machine learning to increase knowledge retention and develop deep learning. GamEffective offers learning modules that automatically identify improvement areas for sales teams.


4. You’re failing to foster your employees’ competitive spirit

Lack of motivation and engagement among employees can result in lack of competitive spirit and zero zeal to work with efficiency. Small businesses can tap into the ambitious side of their salespeople by adding a healthy dose of competition with gamification.

According to a recent Gallup study, 85 percent of employees are performing below their potential in terms of both value to employers and their sense of fulfillment from work.

Rewards or incentives aren’t the only motivators for salespeople to perform better—the competition itself is a motivator.

 HOW GAMIFICATION SOLVES IT:  Provides a platform to measure success in real time (through leaderboards) against colleagues in an objective way. Helps them see how they stack up against their peers, creating a feeling of friendly competition which in itself drives high performance culture within the team.

 APPLICABLE GAMIFICATION TOOLS:  Applicable gamification tools: Gamification tools such as Spinify, Hoopla, ThinkSmartOne, GamEffective, and SuMo use leaderboards to stimulate healthy competition between sales reps. Meanwhile, tools such as BadgeVille, Agile CRM, Closr, and Zoho Motivator can help drive a high-performance culture through awards, badges, and scoreboards.

How to successfully implement sales gamification in 5 key business functions

Small businesses can leverage sales gamification in numerous ways, and the benefits can be great when done right.

If you’re looking to apply gamification in your sales process, here are few recommendations to help you with a seamless implementation in these five key business functions:

5 Key Business Functions You Can Improve With Sales Gamification
5 Key Business Functions You Can Improve With Sales Gamification

Training your salespeople

  • Set a clear goal for the training program. For example, to boost sales by a certain percentage with a set deadline, or to increase completion of training modules.
  • Don’t create a training program that feels too juvenile, but don’t make it so difficult that your team won’t engage. Some tips to ensure success include offering hints, providing short demos on how the system works, and giving users multiple chances to answer correctly.
  • Make sure your gamified training is goal-driven, but keep the goals realistic. Award points when an agent answers a question correctly, and reward course completion with badges.
  • Scenario-based training and video-based games can be helpful for salespeople.

View of how GamEffective uses graphical narratives (inspired by popular gaming themes such as racing, fantasy, and sports) for knowledge retention.
View of how GamEffective uses graphical narratives (inspired by popular gaming themes such as racing, fantasy, and sports) for knowledge retention. (Source)

Motivating your salespeople

  • You can use gamification to celebrate wins, rather than to make people feel like they’ve “lost” the game.
  • Choose gamification strategies that fit into existing workflows and tasks. Don’t add tasks for your team, because they will likely skip them if they don’t see them as necessary.
  • Keep your audience in mind when adding gaming elements. Devise different gaming strategies for new users versus more experienced sales staff.

View of how Hoopla transforms sales data into leaderboards that helps motivate the salespeople
View of how Hoopla transforms sales data into leaderboards that helps motivate the salespeople (Source)

Engaging your salespeople

  • Clearly state the financial and nonfinancial incentives for “winning” in any gamification scenario. According to Rajat Paharia, former chief product officer at Bunchball, every would-be player considers the incentives before they decide whether or not to engage in a game.
  • Introduce a variety of nonfinancial rewards, such as badges, standard points, and leaderboards, along with more tangible rewards. You can introduce a “rewards store,” in which employees can redeem accumulated points for items from company-branded paraphernalia to a stay at a luxury resort.

iew of a face-off challenge in Hoopla that helps improve the engagement and motivation of sales reps and to boost friendly competition
View of a face-off challenge in Hoopla that helps improve the engagement and motivation of sales reps and to boost friendly competition (Source)

Driving competition and a high performance culture

  • Don’t introduce gamification into your sales processes just because a competitor is doing it or because it’s the latest trend. In other words, use gamification strategically and with a clear purpose and goal you want to achieve.
  • A quick-fix sales gamification module that’s poorly implemented is a useless effort, but if it’s done right, gamification can improve sales performance.
  • Don’t create competitions just because they are easy to run. Understand the “why” behind the strategy, and make sure your team does as well. Before you run a competition, ask yourself:
    • What problem are you trying to solve? Is there another technique that could yield better results?
    • What is the intended message for your salespeople, and what kind of behavior do you want to encourage?

Side-by-side comparison of individual rep performance, deals won, calls made, revenue generated, and more in AgileCRM
Side-by-side comparison of individual rep performance, deals won, calls made, revenue generated and more in AgileCRM (Source)

Bring sales gamification into your workforce

“Injecting fun into something that is generally seen as boring or task-oriented not only can increase engagement but also drive innovation and productivity, which is something your company desperately needs.”

Jessica Miller-Merrel, HR veteran and founder of (Source)

Pokémon Go, which took the world by storm, is a perfect example of how a very simple game
can capture people’s undivided attention and keep them engaged across geographies.

Gamification, if applied the right way, can provide sales people with value, recognition, a sense of purpose, and help to develop their problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The applications selected are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.

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