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Sales Managers Guide to Gamification

Sep 23, 2015

Are you driving behavior change or just wasting time?

Sales managers guide to gamification BI WORLDWIDE Latin America.


At BI WORLDWIDE, we understand that customer loyalty is way more complex than it seems. It's more than just giving points to a client. We view it as a four stage cycle and we know that every client has customers in different stages that should be treated differently. We have years of experience helping clients drive behaviors and build customer loyalty, all based on the principles of Behavioral Economics.

Our experts have put together a quick guide with six ways to use game mechanics to engage your sales team and improve results.

Gamification in Perspective

The word (or non-word) “gamification” exploded in 2010. Technology has made it easy to download an app or set up a sales promotion. But, the idea of using games to engage, educate and motivate sales reps is hardly new.

Sales incentives, channel promotions and sales team training have long used games as an engagement tactic. Scratch-off cards, codes on product labels, team challenges, earning chances into a sweepstakes for making a qualified sale and playing quiz-show games at training events are but a few of the many gaming tactics that organizations frequently and successfully deploy. Today, sales managers and VPs are using games for everything from training to incentives to CRM adoption.

And why not? Games are fun and entertaining. They connect us with other likeminded
people. Beating a competitor is exciting. Winning is energizing. There are many good reasons to play games for social and entertaining reasons, but are they the best way to achieve real-life business results with our sales teams?

When games used with sales reps include the six most popular game mechanics, they can be very effective in delivering business results. But keep in mind that your goal is not to build better games. Your goal is to drive behavior change. In considering whether or not to use a game to drive behavior and achieve results, ask yourself these questions.

One: Can I set specific attainable and measurable goals for every player?

Clearly identify the specific, measurable game goals that align to your ultimate
business goal for creating the game. Now determine if you can break this goal
down into individual player or team goals. For example, if your business goal is to sell 300,000 total units within six months; decide if you can now create individual game goals that stress specific unit sales with defined time parameters. Can you also break that larger individual goal into mini goals of a specific number of units each day, week or month? If every player or team doesn’t know exactly what they have to accomplish to win, then the game won’t be effective.

Two: Can I give immediate feedback?

In video games, feedback generally comes after each turn or action taken. Make
sure you can provide the same type of instantaneous feedback. This is why apps that plug directly into your CRM can reward for actions taken and activities completed. Without the immediate feedback, the player simply doesn’t know where she stands and has no way to reassess her strategy for her next turn. Games becomes boring when the player doesn’t know if they are winning or losing. If you can only provide feedback days, weeks or months after action is taken, then a different approach may be more effective.

Three: Can I reward progress and achievement?

A recent study done at Harvard University showed that humans cite knowing that
they are making progress as a key life satisfier. Your game structure needs to include the ability for players to earn levels, bonus points, badges or other progress identifiers to keep the players engaged and focused on the end goal. If you can’t break down the goals and create a way to reward along the way, then players are apt to lose interest, especially if the game takes place over weeks or months.

Four: Can I create an element of uncertainty to add excitement?

Playing a game that you know you will always win because you know exactly what will happen next gets boring fast. Think through what you can include in your game to add uncertainty, challenge or chance to your game. Can every sale generate a chance to earn a variable number of bonus points? Can players risk their earnings for a double or nothing opportunity? Can players issue challenges to each other for a winner take all result? If your game ends up being straight forward with no surprise opportunities or
achievements along the way, players will disengage and continue doing what they
have always done.

Five: Is the type of game right for my team and will they respond?

The best games create a story that parallels their own day-to-day challenges. It needs to be creative and challenging – but also keep bringing them back to goals that benefit your organization. Get players interested in your game story by making it fun, different, or even off-thewall. And be sure that the level of effort required responds to the level of reward they can earn. If your game story is weak or dull, then your game rewards will have to be over-the-top exciting and valuable to keep players engaged.

Six: Will your game bring people together?

Gaming offers a unique opportunity to build camaraderie and bring people together. Even when participants play individually, a successful game will create opportunities to build teams or enhance one-on-one competition. If your game doesn’t create interaction among players, you aren’t maximizing the power social connections can have on reinforcing new behaviors. Games can be a fun and highly effective way to drive behavior and achieve results when they include all six of these game mechanics: specific goals, immediate feedback, rewards for progress and achievement, an element of uncertainty, an immersive distraction and social connections. When even one of these mechanics is missing, then games run the danger of being just a waste of time.

Taking the next steps.

There are many games and apps available from a variety of sources. These off-the-shelf games can be a good choice when you have extremely limited budgets, small audiences or want to test the concept of gaming in your sales or channel environment. For the most effective games, you’ll want to work with a company that offers some pre-designed games, some off-the-shelf games that can be customized to meet your specific business objectives, and has the capabilities to develop custom games just for you. The best gaming companies will work with you to answer the six questions defined here to ensure that a game is the right tactic for your situation and, if it is, that you implement the right game to help you drive behavior and get the results
you want.

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