How To Design Gamification To Improve Sales Performance

Designing Gamification To Improve Sales Performance

Recently, while designing a module for training newly hired sales people, we ran into a challenge from our client. They wanted to add a small scenario-based game to the end of module with the objective of improving sales performance. Not a big deal, right?

But the problem is that effective gamification is not an afterthought that can be tagged onto the end of a module.

For a quick recap of what is gamification, see this infographic post on games, game-based learning, and gamification.

Gamification For Learning

Gamification is all about continual training reinforcement that aids in skill adoption and application. According to several studies, continuous training can even produce 50% higher net sales per employee.

So ideally, gamification should be a continuous process that learners are engaged with situations they can practice and gain knowledge through real-life scenarios and role-plays.

According to ASTD, companies spend $15 billion per year on sales training. That is an enormous amount of money, and most employees are not satisfied with their sales training. With organizations spending this much money on largely ineffective training, there is a lot of value in figuring out ways to improve sales performance.

Back to our client from above, the goal of the new training was to increase sales performance, so it was natural that they would examine the effectiveness of their current sales training and seek new means to motivate and engage their team.

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the challenges facing sales training and how gamification helps address those challenges.

3 Challenges Faced By Sales Training

  1. Motivation.
    Motivating employees to take training, and then adopt the skill/knowledge, and finally to apply it. Gamification helps motivate by rewarding learners for performance.
  2. Engagement.
    Active participation and practical practice is one of the best ways to learn, and we know that the more engaged the learners are, the more likely they are to retain and apply what they’ve learned. Gamification explores possibilities to engage learners.
  3. Applicability.
    Combining training objectives with an activity that accurately mimics realistic application is the ideal situation. Gamification can mimic on-the-job training and integrate training objectives.

Case-in-point: Imagine if our client had thought of transforming cases and scenarios by integrating their sales methodology, product knowledge, messaging, and processes into a game. Not just an isolated scenario, but a full game that requires sales member to practice methodologies in order to produce sales in a fame scenario.

Another study on gamification shows that a key to learning retention is follow-up, which is why games that encourage repetition are so effective. When Cognitive knowledge is transformed into practical knowledge, the retention of knowledge doubles. So designing game elements to replicate situations and problems and solve them to be recognized or rewarded is what we should be looking at.

When To Not Gamify

Sometimes we end up gamifying modules for the wrong reasons:

  • “Our competitor is doing it.”
  • “Games are attractive and interesting!”
  • “It is cool to gamify.”

Games that are built continually on the learning process that serves an objective can help the Sales team perform and be engaged. Games are excellent for learning but they are not part of the engagement for the desired outcome.

Hence clients need to be oriented towards the importance of game elements and mechanics (storytelling, badges, trophies, and leader boards). Normal game-play is purely about entertainment, but for learning, look for things that specifically address reinforcement and promote knowledge recall to build memory strength.

In gamification such elements are significant contributors that aim to transfer a specific skill in a fun way and are aimed at:

  • Decision-making.
  • Risk-taking.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Memorization.
  • Scenario learning or practical practice.
  • Step by step tasks and procedures.

3 Benefits Of Using Gamification To Improve Sales Performance

  1. Such training programs help reduce stress and anxiety associated with expectant performance and thus improve the employees’ morale.
  2. When performance improves, it facilitates behavioral changes.
  3. Rewarding the right behaviors will speed up performance levels and create healthy competitive environment for the organization and employees.

"Gamification has proven to be very successful in engaging and motivating employees to change their behavior, develop skills or solve problems. Employees are more willing to change their behavior and adopt more sustainable habits by challenging themselves and their colleagues." - Brian Burke, Gartner Inc

Prepare your gamification by conducting a proper situational analysis/research, training and business needs. A quick-fix gaming module for sales is an aimless effort like the client I worked with, but sales gamification done right can improve not only learning, but sales performance.

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