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What is sales gamification?

Sales gamification means applying principles and methods of computer games to such a non-game human activity as sales. With its repetitive cold calls and emails, setting meetings, and other notoriously boring tasks, a job in sales can at times feel like drudgery, no matter how well it is paid. In other words, sales gamification is an engagement technique used to motivate and encourage sales reps to achieve a company’s sales goals and improve their sales performance.

What exactly is meant by sales gamification? How exactly do team leaders gamify the process of sales and lead generation? Do they say ‘game on’ and sales reps compete to make more phone calls and write more emails than other team members? Something like that and more.

So what do gamification and sales have in common?  

Obviously, the idea of making a boring chore more fun is not new. The twentieth century saw retail coming up with stamps to encourage customers to buy, the Boy Scout earning badges for happily trotting through the woods and building a fire, and hotels starting loyalty programs for visitors. Since computer games came on the stage, however, many were struck by how inherently engrossing and joyful they are. The next step is to make a logical connection between game cognition and learning, daily habits, social media, and, of course, sales. The rest is history now.

Despite its seemingly easy and on-the-surface nature, sales gamification is a quite recent concept. The term was coined in 2002, and the concept took off in the late 2000s. In an attempt to keep sales reps motivated, companies use both classical game principles and game-design software tools. Psychologically, gamification means the application of the eternal game principles of engaging, entertaining, and educating, as well as competitive game elements of points, badges, and leaderboards. Technologically, sales gamification software engages sales reps through integration with the sales department’s CRM, ranking tools, metrics, and other built-in features.

Psychological principles of gamification for sales

Behavioral psychology introduced the idea that positive reinforcement helps people develop a habit as much as treats help a dog learn a trick. While some may find the dog-and-treat comparison distasteful, the truth is - we all need some reward or praise here and there to keep doing the things we have to do. We can even be thankful for that. Not to mention the fun part.  

Behavioral psychology, research, and empirical data revealed that humans respond most positively when they do something they value when they are appreciated when they see a clear goal, and when a larger goal is preceded by smaller points of achievement.

Find what motivates you. Not all people respond equally positively to competitive elements of team games. It happens because some thrive with sources of extrinsic motivation like someone’s praise, contests, badges, dashboards, and so on, while others tend to develop intrinsic motivation like improving their skills, competing against themselves, and getting inner reward from participation. Gamification for sales is flexible with a wide range of tools, practices, and applications suitable for both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. There are many sales gamification apps with features that can both engage SDRs in competitions and have sales dashboards for personal performance tracking.

Understand the mechanics of success. Today’s sales gamification software goes beyond a simple leaderboard with top-performing reps. Gamification allows teams to see exactly where each team member stands in terms of sales metrics and deadlines, thus giving them tools to start performing better.  

Reduce demotivation factors. Sales reps can be demotivated by a number of things. Thus, the inability to understand what makes top performers so high-achieving can be detrimental to your business. Gamification software for sales makes stages and elements of someone else’s success visible. Another disheartening factor is rewarding for numbers or points that are easy to cheat on. For example, a B2B digital lead generation agency gamifies the number of deals each rep closes and sets up a reward. However, a wiser approach is to gamify qualified deals rather than any deal.

Offsetting negatives of sales gamification software

It is impossible not to mention negative aspects when having a conversation about gamification. In sales, as much as in other areas, gamification may also imply boredom, generic solutions, and corporate control.

The most fun gamification approach gets boring. On the one hand, some salespeople will always be more interested in gamifying their daily tasks than others. On the other hand, the entire toolkit of challenges, badges, and leaderboards is promising to get tiresome pretty quickly. What can be done about it? Consider gamification as a spice to create festive dishes rather than the salt-and-pepper of everyday meals. Use a sales gamification app for some projects to warm up and ice-break a new team. When Belkins provides B2B appointment setting, sales gamification software helps us create a game and put the team in a competitive mood for a short-term project.

People can’t be coerced to play. Corporations can get too serious and insist on using sales gamification as a panacea against low-revenue numbers. It is a dead-end, though. The point of gamification is to create a fun experience for employees and to add light-heartedness. If management observes the reps losing their spirit, it is better to scale down their enthusiasm for gamifying sales. What can be done about this predicament? There are so many sales gamification tools that a team can opt to gamify only performance management, or sales training, or analytics, or something else. For example, some companies gamify onboarding and offer a welcoming experience for newcomers with quizzes and fun job training (MindTickle app).   

Gamification is not engaging. Some may say that monetary reward is the best motivation. However, the drudgery of mundane sales reps’ tasks requires something more immediate right now. Is having fun right in the middle of the working day a crime? Yet, salespeople are indeed better motivated with something more material than points and levels on a digital screen. Experts suggest that sales managers ask their reps about preferable rewards, for example, gifts, vacations, or cash bonuses that can be added to sales gamification software platforms.

The Most Popular Sales Gamification Apps

Having different features and purposes, sales gamification apps can be intended as customized leaderboards, rewards systems, performance motivation, training, etc. The following list of tools is arbitrary – just to give a general idea:

Tango Card is a rewards tool that adds game elements to sales. Sales managers can recognize a team member’s performance by sending a digital gift card to choose from a catalog of prizes.  

Spinify is a performance motivation platform that integrates with a team’s CRM and creates fun competitive games. Rewards include digital gift cards as well as sports tickets and vacations.

SalesScreen is a simple gamification tool that adds interactivity and fun to reaching KPIs, sales goals, and progress. SalesScreen allows different teams to compete simultaneously and follow their progress on digital screens in real-time.

Tips for the Most Fun Sales Gamification

It is quite obvious that businesses want to gamify internal processes to boost sales performance and productivity. Most realize, however, that the fun component is actually crucial. In sales gamification, all the badges and points become useless if the play goes out the window. Here is a list of fun factors that should be included in your sales gamification efforts if you want steady results.

People. Communication, cooperation, and competition are a lot of fun. Human interaction is needed not only to network and teamwork but because people need people. Strengthening social ties gives people a sense of well-being.    

Challenge. People love to achieve a goal now and then and overcome a challenge. Each hard task hones skills while a too easy task doesn’t create enough interest.

Curiosity. Play can’t be too difficult either. At least, there should be an interplay between easy and hard, creative and hardworking, imaginative and reasonable.    

Game On?

In today’s world of information overload, gamification of sales, at least to some extent, is a must. Whatever your niche is – B2B appointment setting, lead generation, or retail – your teams are making deals and need to get their positive behaviors rewarded. Use your knowledge of psychology and gamify your sales. At Belkins, we have extensive experience with a variety of sales gamification software and tools because we love to have our deal and make it fun, too.