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Talent & Recruitment
The Dos and Don'ts of Using Gamification to Motivate Salespeople
Aug 14, 2017 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

Since Microsoft announced that they were using FantasySalesTeam to motivate their salespeople in 2015, gamification has been touted as the golden ticket to keeping sales pros motivated and successful.

Gamification is certainly exciting, fun and has many fantastic attributes when it comes to motivating your sales teams to meet their quotas. For many companies, where traditional sales incentive competitions fall down is that their top salespeople (the ones that are already high performers) always dominate. While the other team members, (the ones that really need to be incentivised) lose interest when they know they’ll never win.

Platforms like FantasySalesTeam counter this problem because they take into account both individual success and that of the team they have “drafted.” This keeps the program fun as well levelling the playing field. Making it a team effort also allows team members to learn from their top performing peers and encourages good selling techniques.

However, gamification is not a one size fits all solution and is not a guaranteed to improve overall team sales performance. Research undertaken by Wharton management professor Ethan Mollick, found that gamification incentive programs may sometimes have a negative effect.  Mollick explained that his study demonstrates that “gamification can have a large impact, but it also says that [a lack] of consent can actually lower performance attitude.”

Here’s our top Dos and Don’ts of using gamification to motivate salespeople.

Dos

Do allow people to opt in or out.

As Mollick’s study shows, creating “Mandatory Fun” is, in fact, no fun at all and has been shown to lower performance. If gamification is to be successful in your sales team, it needs to be something in which people are keen to participate not something they feel is forced upon them or a drain on their time.

Do make the game a true incentive by uncapping commission for the winners.

This follows on from number one, if you want your salespeople to get on board, make the prize something they really want to win! A study by Nick Hedges showed that 79 percent of companies with no commission cap meet or exceed their quotas. If the prize is uncapped, it makes sense that people will be excited and motivated to up their game to win.

Do use leaderboards.

Richard Landers, professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Old Dominion University found that “by giving someone a leaderboard, they actually strive for the top of it even if you don’t tell them to.”

Don’ts

Don’t force your top sellers to take part.

As suggested above, for gamification to be successful you need to have people opt in. Yes, you would hope that the majority of your team will see the benefits and take part, but don’t be tempted to try and persuade those disinclined to, especially your top talent. Your selling stars just want to get on with selling and crushing their targets - don’t distract them from this by forcing them into the game, even if you know others could learn a thing or two from them. It will likely backfire and disincentivize them.

Don’t just base points on results but instead find ways to reward the use of best practices and putting in time and effort.

It may seem counter-intuitive in a competitive sales environment to reward something other than results, but here’s the thing, real and sustained improvements in performance will only come if your lower performing salespeople are truly making an effort to change their behaviour and improve their techniques.

Don’t structure the whole thing around one prize.

Studies show that contests with more than one winner boost sales effort and performance more than those that are structured around a single winner and prize. Having more than one prize will also give you greater scope to motivate underperforming team members as there is still a chance they will win, even if your top sellers are in the game.

About the Canadian Professional Sales Association

 Since 1874, we’ve been developing and serving sales professionals by providing programs, benefits, and resources that help you sell more, and sell smarter.

Contact us today at memberservices@cpsa.com or 1-888-267-2772 to see how we can help you and your team reach new heights in sales success.

Copyright ©2017 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association. For permissions, contact editor@cpsa.com.

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