carni-colorI enjoyed being one of the presenters for last week’s InsideSales Virtual Summit.  The event was deemed the world’s largest virtual sales trade show with a record setting, 15,000 registered participants.  All of the speaker sessions are now available on-demand free of charge. There were more than 60 amazing presentations by the likes of Guy Kawasaki, James Rogers, and Jill Konrath. I was on a panel led by John Wall that included Eric Luhrs, Mike “Mr. Inside Sales” Brooks, and Mark Organ.

Our topic was social selling and whether, and to what degree, salespeople should participate in social networking activities. The group was in agreement about the importance of LinkedIn for salespeople and that ‘social’ is really all about connecting in a meaningful way. Then the subject of Gamification came up. Gamification is definitely a form of social engagement.

If you’ve ever bought a lottery ticket, or checked a bottle cap to see if you won, or even texted a response to a contest, you’ve participated in Gamification. Gamification is just a fancy word for marketing tactics (specifically games and contests) that get people to engage with a company or a brand in a more personal, social way.

Games and contests have been used successfully in the consumer space, for a long time- just think S&H Greenstamps or even Cracker Jack®. They work because they create a reason for buyers to pay attention. Cracker Jack® breathed new life into its caramel coated popcorn and peanuts—first introduced in 1896—when in 1912, they began including toy surprises in every box. No doubt, they discovered a marketing formula that was every bit as successful as their tasty snacks were.

What Cracker Jack® and now just about every other consumer products manufacturer has figured out is that prizes, games, and contests are a powerful way to get buyers to take action. By their very nature games get people to act and when they act, they begin to change behavior. In the consumer world that starts with a newly formed connection to your brand.

And now we’re seeing some of these same practices applied to the B2B space.

Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) leverage these same principles of motivating consumer behavior by applying it to their own external marketing efforts as well as their internal operations.

SPIFs (Sales Performance Incentive Funds) are commonly used to incentivize salespeople to sell more of a particular product in a given period of time. SPIFs are an example of using contests to change behavior. And I can’t think of anyone to which Gamification in general would be more applicable than salespeople. After-all, incentive-based compensation (commissions)  is just a form of Gamification. The objective off the game is to close more sales. If you do that, you win a higher commission in return.

Salespeople are ‘achievement motivated.’ By nature, they like to compete.  Every salesperson wants to be the one standing at the annual awards ceremony and be the one recognized as the top rep. Therefore, using Gamification to spur motivation and revenue generation is in-line with both personal objectives and personality styles of salespeople.

Gamification’s link to Behavior Modification

Salespeople are typically highly independent-minded. Managers specifically look to hire reps that are self-motivated and who don’t need a lot of direction. Those traits are troublesome however, when you need those very same people to change behavior in some way. Driving the right changes in behavior is the force that propels revenue and organizational cohesiveness.

How many of you have deployed a CRM system only to discover that your reps won’t use it? And what do you do when you need visibility into what’s going on in the field but reps aren’t filling in their call reports or they do them all at once at the end of the week? To solve these problems is to affect change in behaviors.

Of course, you could use coercion or threats to obtain the desired behavioral change but that doesn’t do much for moral and it’s not a good technique for long-term behavior modification.

Gamification cloaks your behavior modification objective in a spirited competition that’s fun to engage in.
And there’s a science behind Gamification. People learn best when they’re engaged and motivated.

Let me give you an example using LevelEleven which is a really great contest tool that runs inside Salesforce CRM.

One of LevelEleven’s clients, Agility Communications, found that their Salespeople weren’t using Salesforce Chatter. That was a problem because without adoption, the team couldn’t share knowledge and stay on top of activities in real-time. So they incentivized salespeople to change their behavior using LevelEleven’s Compete Gamification solution. Salespeople were recognized and rewarded for quality postings. To Agility Communication’s great delight, the company saw the number of Chatter posts rise from 0 to more than 1300 per month.

Suppose you have the same issue that Comcast had. Comcast wanted reps to focus on scheduling more appointments each day. They could’ve simply demanded that reps ‘make it happen’. Instead, they used Compete to incentivize the desired behavior and as a result, experienced an increase in their average number of appointments by 127%.

There’s a reason Gamification works. It’s motivational, it’s engaging, and it’s social. When you consider what’s needed to motivate salespeople to make more cold calls, log more data into CRM, get their expenses in on time, or improve on their sales skills Gamification is one of the most effective techniques. It is a topic that’s being hyped but it’s not ‘hype’. It works. It’s not at all difficult to implement. And it helps your sales team feel challenged and motivated. Do you have examples of how you’ve used Gamification to motivate reps and improve results? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert increasing sales productivity through the use of tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Sales Productivity blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation click here.