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These days, chances are if you mention gamification in conversation, you’ll invoke a bit of a debate. Everyone has an opinion — whether hyped, disputed, or applauded — on the benefits of gamification, the blanket term for motivating and rewarding participants in non-game contexts. In enterprise especially, the buzzword has seen widespread adoption in recent years and is credited with engaging employees, motivating behaviors, and driving innovation.
But while gamification might seem simple and basic in theory, applying it and designing a program tailored to fit your enterprise and unique business challenges take time and careful thought. Gamification is not slapping badges on the world; it is motivating salespeople or whomever the target audience is to focus on the right things. As Gartner recently noted in a webinar on gamification, “By 2014, 80 percent of the current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily due to poor design.” The main takeaway not being that gamification will fail businesses, rather that ill-considered or brash application of gamification will not motivate employees or drive your business’ bottom line.
That’s where meaningful gamification comes in.
Salespeople are fundamentally competitive; gamification plays right into their ambitious nature, so participation in motivational rewards campaigns is not much of an issue. The imperative first step is designing an impactful gamification program. Before applying gamification tactics to your business, take a moment to evaluate behaviors that are essential in your sales force and instrumental to addressing your business challenges. This is a key part of the process. Once the focus and ideal behaviors are identified, then you can move forward and get to the actual application of gamification techniques.
We’ve identified 7 simple steps to implementing meaningful gamification.
- Entertain: Make the program fun and interesting for sales reps.
- Simplify: As we’ve stressed, stick to the motivating behaviors originally decided upon. Focusing on too many behaviors gets confusing.
- Keep it top of mind: Share status updates regularly among sales teams.
- Real-time results: Allow salespeople to always know where they stand by making the contest transparent and in real-time.
- Don’t depend on it: Always encourage key sales behaviors — layer on rewards to amplify them when needed, but do not depend on gamification contests to motivate your reps all the time.
- Make it social: Encourage team members to share how they’re doing — a little trash-talking is OK.
- Real rewards: Virtual rewards are fun, but include some real prizes, too.
When gamification is appropriately applied, it does not only boost the number of data entry points per the hypothetical example but can also impact employee motivation, result in better marketing efforts since the data entered is more accurate, and increase staff retention because employees are more engaged.
So yes, gamification might currently be associated with a lot of hype. But we’ve seen evidence of the positive impacts of meaningful gamification firsthand and expect it to continue to drive businesses from the bottom up by rewarding motivation, innovation, and focus.
Bob Marsh is the CEO of LevelEleven, a sales gamfication and CRM solutions company that has the #1 ranked gamification app on Salesforce’s AppExhange: Contest Builder. LevelEleven was incubated by ePrize, where Marsh managed sales teams for 13 years. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMarsh5.