Game On! Motivate Your Sales Reps to Reach Their Year-End Goals With Gamification

It’s that time of year again—the time when you either make it or break it. What are we referring to? Sales goals, of course! Are your sales reps motivated to finish out the year strong? Or are they complacent with where they are and just coasting along until year’s end?  If the latter, how can you be an effective leader and inspire your team for greatness so they reach or even surpass those goals? One way is gamification: using game-like incentives to motivate your team to finish 2015 strong.

Gamification explained
Gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing—such as point scoring, competition with others, and rules of play—to an activity that’s not a game. It’s often used as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service. But it can work for you too, as a sales manager!

Gamification can be an effective motivator because a little friendly competition can be a healthy thing. And if it inspires your team to push themselves harder, everyone wins!

Gamification is not a new concept. Several companies are already using it and seeing results. According to SalesForce, 90.4% of companies report that their gamification initiatives are successful, and 71% say they are seeing 11%-50% increases in measured sales performance.

Getting started with gamification
Now, before you get the IT department on the phone or start Googling developers, let me reassure you that gamification is a concept only. You don’t need an actual game developed for this. “There’s an app for that” need not apply to using gaming principles to inspire sales reps to perform. Simple things can go a long way towards generating big results. For example, your gamification might look like this:

  • You sponsor monthly or weekly contests for top producers.
  • The winner gets a small trophy (or use a bigger one that gets passed from winner to winner to be proudly displayed on one’s desk until the next winner is announced).
  • You might invite employee or peer nominations.
  • Think beyond the “big” prize of the trophy and reward employees more often with small valued items like gift cards.
  • Always include ongoing praise and acknowledgement and never underestimate the power of a simple “good job” or “thank you.”

Tips for designing your own incentive program
If you were going to implement an incentive program, how could you design it meaningfully? Here are some tips to help.

First, it needs to be simple. Don’t make your incentives so grand that they end up distracting your workers. You want to keep your employees engaged with the work they are currently doing. The more complex the reward, the more time they spend thinking about it and the less time they spend working. Also, keep in mind that unless you set clear goals for your employees, no one will be as motivated as they could be. Set two or three defined goals at the beginning of the competition. As one competition ends and you gear up for the next one, add some variety to change it up so it’s not always the same old thing. But again, keep it simple.

Second, the game has to be entertaining. People have short attention spans, and you want them focused on their job, but on the other hand, people want to take part in games and contests that are fun. If it’s not fun, participation will be low.

Third, consider using a point system. Implementing a point system helps make games more incentivizing. For example, for every X amount of points, someone could win an iPhone or a dinner reservation. As you go through and build your incentives, it’s also important to keep them varying throughout the quarter. If you just have 10 of the same game, no one will want to participate. No matter your incentives, always keep your games easy to play with high rewards for winning.

Fourth, remember the recognition! Be sure to incorporate elements of recognition into whatever you design. One study found that top performers need to experience at least three positive interactions for every one negative, and the more the better. That’s why programs with recognition elements are more effective in improving results. (Get more tips for incentivizing your sales reps at The Carrot.)

In addition to improving performance among your sales reps, you can also use the principles of gamification to inspire collaboration: Give people the option to work in teams to win a great prize. Or use it to inspire new creative ideas: Use incentives to encourage people to think of new strategies that your organization can implement.

Use gamification not as a last resort, but as a tool to empower your team and help them achieve their goals by year’s end. Adapting a gaming mindset can help you as a manager to focus and energize sales reps around a goal and improve the sales productivity of average performers. This will not only help increase productivity in the workplace, but it will also help inspire sales people to finish the year strong. Remember, the contests can be simple and the incentives inexpensive, and recognition in and of itself can go a long way in building morale and boosting performance…without costing a dime.

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