Gamification works for sales, so why shouldn’t every department get in on the act?

I came across a new App on the Salesforce Appexchange last week – The Chatter Game. In order to drive adoption of the business networking tool companies can award points for behaviour that they wish to promote – such as adding a Chatter post, liking someone else’s post, or sharing a useful link with the team.

Your team can then use Dashboards to monitor their success and at the end of the game period winners can get real-world prizes presented by the business.

We all love games!

This is a great example of the phrase of the moment – gamification – the idea of using game-play to drive behaviour in people (consumers, partners or employees might all be suitable candidates).

If you read the Wikipedia article on gamification you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a recent development. It considers early examples of gamification as Facebook Places, or Foursquare where users are rewarded with points for engaging with the application.

However, I’ve spent my entire career working in sales teams, and I can confirm that gamification has been alive and well ever since I started. Typical examples in a high growth sales team might be:

  • Whiteboards – All around the office you will find whiteboards with everyone’s progress through the month (yes – these should be Salesforce Dashboards on a plasma!). This helps to raise awareness of what the target is, how close each salesperson is to achieving it, and how long there is left to go. Everyone wants to be at the top and hit their target first.
  • Monthly Awards – Every month you’ll have a Sales Meeting. A review of the previous month and plan’s for the current month. Typically you will have awards for Sales Person or the Month, Team of the Month, Deal of the Month. These awards might be a bottle of champagne, or some vouchers, and a certificate signed by the CEO. These help to pep up a team who are all back to zero after the end of the month and recognise the high achievers.
  • Quarterly or Annual Awards – Over and above the short term awards you will have medium and longer term awards. Perhaps a prize for the most sales of a new product over a quarter, or the annual race to be on the President’s Club trip at the end of the financial year. This might be a trip for the top 10% of Sales People to go to South Africa, Rio, or the Caribbean and the motivation as you get towards the end of the year to secure one of the places is intense.

The purpose of these rewards is to help sustain high levels of activity across short, medium and long timeframes, and you will find these kind of activities happen in Sales Teams regardless of vertical, horizontal or geography. Sales Directors and CEO’s encourage them because they believe it drives behaviour and delivers a good return on investment.

Just for Sales?

So if it works for Sales why shouldn’t every department get in on the act? I see no reason why similar gamification activities shouldn’t be in place across development, marketing, legal, finance, support to increase the pace, the motivation and the enjoyment of a day’s work. Perhaps they already are, but to a lesser extent than Sales teams who have put it at the core of their strategy.

We are all humans. We love playing games. Put a football in front of someone and they will feel compelled to kick it. We should bring this energy and competitiveness into the workplace as we’ll all benefit as individuals and organisations.

Action Points

Think of the behaviours you want to encourage:

  • making suggestions
  • car sharing
  • attendance
  • challenging the status quo

and create a game around it, providing excellent real-world rewards for your winners.

Are you investigating gamification in your teams? Do you think it is a new fad or an old technique? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.