Sales Gamification – 10 Myths

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Gamification is a novelty. And each novelty has its own myths, gamification too. This is why I have decided to collect the most common doubts and give some answers based on my experience in implementing gamification projects. Check it out!

What will you learn from this article?

  • 10 most common myths about gamification in sales…
  • …and at least 10 arguments that will put you right

Myth no 1: Gamification is “just a game”

Every company that is seriously approaching the topic of sales force gamification should primarily focus on the goals of implementing game mechanisms. Because, among other things, the goals allow to distinguish “gamification” from “just a game”.

Moreover, these goals should be quantifiable. Even if gamification in sales can bring effects that are not measurable at first glance, we should strive to choose such factors that will allow us to measure improvement in specific areas. “Just a game” is a great definition of gamification implemented without a specific and measurable business goal.

Myth no 2: Gamification is only for the young generation

So far, in Sales Pistols, we have conducted nearly 40 projects using gamification in the sales forces of global companies from the insurance, pharmaceutical, automotive, consulting or banking industries. The youngest active user within the project was 21 years old, the oldest – 66 years.

In some companies, the average age in sales forces was significantly above 30 and even 40.

A properly designed gamification tool will involve millenials as well as “X” generation or even baby boomers. The key is to have a properly prepared communication within the project and readiness to pay attention to players skeptical about this type of solutions.

Myth no 3: Gamification is not meant to implement knowledge

False. The activities that players enjoy the most in the Sales Pistols application are quizzes – educational missions using a popular test mechanism, allowing not only to verify the knowledge of the players in areas that are important for their employers, but also to provide this knowledge in small portions and give immediate feedback.

In addition to product knowledge, we can implement and then verify knowledge about sales techniques and building rapport.

Myth no 4: Gamification is all about really BIG rewards

Salespeople know that there is nothing for free, so they often see the possibility to win a really big prize in a sales contest as a matter of luck. They know that if they would miss the right moment of the contest, their chances to win will be small or nonexistent.

When designing a gamification reward system, remember that in this case the analogy to the loyalty program at a gas station is completely wrong. Player must know that all his efforts will be appreciated, and the prize will not be postponed for a few months or even unattainable.

Myth no 5: Gamification is just a new version of contests

A statistical salesman, asked about his experience with sales competitions organized by the company, would probably answer that the winner is well known. Winners are usually a handful of people who perform really well without any external motivation.

This is because he probably has first-hand experience of what it means to be excluded from the elite group of “best salespeople”. The problem with most sales contests is that they motivate only the top dogs. Those from the “bottom”, often after several unsuccessful attempts, do not even take the risk, knowing in advance that they have no chance for a trip to Maldives or a new smartphone.

Gamification primarily involves supporting all positive behaviors at every stage of the game. Players are rewarded not only financially, but always in a constructive way and influencing their motivation. Even a small amount of effort can result in the possibility of picking up a small reward or privilege, and thus developing a conviction that showing a greater commitment can bring really nice results.

Myth no 6: Gamification distracts salespeople from their duties

First of all – the goal of gamification for salespeople is to support their everyday activities, and not give them an excuse to avoid them. If the player does not see the real value in the motivational system (e.g. support in day-to-day routine activities, such as cold calls or client meetings), it is certain that it will break the interaction with the system. Therefore, gamification for salespeople should focus primarily on adapting to their working day, rather than disrupting its course.

Myth no 7: Gamification supports the rat race

Gamification design is in the hands of the Game Master. It may be a sales manager who decides to introduce a gamification system in his team or a gamification consultant.

Knowing that we do not only care about enhancing rivalry mechanisms, while designing a business game, we can also take into account the needs of the players, i.e. power, achievements, affiliation, mastery, self-expression, altruism or cooperation.

If we are afraid of supporting the “rat race” in the sales team, in the first place we should consider replacing traditional sales contests with gamification.

Myth no 8: Gamification is only for sales “freshmen”

Onboarding of new salespeople is something that sales managers often worry about. It is a long-lasting process that can be a failure without proper support.

Gamification comes to the rescue and supports the activities of salespeople in the very beginning of their work in a new company.

On the other hand, as sales managers we may have sales representatives who operate according to proven, but old schemes. In this case, gamification also allows you to let in some fresh air and re-ignite the motivation of an experienced team.

I have an example of a project I had implemented for a company from the pharmaceutical industry, where the average seniority of representatives was over 8 years. Not “freshmen” at all.

Myth no 9: Gamification is not for serious companies

In this scenario, let’s explain what “serious company” means. Microsoft, Nike, eBay, Dell, Samsung, Cisco – these are just some examples of companies that use gamification in various business areas.

The use of gamification in sales is a relatively new form of approach to sales department support and development. But… that’s why there is always a chance that as a sales manager you can be a pioneer in your industry.

Myth no 10: Gamification is meant to replace managers

Po pierwsze – jest to obawa, która pojawia się często, szczególnie u kierowników regionalnych. Nie zawsze jednak mówią o niej głośno.

Grywalizacja jest rozwiązaniem, które w rękach menedżera sprzedaży może naprawdę zdziałać cuda. Podnieść efektywność zespołu, zwiększyć ilość podejmowanych aktywności, otworzyć na współpracę czy realizować KPI.

Ostatecznie jednak to od menedżerów zależy, jakie obszary grywalizacja będzie wspierać. To menedżerowie są siłą napędową każdego projektu grywalizacyjnego. Grywalizacja ma za zadanie wspierać, a nie zastępować menedżerów sprzedaży.


Kajetan Iżycki

Head of Marketing in Sales Pistols with over 2 years of experience in implementing gamification projects. He not only writes about gamification, but also carries out research on implementing game mechanisms in sales.

Kajetan IżyckiSales Gamification – 10 Myths

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