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Ready, Set, Play - Why Gamification Works

June 12, 2018

 

When people hear the word “gamification”, they often roll their eyes and pass it off as a “fad” or a “gimmick”. But the truth is, everyone loves games - especially salespeople. Games are engaging, fulfilling, and quite honestly, they’re fun. They’re a great way to engage with customers and an even better tool in sales management.

 

Beyond the tempting prizes, fancy point systems, and glossy leaderboards, sales gamification works because of the basic principles of motivation. Salespeople are naturally competitive so why not harness their abilities to close deals faster, find more leads, and make more calls?

 

The Psychology of Gamification

 

Gamification in sales isn’t just about the prizes; it’s about understanding, motivating, and engaging your employees.

 

There are 3 psychological principles at play (see what we did there?) in sales gamification:

 

  1. The Reward Compulsion Loop

  2. Well-Timed Reinforcements

  3. Intrinsic Motivation

 

The Reward Compulsion Loop

 

You see this principle everywhere: Candy Crush, Farmville, and even the lottery. Why are these games so popular and addictive? Well, they all contain the subtle yet powerful reward compulsion loop that makes people want to keep playing. Let’s look at how it works:

 

  1. Perform an action.

  2. Receive a reward for performing the action.

  3. This reward triggers a release of dopamine, a chemical that causes feelings of pleasure.

  4. Receive an invitation to perform the action again.

  5. Repeat the action in the hopes of getting another hit of dopamine.

 

Now, let’s look at it in context:

 

  1. An employee has the highest sales for the month.

  2. Employee receives a free dinner for having the month’s highest sales (hurrah!)

  3. Employee feels confident in their abilities and self.

  4. Another contest starts and the prize is a free trip for the highest sales for the next month.

  5. Employee tries to get the highest sales for the next month in the hopes of winning this contest too.

 

This principle is used everywhere - from motivating employees to getting people addicted to unhealthy habits - because it’s simple and effective. Some may even say it’s overused but why change what already works (and really well at that)?

 

Well-Timed Reinforcements

 

Well-timed reinforcements are just as important as the rewards themselves. Humans are hard-wired to repeat an action that gave them pleasure in the past. But to keep them engaged requires well-timed reinforcements - knowing exactly what rewards to give or take away at exactly the right time. Perfect timing in the form of a reinforcement schedule ensures that users don’t get bored and continue to play.

 

Intrinsic Motivation

 

To keep engagement up, games also need to build the optimal state of intrinsic motivation. In other words, it’s finding the right balance between uncertainty and certainty that keeps users engaged. If the user experiences too much uncertainty (that they’ll never win), they’ll lose the motivation to continue. Likewise, if they experience too much certainty (that they’ll win), they won’t be motivated to continue. This fine balance is where the excitement lies and is what keeps users interested.

 

 

 Not All Gamers Are Created Equal

 

Sure, salespeople are inherently competitive, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all the same when it comes to how they respond to games. Different personality types will be motivated by different types of rewards and games. There are 3 dominant subgroups of player personas and by understanding these subgroups, you can create specific campaigns to appeal to each individual.

 

  1. Fun Seekers: Players who simply find enjoyment in the process. The best channels for engaging this subgroup are: interactive advertisements, real-life simulations, and familiar games like crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

  2. Socializers: Players who are driven by competition for social benefits like recognition, networking, and communication opportunities. This subgroup loves games that offer tangible, measurable results. The best channels for this subgroup are: progress bars, leaderboards, and badges.

  3. Reward Chasers: Players who enjoy the rewards the most. The best channels for this subgroup are: contests, limited-time offers, sweepstakes, and daily bonus points.

 

Many people fall into more than one subgroup but by understanding these differences, you can tailor your gamification strategy into one that will attract your employees.

 

Keep It Simple

           

Remember that gamification isn’t actually about the fancy prizes or complex games; it’s about understanding people and what motivates them. Even addictive games like Candy Crush or Flappybird are quite simple but incredibly effective. As long as you structure your gamification around the three psychological principles and base it off of the different player personas, gamification will help boost your team and your sales.

 

 

Ready to play? Call Change Connect and we can help you implement gamification into your sales culture for a more effective sales strategy. As leaders in the industry and game lovers ourselves, we link people, process, and technology together to optimize your salesforce.

 

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