At its core, gamifying sales taps into reps’ already ambitious and competitive nature. It is a simple enough idea, but you’d be surprised at how often sales managers get it wrong.

Motivating employees with peer competitions isn’t just about slapping on badges and offering a prize for whomever closes the most deals that week. Gamification done right requires a well-designed competition that gets your employees excited, engaged and focused on the right objectives. Here are four basic rules to create the most effective sales competitions.

1. Make it Simple

Before you kick off a competition, take a step back and look at the general challenges your sales team faces. Decide what you want employees to focus on, but don’t get carried away. We recommend only focusing on between one and three behaviors per competition. If you try to motivate beyond that, it can become confusing for both the sales manager and sales reps.

Whether or not you work with a third-party vendor or download software to help execute your sales competition, use as simple and streamlined a service as possible. You don’t want technical or user adoption issues to take away from the competition itself, or provide any unnecessary barriers to participation.

2. Make it Fit

One size does not fit all when it comes to sales competitions. If you want to see employee endorsement and success, create a gamification program as unique as your team. If one group of reps isn’t closing enough leads, build a competition around that concern. If another group  isn’t pushing a new product add-on enough, create a competition geared to reaching that goal. The beauty of well-designed gamification is that you can run multiple contests targeting different behaviors at the same time.

3. Make it Fun (Encourage a little Trash Talk)

Sales reps are naturally ambitious and competitive – use gamification to play into that. Encourage a little trash-talking and make competitions fun! Collaborative places like Chatter are the perfect forum to inspire a little amicable banter around a competition in play.

Another great way to promote trash talking, as well as recognition, is to display real-time standings throughout a competition. Nothing motivates contest communications more than watching a colleague rise – or fall – in the rankings. Publicly displayed leaderboards can also provide an excellent way for employees to keep competitions top of mind.

4. Don’t Make it All About the Reward

It isn’t always about the reward; sometimes the recognition can be just as fulfilling. While it can help incentivize employees to participate by offering a high-end product (e.g., a nice watch) or  experience (e.g., a trip to Hawaii), we’ve seen employees become just as invested in sales competitions with prizes as basic as a Starbucks gift card. That’s because competition itself is a strong motivator.

Creating impactful sales competitions can not only result in a change in employee habits, but also in a measurable change within your business. The trick is to avoid rushing into gamification. Take a step back to address your sales team’s challenges and then build a competition that focuses on those observations. A well-vetted and simply designed competition is the key to getting gamification right.


About the Author

FBob Marsh is CEO of LevelEleven, a sales gamification and CRM solutions company, with the #1 most popular gamification app on the Salesforce AppExhange: Compete. Bob has almost 20-years experience in sales management. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMarsh5.