Game On! Can Playing Games Drive Adoption of Sales Force Automation?


CRM Analyst,

Recently, there's been a lot of research in the area of gamification: the process of adding gaming elements to a non-gaming activity to encourage action and participation. In fact, the first Gamification Summit took place in January this year in San Francisco. Experts in the fields of game mechanics and engagement science met to discuss how to use gaming to solve business problems.

That got me thinking, could gamification improve the adoption of sales force automation (SFA) software? It seems logical that gaming elements would appeal to sales people – a notoriously competitive bunch – and get them more engaged with the software. Is it time for SFA vendors to dust off those consoles and get their game on?

Below are just three ideas I brainstormed with our designer, Russel. At a minimum, they are meant to be food for thought. I’d love to hear your comments and ideas.

I. Training Badges





In this first example, badges are used as signs of achievement. Whenever a staff member completes a certain level of training, they receive a badge that appears on their profile. The profile is visible to the individual user, as well as the rest of the team. Like putting your report card on the fridge, your profile provides a sense of self-satisfaction and accomplishment. It is also a motivational tool, reminding you of what other training badges you need to keep up with your peers. Additional incentives could be tied to the badges as well. For example, a sales rep might receive an increase in commission rates for receiving the Miller Heiman badge.

II. Data Quality





Data cleanliness is a persistent issue in SFA systems. Incomplete or duplicate records are a common occurrence. In this example, the system is able to measure the level of record completion and duplication for each user. It also displays the average number of days since they have updated their records. With this kind of display, data cleanliness stays top-of-mind for users. You will also notice that each user’s profile is colored red or green according to performance. They are also ordered based on that metric. This taps into the reps’ competitive nature, encouraging them to stay in the green and move up in the ranks. This simple addition of gaming mechanics turns a repetitive, menial task into a challenge.

III. Outbound Calling Intensity





The more you call, the more you close. No one loves it, but it’s absolutely necessary. In this example, users’ total calls and qualified leads for the month are tracked in a graph. This visualizes each rep’s performance relative to their peers. Users can actually see their progress and make decisions on what they need to do to reach their monthly quota. At the top, you will notice a tab for tiers. If you ranked every sales person in your organization based on the same metrics, you would have the “newbies” going up against the sales vets, which would be an unfair match-up. With the tier option, users will only see themselves in comparison to other team members at their level. This provides a more accurate ranking, and keeps sales reps motivated at every level.

What do you think? Comment below to share your best SFA gamification ideas.

  • Carrie_P


    Some great thoughts here and kudos to your illustrator! You’re absolutley right; SFA vendors can benefit from adding game mechanics to their solve business problems.

  • Joe Morone

    Great artilcal. The concept of making sales force automation systems (SFA) more interactive is on target. Today, too many of them have the same funnels, graphs and charts.

    Salespeople need salesforce automation systems that guide them in taking the right actions, at the right times with the right stakeholders in order to win more business.

    In every other industry, there are software systems that assist the user in performing better. It is amazing that so few systems have the logic required to interact with the user in applying best practices for sales.

    Getting a 2 way data exchange is the single biggest challenge.It’s like an ATM. Eeverone uses them to get money. Why should’nt we think of a salesforce automation system as an ATM. If used correctly, should’nt it get the salesperson a win and the commissions. Salespeople will use a system that tells them the steps they need to take to win a sale.

    If that step is demonstrated through the use of gamification, all the better.

    Gamification for entering the same old contact information, with nothing in it for the salesperson will have limited effects…

    Joe Morone
    Worldleaders SFA

  • Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen

    I believe that SFA (Sales training) is probably one of the most obvious target groups for gamification. I think that a lot of the sales culture and rewards systems are really ‘simple’ gamification principles, so gearing it up and fine-tuning it makes a lot of sense. Through the virtualisation and gamification of these principles you achieve a much more subtle tracking than otherwise.
    A lot of the sales training is quite ‘mechanical’ and well suited to be transferred basicially.

  • Geof Wilkens

    I like the idea of earning badges or achievements.

    You could go in the direction of x-box or play station achievements… Award various badges for reaching certain milestones… adding X new leads or the like.

    Maybe even something along the lines of a “sales leader of the month” award.

    You would of course need to make the profiles visible enough so they could then show off all their badges.

  • http://peanutlabs seth

    Really makes you wonder where the gamification model is going to be in a couple of years. I remember when UPS started using games to train employees a few years ago. Now loyalty programs are evolving, companies are moving towards online status rewards etc. I think this article is a GREAT example of the corporate structure adapting. It’s simple and effective, and the illustrations are great to boot :) Great article Gamification: Game Design In The Real World for an overview

  • Peter Perera

    There is a very (one of the most) active threads going on at LinkedIn CRM Experts group about getting salespeople to adopt CRM applications. In one comment I suggested applying game mechanics to CRM to make it more fun and so started researching gamification in CRM and stumbled upon your article. (As mentioned in a comment on another of your blog entries…like you stuff.)

    I believe wholeheartedly gamification would increase adoption. Just three points.

    1. The reason SFA is anathema to salespeople is how sales managers use it to “control” selling activities. Worse, salespeople are asked to enter the bullets (data) that are then used to shoot them with. Gamification needs to be in support of the individual salesperson instead of a pyrotechnic shooting gallery for managers.

    2. The data quality mock-ups actually already exist in a similar fashion with data steward dashboards in some data quality software. That said, I agree putting it within the sales application may help.

    And 3. when all is said and done, gamification will not make a salesperson adopt an application that offers no solid, recognizable value. In the end, the application has to increase sales. The gauges, badges and whatnot have to show how sales actually go up. Need to translate how a “complete” customer record increases sales. Otherwise no salesperson will care that a zip code or a job title is missing. “Points” that translate into dollars is what may excite/entertain salespeople during their 9-5 workday.

  • Adam Clark


    Great post – good ideas and very well presented.

    Here are my thoughts…There is a reason why games like World of Warcraft is the beast that it is. Why is it so addicting for so long? People love achieving things. They love the recognition of the game. Hey, when I know that if I keep playing and get better and better, I am going to have the same opportunity to earn stuff as the next person, that is an awesome thing. Look at other games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc. They all use this kind of stuff. Even small mobile apps have achievements now (see Plants vs. Zombies, for example).

    Games are essentially (in my mind) some of the best funded research institutions in the world. they have access to the minds and behaviors of millions of people and are paid for it. Amazing opportunity to learn and develop. We can learn a lot from them. Gamification of real life stuff is just beginning. I see a large future for it in almost every aspect of our lives – personal, business, etc.

    I’m excited to see where it goes.

  • Ginger Conlon

    Lauren, Using game dynamics to inspire performance among salespeople, as well as among customer service reps, is anything but new. What is new is all the buzz gamification is getting because new technologies, especially social, present new opportunities to use game dynamics to drive consumer behavior. That said, I think your ideas are quite interesting and have the potential to be very effective, if, as Peter noted, salespeople understand the value of the applications and the incentives are clear.

  • Jason Anderson

    Personally I see gamification of most enterprise systems and business processes occurring to some degree over the next couple of decades. It’s a natural evolution of things as the Boomers leave seats of power and younger folks move in. I have more thoughts on the subject here:

  • Mike Beaty

    Gamification will be the catalyst for an entirely new breed of business software over the next 2-3 years. It will change not only SFA, CRM, but also project management and almost every other area of business as well.

    For a real world example, our RedCritter Tracker video shows how badges, leaderboards, ribbons and rewards can come together to create an engaging project management solution.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Lauren – great post.  The area I am seeing huge interest in is integrating gamification into the online sales process – but on the buyer’s side.  So not for the sales or CS rep’s but for the buyers – to make the process more engaging & enjoyable.  Perhaps an area worth exploring further?  Thanks again, Mark. 

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