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Gamification to Drive Your Millennial Sales Force

Instead of hide-and-seek, people born in the 80s and 90s played video games during their childhood. It is no surprise that people in the so-called generation Y (aka millennials) appreciate a game-like work environment.

gamificationMillennials represent about one-third of the US population (the largest age segment) so your company likely already employs a lot of them. Their presence is projected to grow: millennials will represent 75% of the workforce by 2030, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s therefore imperative that companies keep their Generation Y salespeople engaged, which requires a different approach compared to previous generations of professionals. Their psychological needs are different and they interact with systems differently. As research shows, they are much less willing to use technology that is time consuming and ungratifying.

And this is not the only difference: a 2011 report found that the number one factor that young adults (aged 21-31) wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning. While compensation is often considered the most important driver for sales professionals, other factors are just as important, such as recognition.

Here is where gamification technology plays a role. Smartly gamified systems can contribute in giving your sales reps a sense of community and acknowledgement.

Gamification is a technique that applies game mechanics and design to non-game applications and processes, with the objective to drive desired behaviors by competing for incentives and rewards. It’s been used successfully by consumer businesses for years, even before the Web. Gamification has probably changed your behavior without you realizing. How many frequent buyer cards do you have? Do you belong to an airline miles club?

Now gamification is making a difference in the enterprise, as companies apply these techniques to encourage desired employee behaviors such as adopting technology, participating in employee communities, or completing required training.

Gamification works particularly well with dynamic Generation Y professionals, because it leverages key behaviors that define them. Studies show they are team players, collaborators, and achievement-oriented. Millennials view managers more as coaches and mentors. They thrive on recognition not just by managers but by peers and other leaders in the organization.

This does not simply refer to accumulating badges. Gamification can increase sales force adoption of CRM, onboarding or e-learning apps. Most importantly, it can improve performance in the sales organization.

Here are 3 examples of how gamification can drive Sales Performance Management:

  • Onboarding: employees who are properly inducted are more engaged and most probably will stay longer with the company. Onboarding activities also ensure employees adopt the correct company culture. Achieving this is easier when they are first hired than after they have been with the company for some time and have adopted the wrong behaviors. Gamification can be used to get employees involved early, during the onboarding process. Aberdeen Group found that organizations with gamification in place obtain far better results compared to those without: they improve employee engagement by 48% and reduce turnover by 36%.
  • Learning: gamification is a powerful tool in training your sales force. Of course, game-based systems need to be properly planned and applied in order to work, and cannot be reduced to simply adding trophies. But when done right, results speak for themselves: AstraZeneca, for example, trained its assistants to sell a new medicine with their gamified e-learning platform Go To Jupiter. They achieved 97% usage rate, with 95% of the users completing each teaching session.
  • CRM adoption: sales people notoriously dislike CRM systems and avoid using them. Research proves half of CRM implementations fail, because 50% of employees never adopt the new tools. Gamification incentivizes people to use existing sales applications more effectively instead of spending money to replace them. Increased adoption of sales applications equates to the sales organization being able to function better to achieve sales goals.

Gamification can improve applications usage, with a positive impact on your sales performance. Solutions that are innovative and customized to the profile of your sales force can deliver very high ROI. This next example can constitute a strong case for gamification done right: Project Everest by HP accounted for revenue growth of $1 billion by applying gamification to improve results of their reseller channel!

Article initially published on the WorldatWork blog.

Anne Luongo

VP Community

Anne Luongo is Community Vice President at Optymyze. With ample experience in Sales Performance Management technologies, she also has rigorous understanding of the processes involved, and of the professional communities using these solutions.

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