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7 CRM Gamification Strategies: How Psychology Increases Sales

7 CRM Gamification Strategies: How Psychology Increases Sales

Adam Honig

President and Chief Executive
Innoveer Solutions

07/20/2012

The following is reprinted with permission from Innoveer's CRM Insights

People crave feedback, and giving it to them has an interesting side effect: They feel more powerful and in control, and that makes whatever they’re doing “sticky,” meaning they want to do it for longer periods, and with greater frequency.

Why is that concept important for CRM? Because thanks to a practice known as “gamification,” you can design CRM systems that appeal to people’s craving for feedback and rewards, and deliver a powerful sales performance enhancer. By 2014, estimates Gartner, 70% of large businesses will use gamification to enhance at least one of their business processes.

The underlying principle–psychologists call it affect motivation–goes for babies making low-hanging mobiles dance, or Angry Birds addicts powering their way through 50 levels in one sitting. Being able to impact your environment gives you immediate feedback, which not only makes you happier, but even leads to stronger personality development (at least for babies).

But here’s the challenge: to keep CRM sticky, you’ll have to constantly raise the bar on the accomplishments to be achieved.

Gamification Improves Sales Performance

With all of that in mind, here are 7 tips for using gamification to improve your CRM program, and by extension, your business results:

1. To Hit Targets, Weave In Gamification. One of the best uses for gamification is to weave it into your company’s sales methodology, to help set targets and track related achievements. For example: How many calls should salespeople make in a week? How many deals should they be pushing? How fast do deals go through the opportunity stages? What’s your ratio of call activity to close activity? All of these questions can be measured, which allows companies to use their CRM system to not just track the answers, but also how well people are pursuing the actions that lead to optimal results.

2. Encourage Steps To Success. Gamification–or gaming mechanics–involves appealing to people’s innate psychological predispositions, to better influence their behavior. But the best way to influence behavior often isn’t via big-picture appeals, but by ensuring people correctly execute all of the intermediate steps required to get there. In other words, use gamification techniques to encourage and reward people for pursuing actions that we know are the right actions.

For example, based on Innoveer’s CRM Excellence Framework, we’ve identified the best techniques for ensuring that CRM programs generate maximum returns. We know that when salespeople–prior to making a sales call–build a call plan that identifies their objectives, and then perform those activities during the sales call, there’s a high probability that they’ll see deals move more quickly through the sales pipeline. By using gamification, you can reward people for practicing–and continuing to practice–behavior that demonstrably helps close deals.

3. Reward Desired Behavior With Points. Applying gamification to improve CRM requires asking what exactly you’d like salespeople to do more of. Then design related incentives.

For example, consider rewarding points for creating new accounts in the CRM system:

  • Create a new contact: 1 point
  • Create a new contact in an account you’re meant to be targeting: 2 points
  • Any new contact with the title “CEO”: +5 points

Or on the service front:

  • Successfully resolve call in one minute: 10 points
  • Successfully resolve call in two minutes: 5 points

4. Use Leader Boards To Stoke Friendly Competition. When it comes to stoking urgency, competition, and teamwork, the underlying psychology couldn’t be simpler: Salespeople, by and large, are Type A personalities. They want to win. So let them compete, for example by awarding points, and then pitting different sales teams against each other. Also consider awarding badges, as Foursquare does, or turning points into rewards: 10,000 points means an iPad, while 20,000 is a weekend trip for two to Philadelphia. Using Nitro from Bunchball, for example, you can even add badges, as well as leader boards, directly into the Salesforce.com interface.

5. Bolster CRM Performance With Levels. As the use of in-application Salesforce.com badges suggests, rewards don’t have to be over the top. For example, one of the most well-known uses of gaming mechanics is for airline rewards programs. Airlines don’t just create levels (silver, gold, platinum). They also create unique rewards for each level, as well as email participants about their “status” to let them know exactly where they stand, as well as what they have left to achieve.

These reminders, as well as rewards, might seem mundane, such as issuing “platinum member” luggage tags, which probably cost a pittance to manufacture and distribute. But look at the upsides: when platinum-level luggage-tag-holders are waiting at the gate, they’re displaying their status to others, which makes them feel good, and encourages them to keep participating in the rewards program. In other words, it’s sticky.

6. Target Customers With Potential. Gamification can also help salespeople overcome natural tendencies that may prevent them from closing as many deals as possible. For example, most salespeople will naturally call on the customers who are more willing to take their calls. But what if the customer who doesn’t want to take their calls offers a bigger potential for higher returns?

Likewise, when it comes to wallet share, many salespeople prefer to call on customer A, who already spends most of its related budget on your company’s products or services. But salespeople’s time might be better spent calling on customer B, who currently spends very little with you, but who has the potential to spend much more.

Again, gamification rewards salespeople for doing the right behavior–not just for making money, but for performing the right tasks. Using short-term reinforcements, which by the way are immensely powerful for salespeople, helps guide them to perform the right tasks, in the right order, thus helping them make their quota and bag a bonus.

7. Increase SFA Adoption. When businesses with stalled CRM projects reach out to us for help, the leading challenge they’ve faced is user adoption–salespeople simply not using the CRM software. Consider gamification techniques when relaunching or reinvigorating a CRM program, to grab salespeople’s attention, make the CRM system “sticker,” and also to encourage the behaviors that you want salespeople to adopt.

Learn More

Want to apply gamification techniques to your CRM program? One option for Salesforce.com users is Nitro. Available from Innoveer business partner Bunchball, the software helps businesses apply gamification techniques to better motivate their salespeople and increase sales.

Post photo courtesy of Flickr user Jhong Dizon.

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