Ambition Sr. Sales Director Phil Joseph offers an in-depth look at sales gamification - and why it belongs in your sales organization.

If you work in sales - there’s a 95% chance you agree with the following statements. 

  1. Good sales leaders love crafting strategies that drive results and culture.
  2. Good salespeople are highly competitive by nature and feed off the energy on their sales floor. 

If you agree with the above and you have made significant investments in CRM and other sales technology, then you probably also agree with the following:

Your current sales stack is not:

  1. Bringing energy and competitive spirit on your sales floor.
  2. Boosting adoption and return-on-investment from your existing tools.
  3. Making it easy for managers to get process and performance insights.

It's been nearly 3 years since Inc. named sales gamification one of the hottest industries of 2015. And many sales leaders are still hesitant to create additional budget for such technology.

As a veteran sales leader who has prospected into this space and purchased a gamification tool for my own sales organization, I'll be the first to tell you -

Show me a nascent sales gamification initiative - and I'll show you the type of mindset behind it.

Proactive vs Reactive Sales Leadership

To a man, Sales VPs and frontline managers will all say the same thing. They are proactive. In fact, they are planning 3 years ahead.

Market research will show that the average Sales VP holds the position for 1.5 - 2 years.

The reality is - sales organization are usually playing catch-up. Oftentimes, they’re running a former sales leader’s playbook while the new sales leader is trying in vain to implement their own.

So where does that leave results at the rep level? In my experience as a seller and a leader, decision makers are hesitant to implement new tools unless they can avoid total ownership.

This can be due to a number of things: Time allocation, risk of the tool not living up to expectations, budget constraints, et cetera. 

Being a proactive sales leader means taking calculated risks, if you’re not trying new tools or strategies to engage your team, as a leader you will be left behind as an organization while new technology and your competitors pass you by 

Why Sales Leaders Hesitate to Be Proactive

My thought: the hesitation is solely based on the factors listed above: Time allocation, risk of the tool not living up to expectations, budget constraints, et cetera. Ultimately what happens is status quo or to my next point, a reactive approach.

Let’s evaluate the cost of not making a decision to invest in “nice to have” tools for your sales reps. Budget and planning for 1H are done during Q4, and everyone is pumped. A sales kickoff is planned to get the team going and it’s off to selling season.

Then what happens? The sales team/teams fall short of their numbers, attrition on the sales floor, and suddenly you’re 70% of where you forecasted you would be.

Now you as a leader are looking for an incentive or competition to get people going, a potential sales tool with emergency budget, asking top reps to do more than they already do, stretching everyone to a state of reactive urgency, rather than executing on the previous game plan. 

Urgency should always be felt on the sales floor - not from a state of panic, but rather, from a state of positive competition and shared success. Focused, upbeat, and competitive culture is how you achieve sustained accountability at the rep level.

All the “perceived risk” of time allocation to implement a new tool you were weary of now in hindsight may have saved you countless hours and potentially some of your reps because you made the right decision the first time.

Let me ask you if this sounds familiar: You have a team of leaders and operations personnel. Everyone on the leadership team is extremely busy doing a million different things and wondering what they actually accomplished at the end of a week. You are all were running a million miles an hour and are extremely busy, yet you still wonder what you actually accomplished.

On the same notion, very few sales leaders have the ability to juggle corporate initiatives, while trying to be an effective sales coach ultimately looking at the data rather than the person. This leads to air cover based leadership and box checking.

I’m not saying your people are lazy, I’m saying they are stretched because they cannot effectively proportion their time.

Why It’s Time to Get Proactive With Sales Gamification

Choosing the right sales performance management platform enables your sales reps to effectively drive the appropriate behavior and holds them accountable to themselves, their commits/goals and ultimately their peers and leaders.

Rather than take my word for it, take a look at the market research below of over 100 companies using gamification today, made up of directors and VPs of sales, as well as sales operations people ranging from small businesses to large enterprises, to get some insight within the last five years.

How Sales Gamification Delivers Return-on-Investment

In general, companies are seeing nice results. Our 2017 Salesforce KPI Report found that 90.4% of sales gamification initiatives are successful. Of course we wanted to dig in on this a bit more to get some results metrics. 

An astounding 71% said that they are seeing anywhere from 11% to 50% increases in measured sales performance.

And since 90% regularly run their gamification initiatives around the “Opportunities” object in Salesforce, that’s pretty powerful.

Using our customer base as a reference point:

  1. 75% of sales organizations track and compete on ‘Closed Won Opps.’
  2. 50% track and compete on ‘Closed Won Opps’ and ‘Total $$$ Created.’
  3. 70% track and compete on ‘Opportunities Created.’

All told, the average Ambition client tracks and competes on 14.5 unique sales KPIs.

Salesforce Adoption ROI from Gamification

Cost and adoption are often central issues for companies that use a CRM system. Companies spend the vast majority of their tech stack budget on their CRM, but research shows that roughly half of those fail due to ambiguous implementation issues.

With a gamification initiative, frontline leaders are required to identify top behaviors or metrics they need their teams to focus on, which streamline metrics so that a CRM system can track them and increase sales.

Once your salespeople know these key behaviors, and see that they are being recognized for them in front of their peers, adoption spikes implementation is to be able to measure performance.

A well-crafted gamification strategy turns that vision into a measurable & scalable reality. This also will eliminate any human error or data discrepancy after competitions or contests. 


Pictured: Ambition in Velocify's Los Angeles sales office.

Additionally, 80+% reported an increase in CRM adoption after implementing the ability to deploy competitions and games around the data tracked in Salesforce. 

This spike in adoption enables managers to justify that big CRM investment while simultaneously creating champions from the business analytics team as well as operations personnel. 

According to Accenture, only 31 percent of Salesforce companies reported user adoption of 90 percent.

The Bottom Line: 70 percent of Salesforce companies have room for improvement.

Sales Gamification: Culture and Competition

According to CSO Insights, nearly half of sales organizations run sales contests multiple times throughout the year. This should sound familiar, as sales contests are often extremely complex to manage with data integrity and collection. They are generally run manually, using spreadsheets, whiteboards, and email.

And yet, roughly two-thirds of sales organizations run sales contests multiple times throughout the year. More than half run 2 or more every month

So why do managers put up with this hassle? Because it works. Especially when companies have software tools that automate the time-consuming parts of running a sales contest and amplify their returns.


Pictured: Ambition in National Business Capital's New York City office.

Looking across all the players in the market, the concept of using software to manage gamification within a sales organization is catching on fast. There are now thousands of organizations jumping on this solution even in the early adoption phase of the software.

In the Harvard Business Review’s first case study on Salesforce Gamification, they reported the following ROI for Fortune 1000 sales organization, Clayton Homes:

  1. 18% spike in outbound calls
  2. 800% increase in calls leading to warm leads.
  3. 100% increase in calls leading to first sales meetings.
  4. 200% increase in qualified sales meetings.

How did Clayton trigger such a massive spike across a 60 person call center? By syncing its live Salesforce data into Ambition and running a three-month sales competition - using fantasy football as the model. 

So in closing I ask you: Does gamification sound like a nice to have or a need to have?

Bring Sales Gamification into Your Workforce

Ambition is an AI-powered sales management system backed by Google, Harvard Business Review and AA-ISP.

Sales leaders use Ambition to bring transparency, ownership and insight to sales performance metrics. Ambition is the only platform that integrates all key data points from your CRM, phone system, and other major data systems under one roof.

Using drag-and-drop interfaces, managers can create flexible performance visualizations that suit the specific needs of their sales organization - complete with benchmarks, scores, goal trackers, TVs, leaderboards, competitions, coaching modules, and flexible on-command reporting into activities, objectives, and efficiency metrics.

sales gamification

Want to crush the competition in 2018? Contact us to request your free Ambition demo.

Popular Content