One question I get a lot from prospective clients of mine is along the lines of “Can my business really benefit from gamification-based sales training?”
First off, gamification isn’t as mysterious as it sounds. If you’ve ever sat through a sales training seminar, anywhere in the world, chances are you’ve seen simple games used in training, and probably even participated in them. One of the simplest forms of a game used in sales training, is the role-play. In a role-play exercise, the trainer will typically divide the group into pairs. One person in each pair will pretend to be a customer, asking questions about merchandise or services, or posing objections to the closure of the sale that the other player – the one playing the role of the sales associate – must answer, explain, or overcome.
MORE THAN JUST ANY GAME
Strictly speaking however, a simple role-play exercise isn’t quite gamification, as it’s lacking a few of the basic concepts of game design that gamification is built upon. While there is a goal – to successfully demonstrate the steps of a sale or similar process – it isn’t really aligned to the needs of the business very well. Nor are there milestones to track progress toward the goal, or rewards for progress to keep motivation and morale high.
A more compelling game might be to set up something like a game of Jeopardy, with a grid of question categories, questions ready to be asked, answer-style like in the popular game-show, and rewards, both for milestones (correct answers propel the individual or team closer to victory), and for achieving the goal (a gift card, polo shirt, cash, or some other reward for winning the game). At its core, gamification really is that simple, and it’s something that any business can figure out how to use. The bottom line is, if you have products or services to sell, and a sales team to sell them, gamification can and will make a huge impact in your training.
While useful in sales training as a tool for engagement and retention, the problem with any sales training is that eventually the lessons fade. The enthusiasm and energy wanes, the information is forgotten (though hopefully not all of it!) and worse still, new people come in who haven’t been through the training, while more experienced individuals move on, further diluting the learning achieved over time.
So instead of just using gamification in sales training, what I recommend is finding a way to apply gamification to your sales process. That is, to use games and game elements (explicitly defined goals and milestones, rewards, and fun ways to determine who gets those rewards – all tied in to sales performance and other real business objectives) in the day-to-day operations of the business.
When I implement my system in a client’s business, the first thing I make sure everybody understands is that it’s a permanent change. After all, if you want to change your company’s culture and profits permanently, why would you only apply the tools to make those changes on a temporary basis?
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