3 Ways to Make Work Feel (a bit more) Like Play
This article originally published on LinkedIn on May 25, 2016.
If you manage a team that is target driven, you’ll understand just how important motivation is.
Sales is a classic example. As a salesperson, you can’t perform to a high level consistently by simply going through the motions. The hungry, driven and dedicated individuals will succeed, the rest will fail.
The problem is, different things motivate different people. For some, the prospect of a fat commission check is all they need to get them fired up and out of bed in the morning. For others, the motivators are far more subtle – a pat on the back for a job well done for example, or being given additional responsibilities. It can be very difficult for managers to work out what makes each individual tick.
Rather than delving into the intricacies of motivation (I’ll save that for another time), this post is designed to take one step back and look at the bigger picture – the working environment. More specifically, I’ll be focusing on how you can make it more conducive to a happy and motivated team. A positive working environment, particularly in sales, should be seen as the soil in which the individual motivators can grow and flourish. Without it, even the most successful managers will struggle to get the most out of their team.
Quick disclaimer – these tips won’t make work feel exactly like play… but they will add a degree of energy and enjoyment that will make a world of difference to long term performance. Here’s the list:
1. Embrace Gamification
Gamification is the process of using game mechanics (like point scoring, challenges and rewards) in non-game situations. The idea is to take the things that people find fun about games and apply them to things that aren’t as fun… in this case work. The natural competitiveness of salespeople, combined with their clearly defined targets, means Gamification can work wonders for your sales environment.
In this context, Gamification shouldn’t be confused with a traditional sales competition (see tip 3). While a competition will often lead to a financial incentive for performance, Gamification celebrates a range of activities through recognition.
For me, Hoopla is the best example of this. Hoopla brings data from your CRM to life by broadcasting it live on screens around your offices. Imagine watching ESPN SportCenter, but instead of seeing Steph Curry stats (go Dubs) you see your team’s achievements as rolling news. Better still, you can optimize it to celebrate specific events. For example, if a Sales Development rep books a customer meeting – a gong goes off. If a Sales Executive closes a deal – a firework show starts up. Seeing these events becomes the game, increasing excitement and activity.
If you’ve never seen Hoopla in action check out the video below:
Again, this isn’t the same as a sales competition. You aren’t forking out cash prizes for the most calls or meetings. You’re simply giving the day to day achievements of your team the visibility they deserve. If reps are proud of all of their achievements, not just the big ones, they will be happier and enjoy their work a lot more.
These tools also boost productivity. Imagine two reps at the same company, one in London and one in San Francisco. They do the same job day in, day out, but don’t know each other (and probably don’t really care about each other). That changes with Gamification. When the rep in London closes a deal, the rep in San Francisco sees it. This leads to congratulatory emails, which leads to camaraderie and a stronger culture. Before you know it best practices are being shared and the whole sales team is moving up the gears.
2. Utilize your CRM tool
CRM can be a salesperson’s best friend or worst enemy. Used properly, it is the ideal tool for tracking activity, planning next steps and speeding up the close. Used incorrectly and it’s just a glorified notebook. As a manager, the way that you deploy and optimize your CRM tool is crucial.
Salesforce is the king of CRM and has features that can improve your working environment. For me, Dashboards are the best example. Dashboards compile CRM data that is important to your team on a single page. These snapshots allow each individual to see how close they are to reaching their goals.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the same as Gamification, but the crucial difference is relevance to commission. As mentioned above, Hoopla is designed to celebrate a host of metrics that aren’t necessarily linked to commission targets. If you want your Dashboards to improve your working environment, you have to display the information that will show each individual exactly how well they are doing in relation to their targets (to put it another way, how close they are to earning big money).
To demonstrate what I mean, here is a simple example. Take a Sales Executive who earns commission on the value of deals won per month. The most effective Dashboard chart in that situation is a simple gauge –
Just one glance and they can get a clear overview of their performance. Better still, Dashboards have component data that allows you to see much more information. All you have to do is click through for the details –
This is another very important difference between CRM and Gamification. The detailed component data allows for a much clearer look at what needs to be done to meet quota. As they get closer, you’ll notice the excitement grow and activity increase.
Simplicity is key here. Masses of information will turn the salesperson off. If you just highlight what is relevant to their success they will monitor the dashboards like a hawk, striving to improve their metrics.
3. Run better competitions
This seems obvious. Salespeople are competitive, so running competitions will harness that and get people fired up. While that is true, I’m surprised by how many sales leaders I speak to who have abandoned the traditional sales competition. The most common excuses that I hear are either that “commission is incentive enough, competitions don’t add value” or “we ran a competition with a generous prize and it didn’t boost performance”.
In my experience, the reason that a lot of sales competitions don’t generate the desired results is because of poor design and execution. I’ve been responsible for running many competitions over the past few years, so I have outlined three quick tips on how to get the most out of them:
- Define the goal (and keep it simple!)
- A successful sales competition needs a clear goal and an extremely simple points system. Confusion isn’t fun. If the incentive is for Sales Development reps to book the most meetings, simply assign a point per meeting and keep a tally. Be wary of too much detail. If you are worried about foul play enlist a judge to keep an eye on quality.
- Pick a prize (make it juicy!)
- The prize is what will drive each salesperson to perform, so think carefully about what to offer. In my opinion, the prize should be something that the salesperson might not otherwise spend their money on. Having interviewed scores of junior Sales Development reps, there is a clear pattern to how they spend their commission after a successful month. The most popular examples include putting money in their savings account, making a higher student loan payment, or buying new clothes. The fact is, most junior reps pay a lot in loans and rent, so bear that in mind when choosing a prize. Luxury items are more fun and inspire above average performance – a tablet, a watch, tickets to a game, a day trip… or even a half day.
- A final word on prizes…. don’t be stingy! A $10 gift card to Target is not getting anyone out of bed in the morning.
- All too often sales leaders will create a great competition, but fail to get people excited about it. Once tip 1 and 2 are complete, organize a huddle or team meeting and explain the competition and why you are running it. This is arguably even more important if your team is remote (shameless plug –
- is perfect for engaging remote teams).
- Once you’ve introduced the competition, you can maintain interest by linking it to Hoopla and holding a meeting halfway through to show progress. You can also include it in your 1-1 reviews to help reps move up the ranks by creating winning strategies.
- At the end of the competition be sure to make a fuss of the winner. Present their prize in front of the team and go over the deals that led to the win. This will help lay the foundation for the next competition you run.
Remember, if your team is happier and enjoy coming in to work, they will work harder and be more productive than ever. You will also find that it is much easier to draw on their individual motivators once this foundation has been laid.
I appreciate you reading this and I hope it helps. Please feel free to share any other useful hints and tips in the comments section. You can follow me on Twitter – https://twitter.com/michael_boggia to learn more, or InMail me for advice on how to successfully implement Gamification, CRM and competitions.