When we were kids, games were life. And even now, they aren’t our whole lives, but games continue to bring us fun and excitement. They bring us fun in the sense that we get to escape reality and play another role, and excitement from the competition that fuels us to play. Whether it’s through sports, classic board games, the expansive storytelling of video games or even something as simple as hide-and-go seek, games are a unifying and positive experience that lets us be ourselves while aiming towards a specific goal (which, nine times out of ten, is winning).

So, why not turn our professional lives into a game, especially in a naturally competitive career like sales? This is where gamification comes in.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification, simply put, is the process of transforming the mundane into a fun, game-based experience. If you’re working toward a goal, turning it into a journey of getting points and incentives for each milestone can get you more motivated to achieve it.

Why Does It Work?

Gamification works because it attaches a meaningful reason to be engaged within the workplace. Beyond that, as this Lifehacker article, mentions it also brings a pleasurable experience to the activity, thus setting off a dopamine rush, which is positively correlated to motivation.

"Let’s consider slot machines and a type of brain cell called ‘dopamine neurons.’ The latter are the bits of your gray matter responsible for monitoring levels of the pleasure — inducing chemical dopamine in order to regulate behavior and figure out how to get more of a good thing. It’s these cells that light when you something nice happens in your life (say a delicious Hot Pocket or a fuzzy puppy belly) and triggers a gush of the neurotransmitter dopamine."

Essentially, your body has a positive response to enjoyable experiences and continuously seeks out ways to replicate that feeling, which is where gamification can come in.

Meaningful Accomplishment

One of the major benefits of gamification, as mentioned earlier, is to employ a meaningful accomplishment in the workplace.

Gamification can flip the stress of a sales career into a more positive experience and subsequently generate higher performance.

A Forbes article mentions that "a good game gives us meaningful accomplishment, clear achievement that we don’t necessarily get from real life. In a game, you’ve beaten level four, the boss monster is dead, you have a badge and now you have a super laser sword."

Basically, there are clear goals to work toward that give people a sense of accomplishment, which is how gamification can impact employee satisfaction.

Gamification allows for sales goals to be set with the transparency of seeing everyone’s progress towards that goal. Also, you can create one-on-one competitions, like weekly sales thresholds, which give employees a healthy sense of competition without the weight of stress bearing them down.

Enhance Creativity

A good salesperson has to be creative in their approach, whether that means gathering data into a compelling story or sparking up a clever approach in order to engage the customer.

Before these creative approaches can come to fruition, it’s likely that the team needs a brainstorm meeting to help fuel the ideation process. A good brainstorm for tackling these challenges can be transformed into a "gamestorm." Gamestorming allows employees to be more engaged and present in a brainstorm. This Blinkist article gives a great example of this can be done to make an effective brainstorm:

"Go by the 3-12-2 rule. First, introduce an overarching problem and give players 3 minutes to write down aspects of that problem on index cards. Next, have the players pair up and give them 12 minutes to brainstorm ideas for the problems they wrote down. Finally, allow each pair 2 minutes to pitch their ideas. You can institute a rewards system for the winning idea."

All in All

Gamification is a powerful tool to engage and motivate your employees to compete against one another and have fun. As Gartner Inc. notes, "while we should never underestimate the motivational power of a real-world pat on the back, there are many advantages of using digital over physical engagement — most notably scale and cost."

So, why not bring a little fun to the workplace?