Book Review: The Gamification Revolution


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gamification in salesA few weeks ago I got an email from a client telling me “You have to read this book.” This client, Hi Leva of Clear Channel, has a good eye so I paid attention. The book, The Gamification Revolution, by Zichermann and Linder, discusses how to leverage game mechanics to beat the competition.

The concept of gamification is catching on in B2B sales and marketing. A new set of vendors, such as Bunchball and Level Eleven, etc. have brought software solutions to market recently. And it seems like a new set of “gurus” are on the scene teaching us how to gamify everything.

As result, there is a lot of confusion. The time is right for a good book on this subject.

Zichermann and Linder have delivered. Their book does an excellent job of explaining what gamification is and how it can be applied to drive a sales result.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Gamification’s purpose is to increase engagement with employees and customers. How many of you have rolled out a sales initiative only to have low adoption in the field? Inject game mechanics and you may increase adoption.
  • There are six types of game approaches:
    • Grand challenge- think sales contest.
    • Rapid feedback systems- think lead scoring.
    • Simulation discovery- think role playing.
    • Status marathons- think President’s Club.
    • Commercial negotiation- think sales training.
    • Expressive- think campaign design.
  • Progression to Mastery- mastery is a continuous improvement concept as compared to winning, which is a destination. Progression to mastery gets signified by levels and gets reinforced by points. For example, I am Executive Platinum on American Airlines (level) and have 512,000 miles (points).

Let’s explore the applicability of “points”, a game mechanic, to the world of B2B sales.

Most sales teams are in the process of modernizing their sales process in response to new buying behavior. Points are systems to track behavior, keep score, and provide feedback. Point systems can aide in the adoption of the new sales process in 5 specific ways:

  1. Experience points track experience over time. A rep that has accumulated 100 points by using the new sales process is less capable than a rep that accumulates 1,000 points.
  2. Redeemable points are currency that a rep can earn, and redeem, as a reward for adopting the new sales process. For example, use a call plan before a sales call, earn 10 points. Do this consistently, earn 1,000 points, and take your wife out to dinner on us.
  3. Reputation points contribute to establishing your reputation. For example, maintain a close rate of 30% and you are a “platinum” member of the sales team. This means you get the hottest leads.
  4. Skill points denote your skill in a certain area. For example, earn more points for opening a new account than selling to an existing account. These are known as “hunter points” and let’s everyone know you are a new account expert.
  5. Karma points are earned for helping others. For example, a sales manager can be awarded Karma points by sales reps for helping them be successful. A sales manager who has lots of Karma points, versus one who does not, distinguishes himself as a great coach.

Points are only one example of game mechanics. Others include Badges, Levels, Leaderboards, and Rewards. All of which apply to the world of B2B sales. Get a copy of the book and judge for yourself.

If I was to offer any constructive criticism it would be this. The book could be cut in half. There are way too many examples. I found myself saying “I get it. Let’s go” several times. I appreciate the author’s desire to prove their point and I would have been disappointed if there weren’t any examples. But, they went a little too far, in my view. In addition, the dialogue about the millennial was noise. My goal when reading a business book is to apply its learning today. Telling me what to do a decade from now, when millennials are in power, is a waste of time. B2B sales is about staying focused on the 6 inches in front of you. Execution over all else.

However, it is tough to criticize this book. It is that good. I recommend it to anyone interested in gamification, especially B2B sales leaders.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Greg Alexander
Greg Alexander serves as CEO of Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused exclusively on helping B2B companies exceed their revenue targets. In 2012, Alexander was named as one of the top 25 sales minds online by OpenView Partners. Sales and Marketing Management Magazine named Alexander "Sales Manager of the Year".


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