gamification in salesThe 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.


Follow @GregAlexander


Follow @MakingTheNumber




Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




Transforming the Sales Organization inside Fortune 500 Companies

Greg Alexander and John Gleason, Chief Sales Officer of Ryder, talk about the unique challenges of transforming a sales team inside of very large enterprises.


A Better Way to Structure Your Sales Force

Greg Alexander and Tony Capucille, Chief Sales Officer at Heartland Payment Systems, discuss the pros and cons of the 7 B2B sales organizational models.


Build a team of A Players Inside the Sales Organization

Greg Alexander and Todd Cione, Chief Revenue Officer at Rackspace, talk about hiring, onboarding, and developing exceptional sales talent.




Fill Every Role on Your Team with an A Player

In this article, Greg Alexander makes the case for applying the TopGrading methodology to the sales team, and outlines how to do so.


What CEOs Need to Know About Their Marketing Strategies

In this article, Greg Alexander and Rashid Skaf, CEO of AMX, discuss the role the CEO plays in crafting a company’s marketing strategy.


What CEOs are Looking for in a Sales Leader

In this article, Greg Alexander and George Norton, leader of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Sales Officer practice, discuss what CEOs need in the chief sales officer role.

Read full bio >