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Jul 2014

5 ways to get more game into your sales training

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Shaping the future of learning

Gamification. It’s the buzzword de jour in learning technology. But what does it mean in practice? This month we look at one group of players in your business – the sales and customer service teams – to explore why and how we can bring more game into their learning experience.

Games work. There’s been plenty of research suggesting that the principles game-based learning can improve engagement and motivation, but what aspects of game play matter for sales and service teams?

An example of a McDonalds E-Learning course, which simulates working on a till system.

1. Get the playability right

Too easy and it’s childish. Too hard and it’s pointless and frustrating. Playability is a hard thing to get right. But you need to consider it, test it, and build in features that enable players to adapt to the right level.

In our work with McDonald’s to design a till training game, When learners first access the game we knew competence on the new till system would be low so to ensure that the game wasn’t too hard for them, and to maintain their motivation and engagement, we needed offer them help and support to get them through the simulations on their first few attempts. This was provided by offering them ‘life-lines’ which they can choose to select at any time within their current attempt at the game:

  • Stop the clock – Gives the learner extra time
  • Time machine – Chance to repeat the question (especially helpful when it was a long and complicated order)
  • Show me – Short demo of the correct way to enter the order into the till

Making sure the balance is right is the key to any gamification piece.

2. Real goals in real contexts

Goals matter in any game. Yes, even Minecraft has micro-goals within levels. Salespeople are goal driven: win the pitch, persuade the prevaricating customer.

So games are ideal for sales audiences in this regard. But the goals have to be realistic. In our experience the more scenario/video-driven models suit the sales and service audience the best.

An example of a gamified Compass Group E-Learning course.

3. Real mistakes, fair consequences

Every gamer knows you’re going to get shot once in a while. As long as the weapons are fair and you get to come back to life, that’s ok. So in the sales game world – let people make mistakes: pitch the wrong solution, ask the wrong question, go on and on about your product without asking about needs – and ‘die’ – show consequences that matter, e.g. customer storms off, you lose the sale. Only of course, you can power back up and try again.

We’ve used this approach in sales training for M&S, O2 and many others.

In our work with McDonald’s, if you don’t serve the customer quickly enough, you lose points and they walk.

4. Power up – reward the winners

Gamers like to win, of course. They also like to share and see data that confirms they’re winning. Does that sound like a little like a sales team you know? Tap into that desire to win and be seen to be winning. You can do this with a leaderboard that shows high scores, displayed within the game or at the LMS or portal level. We’ve done both.

Of course a score can convert to a real prize – that’s what Nikon did, offering Helicopter rides over London as a reward for high scores. If incentives aren’t your organisation’s bag (or aren’t in your budget), rewarding learners through open badges on your LMS could be the answer for you.

5. Join the Ggroup – accept a challenge

In the era of social gaming, we can accept challenges and play with/against each other. So can your sales and service learning do the same? We have built in some challenge layers within recent work for learners, where they can ‘race’ others to complete a task with the least amount of errors (yep, it’s not always about speed – but sometimes it is). See how this worked for City & Guilds.

And of course, you need to make sure that the game play can run anywhere – multi-device gaming is the best way to maximise playability.

Ready, set, go...

Want to get gaming now? Great. We'd love to talk to you about gamification and how it could make an impact with your sales training. Get in touch.

Equally, if you've tried and tested gamification and would like to share your experiences with us, leave your comments below.



Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.