What are the 8 Core Drives of Gamification? A Look Under the Hood

Adam Steele

May 31, 2023

Have you ever marveled at the fierce competition on the playing field, where athletes push their limits, chasing a win with unmatched determination and zeal? Now, imagine bringing that same intensity, passion, and motivation into the sales floor. This is where gamification, a powerful tool used to boost engagement and performance, steps into play.

Gamification draws from the very heart of what makes games engaging and applies these principles to non-game contexts, such as sales. This unique blend of fun and function transforms mundane tasks into exciting challenges, which, in turn, dramatically improves productivity, motivation, and performance. Much like the adrenaline rush that fuels an athlete to sprint faster, score higher, or leap further, gamification propels sales teams to achieve their targets with an equivalent burst of enthusiasm.

But what propels this process? What are the gears that turn beneath the surface of this powerful engine? Let's answer the question "What are the 8 core drives of gamification?" and unveil these drives to offer a fascinating insight into the inner workings of gamification. These eight motivators, when cleverly employed, can amplify sales strategies, much like the well-timed moves in a chess game, helping to checkmate prospects and win the game of sales.

Understanding Gamification: An Analogy with Sports

Consider a football game. The players, clad in their team's colors, surge forward with a singular goal - to score a touchdown. In this orchestrated chaos, every player, irrespective of their role, seeks to outperform their counterparts on the opposite team. Now, imagine a sales team. They too, strive with tenacity and teamwork to score - only this time, the touchdown is a successful sale. Just like a sports match, the game of sales involves strategy, collaboration, competition, and a relentless drive to win.

The Dynamics of the Game: From Points to Performance

The thrilling essence of sports lies in its competitive structure, known as game mechanics. These mechanics, such as points, levels, and leaderboards, provide a system for tracking progress and stimulating a sense of achievement. Let's draw an analogy to the sales environment.

Points in a game can be compared to the number of sales closed by a salesperson. As the player accumulates points in the game, the salesperson accumulates successful sales. This not only tracks their individual performance but also instills a sense of accomplishment and motivates them to strive for more.

Then, we have levels. In games, levels represent stages or milestones of achievement. Each successive level brings new challenges and rewards, keeping the game intriguing. Similarly, in sales, levels can represent different stages of a salesperson's journey, starting from a newbie to becoming a seasoned pro. Each level brings unique challenges, responsibilities, and rewards, thereby fueling growth and development.

Finally, leaderboards. In sports, leaderboards showcase the best performers, creating an atmosphere of healthy competition. This is no different in a sales environment. Sales leaderboards display the performance of team members, fostering a competitive spirit and motivating everyone to step up their game.

The Touchdown Moment: Scoring High in Sales and Sports

A high-stakes sales deal can feel a lot like a critical play in a football game. Take the exhilarating moment of scoring a touchdown, for instance. As the player maneuvers past the opposition, finds an opening, and crosses the goal line, the crowd erupts in jubilation. The score isn't merely a testament to the player's skill, but a collective victory for the team. This triumphant moment is a perfect metaphor for closing a significant sales deal.

Picture a salesperson navigating the complex terrain of a potential customer's needs, finding the perfect pitch, and finally sealing the deal. It's not merely a win for them, but a collective triumph for the sales team. Just like the player who scored the touchdown, the successful salesperson didn't achieve this in isolation. Behind the scenes, they had a team - supporting, strategizing, and celebrating together. In essence, the key dynamics of sports - teamwork, strategy, competition, and reward - are also the pillars of a successful sales team.

So, understanding the intricate connection between sports and sales gives us a fresh perspective on gamification. But what fuels this process? How do we take these game elements and translate them into a compelling motivation for the sales team? To delve into this, let's unpack the 8 core drives of gamification starting with the first four in the next section.

Unpacking the First Four Core Drives of Gamification

Epic Meaning & Calling: Playing for the Badge

When an athlete represents their country in an international event, they play with a sense of epic meaning and calling. It's more than just a game; they're playing for their nation's pride. This is the first core drive of gamification - the belief that one is doing something greater than oneself. In sales, creating this sense of meaning could involve tying company goals to larger, altruistic purposes, or instilling a belief in the team that their product or service significantly improves their customers' lives.

Development & Accomplishment: Scoring the Goal

Have you ever watched the ecstatic celebration of a footballer after scoring a goal? That's the thrill of development and accomplishment, the second core drive. It's about progressing, developing skills, and eventually overcoming challenges. In the sales arena, this could be translated into closing a complex deal or reaching a tough sales target. Creating systems that recognize and reward such achievements can stimulate this drive in sales teams, pushing them towards continual growth and development.

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: The Playmaker's Delight

In a football game, a creative playmaker who can conjure unexpected moves to outwit the opponent is an invaluable asset. This creativity, when coupled with constructive feedback from the coach, can lead to breathtaking plays on the field. This reflects the third core drive of gamification, empowerment of creativity and feedback. In sales, this could involve empowering sales reps to devise their strategies for customer engagement. Concurrent feedback helps them refine their approaches, leading to more successful outcomes. It's about fostering a culture of innovation and constant learning, where creative ideas are welcomed, and feedback is valued.

Ownership & Possession: The Winning Trophy

The sight of a triumphant team lifting the trophy after a hard-fought victory is a sight to behold. This sense of ownership and possession, of having earned a tangible symbol of their triumph, is the fourth core drive of gamification. In the context of sales, this could translate into the ownership of one's client portfolio, or even intellectual ownership of successful sales strategies. The drive for ownership encourages commitment and sustained effort, as the salesperson is personally invested in the results.

With a better understanding of the first four core drives, you may now start seeing sales and gamification in a new light. But we're only halfway through our journey under the hood of gamification. It's now time to navigate deeper into this realm as we explore the last four core drives, uncovering more insights into this fascinating concept.

Understanding the Last Four Core Drives of Gamification

Social Influence & Relatedness: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

In sports, the influence of the team and its interconnectedness significantly impacts performance. This mirrors the fifth gamification drive, Social Influence & Relatedness. In sales, this drive can be harnessed by cultivating a team-oriented culture, where collaboration and shared goals are emphasized. Success can then be celebrated collectively, fostering a sense of relatedness and unity.

Scarcity & Impatience: The Final Shot

Picture the final minutes of a tightly matched basketball game. The ball is in the hands of the star player, ready to take the shot. It's a scarce opportunity, a make-or-break moment that engenders a sense of impatience and urgency. That's Scarcity & Impatience, the sixth core drive. In sales, this might be a limited-time offer or an exclusive product. Crafting such time-sensitive and exclusive sales tactics can create a heightened sense of desire and urgency among customers.

Unpredictability & Curiosity: The Thrill of Sports Betting

Sports betting offers an intriguing metaphor for the seventh core drive - Unpredictability & Curiosity. The unpredictability of the game outcome and the curiosity about potential winnings keep bettors engaged. Similarly, in sales, adding elements of surprise, such as unexpected rewards or mystery offers, can pique customers' curiosity and keep them engaged with your product or service.

Loss & Avoidance: Defense Wins Championships

In sports, coaches often say, "defense wins championships." This approach is about avoiding loss, about not giving the opponent an opportunity to score. That's Loss & Avoidance, the eighth core drive. Despite the injunction not to use the concept of "loss aversion," it is important to note that in sales, this drive is about retaining existing customers, preventing them from migrating to competitors. It's about creating and maintaining customer loyalty through excellent service and ongoing engagement.

Unveiling these four core drives of gamification completes our exploration of the eight fundamental motivators within the gamification realm. But this is not the end of our journey. Next, we are going to delve into a new perspective, understanding how behavioral psychology underpins these drives and how it can be leveraged to amplify the power of gamified sales strategies.

Leveraging the Core Drives: A Behavioral Psychology Perspective

The Confluence of Behavioral Psychology and Core Drives

Like a puppet master pulling the strings behind the scenes, behavioral psychology influences our actions, often unbeknownst to us. The core drives of gamification are founded upon this subtle yet powerful discipline, making it imperative to understand these psychological forces in order to maximize the effectiveness of gamified sales strategies.

Exemplifying the Core Drives Through Behavioral Psychology Principles

Consider the principle of intrinsic motivation, the driving force behind the core drive of Development & Accomplishment. This is the inner motivation that compels us to pursue an activity purely for the sake of enjoyment or satisfaction. In sports, athletes train relentlessly to reach their personal bests, driven by their intrinsic motivation. In sales, this can be harnessed by creating rewarding and engaging tasks that salespeople are eager to complete.

The Zeigarnik effect, a psychological phenomenon that states people remember uncompleted tasks better than completed ones, is closely related to the core drive of Scarcity & Impatience. Just as a football game keeps spectators on the edge of their seats until the last second, sales can create an environment where customers are eager to complete a purchase to attain closure.

Leveraging the Power of Behavioral Psychology

Understanding what motivates behavior is akin to having a secret weapon. It empowers us to create conditions that influence consumer behavior, steer team dynamics, and drive sales performance. In chess terms, a sales manager equipped with behavioral psychology insights can predict the team's responses and strategize moves that steer them effectively towards the set goals.

The endowment effect, for instance, can be employed to enhance Ownership & Possession. This behavioral principle holds that people tend to value objects more once they own them. By encouraging salespeople to take charge of their tasks and results, you instill a sense of ownership that motivates them to excel.

Turning Behavioral Insights into Actionable Strategies

Knowledge, when acted upon, is power. Turning this understanding into tangible strategies involves integrating gamified elements that resonate with these psychological nuances. For example, reciprocity, the behavioral principle that people tend to return a favor, can enhance Social Influence & Relatedness. By creating a system where salespeople help each other to achieve their goals, a sense of camaraderie and teamwork can be cultivated.

As you chart your journey through the fascinating terrains of gamification and behavioral psychology, remember that it's about more than just games. You're tapping into a deep understanding of human behavior to drive your sales performance to new heights. It's now time to consolidate these insights as we navigate towards the conclusion: driving sales success through gamification.

Final Thoughts

We've delved into the multifaceted universe of gamification, exploring its fundamental core drives: Epic Meaning & Calling, Development & Accomplishment, Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback, Ownership & Possession, Social Influence & Relatedness, Scarcity & Impatience, Unpredictability & Curiosity, and Loss & Avoidance. Interwoven with these drives, we've observed, is the thread of behavioral psychology, subtly shaping and influencing our motivations and actions. Recognizing and harnessing these forces can be transformative, turning the everyday realm of sales into a thrilling journey of achievement and camaraderie.

I implore you, don't just read about these principles—put them into practice. Consider your current sales strategies. How could you infuse them with the thrill of a well-played game? How could you use gamification to foster an environment of eager participation, personal growth, and collaborative success? As you ponder this, I'll leave you with a thought-provoking quote from legendary Olympic wrestler Dan Gable, "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy." So too, once you've truly embraced gamification in sales, you'll find surmounting sales targets to be just another exciting challenge in the game.

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