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Gamification: My View

Article by: Ryan Anderson
June 12, 2014

When speaking on recognition, one of my mentors once said, “Grown men die for it and babies cry for it.” Everyone wants recognition. And we all want it now. Gamification principles create an opportunity for people to get recognition and instant gratification as they progress toward achieving a specific goal.

An example of the power of this principle came to me recently when my ten-year-old son approached me asking to mow the lawn to earn money for virtual coins in an online game he was playing with his friends. He wanted to do real work, to earn real money, to buy virtual coins! Imagine being able to take that same principle and apply it to learning; instead of buying coins, one could advance in a game while cementing behavioral principles and concepts that would earn a successful residual income!

Just as the pursuit of virtual coins motivated my son to work, the gamification process can be utilized in the business world to train people to adopt the behaviors that help build a business while making that process simultaneously fun and rewarding.

When we (here at Visi) originally discussed gamification, we were talking about a mobile application that would, ideally, reward the behaviors necessary to make a business successful. We wanted to use gamification as a tool that would provide encouragement using gradually increasing rewards with recognition for achieved levels along the way toward some end goal. Distributors wouldn’t be tied to traditional accountability measures; they would just be trying to get to the next level.

Even with the obvious positive implications, gamification still hasn’t found a solid place in the MLM industry. I believe this is because it just hasn’t been perfected yet; whoever puts gamification to use in the best format is going to win, and I think it will happen sooner rather than later. Two companies have approached us recently with mobile gamification apps but since there was no automated process to collect data, I don’t think distributors will use it: but they are getting close.

The gamification concept could be utilized in many different ways, but one key way would be to support the training of distributors. MLM distributors are traditionally people-oriented individuals. This industry is a relationship business and will always be so: eyeball-to-eyeball, belly-to-belly, we’re building relationships. At the end of the day, people don’t buy products from companies or sign up with companies; they buy products from people and sign up to be part of a team. I think a lot of corporations forget that fact. They cannot forget that a person is putting his or her reputation on the line—integrity has to play a major part there.

So this begs the question, what prevents companies from deploying gamification strategies to support their build strategy? One issue is that in order to use gamification, there has to be a consistent build strategy that is embraced by the company and all levels of a company’s distributors. Historically, with legacy companies like Mary Kay, Tupperware, and Amway, the build strategies came from the company. However, over the last 30 years many companies haven’t created detailed, systematized build strategies. It seems standard that there’s a real division of responsibilities among MLM companies where executives come up with the products and compensation plan but individual distributors come up with their own build strategy. When the higher ups leave the build strategy to the field, the company can’t build a gamification strategy.

Company leaders must own the build strategy and then break it down into distinct pieces that can be tracked by the computer system. Gamification will not only create growth, it has the power to unify forces across the board—a power necessary to form a solid, successful legacy company. The days of us vs. them, or corporate vs. the field, have to be behind us or no one will succeed. If the corporation can’t provide the tools or remove the barriers necessary to build a successful business, then their distributors aren’t going to be successful.

There also needs to be a partnership between company veterans and newcomers. Gamification breaks down those barriers of inexperience vs. experience and helps overcome the number one barrier to success in this business—the fear of talking to people. Turning game strategies into skillset development can help provide a means for those who struggle and can keep them engaged in the process long enough to build confidence. Overcoming that challenge dramatically increases their chances of success within the industry.

From a statistical perspective, less than three percent of sales take place in the first contact. However, in our industry, many salespeople stop after that first attempt. They feel they have to close that sale on the first contact, so if they don’t get the response they want, they don’t follow up. If we can introduce gamification at that key decision point, the person could be motivated to keep trying. As a sales representative, I might not have gotten the result I wanted from that initial contact but if I’m awarded points for that contact anyway, maybe five points for that initial contact and ten for the second, I’m provided motivation to keep going. That motivation gives people the confidence to go out and share their message and to be proud of what they’re doing.

Optimizing gamification to motivate distributors while teaching them to adopt proven sales processes would revolutionize our industry. We could make it easy to overcome standard challenges by turning them into games. Games are addictive; it’s something everyone can get passionate about. I hope those working on it now will continue to do so. The successful use of this principle in MLM build strategies and daily practices will reshape the future of our industry.

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Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson holds a B.S. in Business Management and Marketing and has more than 10 years of experience in the direct sales industry.  He has...

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