Is advanced metrics the final nail in gamification’s coffin?

The MIT Sloan Management Review recently published some fascinating findings about business operations and analytics. Following a massive survey of 2000+ respondents and more than 30 executives on how their business utilised data analysis, MIT researchers discovered a major shift towards adoption of advanced data.

Not only did researchers conclude that “companies that incorporate analytics into their culture are finding success in the new digital era”, but a staggering 87% of the survey’s respondents called for their organisations to step up the use of analytics, and many were frustrated with their organisations’ reliance on management experience over data analysis.

From a sales perspective, it is critical that an organisation manages its data in the right way. Enterprise gamification software does it all wrong. There are three critical components going on: the complexity of the analytics, the clarity of communication, and the recipients of that communication.

Whether they do sales competitions or not, sales organisations should be strongly advised to adhere to three key principles for optimising performance metrics: productivity is not performance, clarity is everything, and empower the employee.

First of all, tracking basic employee productivity (number of actions taken) and improving sales force performance are so far removed from one another that they may as well be in different solar systems. 

Sales force managers who limit their performance evaluations to productivity measurements are not only missing the most critical information for improving performance, they are sending the wrong message to their team members.

The underlying message a program that only tracks productivity sends is, “I’m going to improve your performance by making you work harder.” That is an unsustainable path to a churn and burn work environment where no real coaching or efficient improvement takes place.

We are seeing a proliferation of products in other niches that use advanced metrics to track performance, with the purpose of adding real value. They communicate powerful insights about potential leads, communication style, and actual quality of performance – not how hard the user is working. Sure, they might track numbers, but that element ranks extremely low in terms of functional performance.

Advanced metrics that measure performance, not productivity, give strategic direction. Sales managers should be less interested in how many cold emails a sales rep sends, and more interested in the percentage that gets opened and responded to.

At the same time, a sales rep can use those same advanced metrics to discern which email templates work and which fail.

Knowing when the cutthroat, culture-killing loudmouth everyone in the office hates is making more cold calls provides limited benefit to sales reps. Bare-bones productivity metrics do not give sales managers the information they need to do the most important part of their job: offering strategic direction.

Keeping clarity

The MIT report notes that, despite better access to more useful data, improvements to data management skills are not keeping pace. In other words, a key issue holding back enterprise data analytics is not a lack of information but an unwieldy means of communicating and keeping track of it.

Gaining access to mountains of unorganised, imperceptible data has absolutely no benefit to an organisation, which is why clarity of communication is absolutely critical. If a sales force is considering employing advanced metrics, they should not bother unless they have a method of efficiently accessing and evaluating that information.

Moreover, the sales force needs to understand what the information itself actually means in terms of employee performance. For example, an employee who is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the office in daily outbound cold calls may actually be indicative of poor performance, since those numbers are likely derived in part from the employee’s inability to keep prospects on the phone.

Bottom line: developing a perfect understanding of advanced metrics as they apply to a business is a process of trial and error. Achieving clarity thus requires genuine long-term organisational commitment to taking data analytics seriously.

Employees want to figure things out for themselves. They want to be in control. From a metrics standpoint, that means sales forces must be empowered by advanced data analytics, business intelligence and actionable coaching insights that go directly to the user.

A harsh reality is that many sales departments are a bureaucratic nightmare where employees feel they are not just disempowered, but also lost as to how to get better.

Sales managers often manage large teams and possess many duties that go beyond coaching. Direct-to-user advanced performance metrics offer not only an alternative coaching mechanism, but also a means of empowerment for a sales force.

Email tracking software, once again, offers a prime example of how this works in real life application. Typically, this software eliminates the middleman, offers nearly instantaneous feedback, and effectively streamlines the coaching process.

>See also: Most gamification apps will fail – Gartner

All told, they create a sharper learning curve for their reps. Advanced performance analytics that do likewise can have a similarly powerful impact on sales team members.

Used properly, advanced metrics are another form of efficient coaching. When they communicate clearly and directly to the employee, they empower the employee to grow on his or her own, and they give the big picture of performance.

Enterprise gamification largely seems to be playing the wrong game when it comes to data. Tracking basic productivity information like cold calls and revenue just is not enough anymore, in a day and age where business intelligence is immersing itself in analytics.

The MIT numbers indicate that executives in the boardroom are playing Moneyball, which means it’s time for enterprise gamification and sales organisations to follow suit.


Sourced from Jeremy Boudinet, Ambition

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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