Top 6 CRM Gamification Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!)

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Gamification has become an extremely successful tool to boost productivity among salespeople. Yet, as it happens with any tool, when you incorrectly implement gamification on the CRM, benefits can easily turn into drawbacks. What better way to avoid such mistakes, than to learn from the best in the business?

We’ve consulted a series of gamification experts about how to help identify the most common CRM gamification mistakes and the best ways to effectively avoid them, and have compiled their answers below. Continue reading and learn how to successfully implement gamification today.

Mistake 1 — Focus on the Reward Instead of the Process

For sales teams, the endgame isn’t always the prize. However, too often management focuses on what prize should be awarded rather than on the competition itself. Ultimately, salespeople thrive on recognition and through gamification managers can awake the natural competitiveness of a team.

According to Nicolas Babin, ranked #1 Gamification Guru in March 2018 on the Rise Global list, focusing on the prize is definitely not the way to go.“The biggest mistake one could say is when people game the system, meaning they use gamification to win a prize and in the meantime, they do not fill out the CRM system correctly or honestly”, Babin pointed out.

When the reward is extremely attractive, people will do whatever it takes to win, even cheat. Instead of having the “achievement” be the most important part of the equation, the prize itself becomes the main focus.

How to solve it:

“To prevent that, it’s important to not offer great prices and to ensure borders, so that no one can game the system and cheat”, advised Nicolas. 

Prizes are useful to establish and align common goals with your team, but it should solely be a symbol, a way to acknowledge the good work and commitment of the reps.

Some of our clients used to reward their team members with tangible prizes such as concert tickets, trips, etc. This is great, although we have noticed that the most stimulating prize for sales reps is much simpler: recognition.

Displaying their names on Leaderboards shows appreciation within the company. It is also a way of gaining the attention of Managers and C- Level Employees. Imagine the CEO of the company seeing your Big Sale on the screen. That’s a real prize.


Mistake 2 — Believing that CRM Gamification alone will solve all the problems

“The biggest mistake is thinking that gamification alone will solve long-term issues with using CRM (or any service). If the root issue is not understood (why are people not doing what I want them to do), then gamification will often only add a novelty boost in activity”, explained Andrezj Marczewski, author of Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play (2015).

When we acquire a new tool, we expect “magic” to happen instantly and forget that it is simply that: a tool. And just like any tool, it needs context to function. It also needs someone to handle it. It can’t do the whole job by itself.

How to solve it:

To begin you must ask yourself: why are you using a CRM, as well as why is CRM important to the company and its goals? Once you know these answers, you must communicate them to your team. Only after that can you begin to fully take advantage of gamification.

Andrzej’s recommendation is along these same lines: “You need to educate people about why they need to use the CRM first, then start applying things that make it feel rewarding and (if such a thing is possible) fun. But they have to understand the real value to them and the company first!”

We’ve written about the challenges of implementing CRM and promoting it among users. If you want to learn more about this subject read the 10 Deadly Sins in CRM User Adoption.

Download Now Free eBook 10 Deadly Sins in CRM User Adoption

Mistake 3 — Starting with a Complex Gamification Model

Pablo Peralta, the founder of one of the biggest LATAM CRM communities, Comunidad 365, also shared some insights. For him, one of the most common mistakes is “starting with a complex gamification model and using complex gamified dynamics”.

A lot of people that have never tried gamification before, which means that adaptation itself can take a while. This can turn exponentially harder if they also need to learn complex techniques and features. They can easily be confused and consider gamification a complicated tool when it actually isn’t. In addition, it can also result in a lot of mishaps.

“Gamification must be implemented in a very simple way: you can award points to the reps who follow the behavior you want them to, measuring impact and so on. Then, with time and feedback, you can start introducing badges and other prizes.”

How to solve it:

According to Pablo, “the best option in corporate environments is to start with the most basic stuff”. This means the most basic gamification techniques and methods.

It’s best to simply “introduce the concept and which behaviors you want to reward. Keep measuring the members’ feedback and allowing them to adopt it.”

Increasing the complexity of the gamification solution is the best route, according to Pablo, but make sure you do it slowly.


“Introduce the concept and which behaviors you want to reward. Keep measuring the members’ feedback and allowing them to adopt it”

Mistake 4 — Applying a Short-Term Gamification Strategy

We also talked to Michael Wu, considered an Influential Leader by CRM Magazine, and his message to us was clear: when it comes to CRM, short-term techniques are not recommended.

“One of the biggest mistakes in applying gamification to address long-term behavior changes is using short-term gamification tools”, because “unlike gamification in marketing and sales, CRM user adoption and employee engagement are both long-term problems. It’s pointless to drive adoption or engage employees only for a few months”.

How to solve it:

Michael advises using strategies that apply more challenging and complex games since these are the most effective in the long run.

Although results might take longer, by applying these games, you can drive more complex behaviors. Furthermore, they can entertain people for longer periods of time.

He concludes that those who bet on short-term solutions “are doomed to fail when addressing challenging business problems that involve long-term behavior change.”

Mistake 5 — Forgetting to develop a strategy before applying gamification

According to Karl Kapp, author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas Into Practice (2013), “one of the biggest mistakes is not integrating the CRM gamification efforts to a larger strategy. If your overall strategy or sales model or prospecting method is ineffective, simply adding on a gamified CRM with points for calling a prospect is not going to magically increase sales.

A gamification effort needs to be carefully combined with an understanding of the overall goals. You need to map individual events, efforts and behaviors to a specific reward structure not just to the overall goal of “sell more” but to enabling goals or milestones like impacting the ratio of call activity to next step activity, which will eventually lead to larger goals.”

How to solve it:

The first step to avoid this mistake is to establish a baseline strategy so that gamification can “assist” in the process. It must be clear that Gamification does not define the directives of your team and your business.

“An organization needs to clearly have identified steps and activities that lead to success before going off and half-heartedly gamifying the CRM. The organization needs to set clear goals, milestones and trigger events and then weave the gamification solution into the comprehensive effort. Too often gamification is added in, completely disregarding the strategic considerations when it comes to gamifying a CRM. The fix is to work on strategy first, gamification second”, according to Karl.

“A gamification effort needs to be carefully combined with an understanding of the overall goals.”

Mistake 6 — Reducing the complexity of the Business

For Marigo Raftopoulos, ranked #2 Gamification Guru in March 2018 by Rise Global list’s, one of the most common mistakes is “a lack of appreciation of organizations as complex systems”. We should not reduce our company’s process and complexity.

A company structure is by nature a complex system. If we want our business to succeed, we need to make sure to align our process as precisely as possible. After this, gamification will be the easy part.

“A well-meaning gamified CRM could be encouraging positive desired behaviors such as project collaboration, knowledge sharing or innovation drive. However, the success or failure of that system largely depends on the prevailing culture, work processes or management styles of the organization. For example, a collaborative, knowledge sharing tool will not be optimized in a prevailing organizational culture of secrecy and distrust”, Marigo pointed out.

How to solve it:

“The lesson here is that gamified CRMs are a technological tool, and not the complete solution”, she concluded.

Again, we learn that a company’s culture is fundamental. Gamification can definitely be a good choice for changing behaviors, but it cannot work by itself.


If you are looking to take your first step into the gamification world, we recommend you look for an easy-to-use and effective solution.

Our Hurrah! Leaderboards creates appealing and customizable slideshows that are very simple to set and user-friendly. By displaying KPI’s in real time, Hurrah! helps align your company’s goals with all members of the team. Driving performance and bringing excitement and recognition to daily activities

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We would like to thank all of our generous contributors:

Nicolas Babin, ranked #1 Gamification Guru in March 2018 by Rise Global list’s, and a renowned Marketing and Gamification Consultant.

Andrzej Marczewski, author of Even Ninja Monkeys Like to Play (2015), and Senior Solution Consultant.

Pablo Peralta, founder of Comunidad 365, the biggest CRM Community in Spanish.

Michael Wu Ph.D., named as an Influential Leader by CRM Magazine, International Speaker.

Karl Kapp, author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas Into Practice (2013).

Marigo Raftopoulos, ranked #2 Gamification Guru in March 2018 by Rise Global list’s, Strategic Business Advisor and Digital Media Specialist.