With games now being used as training tools in every profession from pilots to surgeons, Quota uses gamification to make sales training so much fun that participants forget it’s work.
The importance of fun, says Martin Allison, founder and UK master licensee based in Leeds, is that when training is fun, it is memorable.
“When you look at the learning experience, the higher the degree of interactivity, the higher the degree of retention,” he says. “It’s really a slam-dunk in a business context because gamification is competitive and I’ve yet to meet a salesperson who isn’t competitive.”
Quota’s system is based on interactive seminars that use game mechanics and thinking to enhance the non-game context of sales, Allison explained.
“There are way too many training programmes out there where a salesperson is basically sitting there listening to a lecture. By the end of the day, you’re lucky if they retained 10% of what is taught. It’s boring,” said Allison, who has been associated with training salespeople for over 20 years.
“We have an exact opposite experience to that. By the end of the day, we see people cheering, laughing and having a great time, which is an ideal learning experience. It gets them very involved in the material and it allows them to immediately use the skills they learned on the job the very next day.”
Fran Etherington, a director of Sales Training Ltd, and Quota’s latest distributor in Yorkshire says the fun factor uncomplicates the learning process and improves retention.
“Fun may sound like a wishy-washy and unscientific factor in business but, at the end of the day when it comes to learning, fun is an absolutely vital variable,” she said. “If you’re not enjoying the process of the learning experience, you’re not going to learn at your best.”
The idea for Quota came from a game, Earl Robertson, the Canadian founder and global master distributor came across, that taught people financial skills. Over the last eight years since he developed and launched the programme, Quota has expanded first in Canada and then internationally; he is especially delighted to see the recent successful first anniversary in the UK.
The secret, Robertson said, is twofold involving cultural sensitivity and finding the right people. “You’ve got to be sensitive to local customs. How and why people do business is not that much different across the world but there are trends and cultural norms you have to study and become aware.”
He said it helped that he was able to travel a lot in his earlier management positions and was impacted by the sales training he received with two multinational corporations (Xerox and Procter & Gamble), who both put a huge focus on developing their people.
“Those companies instilled in me an appreciation of investing in your people: The result is that they perform at a higher level. If you invest in good people, you get great results,” he said. In the last 12 months, Quota UK’s client list has grown to include Hermes, GB Group PLC, Premex and MTS (part of Omnicom) among others.
Robertson said Quota has been through nearly 30 revisions, a necessity to stay relevant. “We’re constantly changing and upgrading the product. We have to stay current with what’s going on in the marketplace. And we have to stay current with how people learn,” he says. “Training a 25-year-old is very different from training a 55-year-old.”
Before the flagship Quota sessions happen, participants are emailed some homework that quickly acquaints them with the game and how it works. Salespeople are separated into groups of three or four, beginners mixed with veterans, so nobody gets singled out. The rest involves Jeopardy-style games, buzzers, quick-decision action and rolling dice that determine chance events and who wins or loses “Quota dollars.”
“It takes a minute for a player to realise that the easiest way to win the game is to pay attention to the material,” Etherington said. “They get so involved, and that’s the power of gamification!”