Make Upskilling Fun: Gamification and the Digital Transformation of Skills for Gig Workers

The audience for gaming is, in a word, gigantic. The population of online games has reached an estimated 1 billion people, with the number of users expected to exceed 1.3 billion by 2025. Gaming represents a massive source of entertainment and revenue – roughly 1 in 8 people in the world play online games! It’s worth noting that games can also play a role in workforce upskilling – for instance in onboarding and learning, as well as incentives and recognition.

The Meaning of Gamification for Direct Selling

Of course, the question many business thinkers will ask is: how can one use the advances of online games to promote engagement? What do online games teach us about business in the 21st century? As such, some businesses have begun “gamifying” their products, taking heed of new insights into consumer and sales psychology to optimize their products for an evolved world?   

According to Heliyon, an open-access scientific journal, gamification “involves incorporating elements of online games, such as points, leaderboards, and badges, into non-game contexts, in order to improve engagement with […] consumers.” Gamification drives engagement – an easy enough catchphrase to remember. When the workforce views their productivity in line with gamified attainments, they become more engaged. In some cases they even become addicted to learning and business-building. Think of the Uber app, or Duolingo. Drivers finding riders are almost inside of a game. Similarly, the Duolingo app tracks, visualizes, and rewards progress.

The direct selling industry in particular has benefited from gamification – after all, direct selling obviously has game-like elements, for example the stages of distributor onboarding and development. Advancing up the hierarchy is like a game. And so it’s easily gamified. It’s easily turned into a sense of “just one more achievement,” one more sale. The point of gamification is to leverage these game-like elements to drive engagement and ultimately sales performance. So, when we talk about gamification for direct selling, we have to talk about workforce upskilling as well – especially digital upskilling. That’s a major element of the gamification process. When we’re talking about gamified field progress, in part we’re talking about upskilling.

Why Upskilling Is Important in Direct Selling

First we have to contextualize the benefits of workforce upskilling. Every time a distributor identifies a prospect, persuades that prospect, reaches a sales target – or even learns new components of the product – she ramps up her skills. As a result, her remote sales performance will eventually increase.

She’s boosting her sales potential. She acquires new knowledge items and fresh insights by which she can perform at higher levels and reach more ambitious targets. Upskilling is about adding new abilities to the sales activity and enhancing already-obtained ones. Product knowledge, selling aids, positive behavior reinforcement – these are some examples of upskilling.

Ultimately, upskilling is about improving results. It’s not upskilling for its own sake. It’s about driving the field toward higher performance and at the end of the day, boosting business outcomes. That’s important.

In some ways it’s the lifeblood of direct selling. Driving workforce upskilling organically is vital. Especially in the age of digital transformation. The field expects their upskilling to happen through an app. By digital means. Expectations have changed, siply put.

Upskilling is vital to the remote workforce and in particular distributed teams, as we have covered before. Retaining a core workforce is key to direct selling success. After all, you want distributors who are knowledgeable.

Distributors should be committed to the product. They should be passionate about what they’re doing. Retention becomes much easier then. Distributors should feel like they’re making demonstrable progress. That and they’re also able to hit higher numbers and perform better. They should also have a sense of where they are in their progress. How far they’ve gone. How far they have to go. And what they have to do to get there.

Workforce Upskilling and Gamification

Gamification is a keystone productivity resource for distributed workforces. says that “productivity and project management tools have seen the biggest increase in gamification so far and there is more to come.” That’s hugely important. The digital transformation is here to stay. And if it helps gamify productivity, even better.

Naturally, that applies to direct selling distributors, too, who by nature work in physically distinct spaces and on separate schedules from their peers – that is, in the distributed workforce. If you can gamify productivity automatically for the field, that’s a huge win. It’s much better than manually having to say “you win this prize if you reach this goal.” Much better to have an app do that for you.

Gamified structures can both generate collective gains and motivate the individual to improve their results, while showing them how to do it. By displaying daily, weekly, and monthly team progress in a gamified format, leaderboards show how far a distributor has come and how far they still have to go to meet their goals. Then they are more likely to reach those goals. In reaching those goals, they upskill.

They gain new abilities and fluencies. Upskilling happens automatically, on its own. That can be a great boon for administrators. It relieves them of having to manually gamify. But it also drives business results. Measurable ones, like revenue.

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Digital Transformation and Gamification for Direct Selling

The benefits go well beyond leaderboards and deep into individual distributor experiences. Once you start rethinking gamification, a whole world opens up. A strongly gamified system, like Rallyware’s performance enablement platform, can even automatically show team members when the moment is ripe to encourage people on their team to perform a specific sales activity. 

Then there are badges – another example of gamified behavior. Let’s say Jana, a distributor, meets her sales targets for the week. She’s already excited. But then she gets a notification on her smartphone that she’s received an achievement badge in her white-labeled mobile app based on Rallyware technology. Her team members are sending her private messages congratulating her.

She’s going to feel great. She might even show her friends the badges she’s receive. She might encourage them to work with her company on direct selling activities. Positive feedback nets positive results.

The upshot is workforce upskilling – gamified structures encourage distributors to shape their behavior to drive selling activities. When an organization deploys digital transformation tools to gamify tasks and accomplishments, this helps distributors understand how close they are to their goals and how to reach them.

Not only that, it helps them feel more inspired to obtain these goals when these goals are surrounded by an ecosystem of badges, leaderboards, team-based congratulations efforts – and clear steps on how to achieve those goals.

By tying it all together – from motivation and the desire to grow to personalized activities on how to sustain that growth – performance enablement platforms help direct selling companies rival the ‘Uber’ app as a center of gravity for their workforce.   

In essence, what you’re seeing is workforce upskilling happening all on its own. The field’s abilities grow on the motivation of their technology. Their knowledge grows, their compentencies. They know more about product lines and how to sell them. They’re more motivated to sell, as well.

A large part of that is that the technology automatically knows what they need, when. Their platform knows what motivation they need, what video tutorial or quiz.

Leaderboards & Upskilling the Workforce

One might object: isn’t there a possibility that leaderboards might depress engagement? For example, what if Linda sees she’s far down on the weekly sales volume leaderboard. Won’t that discourage her from amplifying her performance – and work against upskilling?

This isn’t a problem with the right technology. With Rallyware, for instance, you can set up the distributor experience can so that leaderboards show Linda gamification that is most relevant to her. Linda will “compete” in her own league only, not with the hundreds and thousands of other distributors who have been with the company (or in the industry) for a while

Rallyware’s technology doesn’t focus only on an overall comparative leaderboard. Ultimately, direct selling ought to be a source of fun engagement, not stress. In addition to the team leaderboard, Rallyware’s platform can tailor Linda’s experience to the specific areas in which she is close to reaching her goals – such as showing her how close she is to netting the most weekly outreaches on her team. 

When Linda gets encouraged to make more outreaches, she develops her skills in talking about her products. Rallyware, then, drives engagement and upskilling by means of gamification – with the data that is most relevant and useful for each individual distributor.   

Conclusion: Gamification Creates Joy and Drives Growth

Direct selling is a unique entrepreneurial activity, in that it involves making sales, but is not “work” in the traditional sense. It is much closer to the gig economy: distributors make supplemental income, for example, or conduct business outside of the typical 9-5 work hours. 

One of the cornerstones of direct selling is the question of how to stimulate productivity in an economic arena that is not traditional work and how to engage and retain this volunteer workforce. Direct selling involves fun products and lots of communication and charisma – as entrepreneurship, it should be entertaining at every step of their journey. 

Gamification helps bring together the productivity necessary in direct selling with the fun that is inherent in it but that, without modern technology, could easily be lost in the churn of the distributor’s life. Gamified platforms guide the sales rep’s growth journey by adding fun and personalized incentives to the process of upskilling. All in all, they’re essential to succeeding as an organization in the digital age of direct selling.  

Rallyware gamifies the entire lifecycle of direct selling – from onboarding to e-learning and beyond, with a set of critical admin tools allowing for maximum distributor engagement, retention, and workforce analytics.

To motivate and engage your workforce, you’ll need the right technology – a platform using context and data to trigger the right activities at the right times for the right behaviors. Click here to see Rallyware in action or read more about our performance enablement suite.