Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be adding a sales gamification component to its fall release, which is expected to be generally available before the end of this year.

The company will be incorporating the gamification functionality it is getting from its acquisition of Incent Games Inc., the developer and owner of FantasySalesTeam.

Microsoft announced the deal on today in a blog post.

Before it makes its way into the next Dynamics CRM release, though, Microsoft plans to pilot it internally first. It will also make a preview version available.

Terms of the deal were not released.

This is Microsoft Dynamics CRM's first foray into sales gamification, Param Kahlon, Microsoft's partner group and CRM program manager, told CMSWire.

"It is a feature that sits very nicely in the CRM world for us," he said. It also meshes with Microsoft's overall focus on productivity, especially in the last year, he added.

The Case for Sales Gamification

Briefly, for the uninitiated, sales gamification applies typical features or tactics used in gaming to the sales process. These features usually are leaderboards and prizes and occasionally — as we shall see in a moment — team-building.

The point is to encourage friendly competition and collaboration among sales reps to motivate them to sell more and drive revenue for the company. And if the company participants have a little fun and find their work that much more engaging, then so much the better.

It is a small but burgeoning niche in sales tech, as well as, for that matter, other software categories such as human resources and education.

CRM companies that also provide gamification products or features include CallidusCloud's sales gamification feature; Hoopla sales-gamification;, which also has a gamification product and LevelEleven.

Most of these companies have made gamification part of a larger sales enablement platform.

In the case of, the company is branching out into predictive analytics as its acquisition of C9 last March shows.

Whatever their corporate strategy, though, these firms remain true to the concept of gamification as a significant enabler of sales. Bryce Leishman of InsideSales described its benefits in a blog post earlier this year.

"Sales gamification remains one of the most effective ways of driving incredible levels of productivity," he wrote.

"Studies show that when organizations implement game features, like leaderboards and challenges, into their workflow, reps do more of what they’re supposed to and system utilization increases 40 percent to 50 percent. This, in turn, can cause a 10 percent lift in sales."

Gamification is a good way to encourage a sales team to adopt a CRM application, Microsoft's Kahlon said. "We all know about CRM applications that are purchased but never fully adopted internally. Gamification can drive the adoption process with a carrot, not a stick."

A Focus on Team Building

To be fair, gamification does have its share of critics. One commonly voiced critique is that it seems so, well, fake.

Another is that it is cannibalistic, or at least demoralizing to the, well, losers.

That is where FantasySalesTeam is different, Adam Hollander, founder of FantasySalesTeam, told CMSWire.

With traditional sales gamification approaches, "the same top performers just win over and over," he said. "That just demotivates and frustrates the rest of the sales team."

FantasySalesTeam is structured so the entire company is "betting" on a team of sales rep. "We wanted the entire company to be invested in their success." It also encourages collaboration as the company and the sales teams cheer on — and perhaps offer tips to — their colleagues, he said.

This team-building approach is what intrigued Microsoft, not only just because it makes intuitive sense, but also because it is relatively rare in sales gamification, Kahlon said.

"This is a unique approach — applying variety sports and team dynamics to sales gamification," he said.