Bumping Up Sales at Dunder Mifflin

Why Michael Scott Needed Sales Gamification

Many know “The Office” as the hit NBC comedy filled with hilarious one-liners, characters and meme-worthy moments whose popularity has only grown since its last episode aired in 2013. From burning his foot on a George Foreman grill to the iconic CPR “Staying Alive” scene, branch manager Michael Scott was usually the one responsible when there was chaos in the office. Between all the well-planned pranks and over-the-top holiday parties, it’s easy for viewers to forget that the fundamental basis of the fictional show was to follow the lives of employees who worked at a paper company.

Michael Scott started at Dunder Mifflin as a young salesman and worked his way up to branch manager. During his entire time at the Scranton, Pennsylvania, office, Michael always prioritized the people in his life, especially his clients, making him a top salesman. Michael was also very passionate about the product he sold – even if many say paper is a dying industry – and made sure no one knew the product or industry better than himself.

Although he had great success in selling paper, Michael and his sales team could have reached new heights with technology like sales gamification.

Improve Sales Performance

The goal tracking capabilities of sales gamification would have been a significant help for new or struggling sellers at Dunder Mifflin Scranton. For example, with Michael’s help, Pam could have set goals when she first transitioned from the receptionist desk to the sales team. As time went on and Pam didn’t reach her goals, she and Michael would use the metrics and goal tracking software in their one-on-one sessions and nail down key activities that helped her produce success. With this technology, every sales professional at Dunder Mifflin would know precisely where they stood with their sales goals at all times.

Spend Less Time in Unproductive Meetings

Every one of us has been to a work meeting that could have been an email. Michael Scott loved his office meetings and often took them as a time to practice comedy bits or discuss topics that had nothing to do with actually selling paper. Sales coaching software would have made Michael’s one-on-one conversations with his sales team more efficient and productive, much to the delight of the sellers. This technology would allow both parties to fill out any necessary paperwork before the meeting, take public or private notes during the session and even run action plans. Other than one-on-ones, a sales gamification platform would’ve let Michael effortlessly share his sales knowledge with the entire group in team training sessions.

Encourage Friendly Competition and Collaboration

A familiar, fan-favorite dynamic shown throughout “The Office” is Jim and Dwight’s enemy-turned-best-friend relationship. Even though Jim didn’t care much for his job as a salesman, he was still good at his job, was promoted to assistant regional manager and even considered for the regional manager, much to Dwight’s dismay. On the other hand, Dwight loved his job almost as much as beets – and he was pretty good at selling paper. At one point, he even outsold Ryan’s new technology, “Dunder Mifflin Infinity,” that was supposed to accelerate the company’s digital transformation. While I’m sure Jim would have still put Dwight’s desk supplies in Jell-O and gift-wrapped his desk, a sales leader board would have created more of a friendly sales competition between the two.

Most sales professionals are natural competitors, as seen in Jim and Pam’s version of the “Games of the 1st Dunder Mifflin Olympiad,” and gamification software would have brought that competitive side out in everyone, including Phyllis and Stanley.

Additionally, sales gamification would have encouraged Michael’s sales team to collaborate and work together more when closing deals, thus, resulting in more mentorship opportunities between veteran sellers like Michael and less experienced sellers like Andy.

Create Consistency Across the Company

Dunder Mifflin had multiple branches across the eastern region of the United States in addition to Scranton, including Albany, Nashua and Utica. The branches didn’t collaborate much besides the annual company picnic and the occasional office supplies conference or meeting at corporate headquarters. This became an issue when the Binghampton branch closed, and sellers from both Scranton and Syracuse were fighting over the clients in the now available territory. Integrating a sales dashboard for all Dunder Mifflin branches would allow each office to follow the same corporate guidelines, especially with new protocol and training, and stay on the same page for new client opportunities. The sales leaderboard feature would also make it easier for corporate leaders to see who the overall best sellers were for each quarter.

So much of “The Office” was not related to sales, but the sales team is the heart of the show or the engine like Michael describes in the episode “Booze Cruise.” Although the show is fictional and its last episode aired more than eight years ago, there’s one similarity between the Dunder Mifflin sales team led by Michael, Dwight and Jim and any real-life sales team of today: they would benefit from adding sales gamification software to their company’s tech stack.

Author

  • Chris O’Connor is director of sales development at Ambition, providers of enterprise grade sales coaching, analytics and gamification software.

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